From Dangerpedia, the danger encyclopedia

For other senses of the word “Nergatory”, see Nergatory (disambiguation).

you wore the wrong ears for this convention

fig. 1

Nergatory is a place, sometimes physical but more often socio-psychological in nature, in which a modern nerd realizes she is surrounded by the wrong kind of nerd. It is an uncomfortable, in-between place, a limbo of sorts, because if she were not a nerd at all, being surrounded by these people would mean she was in straight up hell. Instead, she understands the basic qualities of their unabashedly narrow fervor, while in complete or near ignorance of that fervor’s target subject matter and corresponding self-referential micro-culture. She feels compelled to participate in nerd conversations, but she has no idea what the hell is actually being talked about. She gets no nerd cred despite being very respected in her own nerd circles. She is left feeling like one of those dickish “normal” kids… except she knows the normal kids would say she was a huge nerd and then probably hide her biology textbook. Dicks.


  • Niche overload
  • Geeks
  • Infographics
  • Ultimate Nergatory: Nerd fail

Niche overload

In current nerd subculture, there is an increasing proliferation of niche shit to be nerdy about, which makes the danger of slipping into Nergatory an almost daily hazard. No longer limited to the cliche showdown between Star Wars and Star Trek (see fig 1), we now have raging elitists championing the original series versus next generation, complete saga versus original trilogy, and don’t even get me started about the fucking Whovians. Nowadays you can be a giant nerd about music, film, computer programming, graphic design, zombies, board games, anime, Jane Austen, Dungeons and Dragons, rocks, birds, porn, fonts, knitting and YouTube. You can be a nerd about video games and bitch endlessly about pc vs console. You can be a nerd about books. Not just reading them, but about physical paper books and having a lot of them on shelves. You can even be a nerd about fucking sports for geeksakes! You could be a football nerd surrounded by Giants fans… San Francisco Giants that is. And BAM you’re in Nergatory.


Lets not even talk about geeks.


Actually way too much has already been written on this subject so I’ll stop wasting your time recapping. Here (1) are (2) some (3) fantastic infographics to stare at. You infographics nerd. (I know, me too.)

Ultimate Nergatory: Nerd fail

Even worse than being in alien nerd territory is discovering you are not nerdy enough for your present company. Here you are, proud owner of all seven seasons of STNG, a stainless steel life-size replica of Gimli’s axe, the collected signed works of H.P. Lovecraft, Jonathan Coulton’s entire discography, and a full-color tattoo of Joss Whedon’s face on your ass, but you failed to recognize Stephen Merchant’s voice in Portal 2. Also if you didn’t get most of your shit at the Pirate Bay, the real nerds think you’re a tool. Welcome to Nergatory. Don’t worry, we all spend time here now and then. And during our stay, we can take comfort that, to the degree to which we’re losing at nerd-dom, we are accidentally winning a little at life.

before you outnerd me, talk to the giraffe

fig. 2


  1. Anne first noticed this phenomenon and put a name to it: Nerd Purgatory.
  2. I kept shouting “Yes! YES! Nergatory! NERGATORY!”
  3. Anne said, “Uh, yeah. Nerd Purgatory.”

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  1. NERGATORY! I can’t believe we never had a word for this before! (Or maybe we did but I just didn’t know it because I’m not enough of a word nerd.)

    Also, can we get fig. 2 (giraffes) on a t-shirt, tote bag, sticker, stone tablet or something? I think it’s my favorite thing you’ve drawn recently (besides maybe the drawing of you attempting to kick Doug’s butt?) and the sentiment is something I’d like to own so I can point to it when necessary.

    Finally, is available for $15! Who could pass that up?

  2. Judging by the sparse Google results, NERGATORY appears to be pretty virgin word nerd territory, astonishingly. What else is waiting to be defined? Can we think up enough fake encyclopedia articles to justify It would be PRETTY SWEET I have to admit!

    Also, thanks for the props on fig. 2! Not only can we TOTALLY get that on some sweet stone tablets (or something even more portable so you can point at it for a “get out of Nergatory free” pass when necessary), but we could customize the message to reflect something YOU feel you spent your time wisely on rather than nerding up for a pointless elitist showdown you didn’t know was coming. Or we can keep it giraffes, if that pushes just the right random button. RANDOM GIRAFFES

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