1989: IMHO

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"Ugh, TMI." "Yeah, that's some tantalizing meat info."
Title text: "Ugh, TMI." "Yeah, that's some tantalizing meat info."


The conversation begins with a reference to the controversy between whether IMHO stands for "in my honest opinion" or "in my humble opinion". Some older Internet users, including Cueball, use the H to mean "humble", which Cueball references as being the norm in the 1990s. However, many younger Internet users, including, apparently, Ponytail, use it to mean "honest", which became the norm after another SMS abbreviation, TBH (to be honest) became popular c. 2011 [1]. However, the joke veers into absurdity with Ponytail sharing her unusual opinions on other Internet controversies, including:

  • Believing the G in GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is silent, so she pronounces it "if", as opposed to the two main camps claiming it should be either a soft G (as in "giantess") or a hard G (as in "graphics"). Some people (okay, maybe just one) pronounce it as an "h" (like how Gs are pronounced in Spanish).
  • Believing that the S in SMDH ("Shaking My Damn Head" or "So Much Damn Hate") stands for "swallowing".
  • Believing that the G in OMG ("Oh My God" or "Oh My Goodness") stands for either "giantess" or "genitals."
  • Believing a viral picture of a dress in very bad lighting is actually black and white. For context, the usual perceptions are black and blue to some people and white and gold to others (the manufacturer eventually confirmed it to be black and blue). Though the dress may also appear blue and brown to some people, virtually no individual perceives the dress as black and white. The dress was previously mentioned in 1492: Dress Color.
  • Believing that the database language SQL (Structured Query Language) is pronounced "squill" as opposed to the two main camps claiming it should be an acronym "sequel" (two syllables) or an initialism S-Q-L ("ess cue ell"; three syllables).
  • Using tabs after periods, instead of the two main opposing camps of using either one or two spaces.

Before the 20th century, it was common typographical practice to use an em-space (or other similar wide-space) between sentences. In the 1930s, common practice was to use smaller inter-sentence spacing, and by the 1950s, inter-sentence spaces were the same size as inter-word spaces. Although modern style guides all insist on single-spacing between sentences, many people prefer to include two spaces, possibly out of habit from typewriter usage (which commonly used two spaces to mimic the 19th century typographic standards). (See also: 1285: Third Way.) Tabs vs. Spaces also refer to the programmers' debate on how to indent code correctly.

In the last panel, Cueball exclaims "OMG" (meaning "Oh, my God") to which Megan replies "Yeah, mine too", taking the meaning as "Oh, my genitals" from the 5th panel. This leads to the title text "TMI" (too much information). The pun on periods (typographical and menstruation) might also explain the reaction.

In the title text, another incorrect belief Ponytail has is believing TMI to be "tantalizing meat info," as opposed to too much information. (Remarkably, this makes sense in the context of Megan's comment about her genitals.)

The comic also obliquely references the mistaken opinion that Website polling is an accurate measure of anything; selection bias (among many other problems) renders them almost useless for measuring the general population.

Etymology of IMHO

ESR's Jargon File (later known as The New Hacker's Dictionary) has an entry of "IMHO". It's also seen in variant forms such as IMNSHO (In My Not-So-Humble Opinion) and IMAO (In My Arrogant Opinion).

And it has been added into the Jargon File v2.1 in January 1990, the first version under Eric S. Raymond. Maybe the acronym "IMHO" was invented by science fiction fans in frequent discussions and used on the Usenet which started in 1980. It was in common usage as "humble" in APA (Amateur Press Association) publications during the 1980s, and possibly earlier.


[Cueball, Megan, and Ponytail stand together, talking.]
Cueball: I thought the "H" in "IMHO" was "humble," but Buzzfeed ran a poll and "honest" won.
Megan: That can't be true. Their readers are messing with us.
[Cueball and Megan look at Ponytail.]
Ponytail: Are you sure? I always used it to mean "honest."
Megan: ...What?!
[Close up of Cueball holding a phone. A box with usage of "IMHO" and "TBH" from Google Trends shows "TBH" suddenly rising in 2011, with a second spike in 2014.]
Cueball: It was definitely "humble" in the 1990s.
Cueball: Maybe people who picked it up after the rise of "TBH" in 2011 interpreted it as "honest" and used it that way.
[Cueball, Megan, and Ponytail as before.]
Megan: I can't get over this. What other wrong opinions do you have?
Megan: The "G" in "G-I-F"?
Ponytail: Silent.
[Close up of Ponytail, with Megan talking from offscreen.]
Megan: The "S" in "SMDH"?
Ponytail: "Swallowing."
Megan: The "G" in "OMG"?
Ponytail: "Giantess" or "genitals."
[Cueball, Megan, and Ponytail as before.]
Megan: The Dress?
Ponytail: Black and white.
Megan: Is the database language "sequel" or "ess cue ell"?
Ponytail: I've always said "squill."
Cueball: Okay, the big one: how many spaces after a period?
Ponytail: None; I use tabs.
Cueball: OMG.
Megan: Yeah, mine too.

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I have never heard anyone use it like "Humble". Probably because "in my humble opinion" sounds more condescending than anything, along with the fact that a lot of people love to state things ironically, especially nowadays; seems important to point out when you're actually being sincere sometimes because of that. 19:32, 9 May 2018 (UTC)

I use it to mean "humble", wasn't aware that there was an alternative. But then when I was a kid, V.23 was cutting edge. The use of "humble" is not condescending, it is sarcasm. For a master class, watch practically any episode of "My So-Called Life". 22:16, 24 May 2018 (UTC)
IIRC, "IMO" came first, and the "H" was added precisely because "in my opinion" had a condescending tone. Seeing it interpreted the other way around is...imho...odd, but as I get older (...seeing lost histories change other meanings like this) it's getting less surprising. Elvenivle (talk) 01:32, 26 May 2023 (UTC)

I mean, the dress is b&w if you have one of the forms of colorblindness. Although, what colors is it? SilverMagpie (talk) 16:33, 4 May 2018 (UTC)

The gold/black part is 61522F hex and the white/blue part is 8190B2 hex. So it's brown and blue. Grabadora304 (talk) 16:55, 4 May 2018 (UTC)
So that explains the colors represented by the photo; what about the colors of the dress itself? I'd guess black & gold, based purely upon the discussions I've heard. ProphetZarquon (talk) 20:52, 4 May 2018 (UTC)
The dress was blue with black lace. And I've added the fact that Randall had made a comic because of the dress (1492: Dress Color). Herobrine (talk) 01:04, 5 May 2018 (UTC)

Currently adding transcript. Chbs (talk) 16:38, 4 May 2018 (UTC)

Did top row. Feel free to format it differently. SilverMagpie (talk) 16:42, 4 May 2018 (UTC)
Screams in edit conflicts. Chbs (talk) 16:53, 4 May 2018 (UTC)
Okay, I've normalized the formatting to what seems to be the standard: uniform indent with ":".Chbs (talk) 16:57, 4 May 2018 (UTC)
What about using tabs?  ;D
ProphetZarquon (talk) 20:52, 4 May 2018 (UTC)

AFAIK In normal (British) usage the phrase is "In my humble opinion" and I have heard it said, when someone prefaces their contribution with IMHO it is rarely humble but is definitely an opinion. RIIW - Ponder it (talk) 16:47, 4 May 2018 (UTC)

The weirdos reading/using it as "honest" _might_ have a problem with the relatively common "IMNSHO." 14:34, 7 May 2018 (UTC)

No lie, I had a manager who used to refer to the database language as Squeal. As in a high-pitched animal sound. We had an in-house database tool called PiggySQL. Thaledison (talk) 17:26, 4 May 2018 (UTC)

I've always preferred that pronunciation too. ProphetZarquon (talk) 20:53, 4 May 2018 (UTC)

Dammit. Now my brain will always translate "OMG" to "oh, my genitals". 17:45, 4 May 2018 (UTC)Pat

Actually I will keep this in mind. If someone OMGs me in a "discussion" on the web my response will be: Just scratch... 18:08, 6 May 2018 (UTC)
+1 And I didn't even know what "tbh" means, but then Im probably getting old. -- 10:17, 8 May 2018 (UTC)

The single space convention became the standard waaay before HTML. Cgrimes85 (talk) 18:13, 4 May 2018 (UTC)

Standard, but less readable. For printed documents (especially stories with a lot of lengthy paragraphs) I'd still strongly recommend using double spaces because it's easier for the reader to discern sentence breaks. Incidentally, I had points deducted from English papers lacking that extra space as late as 1998.
Funny - I always interpreted the period at the end of sentences as the end of the sentence in question, discerning any dot used for abbreviations based on context... Brettpeirce (talk) 19:28, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
(By the way, that link you gave is broken:
"Trouble Encountered ~ can't fetch document")
ProphetZarquon (talk) 21:10, 4 May 2018 (UTC)
If you print documents with monospace font, using just single space is NOT the main reason it's hard to read. You should use proportional font and tool actually designed to handle printing, which include having better option than using two spaces. -- Hkmaly (talk) 03:25, 5 May 2018 (UTC)
I find variable-width fonts hard to read. Fixed-width fonts are way clearer and more readable. 18:45, 17 January 2020 (UTC)
Using extra-wide space between sentences (not necessarily two spaces) goes back to the earliest days of printing, long before the invention of typewriters.     As a matter of fact, the practice of double-spacing sentences with typewriters got started by trying to mimic the printing practices of the time.     It was only in the mid-20th century (with the 1949 edition of the Chicago Manual of Style) that the recommendation became "one space", in 1969 when they stopped mentioning the earlier customs, and in the 21st century where they explicitly prohibit any alternative.     There's a great article about this that explains the history in great detail.     (Sadly, that blog no longer exists, but the Wayback Machine has preserved the content).     Shamino (talk) 15:44, 5 May 2018 (UTC)

Tabs vs Spaces might also be a reference to the programmer's war on how to indent code correctly. Ruffy314 (talk) 19:25, 4 May 2018 (UTC)

Agreed. I prefer " " (U+2003, A.K.A.  )
ProphetZarquon (talk) 21:10, 4 May 2018 (UTC)
Did you ever manage to RUN some of those programs? :) -- Hkmaly (talk) 03:25, 5 May 2018 (UTC)

Maybe I'm reading too much in this, but there is a popular product called "cramp tabs" for use during and right after a period Sysin (talk)

I definitely read that as using birth control pills, given that she said she didn't have any. I'm reading this as "I don't need to worry about how frequent my periods usually are, because I'm on the pill and skip them all". That is unless the implication there was that she's bleeding every day of the cycle... And while that would explain "omg", I'm inclined to say that's not what it is, purely out of shock 22:03, 3 April 2019 (UTC)Insev

I hate to be that guy, but I pronounce Giantess and Gift the same way.--Henke37 (talk) 11:06, 5 May 2018 (UTC)

LOL! (Lots of love [or lots of luck for you old-schoolers]) 14:12, 9 May 2018 (UTC)
With a Dutch G perhaps? 21:50, 20 October 2021 (UTC)

SQL Pronunciation[edit]

For Microsoft's SQL Server, "SQL" should be pronounced "sequel" because it's Microsoft's product, and that's how they pronounce it. I notice young I.T. people tend to try to make abbreviations into pronounceable words (acronyms) rather than go letter-by-letter (initialisms). Many older I.T. people I've met prefer initialism pronunciation. 17:36, 5 May 2018 (UTC)

The term "SQL" existed long before Microsoft started playing; they do not get to change the pronunciation. I do not think that it is necessarily young IT people who prefer pronouncable words. "SCSI" being pronounced "scuzzy" has a long tradition. For myself, I usually say "S-Q-L" but have also used "squeal". I am 57. Gene Wirchenko [email protected] 01:06, 6 May 2018 (UTC)

I'm aware SQL existed long before Microsoft got into the act. It started as SEQUEL for "Structured English Query Language". Nor did I intend to say that Microsoft dictated the pronunciation for all SQL. In the first sentence, I was only referring to their product. I use "sequel" for Microsoft's product, but mostly "ess-kew-el" for others. For some reason, my remarks as typed came out shorter than as thought. 14:39, 6 May 2018 (UTC)
I've heard S-Q-L, Sequel, and Squirrel. Squeal's new to me. I wonder if there's a Squeal connection available in Squeak (Smalltalk system)? 12:53, 2 September 2023 (UTC)

Is it possible the last panel is punning on menstruation?


ANOTHER one where talking about a debate invents the debate for me! For decades GIF was pronounced "jif" by literally everyone since they were invented, until Big Bang Theory taught me some people (including them) pronounce it wrong. Then SQL, which everyone I've ever met - including in SQL class - pronounced it as S.Q.L., by letters (my favourite was when I learned of this debate, someone saying they used another word with the letters in the right places that was odd, I think "Squeal", which I resolved to use myself, but forgot since it never comes up for me). Now IMHO? This comic is literally the first I hear of this. Another one with a clear answer and no reason for debate: It's an acronym applied to an ages old phrase, which predates all this texting / internet stuff. The saying is "In My Humble Opinion", therefore so is the acronym. That's it. Mixing it up with TBH doesn't make it correct, just like "Should of / would of" isn't correct, nor is "for all intensive purposes", or "ect", or many, many others.

As for the spaces-after-period thing, I was taught 2 in several typing courses, but quickly dropped it to one as a waste of space (I don't mean I think there's a limit to how many times we can use the space bar, I mean to keep things compact, LOL!) NiceGuy1 (talk) 06:31, 6 May 2018 (UTC)

For me it (gif) was the other way around. I've never heard anyone call it jif before The Big Bang Theory came around. To this day I still prefer the hard g because it stands for graphics after all. Similar to your reasoning for IMHO being "In My Humble Opinion" which I fully agree with. 06:38, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
I think the inventor of the GIF file format declared that it is pronounced with a soft G. Once an abbreviation becomes an acronym, there is no rule that says the letters have to be pronounced the same. For example, LASER is "La-zer", not "La-cer" (from "stimulated"). SCUBA is "scoo-ba", not "scuh-ba" (from "underwater"). Hence, the guy that coined the word is the ultimate authority of correct pronunciation. I was also taught 2 spaces after a period (early 1990s), and I kept the habit because it makes it easier to do a search-and-replace on sentence breaks to manipulate the text, or count sentences with a simple regex search (without miscounting other occurrences of period-space). 16:46, 8 July 2019 (UTC)

I, too, was taught to type two spaces after a full stop. I think it had something to do with the font most typewriters used. On a web page, the HTML processor seems to remove extra spaces. 14:39, 6 May 2018 (UTC)

Yes, HTML collapses all whitespace.    Runs of whitespace characters (spaces, tabs, newlines) are all collapsed and rendered as a single space.    But there are workarounds.    One of the easiest is to use non-breaking-space characters ( ), which are not collapsed.    You can see the effect of using them in this comment.    Shamino (talk) 13:43, 7 May 2018 (UTC)

The dress is blue and gold to me. I don't know why it would be anything else. HelloWorld (talk) 18:15, 23 December 2019 (UTC)


With all the "tantalizing meat info", I wonder if "tabs" can be interpreted as ... some feminine hygienic product? 19:44, 8 June 2022 (UTC)

Yes, I think the punch line is even here bigger: If you use tabs as another word for pills, you can manage to have no period if using tabs. "None. I use tabs."

"In my humble opinion," began as a grandiose and snarky way to lay down the law while pretending to be modest. It typically came from a real expert to a newbie who had just expressed some cockamamie idea as fact. Whether it originated in sf fandom or among computer programmers is irrelevant, given the great overlap between the two populations, especially back in the day. It's the hackers' version of the Southern U.S. locution, "bless your heart," which is a polite way to say, "I hate your guts." A similar locution is the re-enactor slang "farby," which refers to an ignorant newbie who gets all the details wrong and derives from "Far be it from me to criticize, but . . ."). 20:54, 29 June 2023 (UTC)

No, "In My Humble Opinion" began as a way to share one's opinion, an opinion the audience may disagree with, while acknowledging that the speaker is no expert or authority on the matter, this is only how they feel and they may in fact be wrong. It's POLITE, and self-aware, as well as being honest about the validity of their words, not grandiose or snarky or talking down at all. That's only how extreme pessimists would interpret it, who don't believe anyone is legitimately polite without an ulterior motive. Though I'll give you that it would often be used by legitimate experts, but as a way to avoid boasting or pathetically trying to add weight to their words. (They were ACTUALLY being humble). It ended up being used YOUR way, sure, but the difference is in the tone of voice and mannerisms. Polite came first. :) (And this is an OLD comic to be commenting on, only reason _I_ saw it is because I happened to look at my Watchlist for once) NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:05, 2 July 2023 (UTC)