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Fun with .sig files!

By Gloria Mitchell   May 27, 1997

Time was when bumper stickers and t-shirts satisfied all our slogan needs: Simply slap a prefabricated statement on the back of your car and you could broadcast your personality to the world. The highways were filled with people radiating their personal philosophies--thousands of self-affirming points of light. We were cheerfully urged by the chests of strangers to "Have a Nice Day" or "Keep on Truckin'."

Now it seems hipper to sport commercial logos than personal mottos, and cars display a driver's alma mater more often than his or her politics. But the Internet has stepped in to fill the catch phrase gap. Signature files seem to have revived the practice of passing along one-line witticisms.

It's hard to pinpoint where the trend might have started, but bumper sticker-style sayings in .sig files have a kind of logic to recommend them. If you're going to have a chunk of text telling the world (or at least everyone on your mailing lists) who you are and where to find your Web page, you may as well throw a brief bit of wisdom or humor into the mix. After all, whose day isn't brightened by a sexual reference structured around Star Trek characters?

From deep thoughts ("Imagine, if you will, a world without hypothetical situations") to definitions ("Missionaries: the other white meat"), questions ("When a smurf chokes, what color does it turn?") to quotations ("All men are ignorant, just in different fields"), a tagline for your .sig file is supposed to something about who you are. The only trouble is that it doesn't necessarily say something you said. I can't help but wonder how many taglines go unattributed, how many budding Dorothy Parkers or Mark Twains are having their pithy sayings appropriated by hundreds of netizens all over the world?

Be that as it may, the point probably isn't to come up with something all your own but to provoke a smile, whatever it takes to do that. There are now 296,272 taglines in Neil Enn's collection; here are a few of the more thoughtful entries:

Imagine, if you will, a world without hypothetical situations.

Kleptomania...Isn't there something you can take for it?

Ever wonder what the speed of lightning would be if it didn't zigzag?

Desperation is a fellow shaving before stepping on the scales.

What's another word for thesaurus?

Nothing cures insomnia like the realization that it's time to get up.

Don't you hate it when you stab someone and your knife gets stuck?

Most Scottish food began as a dare.

Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth.

No generalization is wholly true, not even this one.

Not hungry, not homeless. Will work for sex.

Ah, well, maybe that last wasn't so thoughtful. Got a good tagline that you think is all yours? Send it to'll mention the best entries in a future IMHO.

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