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Google has so much jargon and code names that it built an online glossary

Starting any new job can be daunting. But at Google, the experience can be especially overwhelming.

That’s because — like Google’s Global Head of Partnerships for YouTube and Fiber, Lori Conkling, explained on stage at The Information’s WTF Conference on Tuesday— employees at the Silicon Valley tech giant often speak in acronyms and project code names that can take time to learn.

According to Conkling — who joined Google in March of this year after more than six years at NBCUniversal — the company-speak and code names used amongst employees was the biggest culture shock for her when she started. Sometimes, she said, she sat in meetings with no idea what was being discussed.

Once, a colleague messaged her saying, “yt?” she remembered. Conkling thought it meant “YouTube?” and didn’t know how to respond. She eventually realized that “yt?” stood for “you there?”

Beyond the acronyms, understanding project code names can be particularly difficult, Conkling said, because each project takes on an obscure name, like “Falcon” or “Yellow Submarine.” To understand what projects her colleagues are referencing, Conkling said she relied on a special internal site at Google that’s dedicated to helping employees decode the jumble of code names.

That internal site is called “go/what,” a current Google employee told Business Insider. The source said the site acts as an internal glossary with descriptions of commonly used acronyms like “TGIF” — the company’s all-hands meeting, which actually take place on Thursday afternoons — and phrases like “Nooglers” — new employees at Google.

Read more: 19 words only Googlers understand

Most project code names are not listed on go/what, the source said. They hypothesized that for security purposes, only projects that have been declassified, finished, or made public are put on the site for employees to reference.

Another former employee told Business Insider that decoding current project codes names would be a “goldmine for leaks.”

A Google spokesperson confirmed that an internal glossary of common acronyms and phrases exists, but said the there was not a site solely for decoding project code names. The spokesperson also said that not all Google projects are christened with code names.

As for what a Googler is supposed to do if they can’t figure out what a project code name stands for, and it’s not on the internal site, the current employee had some simple advice: “You just have to ask around.”

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