I have searched for a term that describes users who post questions and then disappear without trace. These users will post and write their questions in a great flurry, sometimes ignoring the basic rules of punctuation and capitalization, they will also plead for assistance, and conclude their posts with a thnx. And yet when regular users respond and politely ask for further information these newcomers will remain mute. Answers will be posted but receive no confirmation from the OP (original poster) that their problem has been solved. Only when a day has passed by, do users realize that these newcomers have effectively gone. Disappeared. Vanished. Sparito.

I am not talking about lurkers, users who sit on the sidelines and observe, reading content but never interacting or contributing. Apparently, lurkers are said to make up 99% of all Internet users.

In Internet culture, the 1% rule is a rule of thumb pertaining to participation in an internet community, stating that only 1% of the users of a website actively create new content, while the other 99% of the participants only lurk. [...]
The terms lurk and lurking, in reference to online activity, are used to refer to online observation without engaging others in the community, and were first used by veteran print journalist, P Tomi Austin, circa 1990, when her presence was noticed by other users in chat rooms, who queried her reasons for not engaging in chat. There were repeated inquiries about her identity and her refusal to engage in chat.

Wikipedia: 1% rule (Internet culture)

No, I am referring to users who do make a contribution, who have taken the plunge, and seem to want to engage but then never come back (unless they have multiple accounts, which seems very unlikely to me.)

I have come to call them Hit & Run users; because they remind me of the expression hitman, they shoot a question and then run away. But is there an established expression, word or phrase used in social media? I have honestly searched but Internet slang dictionaries are no good unless you already know the term you're looking for!

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    One-offs, hit-and-runs (or here, ask-and-runs), or one-hit wonders are the most common terms I've heard applied to them, too. Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 18:35
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    I like calling them murder victims. They ask their question and are seemingly alive. Then, they just disappear as though they have been murdered. I really think the police should look into this...
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 20:08
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    While I was a child in the 60s growing up surrounded by the Great Lakes of North America, pesky children would sneak up to some elderly neighbors’ place, knock loudly or ring the bell if there was one, and then dive for cover, giggling as somebody’s grandma with their walker would eventually totter up to the door only to find there was no one there. In the lingo of the time, this prank was called nigger knocking and the prankster doing it of course called nigger knockers. It wasn’t a particularly nice name, but neither was it a nice thing to do. It had no racial overtones as today.
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 20:53
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    Call them anything you like -- they won't hear you! *rimshot* Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 15:37
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    They probably do check back, 15 or 30 minutes later, but they see no answer, so they give up. Also, @tchrist, "Nigger knocking" most likely had racial overtones, but you were too young to notice. Maybe you meant it wasn't pejorative like it is today?
    – M Granja
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 17:09

5 Answers 5


This kind of user is called an ask-and-run.

It is even mentioned on Meta Stack Overflow: Dealing with “ask-and-run” questioners

Bonus: If we follow the same pattern, we can also come up with a specific term ask-and-idle for users who post a question but stay idle (but don't disappear/leave) without accepting an answer, commenting, replying to people, etc.

There is also the term Hit-and-run posting (thus hit-and-run poster) but it is a more general term and it is usually used for a one-off forum posting posted by a hit-and-run poster that ignites discussion. The motive of a hit-and-run posting is usually flamebaiting (posting a provocative or offensive message).

Hit-and-run posting refers to a tactic where a poster at an Internet forum enters, makes a post, only to disappear immediately after. The term comes from the hit-and-run crime on auto vehicles, in which the driver hits another car or person causing an accident and runs away. It is also known as making a "drive-by" posting, a play on the phrase drive-by shooting. The post often consists of a lengthy text making lots of claims that can be, but are not always, on topic.


  • To the down-voter, there is no way in any shape or form that this answer is unclear, incorrect or inaccurate. Where is the fault, how does this NOT answer my question well?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 6:36

These users appear for a short time before disappearing forever, resembling the behaviors of virtual particles in quantum field theory, and therefore I would like to nickname them Q&A fluctuation: the temporary appearance of contribution out of empty space.

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    That's a very geeky and nerdy solution... I like it!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 19:01

They are, of course, known to their former teachers, relatives, and friends as "Easily Distracted".

"I don't remember asking any question"?

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    I lolled. I'm very tempted to up-vote, but it's doesn't quite fit the "now-you-see-me, now-you-don't" aspect.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 20:59

New answer (see below for the original)

Remorseful Querent or Regretful Querent

(the following analysis, especially the part involving “ridicule,” would also apply to “Remorseful/Regretful Respondents/Commentators” when they immediately regret having offered a response or comment):

According to Wikipedia, a Querent is "a person who questions an Oracle."

A “remorseful or regretful Querent” would describe someone who, immediate after asking the Oracle a question, regrets that he/she dared to ask it in the first place and therefore opts to leave the presence of the Oracle before getting an answer.
The regret or remorse could result from fear of one of two things, i.e., that the Oracle’s answer will be one, even THE one, that the Querent does not want to hear or that the Querent’s question will be ridiculed by the Oracle.

It’s not too ridiculous, at least to me, to view this forum as the Oracle and to view the forum’s “Users” as the Querents (granted, its Users can also be respondents and as such serve to comprise the Oracle).

Just as it would be naive to deny that most of the examples of “hit/ask/answer-and-run” questions/answers are probably posted by the “hit/ask/answer-and-run-type of “users” that merit our blame and condemnation, it would be equally naive to deny that the Oracle itself sometimes merits blame and condemnation when it inflicts hurtful ridicule on Querents (and respondents), to the very point of making them so genuinely regret having participated at all that they opt to escape the situation with their dignity (beyond the Oracle’s walls) intact.

(In my opinion, any claim that these “Regretful/Remorseful Querents/respondents/commenters” should have just; 1) never asked/responded/commented such “ridiculousness” in the first place; 2) immediately deleted their “ridiculous” questions/responses/comments (instead of just leaving them posted for further ridicule); or 3) “hung tough,” endured the well-deserved ridicule, and, as a drastic, last resort, acknowledged any injurious comments with a “flag,” is missing the whole point of “Regretful/Remorseful Querents/respondents/commenters,” and in doing so, stands as evidence that the concept exists and that it is a legitimate problem.)

(PS I wrote the above before seeing any of the last few comments under my original answer, and I now see that @Jon Story beat me to it and said so clearly and exactly what my babbling above is trying to say, but I'll go ahead and post it as originally babbled anyway.)

Original "Answer"

Such dangling or hanging queries are often asked by dis/uninterested inquisitors and sometimes by skeptical or reluctant querents.

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    But why bother logging into a website, registering, setting up an account, create a password, then spend time writing and posting a question (presumably you're asking because you need an answer) if you are a dis/uninterested and reluctant querent?!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 20:31
  • It could be similar to the gambler/hunter/lover who finds thrill only in the game/hunt/pursuit itself, not caring at all about the "winning" of it. Maybe for these "uninterested querents," the "game/etc" = signing up and asking a question that generates interest, comments, and responses, and for them the "winning" (which doesn't interest or drive them at all) = appropriate follow-up participation and eventually accepting an answer. All that to say that maybe it's "the lovin' of the game," to quote Judy Collins.
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 21:19
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    From my experience, they may also be people who get an answer they don't like and either feel embarrassed for asking, or feel that they're going to end up in an argument or looking foolish if they continue.
    – Jon Story
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 14:40
  • @JonStory could be especially true if they are non native speakers, and their written English is poor. The embarrassment factor certainly plays a role but still, even a thank you or I'm sorry wouldn't go amiss.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 16:03

Seeing as the Internet is awash with acronyms and initialisms, I thought I'd add a few more.
The following, AFAIK, have been minted by me.

  • OPO (Only Posts Once) Can be pronounced as a single word as in: Oh jeezus, I wasted 5 minutes on an opo!!!
  • ABDR (Asks But Doesn't Respond/Reply/Return)
  • ABDGAF (Asks But Doesn't Give A F***)
  • Chalk Outliners (from chalk outline, one explanation for the poster's permanent absence)

Adding Janus Bahs Jacquet's remaining suggestions which nobody posted, but they have interesting histories behind them.

  • one-hit wonder

In the world of web analytics, one-hit wonder is used to describe a user who comes to a site from a search engine, views the piece of content he was searching for, and then leaves, never clicking an ad or engaging in any way with the site. The phenomenon is particularly germane with respect to publishers putting "paywalls" around content, and the recent struggles of news and newspaper publishers in the face of changes brought about by the Internet. The term was first used in this respect by web programmer Tim Burden on his blog...


  • one-offs

1: limited to a single time, occasion, or instance

The term one-off user was used as early as 1971 in Electrical and Electronics Manufacturer: Design & Production of Electrical & Electronic Equipment

One fact of which GSPL are particularly proud is that they are able to cater for both the large volume user and the one-off user, which makes them one of the most flexible manufacturers in the country

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    Along these same lines, in gaming/chats AFK (Away From Keyboard) can be used to describe "users who leave others hanging." (Although it can also mean a user who has warned the others before leaving.) The recent "Annoying Gamers" (not quite NSFW but irreverent at times) video by vlogger nigahiga asks us to picture "the afk" in a real-life conversation; we're shown how absurd it would be if someone inexplicably left while someone else was talking to them.
    – user39720
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 5:31

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