Sadly it's time for another IRC rant.
A trend I have noticed on the rise in recent years is the use of “...” as a lazy catch-all response usable in almost any situation.
Contemporary dots usage
Here are a few examples:
<foo> T GRIFFERZ YOU DIDN'T FIX TH- ARG CHOKING ARG DONGS HUGALUGAHUGALUG <bar> ...
<foo> he went on this nick and tried to recover it with the pass emailer thing <foo> :P <foo> i pwned his ass with recover tho <foo> :D <bar> ...
<foo> im straight in that I fancy girls <bar> ...
<foo> Kirk gasped, then gasped again as a hot tongue flicked at the pulse point of his neck. Lying like this, unable to see anything but his own arm curved around his head, he experienced the caress as an isolated event generated by a small, wet, writhing and altogether maddening entity — an alien creature possessed of a will all its own. ‘Do you know . . . how sexy that is?’ <foo> Spock's low voice murmured in his ear. ‘Specify.’ <bar> ...
<foo> what is the difference between joan collins and a kit kat <foo> you can only get four fingers in a kit kat <bar> how nasty. <foo> ...
<grifferz> http://strugglers.net/rants/dots%20:(.php <grifferz> feel free to be merciless in your critique <foo> ...
As far as I can see the only consistent meaning of “...” is something like “You have said something which at the moment I can't think of a response to, so I will just type “...” and hope that you will do my work for me by guessing what exactly I want to know and telling me.”
Do not be so bloody lazy!
If you want to know something more, say what you want to know! How is anyone else supposed to know what your problem is with what they have just said?
The pro-dotsians have their say
Here are some excuses I have seen given for the use of “...”:
It means “I have no answer for that.”
Maybe it does some of the time, but not all, and even if it does mean that, it still forces the person you are talking to to ask you which parts you would like explained further. It is lazy - do not do it.
It just means the same as “and?” or “go on?”
No it doesn't. Those two responses don't fit for any of the above examples, and those examples were not specially chosen, they were just random picks from IRC logs. Am I seriously to believe that one of the uses of “...” was to say “yes please continue with the Spock/Kirk slash erotica”??
People who use the dots understand what they mean.
The meaning is obvious when read in context.
Wrong again! Only the single person who typed the dots knows what it means. This is by far the easiest point to disprove because all you have to do is ask the pro-dots people present to explain what the dotter meant by the use of the dots, and watch as they all give you different answers. The only way they can ever achieve a consensus is by being uselessly vague. If you can only be so vague and annoying.. don't fucking bother!
I use the dots when I think what I have just read makes no sense.
That's nice for you - does everyone? No. Do you expect a response anyway? Sometimes. Great, thanks for helping! Wouldn't it have just been easier for you to e.g. not bother saying anything if you don't want a response, and actually explaining what you want to hear if you do want a response? No, that would be far too sensible, let's just type some dots and make people guess!
If you don't like the dots, just ignore them.
“If you don't like the fact that I deliberately annoy you and make communication with me harder, expecting you to do a disproportionate amount of the work for my benefit, well, tough, as I am just going to carry on doing that anyway.”
In practice what I suggest fellow anti-dots people do is just not respond to the dots1. If the dotter really does want a response this will force them to articulate their desire. If they don't, then it will be as if they never dotted anyway. Problem solved. That still doesn't alter the fact that the conversation would work better without the dots.
They express things which cannot be said.
At the time. By that one person. Because they were too lazy to try. I don't know what I am supposed to do when someone says “...” to me, and that's the problem.
In the same vein
<grifferz> <TimStarling> for some reason when people hang around on IRC long enough, they think coherent arguments can be made entirely using the question mark character <grifferz> that man gets it! grifferz's corollary: and dots
Yes, replying with “?” (or more commonly, “??????????????”) is nearly as bad as the dots.
Dots aren't always wrong...
Please note that “...” is a real grammatical feature known as ellipsis. Its proper use is to denote omission of irrelevant or obviously understood material. This rant does not apply to proper use of ellipses.
Please also note that this rant also does not apply to use of “...” within sentences to show pauses, trailing off, etc., nor does it apply when someone does the dots but then immediately responds properly. This rant is only about the use of dots as the sole response, and intends to point out that it is a useless response.
Purpose of this rant
It seems some people are getting the wrong idea about this rant in that they believe it is my goal to ban use of dots on IRC, and that I would do that if it were within my power. While it might be nice if no one used the dots in the way I take exception to, this is a bit like saying “it would be nice if everyone agreed that the correct use of apostrophes is important in making you not look like a retard, even on IRC.”
What I'm saying is, I'm just trying to bring people around to my point of view. If this rant causes a current pro-dots person to think about the matter for a second each time they go to use the dots, then I have made some progress, even if I can't eradicate the practice completely.
This rant was distilled from the record of a conversation about the dots on the #blitzed wiki. You can also find more of the arguments of pro-dots people there, as well as some more real-life examples of dots use. That page is also editable by any user of Blitzed.
My response to dots
I do tend to respond these days by saying:
<foo> ... <grifferz> dots :(
but that is only to draw attention to my anti-dots stance. This appears to have now become a trend and lots of people now do the same whether they are pro- or anti-dots, but at least now you know why I do it.