806: Tech Support

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Tech Support
I recently had someone ask me to go get a computer and turn it on so I could restart it. He refused to move further in the script until I said I had done that.
Title text: I recently had someone ask me to go get a computer and turn it on so I could restart it. He refused to move further in the script until I said I had done that.


My thanks to Chris Gaylord for this explanation:

The word Shibboleet is formed by combining the terms shibboleth and leet. Leet is an internet/hacker/gamer term for elite or skilled. A shibboleth is a word that a person unfamiliar with the language will not pronounce correctly.


[Person is on the phone, and holding up some networking hardware.]
Person: ... restart my computer? I know you have a script to follow, but the uplink light on the modem is going off every few hours. The problem is between your office and the modem.
Person: My computer has nothing to do with ... okay, whatever, I "restarted my computer."
Person: It's still down, and even if it comes back, it's going to die again in a few hours, because your--
Person: I don't HAVE a start menu. This is a Haiku install, but that's not import--
Person: Haiku? It's an experimental OS that I ... oh, never mind.
Person: I'm sorry, but this won't get fixed until I talk to an engineer. Can you look around for someone wearing cargo pants, maybe a subway map on their wall?
[The tech support person on the other end is wearing a headset, and looks around.]
Tech: There's a chick two phones over with a stuffed penguin doll and a poster of some bearded dudes with swords.
Person: Perfect. Can you put her on?
Tech: Sure.
[Person is now talking to the engineer.]
Person: Hey, so sorry to bother you, but my connection--
Engineer: Yeah, I see it. Lingering problems from a server move.
<<type type>>
Engineer: Should be fixed now.
Person: Thank you SO MUCH.
Engineer: No problem. Hey, in the future, if you're on any tech support call, you can say the code word "shibboleet" at any point and you'll be automatically transferred to someone who knows a minimum of two programming languages.
Person: Seriously?
Engineer: Yup. It's a backdoor put in by the geeks who built these phone support systems back in the 1990's.
Engineer: Don't tell anyone.
Person: Oh my god, this is the greatest--
[Person wakes up.]
Person: Wha--
Person: ... DAMMIT.

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Actually, a shibboleth's meaning is more complex. It's actually a phrase or principle that distinguishes a group of people and can be used to identify people foreign to said group. For example, in WWII, words with lots of L's were used as a shibboleth to identify Japanese spies, as many Japanese pronounce their L's as R's. 04:06, 23 December 2012 (UTC)Liz

As such, the term has been modernized to have the meaning of "password". 13:09, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

The "bearded dude with swords" is probably Richard Stallman. See 225 and 344. 22:39, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

This comic perfectly illustrates why I prefer nightmares over dreams in which things are better than in real life. Truthfully! -- (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

There is a company in UK that has XKCD/806 comppliance: http://revk.www.me.uk/2010/10/xkcd806-compliance.html 18:33, 7 November 2013 (UTC) The ravk link is broken. It can now be found at https://www.revk.uk/2010/10/xkcd806-compliance.html

Cueball asking if anyone has a subway map in their cubicle is likely a reference to Subways (http://xkcd.com/1196/) which is clever cross-marketing as the Subways poster is available for purchase (http://store-xkcd-com.myshopify.com/products/subways). Lakeside (talk) 16:02, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Oh, Randall planned in 2010 a reference to a former (oh, future) comic from 2013? It's BS, I'm sorry. Please do more advertisements for Randall, he uses this shop for his own income and all the payment he has to do for the xkcd web site!.--Dgbrt (talk) 20:36, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

I think the "bearded dude with swords" = Stallman is a huge stretch. It makes much more sense, and is the simpler of the two explanations, that she would simply be a fantasy fan and have a poster of someone from say LOTR or a sword-and-sorcery book/film/game. AmbroseChapel (talk) 06:43, 15 September 2017 (UTC)

You can think that and be entirely wrong. 16:23, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

Interestingly, I just used 'shibboleet' as a shibboleth to identify friends who do not read xkcd. Better unfriend them. Just kidding. 12:10, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

So I’m guessing this has been taken out in the clean up (which I’m sad about, there were some extremely funny dogmatic opinions expressed) - changing “leth” to “leet” was discussed? It’s a reference in the strip that amused me, but no comment on it here. Rereading xkcd (talk) 23:46, 29 March 2020 (UTC)

I always thought a shibboleth was a spell from DnD; never actually knew what it meant --Wielder of the Staple Gun (talk) 21:35, 10 May 2021 (UTC)