What Does the ‘IBTL’ Expression Mean on Internet Forums

Black and white photo of a door locked by chain and padlock

neil alejandro / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

'IBTL' or in before the lock is an expression used by serious users of conversation forums, and they are celebrating that they posted a comment before the thread was removed or locked by an administrator.

You will see this expression in very heated, very controversial, and very inflammatory online discussions. Commonly, the topics involve hate-mongering, bickering, ranting, mudslinging, or other mean-spirited or juvenile topics. IBTL is then used by experienced forum members to exclaim that they submitted a reply "before the moderator locks the thread". IBTL can be a cocky statement by people who enjoy online drama, but it can also be a disclaimer by a mature user that they expect the moderator to lock the thread very soon.

Examples of IBTL Usage

  • IBTL! I think that the OP (original poster) above is an idiot for even suggesting that eugenics is a viable form of social control. Maybe he should try retroactive eugenics on himself.
  • I think that any idiot should be allowed to be president, regardless of birthplace: it's the American way! Woot, IBTL!
  • IBTL: I think a moderator should lock this thread immediately before it becomes any more juvenile. This is a site for mature adults, and hate-mongering discussions like this have no place in our community. Mods: please lock or delete this thread immediately.
  • If I could post this ibtl: religious arguments like this do nothing for our community. You get to believe whatever you want to believe, but don't use our discussion site as a place to proselytize and recruit for your point of view.

The IBTL expression, like many cultural curiosities of the Internet, is a part of modern English communication.

History and Origin of 'IBTL'

 The IBTL acronym is a more obscure example of internet lingo; its use is largely confined to people who are very regular users of discussion forums and dedicated online conversations.

While there is no verifiable origin of the IBTL acronym, it is believed by many that the 4Chan community spawned this cultural expression. The idea that people want to sneak in a posting before the thread is removed or locked by an administrator has been around for years, and the 4Chan community is known for being rebellious and creative; so the claim that this originated at 4Chan is plausible.