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September 20, 2006

What Does "Gank" Mean?

Remember back when ten @*$%ing levels was hard?
Now it's ten 60s ganking noobs in the yard.

- From "Wow" by Futuristic Sex Robotz

So vot eez zees "ganking" of which they speak? Let's head over to the Urban Dictionary and look it up. The UD has a different approach to multiple opinions than Wikipedia; rather than have the last revision be presented as the whole truth, it allows multiple definitions to be given, and people can vote "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" on them.

Click here to visit Windows MarketplaceIn the case of ganking there are 5 definitions. It's obviously a MMORPG term, but two of the definitions say it applies to any game, while the other three, as you might expect from the title of the FSR song I quote above, say it is a term specific to World of Warcraft (the game that Microsoft is hyping on Windows Marketplace--insert obligatory banner ad). The one rated +57-8 defines it as either a group of players ganging up on one player, or a high-level player attacking a powerless one. The next definition, +2-5, defines it as just the group gang-up, and mentions that rekilling someone right after they respawn is not ganking, it's "spawn rape". Definition #3, +11-30, claims that the group attack is a misuse of ganking and that the word for that is "ganging". The next definition, +11-44, states that it's any "unfair" kill. And the final definition, +4-43, defines it as killing someone after a respawn, which is precisely what definition #3 claimed was NOT ganking.

No surprise, given the Urban Dictionary's policy of allowing multiple definitions of a single word, you also see separate entries for related words. So there are 66 definitions for "gank", 11 for "ganked", 5 for "ganker", and a single solitary one for "gankage" (which therefore ties it with "gank artist", "gank bus", "gank busted", "gank move", "gankaholic", and the mellifluous "gankashanka", which is defined as "a random word i just made up").

If you wade through all the other claimed meanings of "gank", and discount the ones not related to WoW (such as stealing or some kind of drug), you get roughly ten referring to the gang nature of the attack, and thirteen referring to the unfair single attack (plus two, including the first one above, that say it is either). The "gang" proponents state that it is an abbreviation of "gang kill", which makes some sense, but their definition is in the minority.

The Wikipedia only allows a single entry at a given time, so what do we see if we look up gank? Well, basically you get a Wikipedia entry that isn't internally consistent, which I guess is the nature of the beast. The entry mentions several uses for the word; the MMORPG one starts out by confidently advancing the "gang kill" theory and the associated "gang" nature of ganking, but then goes on to state that it is now used in the "unfair" meaning.

I figured something like this would cause a Wiki editing battle. Sure enough, if you look through the recent history there was an attempt to say that ganking was killing someone when they were away from the keyboard, but that was quickly scotched. Before that, someone tried to claim that the "unfair" usage was actually a misuse of the term (this edit got inserted and booted a couple of times). And earlier there was a "debate" (in the Wikipedia sense, meaning somebody added something and someone else yanked it out) about whether the unfair gank was specifically an attack from the back.

And so it goes. The Internet, as they say, is not without its charms.

Posted by AdamBa at September 20, 2006 08:16 PM

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The cap fits. Melchior.

Posted by: Melchior at October 27, 2006 12:38 PM