Thursday, October 18, 2012

The rise of passive-aggressive wi-fi names

Some wireless internet users have been setting their network names to send snide messages to their neighbours ............... Why ?

Predominantly, it's about noise. And sex. Well, noisy sex. That, and "stealing" broadband.

Wireless internet users are typically asked to assign names to their networks when installing new routers. These names can be seen by anybody within range who searches for networks.

Many stick to mundane options like "Home" or "Wireless01". The more adventurous may even use their surname or address.

But this is an era of bite-sized self-expression. It's possible to see names like "Drop it like it's hotspot", "Terror network", and "Virus Detected Shutting Down". Or witticisms like "Pretty fly for a Wi-Fi" and "Wi Believe I Can Fi".

Users of social network Reddit have gathered together examples that are less about the humour and more about sending a message to a neighbour.

Anybody who has house- or flat-shared has dealt with Post-it notes left on fridges. "Please throw away the box after eating my food" or "The dishwasher is the white thing with buttons" are typical.

People are apparently doing the same with network names.

"Stop Stealing My Paper!" begins one exchange, to which the reply taunts: "FYI, I Don't Read It I Just Throw It Away!"

"You're music is annoying!" is followed by "Your grammar is more annoying!"

"Meat is Murder" alongside "Meat is delicious!!!" is another antagonistic exchange uploaded to image-hosting site Flickr.

Pet misbehaviour is addressed, with examples like "Shut The Barking Dog Up No 7". Another expletive-laden name demands neighbours stop letting the cat use their lawn as a toilet.

Noisy neighbours seem to be the principal source of complaint. Examples provided by OpenSignalMaps, a company maintaining a wide database of wi-fi network names, include:

"Stop slamming the door!!!" "Stop wearing heels!" "Shut up" "Stop running" and "Stop shouting!"

Unprotected wireless networks themselves, or the "theft" of them, spark numerous network name complaints.

Most wireless networks now come with secure settings as default. But "Go Away Don't Steal My Broadband" and "Stop Mooching Our Internet" suggest that "stealing" of unsecured broadband still irritates some users.

One invokes a kind of technological 11th commandment: "Covet not thy neighbour's wi-fi". Another merely opts for: "Thou shalt not steal!"

Network name complaints are the "digital equivalent" of the classic fridge note, says technology expert Tom Chatfield.

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