This, of course, was back when fucking anime pillows was fresh and new.
April 5, 2017 7:07 PM   Subscribe

 
I'll admit, I've loved Something Awful. At least the Gold posts have been really awesome. I still read the "roommate bathroom sludge" post a couple times a year. Granted it's been a few years since I've been there regularly but it always seemed relatively respectful of women. In a contest between popular websites that I have little current knowledge about, SA kicks re**its ass.

(I do have stairs in my house.)
posted by bendy at 7:23 PM on April 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


If I were forced to speculate, I'd guess, at least historically, a largish Metafilter/SA crossover.
posted by The Gaffer at 7:27 PM on April 5, 2017 [7 favorites]


The Gaffer: "If I were forced to speculate, I'd guess, at least historically, a largish Metafilter/SA crossover."

You would be largely right in fact. Or, as in my case, I have a...ermmmm...uhhh...a Goon friend.
posted by Samizdata at 7:30 PM on April 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


i still have ptsd from an sa link/image a friend emailed me in about 2001. never went back. not a fan.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:37 PM on April 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


Metafilter is where good goons go when they have aged out of the system
posted by Countess Elena at 7:38 PM on April 5, 2017 [38 favorites]


Here's an important counter-narrative that reckons with many of the more problematic aspects of the forum; those which foreshadowed the post-modern anti-liberalism now found in online communities on both the right and the left: https://twitter.com/tinybaby/status/461559330685206528
posted by Alterity at 7:44 PM on April 5, 2017 [8 favorites]


Yeah Something Awful used to have some great stuff, and was a daily visit. I don't believe I ever actually participated in it but I read it fairly religiously. Not sure what happened but at some point it became too weird/boring or as Countess Elena says, I just aged out of it. b3ta and Brunching Shuttlecocks were frequent visits as well, I loved the story threads on b3ta and Lore was just out-and-out funny.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:05 PM on April 5, 2017 [6 favorites]


"The internet makes you stupid" has been the motto of SomethingAwful.com since Richard Kyanka, 40, registered the domain in 1999.

Who'd a thought SA would be a prophet?

I always thought of it as a I'm StillCoolDad site and imagined almost all the users were new parents coming to grips with going to bed at 10pm and looking for some community outside the suburban walls.
posted by fshgrl at 8:48 PM on April 5, 2017


It's fascinating to me how SA has a really good community of transgender users despite its reputation as Nerds who Mock Weirdos.
posted by MuppetNavy at 8:53 PM on April 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


I used to be a forums regular and my login still works. Been months, however. It used to be a self-policing community in a lot of ways, with a broad cruel streak, but about 2008 or so it really did get nasty. It was never exactly harassment-free, though.

It also had a forum called Helldump - I can't remember the year that got started, but it was amusing for a few weeks, as people collated the bad posts of bad posters. Then it turned into a hothouse for developing the attitudes toward doxxing we see out in the wild today. Eventually Lowtax did shut that subforum down, but the attitude was entrenched. To be fair, sites of people banned from SA who had so little else going on that they remained obsessed with the place, spent a lot of time recreating Helldump and all its 'wonder', including creeping on forum moderators and members. I feel like they left out an important facet of 'the bad days' and the bad parts by not talking about that.

You may have read about Helldump in Jeb Lund's piece "Let Me Introduce Myself: Farewell to Mobutu Sese Seko." - it's an excellent piece with lessons learned, maybe.

I know for a awhile, frequent posters thought they'd 'grow up' to be moderators. The population got to be such hellish jerks though, I know more than a few folks who've been approached to mod one forum or another and laughed hysterically as they said no.

Anyway I think SA may have invented the hellban, where shitty posters could post but no one could see their posts. To this day I think that's the best punishment of all.
posted by taterpie at 8:57 PM on April 5, 2017 [9 favorites]


Metafilter and SA are horrible Internet siblings in a world that has grown beyond them
posted by The Whelk at 9:07 PM on April 5, 2017 [28 favorites]


NUH UH! According to...erm...my Goon friend... THE WORLD WILL ALWAYS NEED GOONS!
posted by Samizdata at 9:12 PM on April 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


ALso, my...erm...Goon friend says he sees many links that show up here show up there in very close order, and vice versa.
posted by Samizdata at 9:16 PM on April 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Here's an important counter-narrative that reckons with many of the more problematic aspects of the forum; those which foreshadowed the post-modern anti-liberalism now found in online communities on both the right and the left: https://twitter.com/tinybaby/status/461559330685206528

nice meltdown
posted by Sebmojo at 9:19 PM on April 5, 2017 [7 favorites]


The other day I posted this on facebook:
"Do you have stairs in your house?"

only 2 people out of the like 30 who commented gave the correct answer. i was really surprised actually. anyway, [SA] was sosososo great in its prime. i often wonder how we would spell things on teh intarnet if it weren't for JeffK.
posted by capnsue at 9:27 PM on April 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


I still post in the forums, mostly in games and media. Some of the general interest stuff is good, the OSHA thread (to name one example) is a gift that keeps on giving.

Also, without SA there is no Goonfleet and I don't think EVE would have been the same without that juggernaut.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:33 PM on April 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


There's definitely something to the notion that internet communities that thrive on snark and sarcasm and being beyond what is petty and uncool and detached and ironic and everyone's trying to be the coolest least sincere most with it most knowing and going and least showing, cards to the chest, lotsa fake text, beyond good and evil, just so with it, man

There's something to that style that seeks to be beyond one'S fellow man, the smartest guys in the room- that's what leads to these dick-waving contests, that's what leads some embittered IT drone to turn neoreactionary. Because there's solace there in transcending seriousness and earnestness. There's escape in being wry. Freedom in trolling.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:39 PM on April 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


turbid dahlia: "b3ta and Brunching Shuttlecocks were frequent visits as well, I loved the story threads on b3ta and Lore was just out-and-out funny."

You mean Metafilter's Own lore.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:46 PM on April 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Here's an important counter-narrative that reckons with many of the more problematic aspects of the forum; those which foreshadowed the post-modern anti-liberalism now found in online communities on both the right and the left: https://twitter.com/tinybaby/status/461559330685206528

Uhhh, maybe I'm just being dumb, but how do I get to the article? I see a link to a Medium post that starts with a couple of paragraphs of introduction, and then trails off into screenfuls of lorem-ipsum.
posted by teraflop at 11:15 PM on April 5, 2017


That's the joke.
posted by ardgedee at 11:22 PM on April 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


I guess that, ultimately, history will paint SA this way, huh. As a sort of sarcastic haven for comedy or whatever.

I wish there would be a record somewhere of the fact that SA gave birth to 4chan, that the FYAD weird twitter crew wrote the harrassment playbook on #tcot that gamergate and the alt-right eventually used against women and minorities. That those same FYAD guys we all love to quote then turned their fucked up gaze on progressive women of color for coordinated harassment because they supported Obama and Hillary instead of Glenn greenwald and Bernie. Just ask @laurenchiefelk or @angryblacklady on twitter what they think of them.

But hey, they're like mefi's big brother or whatever, right? Cool.
posted by shmegegge at 11:31 PM on April 5, 2017 [8 favorites]


Someday, a hipster chef will make a restaurant called Something Offal.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:41 PM on April 5, 2017 [5 favorites]


Something Awful has done things like forced Reddit to purge itself of subreddits trafficking images of children and other creepy pederast communities. So they did try to redeem themselves in recent years.

Not to excuse them, but the rise of such troll subcultures is a historical inevitability. alt.tasteless perfected trolling in the Usenet era. Shock sites such as Rotten existed. If it wasn't SA, then Fark, or eBaum's World, or Maddox (did he ever run a forum?) would have arisen to the task. Japanese image boards- complete with moe-loving otaku fascists- developed in that nation independently of anything that Lowtax or moot created.

The creation of the trolling style on the internet is as inevitable as the use of dynamite in warfare.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:26 AM on April 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


I guess this is the thread where I finally ask the question: Was JeffK a reference to the JFK episode of Red Dwarf?
posted by ckape at 1:26 AM on April 6, 2017


Metafilter is where good goons go when they have aged out of the system

I have to admit I still go back to check out the Lego thread, it's a good source of news.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:01 AM on April 6, 2017


I've not been on SA in a long time. I used to lurk on there as well as on here. Now I hardly lurk anywhere at all. I guess I'm down on my lurk.

SA was filled with capricious, geeky talent. A tiny part of all the weirdness in there has seeped out into the wider internet and flavoured it.
posted by jiroczech at 2:20 AM on April 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


Recipe for a web community that doesn't suck:

1. Paid entry
2. Stern moderation
posted by qntm at 4:25 AM on April 6, 2017 [8 favorites]


I like TV IV and Games.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:43 AM on April 6, 2017


What I remember most from my days when I went to SA regularly was how much TIME it took. The threads that went gold, oftentimes, were really, really long. There was a lot of shit that had to be waded through. And forget about discussing some of those things in real life, it took way too long to explain to people who didn't hang out there. The bottom line is, I, like so many of its users, have moved on, because I have a real life now that I didn't have so much when I was younger. It's one thing to browse the news while I eat breakfast or check facebook on my phone while I'm waiting at the drs office, but somethingawful is not portable, it doesn't really work on smaller screens; you have to plant your butt in a chair with a larger screen and commit.
posted by jenjenc at 4:43 AM on April 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


Like the other day I was wondering if anyone else thought Beat Cop was just racist, and the only place I could think to go to find people discussing games was SA
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:49 AM on April 6, 2017


moot's love for 2chan (which was born from 2ch) gave birth to 4chan. That would have happened with or without him being a goon. It's pretty ignorant of history to say that SA "gave birth" to 4chan; SA's major contribution to 4chan's culture was that a bunch of pedophiles moved to 4chan after SA banned them, which I guess technically is something you could blame SA for. SA users are also responsible for getting 4chan's original site at 4chan.net kicked off of their hosting.
posted by IAmUnaware at 5:26 AM on April 6, 2017 [6 favorites]



Someday, a hipster chef will make a restaurant called Something Offal.

I'm sure you meant Something Waffle.
posted by Wild_Eep at 5:32 AM on April 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


Jesus, Lowtax does not come across well in this thing.

As an occasional user of the forums, I think it's better in decline than it was in ascendancy. I've realized recently that a lot of users (while good for business) isn't necessarily good for a community. Having a stable, low key group of regulars makes for the third place nature of an online social space. If Kyanka moved to charging three dollars a month for an account, then I think that would fix a lot of the site's financial problems while retaining the site's current positive qualities as a discussion space. It's almost like the Net equivalent of a dive bar at this point.

It was interesting to hear everyone's perspectives, though. It seems like most of the core staff has moved beyond the site itself years ago.
posted by codacorolla at 6:57 AM on April 6, 2017


I actually ended up back there last night after commenting here, because the DIY home improvement threads where someone is cutting up loadbearing walls and eviscerating floor joists to install awful fixtures remain my favorite things.
posted by taterpie at 7:02 AM on April 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


Reddit is the high-school lunchroom
Something Awful is the corner bar
MetaFilter is the insufferable gastropub
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:20 AM on April 6, 2017 [20 favorites]


i still have ptsd from an sa link/image a friend emailed me in about 2001. never went back. not a fan.

I bet I know which one and I share your trauma. My opinion of the site never recovered.

I was surprised to learn (via Twitter, I think) that the two creators of Welcome to Nightvale met and got their start at SA. I...would not have guessed that.
posted by Aquifer at 8:22 AM on April 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


ctrl-f "bittorrent"

...huh.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:01 AM on April 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


alt.tasteless perfected trolling in the Usenet era. Shock sites such as Rotten existed. If it wasn't SA, then Fark, or eBaum's World, or Maddox (did he ever run a forum?) would have arisen to the task.

Yeah. You probably wouldn't look at SA and say, this was obviously founded by someone who started a Quake forum.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:05 AM on April 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


I used to post to alt.tasteless, but never got up enough nerve to sign up for a SA account.
posted by lagomorphius at 9:21 AM on April 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


Jesus, Lowtax does not come across well in this thing.

Looking back, he's been basically repeating himself about the Internet for over a decade.

(Though I guess I have a few topics on which I'm a broken record. And it will likely only get worse...)
posted by ODiV at 9:27 AM on April 6, 2017


... met and got their start at SA.

Seems to describe a lot of people. From poker professionals to gaming personalities to writers, etc. Maybe it's just a matter of volume, or that the Internet was a smaller place back then. And it's not all people who are succeeding, I'm sure. There are a lot of very sad stories that got their start there too.

ctrl-f "bittorrent"

ctrl-f "porn"?
posted by ODiV at 9:31 AM on April 6, 2017


>>i still have ptsd from an sa link/image a friend emailed me in about 2001. never went back. not a fan.
>I bet I know which one and I share your trauma. My opinion of the site never recovered.


It's the same with me. It was probably over fifteen years ago now. I was reading Slashdot back in the day (remember them?), there was a FPP link to a Something Awful thread, I followed it, BLATANT GOATSE, apparently as a measure the site took to dissuade incoming links. I bet they fucking patted themselves on the back for that one. It destroyed my respect for the site.

In the time since, I've heard about some of the good Something Awful has done, but whenever I try to go there and see, it seems I get caught up by the need to have an archive account, which costs money, to read classic threads? Just, no.

(If you don't know what goatse is, I encourage you to NEVER FIND OUT. Hopefully the Wikipedia page on it, which is SFW, will dissuade you.)
posted by JHarris at 9:40 AM on April 6, 2017


Not that it's remotely the same coming from a trolling userbase instead of the admins, but I think I've only ever been goatse'd on /., K5, and MeFi. I think I probably was just fortunate enough, timing wise, to already have an SA account when they pulled that shit.

One thing that doesn't seem to come up too much is the insane amount of unpaid labour that had to happen to keep sites like these not only operational, but successful. I don't know how or why the mods did what they did for so long for no money and next to no thanks, but early Internet forums wouldn't have been the same without them.

I'm seeing kind of a resurgence of this with sites like Twitch, which seem like they would be unusable with unmoderated chat. I think the vast majority of chat mods are ad hoc, unpaid, volunteers. I guess it works, but I don't feel great about it.
posted by ODiV at 9:53 AM on April 6, 2017


I still read the SA forums to this day, mostly traditional games, because it's a more interesting community for discussing tabletop games than I've seen elsewhere. I avoid GBS, FYAD and all the other big generic forums. The smaller specialized forums often have great and detailed insights into their topics.

Another historic footnote: One of Goonswarm's leaders was Vilerat, who was a mod on Debate and Discussion. He also worked for the State Department and was one of the four people killed in Benghazi. Judging from his posts, he probably would not have approved how his death was politicized.
posted by clockworkjoe at 11:51 AM on April 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm seeing kind of a resurgence of this with sites like Twitch, which seem like they would be unusable with unmoderated chat. I think the vast majority of chat mods are ad hoc, unpaid, volunteers. I guess it works, but I don't feel great about it.


Power or prestige or both is all some mods care about. Twitch TOS says you can't pay streamers for mod but I know that it goes on a lot in exchange for donations or gifts. Forget being paid to mod some people pay to be mod.
posted by laptolain at 12:04 PM on April 6, 2017


I've talked numerous times with a friend who is a big Reddit user, and he says that what he really likes is the way that up and downvoting lets you see the best of the conversation. I cannot wrap my mind around this. For better or for worse, a traditional BBS like SA lets everyone have a voice in the conversation, and it leads to a chronologically consistent thread.

Every time I pop into Reddit to check on something, it's a fucking mess of figuring out who's responding to who, finding references to downvoted comments... I'm sure there's a power user way to make sense of this, but the very structure of the voting system leads me to believe that's a core cause of the multitude of social problems that Reddit has.

I guess that part of that is also volume. If you have a massive userbase like Reddit, then you need a system that auto-curates for the reader, because it's otherwise too unwieldy for a human to handle. At its zenith, the front page of any forum on SA often turned threads over every hour, so a thread without activity would be on page 6 or 7 of the index within a day. The downside is that you get a mob mentality, where marginal viewpoints (or even unexciting viewpoints) get buried. Obviously you can (and will) have mobs on any pseudonymous social space, but baking that directly into the design has always struck me as a terrible, terrible design decision.
posted by codacorolla at 3:08 PM on April 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


About halfway through the article I start finding things--

When Rich put the paywall in effect, it kept idiots out to an enormous degree. It was probably the smartest decision he ever made in regards to the website.

Well it also kept me out. Because unlike Metafilter, it seems that SA's paywall meant you couldn't read it either, or at least no link I ever took to the place ever let me read the forums, and then I didn't have $10 to blow on something sight-unseen.

It seems there is this pose they're adopting that SA participation is a kind of meritocracy, based on how funny you were. They also positively call it a dictatorship, which I find weird because all web forums are dictatorships, essentially, run by their moderators. But then they complain about always being shit on, and well, when you're the self-proclaimed judge of what's good and not, you have to kind of expect that kind of thing?

And at the time it seemed edgy and cool, even to me, and hey I snarked once in a while back in the day here on the blue too. But now I regret that snark, I see that I was just trying to fit in, and Metafilter too has mostly moved beyond that stage I think is a much better place for it. I hope Something Awful has too.
posted by JHarris at 3:30 PM on April 6, 2017


sorry you got goatsed 15 years ago
posted by edeezy at 4:55 PM on April 6, 2017 [13 favorites]


If you are serious: were you responsible?
If you are not: thanks for the additional snark.
posted by JHarris at 5:36 PM on April 6, 2017


Another historic footnote: One of Goonswarm's leaders was Vilerat, who was a mod on Debate and Discussion. He also worked for the State Department and was one of the four people killed in Benghazi. Judging from his posts, he probably would not have approved how his death was politicized.

Every time his mom is in the news doing her thing, I think about how one of the oldest running threads in Debate and Discussion was started by Vilerat. It's about sharing the ridiculous horseshit political email forwards your relatives send you. And Patricia Smith? The very first post is about some asinine right-wing garbage she sent him.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:45 PM on April 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


This all can't pass without the venerable "First Goatse" photos of people's faces seeing it for the first time.
posted by rhizome at 7:07 PM on April 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


sorry you got goatsed 15 years ago

Hello, old friend.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:45 PM on April 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


This all can't pass without the venerable "First Goatse" photos of people's faces seeing it for the first time.

Don't miss Ron Jeremy's
posted by thelonius at 9:35 PM on April 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


ctrl-f "bittorrent"

The subforums for sharing porn, movies and TV shows (but not games, those were totally verboten since lots of SA people/mods/admins were in the gaming community) disappeared in late 2004, if I'm remembering correctly. So while file sharing probably was a driving force in building the user base, it hasn't been a factor for over a decade.
posted by ymgve at 4:12 PM on April 9, 2017


Incidentally, the annual spring chickcam -which is run by a member of Something Awful, is happening NOW! So, go here and watch some chicks hatching. (Requires Flash, alas.)
posted by Going To Maine at 10:46 PM on April 12, 2017


That one hatched chick is like "wake up you sleepy heads!"
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:56 PM on April 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


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