It occurs to me that I'd like to get this acronym (or rather, initialism) into wider use, so I should post about it.

"TSOR" (pronounced by spelling it out, not pronounced as if it were a word) stands for "Thirty Seconds Of Research"; it was coined by Josh S., and is in regular use on the mailing list where he coined it. He first used the full phrase in late 2002, and first used the initials in March of 2003.

It has a wide variety of uses. For example:

  • If someone asks a question that they could've found the answer to easily on their own ("What's the capital of Ruritania?"), someone might respond snidely, "TSOR would have told you that it's Strelsau." But because we're pretty much all friends and many of us are show-offs who are happy to dive in and find answers for people, it's rarely actually used this way.
  • If someone asks a question in passing but doesn't think to check Google, and someone else discovers that the answer is easy to find, the respondent might use a relatively non-snide variant like "TSOR says it's Strelsau."
  • The person who posts the original question might use it to indicate that they did check Google before asking the mailing list: "Anyone happen to know what Grand Duke Michael's middle name was? TSOR didn't turn anything up."
  • Someone who's an expert in the topic area but doesn't know the answer to the given question can use it as a sort of disclaimer: "TSOR suggests that Strelsau is sixty miles from the border, but that's all I know about it" indicates that you're not speaking from a depth of personal knowledge.
  • An editor who's attempting to fact-check a story but knows nothing about the subject area in question, and is therefore relying on Google, Wikipedia, and Britannica, might say "TSOR suggests that Ruritania doesn't actually exist, but you probably know more about it than I do; if you're sure it's real, you can leave this alone."

Anyway. I don't know if it'll find widespread use on the web, but it definitely fits my head; I figure even if y'all don't start using it, you'll at least know what I mean when I say it now.

8 Responses to “TSOR”

  1. Fred

    I am pleased by the examples.

  2. Vardibidian

    The other thing I like about the TSOR shorthand is that it is, on occasion, nice to know that the information is only as accurate as, say, wikipedia, rather than realio trulio accurate. There are situations a-plenty when TSOR will tell you that Strelsau is the capital of Ruritania, but thirty minutes of research will tell you that Strelsau has been renamed Aloysigrrad by the self-proclaimed government of Herzoslovakia (formerly Ruritania), but that the new government controls only the Old Town, and that the old Ruritanian government has moved the capital to suburban Baumenberg for the duration of the conflict.
    Less frivolously, TSOR will tell you that 70,000 people have died in Darfur; thirty minutes might well tell you that 300,000 people have died. Quite likely a solid month of research will give you a different answer, but my point is not the indeterminate nature of information, just that TSOR will give you the most widely spread fact (the Senate has never filibustered a nomination for the federal bench, Social Security is going bankrupt in 2042, Thomas Edison invented the light bulb), not the most accurate.

  3. David Moles

    Not silly enough. I’d go for something like GTFI.

  4. Chris Cobb

    TSOR: Useful concept, pronounceable acronym!

    I have used “thirty seconds of research” once today on a discussion board to which I post, and I plan to introduce the acronym once I have used the root phrase thrice. It will be interesting to see if it catches on there . . .


  5. Chris Cobb

    TSOR on TSOR at Google suggests that there are a number of competitors for this acronym that currently have a higher web profile:

    Turkish Society of Rochester
    The Sword of Redwall
    The Spirit of Rush
    Technical Statement of Requirement
    The School of Rock
    Terms of Reference

    “Technical Statement of Requirement” appears to be the only one that is used without contextual explanation, however.

  6. Jed

    I’m pleased to see that this journal entry is now the third Google result for [TSOR].

    David: Somehow I missed your comment when you posted it. Does “GTFI” stand for “Google The Fucking Internet”?

    (Maybe we should just change the traditional “RTFM” to “RTFI,” with the I standing for Internet.)

  7. Allogenes Kolodny

    It has fallen into some common usage, but not spelled out. At least with a few people! 😀


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