ANSWERS: 5
  • the meaning of “epic fail” isn’t something on which people agree, even though they are all using the term. It’s kind of like “great sex” or “delicious meatloaf”.
  • How to FAIL at API Sample Code On their libraries page, they list an "unfinished" ruby library. I thought: no problem, even if the implementation isn't complete, at least this is something I can work with — a starting point. Boy, was I wrong. FAIL: The library doesn't work, isn't tested, and is impressively unreadable. Is it a gem? There's no gemspec. Is it a rails plugin? There's no init.rb. Out of the box, it's not even clear how to test it in a console. Once I did manage to get it running in a console, it was pretty obvious that nothing worked. Worst of all, the way the error handling was set up, it kicked me out of irb every time a call failed (which was every time, because the code was FUBARed). Lesson Learned: DON'T provide untested client code that doesn't even come close to working. It's better to provide nothing at all than to waste your client's time working with an unreadable mess of garbage that leads them nowhere. If you want to be in the business of distributing code, learn the language, and make sure you're distributing something that works.
  • It started with engrish.com. It was meant to show disdain for persons who could not speak or write English correctly. Sites started using "fail" when they disagreed with something or thought something was done in a faulty or stupid fashion. Now "fail" is being used regularly by people who think it is an actual word meaning "to fail" though this in itself is completely incorrect. The incorrect (and deliberate) misuse of "fail" is single handedly dumbing down the entire English speaking population.
  • To preface this answer, it is based on personal experience and research I have done regarding the subject. Keep in mind that I may be entirely wrong, and this is only speculation into what may have happened. I believe that the word "fail" to describe an instance of true failure by someone/something may have originated with a standard DOS prompt response, in DOS's later years in life. I grew up when DOS was just on its way out the door, but I saw my fair share of "Abort, Retry, Fail?" messages when I couldn't read from a disk. According to Wikipedia, this spawned a meme of a sort only known by programmers and the like. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abort,_Retry,_Fail In my personal experience with this error message, it meant that no matter what I did I was screwed. I had three options: two were obvious, to either give up (abort) or try again (retry). So what in the world is Fail? As far as I (an end-user) could tell, it was the same as "give up because you're never going to see anything but this prompt". I can tell you what Fail means to me, though it might not be the origin of this meme. Fail is when no matter what you do, you are simply not going to go any further than what you've already achieved (as in a dog attempting to catch a frisbee inadvertently slamming into a tree http://injoke.blogspot.com/2008/02/fail-another-internet-meme.html). For the "epic" part of this question: an epic can be meant to describe "surpassing the usual or ordinary". http://www.thefreedictionary.com/epic An epic often describes something that is beyond normal human achievement, making it a good adjective for the situation from an objective standpoint. I find putting the two together hilarious. I believe that a programmer somewhere who found the "Abort, Retry, Fail?" prompt amusing coined this meme. It might have been a response to a forum question: "'Abort, Retry or Fail? Which should I pick?' 'Epic Fail'". Or perhaps he did it on his own: "Abort, Retry, Epic Fail". I doubt either of these are it, but in speculation alone it provides possibilities. If anyone agrees/disagrees with me, I would love to hear their opinion. Anyone who feels like flaming: feel free to point out that you disagree, but everyone keep in mind that this is entirely from my own experiences and part of the reason why I enjoy this meme, not necessarily the root of it. Perhaps I posted in error here, but I believe that the root of many memes is completely lost in the vastness that is the internets (misspelling intended, if you catch my drift) and so should be freely speculated upon in the way that all things internet are. Oh, and yeroca... I totally agree. My Motorola phone, when I type a text message to say "hi" or "go", now defaults to "ho". I'm assuming many people type this in for Motorola/Verizon to include it in the predictive text dictionary. Our language is indeed at the hands of the masses (in many cases, at least). Whoo wooo! All Aboard! Departing nonstop for fail land! Town mayor Epic welcomes you!
  • In Dungeons and Dragons, when checking for success at a particular task, one rolls a 20-sided die and checks the result against a value based on the difficulty of the task. If one rolls over the difficulty number, the task is a success; if one rolls below, it is a failure. When one rolls the highest or lowest value, they are usually special cases. Rolling a 20, for example, when attacking a creature of some kind results in a critical hit, which does some extra multiplier of damage like two to four times the normal amount of damage. In this case, the task not only succeeded, but it succeeded so well that some extra benefit took place. Conversely, in the same circumstance, were someone to roll a 1, one would not only fail to hit regardless of one's skill but would likely either stumble leaving oneself open to attack, hit oneself instead, or hit another friendly target. To not only fail, but to fail spectactularly in this circumstance is called an epic failure, or is referred to as an epic fail, or to epic fail. Often, this is heard as an exclamation in the same circumstance, as "You roll, and... Epic fail! You stab yourself in the eye, instead, and are doomed forevermore to wear an eye patch as a reminder of your ineptitude."

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