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alternate_history:ah_slang_and_acronyms's AH Writing Slang and Acronyms

This page is primarily intended for ( newcomers. Baffled by some of the acronyms and terminology that you find in various discussions on the board? Fret not, this page is here to provide answers! We wish you pleasant reading and hope that the info provided here will be sufficient to fulfill your curiosity in the board's established and varied terminology.

1. Main Acronyms

Alternate History as a concept and genre of fiction.

Timeline. Either refers to only the timeline of an alternate history scenario or (increasingly more often) to the scenario as a whole.

What If? The basic question that leads to alternate history ideas. What if this or that had happened otherwise than in real history, etc. This acronym can mostly be seen in the pre-1900 and post-1900 forums of the board, where it is used by board members while suggesting points of divergence.

Our Timeline. Our real history, our own historical universe. More rarely, the acronym can also refer to the AH website

Alternate Timeline. A single, specific alternate universe and its history.

(I)OTL and (I)TTL
In Our Timeline” and “(In) This Timeline”

Point of Divergence or points of divergence. A point in which an ATL branches out from OTL, creating an alternate history.

Alien Space Bats. A plot-device creature capable of ISOTing (see below) anything up to whole planets galaxies, to allow time travel and teleportation, to create and destroy life, make everyone change sex and give them the arms of a bear, and so on. Used as an explanation for scenarios which are magical or otherwise unlikely. By Convention, this category also includes WIs within fictional universes, such as Star Wars.

Derived from the name of the novel Island In the Sea of Time, written by S. M. Stirling. On, “ISOT” is used as both a verb (magically transporting an area of Earth through time) and a noun (the name for a timeline that involves an ISOT, or a reference to the event). Strictly speaking, the term “ISOT” should only be applied when it concerns a large area (such as a country or island), but AH.commers have taken to using it in lieu of the 'time travel' or 'teleportation to the past' concepts in general (e.g. as in the phrase “I'll ISOT myself to the year 1914”).

Alternate History Challenge” (often just “Challenge:”). A challenge to create a specific type of alternate history scenario, preferrably in the most realistic/plausible manner possible. Often doubles as a “What if?” or “How can I create such an AH scenario?” question.

Plausibility Check”, a close relative of the WI and AHC style of discussion thread. As its name implies, it isn't purely about spitballing “What If?” ideas, but focuses rather on discussing the plausibility of a potential what if idea (e.g. “PC: Can the modern Kingdom of Norway found overseas colonies in the Pacific with a PoD after 1920?”).

Future History

Double Blind What If

Future Blind What If, derived by analogy from DBWI. Appearing in the Future History subforum, FBWIs generally consist of roleplaying and never actually ask “What If?”.

A standardized colour scheme for OTL and/or ATL maps

The Universal Colour Scheme

The Unified Colour Palette

The Thandean Colour Scheme

The Revised Colour Scheme

The Global Colour Scheme

Big-Arsed Map, or “Big-Assed Map”. A very large map. A Q-BAM is a BAM made by Qazaq2007.

Timeline in a day.” A type of deliberately short TLs that you only need a few hours or a day to write and post in its entirety, but still presents an interesting AH scenario worth reading. Can also have week-long (TLIAW), fortnight-long (TLIAF) or month-long (TLIAM) variants.

The Shared Worlds forum of

Moderated Game

Nation Game

Self-Insert, the term used for a particular type of the “personal ISOT” scenario.

Hall of Infamy

2. Lesser Used Acronyms

Soc.history.what-if. Another, older AH forum, in the style of a Usenet newsgroup. Kind of a spiritual predecessor to Currently defunct, but had its own portfolio of great timelines back in the day, several of which are archived on

The timeline of the Southern Victory book series (written by Harry Turtledove), referring to its POD centered on Robert E. Lee's Special Order 191 (failed in OTL, successful in the ATL of the series).

The Decades of Darkness timeline

The Look to the West timeline

The Lands of Red and Gold timeline

The Fight and Be Right timeline

There'll Always Be An England, a story by Thande

Hundred Years' War

Seven Years War

American Revolutionary War/American War of Independence

English Civil War

American Civil War

Russian Civil War (or, occasionally, Reverse Cold War)

World War 1 / The First World War

World War 2 / The Second World War

Confederate States of America

Holy Roman Empire. Also used in the verb/phrase 'HRE-ise', which means even wilder balkanisation than the usual one.

Austria-Hungary. Not to be confused with the “AH” acronym.

War of Independence

President of the United States

A term coined by AHF, and adopted by others. The NOOBWI thread involves the board members taking on the personas of Alternate History N00bs. NOOBWI threads are marked by relatively basic AH questions (ex: WI the Nazis won WWII), and a near total disregard for conventional AH, particularly the Butterfly effect. It is currently frowned upon as a tired joke and has become a banned form of WI on the board, so don't use it.

Other typical internet abbreviations (e. g. IIRC, TBH, IMHO, BTW, OMG) are used the same way as on any other discussion board.

3. Terms and Phrases - History, Alternate History and What Ifs

AH where one nation is distinctly preferred, more than would be a.) understandable, b.) realistic and/or c.) tasteful. Typical nationwanks: USA conquers both American continents. Russia conquers Eurasia. Japan creates its Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. The British Empire/Ottoman Empire/Austria-Hungary/Roman Empire/Napoleon's Empire lives until today and becomes yet even stronger. Germany wins WWI or WWII. Etc. There are also non-national forms of Wank, such as “techwank”, in which the side with the superior technology (especially in ISOTs from the future) ALWAYS wins, and we're expected to cheer. For even more outrageous scenarios, Doctor What and David Bar Elias coined the term “nation-bukkake”.

A common adjective for something related to alternate history. It literally means “other-historical” (from the Greek ἄλλος, 'allos' - “different”, “other”). For instance, an allohistorical scenario, allohistorical vocabulary, allohistorical personalities, allohistorical fashion, etc. The term can be used interchangably with the adjective “alternate”. Also, the term “alternate history” itself can be shortened to “allohistory” for convenience (on, said word is usually used as a synonym for “ATL”).

The breakup of one nation into many smaller ones. Used outside of AH contexts as well.

A state being neutralised by agreement between greater powers. A reference to the treatment of Finland by the Soviet Union at the end of the Second World War. Used outside of AH contexts as well.

“The sea-mammal that shall not be named”
See Operation Sealion.

Butterfly Effect
Describes the secondary, minor effects of every Divergence that add up over time. Read the main article for a more in-depth analysis.

The preferred term on the board for stories/scenarios that were intended to predict the future at the time they were written, but that time is in our distant past so they are kind of like AH, but unintentionally so. An example is H.G. Wells' The Shape of Things to Come.

Pulling a Meiji
Refers to when a country (usually a non-western Asian or African one) undergoes a process similar to the Meiji Period of OTL, in which it industrializes and modernizes rapidly, to the point where it becomes a (usually) Westernized and European-style power (as was the case with OTL Japan). A rarer subtype is “Pulling a Siam”, used to describe a country that modernises to the point it holds its own against the West and avoids being colonised, but can't project power and isn't accepted as an equal by the West as Japan was.

Wacky Hijinks (or “hijinx”)
A gallows humour euphemism for “colonial oppression”, and more specifically “actual colonial oppression” as opposed to fantasies invented by twelfth-generation immigrants. Example: “The idea that Britain deliberately let Ireland suffer during the potato famine is ludicrous, but there is no denying that English and British people did get up to Wacky Hijinks there over the years”. A modern equivalent to describe suspected war crimes is “[state] is doing naughty things to [group of people]“

Mosaic Earth
Mostly attributed with the ISOT, whereas a “Swiss Cheesed” Earth has many nations from different TL's and/or with a single nation of that said Earth left behind. It is the staple/mainstay of the Shared Earth Forum and has a history stemming from the First Mosaic Earth game on the Old Board. To date it is either on its 20th or 22nd incarnation, depending on who one is asking, and if one has even kept up with the numbering.

“Munrofied” and “Munroification” describe a style of map that is famously used by B_Munro. Used in the sense of “oh, I'll post it when I've fully Munroified the map” or “a Munrofied map of mine…”

Basically, an inexperienced AH fan who is a disproportionate loony fan of Nazi Germany, and particularly its military (the Wehrmacht). Though it's not a definite rule, there is a predictable overlap between many of these types of AH fans and nazi apologists. Which, unsurprisingly, leads to many Wehraboos getting banned once they express their true opinions.

4. Terms and Phrases - Discussion Board Culture

Archaic English for “thank you”, an abbreviation of thank ye (using the now unused plural form of you - think “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!” or “God rest ye merry, gentlemen” - “Abandon all hope, you people who enter here!” and “God rest you merry, you guys”). Has become popular on the forum since Thande used it a lot in his There'll Always Be An England story series.

Interesting (in the Chinese sense)
As in the alleged Chinese curse 'may you live in interesting times'. Used if you want to describe a war or a genocide as intellectually 'interesting', but to acknowledge that using the word alone would sound insensitive.

Ideological Circlejerk
Ideological Circlejerking is the creation of a thread or multiple posts within a thread whose purpose is ideological and political self gratification, generally little supported by fact or common sense. The term is purposed for the more heinous of ideological self gratifications. These are also often flamebait and common in Future history.

A temporary ban of an member from posting on the forums, issued by the admin or moderators for bad conduct and bad behaviour (insults, threats, spamming, spreading hateful ideas and misinformation, appealing for violence, defending racism and other bigotry, abusing the report function, etc.). A kick usually lasts for a week, during which the punished member is unable to post. (Occassionally even a month, if the crossing of the line by a member is serious.) Kickings are considered a preventive measure, issued in order to force a member to do some soul-searching and voluntarily put an end to his bad behaviour. For more information on Rules and Guidelines, please see here.

A permanent banning of an member for bad conduct and bad behaviour. After it is issued, the banned member is excluded permanently from logging in and posting on the forums. Bans are issued for serious offences against's Rules and Guidelines and for members who repeatedly refuse to change their bad conduct on the forums. As a general rule of thumb, the more kicks a member receives, the higher the possibility that he or she will be permanently banned from the site if they keep up their bad behaviour or keep breaking the rules. Circumventing both kicks and bans by creating a sockpuppet is never tolerated. It earns the person in question a permanent ban. Occasionally, in cases where a ban was carried out for a more minor offence and the banned person apologises profusely to the admin and others, the ban might be reverted. However, this is the only second chance a forum member gets. Relapsing into breaking the rules and bad behaviour will earn the member a permanent ban, with no more appeals available. Very serious banning offenses (e.g. supporting racism, abuse, genocide, violence, real-world harm on others, etc.) will never receive a repeal by the admin, only the more minor offenses (e.g. being rude, insulting) will. No one is entitled to have his/her permanent ban repealed, it's entirely up to the admin's decision. For more information on Rules and Guidelines, please see here.

Gone fishing
This is a poetic shorthand related to the New Board administration. Short explanation: It's used when a board member is on vacation. Longer explanation: It is used when a board member is busy and wants to prevent himself from visiting the board instead of doing something more productive, so he asks the admin or moderators of the board to temporarily ban or kick him. Of course, since these are temporary and voluntary forms of banning, they are not considered as infractions against board policy by the member who requested them. Some AH.commers dislike this phenomenon, since there is no separate lable for these temporary bans - many members have repeatedly freaked out because they though another friend of their's from the board has been permanently banned. This has led to many members asking Ian the Admin for a possible addition of an official “Gone Fishing” label. Eventually, a thread called ”The Pond” was created to catalogue the board members who have gone fishing, in order to dispel any confusion over who was kicked/banned for real and who wasn't. As of May 2016, a “Gone Fishing” label for posts was finally introduced, rendering The Pond by and large obsolete.

New Board
The discussion board that you can visit and post on nowadays. To date, it has had two software iterations, under the forum software frameworks vBulletin (2004-2016) and XenForo (2016-present).

Old Board
The discussion board from the days of yore, long lost in the mists of time, but not forgotten (it's archived and was, until 18 December 2013, accessible via a link on the new board).

See Also

alternate_history/ah_slang_and_acronyms.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/17 08:33 by max_sinister