The original idea came from a Dilbert cartoon. During one particularly tedious department meeting in January 1997, I reeled off a long string of buzzwords. Only one of my colleagues, Lori Colleran, got the joke and replied "Bingo, sir" under her breath. It had to be put online.
Programming a web page that creates buzzword bingo cards was a hugely unoriginal idea. The first buzzword bingo cards were probably driven by Tom Davis's little C program, from which Scott Adams presumably cribbed the idea for Dilbert. Doing a web page was obvious.
The program is simple. The program randomly shuffles a list of buzzwords, then emits the first 25 in a five-by-five bingo card. It took an afternoon; most of the time was spent on the buzzword list. The page went on the web in early February. It got passed around among a friends, we shared a few laughs, and then we promptly ignored it.
In April 1998, Asra Nomani at the Wall Street Journal inquired. She was doing a piece to appear in the "Weekend Journal". After the piece came out (this site wasn't mentioned), buzzword bingo made the news cycle. Subsequently, papers from Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore, and New York asked about buzzword bingo. The now-apparently-defunct Buzzword-Bingo.com site launched at about the same time.
United Features Syndicate asked whether they could license the code for the Dilbert web site. When their license agreement came, it stated United Features retained all rights to the work, all derivative works, in perpetuity, etc., all for zero dollars down, zero dollars ever. Not cool; it wasn't worth any money, but at least name and authorship should be attached. After a brief voice and email exchange, UFS never came back. Apparently, the Pointy Haired Ones are in control.
During the last week of September 2000, BizBuzzBingo email started arriving at a rate of one or two a day. When asked about his interest, one correspondent replied a link to the page had appeared in Jesse Burst's Anchordesk column on ZDNet. Since the page was looking a bit dated, it got spruced up over the weekend, adding some new options and this text.
From then until about 2001, email comments trickled in two or three times a month. Occasionally, the site gets a link from online publications' humor and pop-culture columns, and was most recently cited in Tom Terez's WorkForce.com article. Overall web site traffic is about 11,000 hits per month, mostly due to the Custom Buzzword Bingo generator added August 2002 in response to several folks requests.
In 2009, this game's hosting moved from the University of Southern California to commerical hosting sites that offered more services and flexibility. Many thanks to USC for hosting it for more than ten years. Google Ads were put on to defray hosting costs.
Please enjoy the fun. Also, please feel free to send suggestions for buzzwords or categories of buzzwords via the email link at page bottom.
Contributors and Credits
Thanks especially to Scott Adams and Dilbert for keeping us sane. We may own every compilation published. $$ Ka-ching! $$
The following people have contributed by making suggestions or by requesting particular buzzwords:
Susan Beeching, Senior Consumer Risk Manager, RBC Centura Bank
Andy Flowers, Software Technology Manager, Halliburton Energy Services
Jeanne LaRocco, Information Consultant, Amgen Libraries
Joe Polvino, for his collected list.
D. Aaron Sawyer, UNIX Software Division, Compaq Computer Corporation
"Too many to thank": just about every management consultant, human resources officer, and professional consulting firm. As George Bernard Shaw said, "All professions are conspiracies against the laity."
The following sites have either contributed ideas and vocabulary, or are just plain fun.
Information Week. Probably the single most dangerous trade rag ever put into the hands of non-technical IT managers, CIOs, and CTOs.
Forbes. The best financial erotica available. Just looking for more buzz words, dear.
Harvard Business Review. A citation in HBR makes any buzzword legitimate.
Lake Superior State University's annually issued Banished Words List, citing "Words and Phrases BANISHED from the Queen's English for Mis-, Mal-, or Over-Use, as well as General Uselessness". Also houses an excellent historical archive of buzzwords and phrases dating back to 1976!
Jim Tobin's 25 Social Media Buzzwords at Ignite Social Media.
Matthew Tommasi's Social Media Glossary at The Social Media Guide.
Web Bullshit Generator from Dack.
WiReD. The magazine was a lot more fun when it had more attitude, unreadably eye-searing typography, and a negative balance sheet. Now it's an almost respectable Conde-Nasté property.
Al Gore Buzzword Bingo, a 1996 hack at MIT.
AFP Bingo at Mike Kew's site.
Buzz Killer web site.
BuzzWhack the buzzword and hype whacking site.
Buzzwordometer lets you check a web site for both "suit" and "geek" buzzwords and ranks it. Simple enter the URL of the site to see the result. Very entertaining.
Dilbert.com also has a complete list of all buzzword strips.
Mohan Embar's BYOBingo for WinCE hand-helds.
Horst Fiedler's Car Show B.S. Bingo! DEFUNCT
Rober Lai's Christmas Music Bingo, just in time for X-Mas 2003. DEFUNCT
Cunningham & Cunningham's Consultancy features a set of buzzword-related articles
Defy America - Play Buzzword Bingo at Bill York's page. DEFUNCT
Deloitte Consulting's Bullfighter software. This application runs in Microsoft Office 2000 under MS Windows 2000 or XP. DEFUNCT
Dilbert and Wally's Buzzword Bingo from Dale Y at best.com. Watch out, Dale: did you license "Dilbert and Wally"? DEFUNCT
Executive Speak from Mark McKeen features Buzzword Bingo and offers a treasure trove of senior-level malapropisms.
David Gignac has made a short film Bullshit Bingo at iFilm.
Hubspot's 120 Social Media Inbound Marketing Terms is a goldmine of buzzwords and as well as a very useful marketing site.
Miq Kew's Kewhiem features buzzword bingo and fan service to Terry Prachett readers.
Nick and Timbob's Buzzword Bingo. Also has an automated marketing guru. DEFUNCT
Bruce McGraw's blog entry Project Management Buzzwords and Cliches summarizes the top pain points of 2009.
The Monkeyboys' Palm Pilot Buzzword Bingo.
PBL Buzzword Bingo PBA Employees for Excellence
Random text generators at Omniseek. Buzzword bingo, stories, Hannibal Lecter quotes, Brian Eno decision cards, and more. DEFUNCT
John Reh on About.com's Management Guide site mentions this buzzword bingo site in its 29 May 2002 newsletter.
Robie the Robot's corporate bingo buzzword game.
Margaret Rouse summarizes buzzword bingo on her What Is? Techtarget blog.
Susan Smith uses Buzzword Bingo to lighten the classroom mood.
R. Stolfa's adaptation of the Buzzword Bingo page. DEFUNCT
Tom Davis's Buzzword Bingo, formerly at SGI. A little C program (source available) put on the web in 1996. Moved to Chris Pirazzi's personal page, where Chris has lovingly preserved Tom Davis's original code.
John Wachowicz, University of Tennessee's Department of Finance, has added a web link from Wachowicz's Web World, a collection of "web sites for discerning finance students."
The Word Spy at Paul McFedries' Logophilia site tracks first use of neologisms and buzzwords. DEFUNCT