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Bump or “bumping” refers to the practice of posting a blank response to a discussion thread for the sole purpose of raising its profile. The action command “bump” is most commonly used on discussion forums and imageboards with a large volume of active threads, which results in re-summoning the targeted thread to the top of the forum or index page.
The precise use of bumping threads appeared circa mid-1990s with the birth of web-based forums and then the first systems of threads classified by dates that could change and back up to a new position if new posts were added. While there are no archived threads available from the early days of BBS and forums, a glimpse at the first Internet netiquette guidelines published in October 1995 suggests that the concept of “bumping a thread” had not become widespread on Usenet groups or mailing lists prior to 1995.
One of the earliest instances and references to “bumping” can be found in a StraightDope forum thread titled “Bumping Threads” posted in 2000. Because of how the post is written, as well as the answers, it remains clear that the “bump” slang seemed to already be rather known and used among internet communities.
The first Urban Dictionary entry for “bump” was submitted on February 12th, 2003:
BUMP: to bring up somebody’s post typically by posting the word “bump” on a message board. Can also stand for: Bring Up My Post. Bump!
Throughout 2000s, the practice of bumping threads became widespread across English-language forums and it has since gone through numerous changes and evolved into an image macro series featuring the text “bump,” boosted by the advents of free image-hosting services and Chan-style imageboards. While it is still most prominent in discussion forums, it can be also used in the context of e-mail threads and instant message chats.
As an Acronym
It has been suggested that ‘bump’ is an acronym of “Bring Up My Post,” however, it is more likely a “backronym” that became associated with the phrase retroactively and the usage is entirely consistent with the verb “bump” which means “To knock to a new position”.
As a Nuisance
While any forum member can bump a “thread” to its front page, it should be generally exercised within the range of acceptable reasons and purposes, such as to remind others that an important question asked in a dated thread still remains unanswered. Bumping a thread simply for the sake of raising its visibility is generally regarded as spamming.
However, the acceptable grounds for bumping threads may vary from one community to another, therefore it is best to check each forum’s rules & guidelines beforehand. The topic has been also subject to forum debates, with many users trying to distinguish good and bad examples of “bumping” and others using programs like “Thread Bumping” and “Bump or De-bump” to achieve the same effect without adding redundant posts.
As a Moderation Tool
In most current-day discussion forums, administrators and/or moderators can use the optional “sticky” tool to pin a particular thread or post near the top of the forum index, thus preventing it from being buried by newer posts.
In contrast to bumping a recently posted thread, Necro-bumping refers to the intentional and unintentional practice of reviving old and inactive topics back to the first page. Depending on the forum, intentional necromancy of a discussion thread that has ended and remained inactive for a long time is generally prohibited, a practice typically known as “necro-trolling.”
Conversely, on some imageboards and BBS sites, users can choose to SAGE a thread, or post a reply without “bumping” its profile to the top. The word “sage” derives from the 2channel terminology 下げる sageru, meaning “to lower”.
The term is also closely associated with MOAR in a way that it shows interest in a topic where a request hasn’t been fulfilled. Here, the “bump” allows it to remain on top of the topic list, as to be viewed more frequently.