Shibboleet | The code for getting through to tech support

Shibboleet support

Want to get through to a knowledgeable tech support person like this? "Shibboleet" most likely won't help. Image: Flickr / Infusionsoft / CC-BY-SA

Being on any tech support phone call can be very difficult — but would “shibboleet” may be the passcode to an easier time? Unfortunately, shibboleet is not a super-secret backdoor passcode for tech support. The hebrew-based word, however, can be considered uniquely appropriate for its new chosen use.

Shibboleet on XKCD

If you have never read the comic XKCD, it is a “webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” The hand-drawn stick figure comic tends to cater to the more tech-minded of the internet. This morning’s comic put “shibboleet” to the forefront. According to the dream the comic character was having, saying shibboleet would immediately send a tech support caller to a tech support worker who knows a lot about computers. As the comic put it, “an individual who knows a minimum of two programming languages.”

Will shibboleet work?

Unfortunately, even in the XKCD comic, shibboleet was just a dream. Saying shibboleet if you are on a tech support call will most likely do just one of two things. First, if they have not read XKCD or heard about it, they will just be confused. Second, if they have read XKCD, they will most likely giggle. Long story short, tech support most often relies on scripts and troubleshooting by people who barely get paid enough for a no fax payday loan, not dreamt-in-a-comic backdoor passwords. Saying “sibboleet” may, at least, if you are lucky, start a good conversation with your tech support personnel.

What shibboleet actually means

There are some saying that “shibboleet” is a term based on a Hebrew-language word that means “a person of knowledge.” However, the malmanteau “shibboleet” is most likely a combination of “shibbo”, which is a word used to describe reading and writing access data or passwords; and “leet”, which is usually used to describe a technically savvy person. Most often called “l33t”, this is a second alphabet that uses ASCII characters with the regular alphabet, usually used online.

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