Ping! A new bad habit in the workplace

Cursed as I am with a pedantic nature, I often over-analyse things or get irritated by things that wouldn’t bother most people. Stuff like using “your” when you should use “you’re”, and vice-versa. I wouldn’t dream of using the abbreviation commonly used for “laugh out loud” and never have done.

In recent years I’ve been irritated by the use of the word ‘leverage’ as a verb. Leverage is something you have, not something you do. now disagrees with me, listing leverage as a noun and a verb, but I think this is a result of leverage now being accepted as a verb because too many people have misused it. Chambers Dictionary on-line lists leverage only as a noun. Interestly, (run by the same people as also lists it as a noun only… as does AskOxford which incorporates the Oxford English Dictionary.

Anyway, onto the actual subject… the word ‘ping’. Having worked in the IT industry for most of my working life, and having done some technical stuff in the past, I know the word ‘ping’ by Wikipedia’s definition…

…a computer network tool used to test whether a particular host is reachable across an IP network

However, these days I see it more and more in Sametime conversations. Just yesterday I was in a meeting – someone asked me if I could talk, and as usual I responded with “yes, I’ve been able to since I was two”. Naturally they found this retort very amusing (I think they did) and asked me to ping them when I was available.

On previous occasions when people have asked me to ping them I’ve then asked for their IP address. The problem with doing this is that the reply is usually “???” and then I have to explain their mistake in asking me to ping them. It’s a gag that works better with technical people.

A colleague suggested that the use of ‘ping’ comes from the noise that Sametime makes when a new line of text arrives. I disagree, it’s more of a ‘ding’ than a ‘ping’. This week I also heard someone tell someone else to “ping a note across to me”. God knows how that will work. I’ve been through all the parameters for the ping command and none of them seem to satisfy that objective.


  1. Actually with the use of a little script the ping command should be suitable to “ping a note across”. It takes a little preparation and agreement on both ends.
    a) The receipient needs to monitor for incoming ping requests
    b) the “language” to be used is morse-code
    c) Since the duration of the ping itself is fixed/can’t be influenced the time between two ping requests needs to carry the short/long notation
    d) some start/end sequence needs be be agreed upon to filter communication out of arbitrary ping requests.

    Shouldn’t be too hard to implement.
    🙂 stw

  2. Ah, Darren, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without you having a good old moan !

    Personally, I’m quite happy with ping – although one has to be careful who one pings; Packet Internet Groper might not be appropriate for everyone. Similarly, I’m also careful who I Finger for the same reason 🙂

    Exit stage right, laughing like a seal – ARP ARP ARP

  3. I think a ‘ping’ sound emits from a submarine’s radar when it sweeps round and finds a humpback whale or a Russian sub in the vicinity.

    How many people in IBM know that the Navy use Sametime? I fail to see how a naval term would become common-place inside IBM.

  4. Interesting comment, made me think and I’m afraid I’m guilty of it, but I think you’re fighting a losing battle! It seems that ping is now being used for any form of electronic communication that may notify you of its arrival with an audible sound or ‘ping’. Hence it’s used for Instant Messaging (Sametime), Mail or SMS and the ping is more a representation of grabbing your attention rather than the actual sound that might be used by the software.

  5. Darren, not to be pedantic, but I suspect you mean ASDIC (nowadays called sonar) rather than radar. Radar’s electromagnetic radiation whereas ASDIC/Sonar is a short burst of sound, or ping, a bit like the noise sametime makes when you get a message.

    Ding is something different entirely, being a verb, and something women do to cars I think.

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