The Daily Show, which thought I was serious, invited me to do an interview with Mo Rocca. (They were disappointed to learn the site was a joke.)
I earned a headline in Sweden, and in the story Astrid Lindgren lamented being misunderstood (ha!).
The hate mail (and some fan mail) from Sweden was precious. I later added a section on the site called "Swedemail." You'd think that would tip people off, but nope.
Anyhoo, AOL took it down eventually. But it's still on archive.org, thankfully. Here's a later snapshot with the Swedemail section (complete with Barnes & Noble affiliate ads!) if anyone's interested. http://web.archive.org/web/20021017095408/http://members.aol...
>Poe's law is an Internet adage that states that, without a clear indicator of the author's intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers or viewers as a sincere expression of the parodied views
Similar, there was also the Bert is Evil website from 1997, which attempted to "prove" the Seasame Street character Bert was evil. It contained a photo of Bert photoshopped with Osama Bin Laden which actually appeared on a sign at a pro-Bin Laden rally in Bangladesh. The sign holder simply printed out a picture they found on the web, unaware of who the character was or that the photo was a parody.
>After this photo was released on the news wires, the owners of Sesame Street, Sesame Workshop, raised the possibility of pursuing legal action against Ignacio. In response, he took down the "Bert is Evil" section of his website,:736 also stating that he did not want to undermine the character in the eyes of children who watched Sesame Street. "I am doing this because I feel this has gotten too close to reality", he said. Since the original Bert/Osama picture had been posted to Dennis Pozniak's mirror, he too was bombarded by the international media seeking interviews. As a result of all the attention Pozniak also closed his mirror.
I did mine when my wife was pregnant with our first daughter back in '96. I had quit smoking cigarettes, and this was one of my outlets. It would be cool if someone could produce an accurate timeline of all the AOL, Geocities, etc. sites. Too bad we only have incomplete snapshots! I wouldn't even now how to start something like that.
Is this the same Poe's law referenced in a pull-quote, above the fold, in the linked article?
This article's author properly used block quote positioning, but our minds have been trained to skip it as we assume it is a pull quote.
Later, I posted an article that proposed smoking coffee like crack. A Fox News station actually contacted me when they were working on a piece about teens smoking coffee to get high. They quickly dropped the conversation when I pointed out that the site is not a serious news source--as is evidenced by the fact that every posting is absurd.
Edit: And this is the post that Fox was planning to reference in their story (if you're short on time, scroll past the blather and just enjoy the photos. Like they did): http://www.porkulent.com/2013/11/how-to-prepare-coffee/
One also occasionally finds weed seeds in dried lentils and beans. And I imagine that there's selection for weeds with similarly sized seeds.
I remember that! It was kind of an in-joke among those of us who haunted the Weir Hall computing labs in our high school days, cadging Internet access to make up for our lack of modem ownership and benefiting from the benign disinterest of ill-paid undergraduate admins.
I enjoyed this in the article as well -- even people whose job revolves around writing jokes (Joe Rogan & the Register) completely missed the joke.
> “e/n” sites (which was what blogs were sometimes called before the term “blog” had gained wider adoption)
Does 'e/n' stand for something? This 1999 post  calls it 'Everything and Nothing', but I can't find anything else on it, is that right? It says:
> This was probably influenced by the number of EBG-like sites popping up with the words “everything” or “nothing” in their name.
I remember unabbreviated 'weblog' that seems all but gone now, but I've never come across 'e/n site' before.
Also, spoiler alert: the domain in question now redirects to a new Github repo with the original site's source. 
 - http://www.hearye.org/1999/05/whats-an-en-site/
 - https://github.com/rudism/NetAuthority
It was a place for my friends to post stupid stuff, a place for me to experiment with css and php, build new "features" just for fun. It was an open playground in a new world. It was a lot of fun. I also just remembered how it was hosted. I became known as the neighborhood kid who collected old computers, so I ended up with a bunch of weird hardware. The site was originally hosted on a 75mhz intel something or another sitting behind a 133mhz linux frankenstein gateway in my bedroom. I remember getting mad at my internet provider when they claimed I had used up "all 10 gb of data", when I clearly had the bandwidth logs that showed it wasnt possible!
The other cool thing was connecting with other e/n site owners who were also doing their thing. Sometimes you'd collaborate or ping each other's APIs, other times participate in their own experiments. Thousands of little web sites with micro communities built on spaghetti code, almost all have certainly faded away through the various ways that tiny sites die: a web host gets sold, an upstream system upgrade botched but not addressed, a missed payment, an unpatched vulnerability. Maybe today the owner still maintains the domain name out of nostalgia. Shoutout to gyrate.org and sejje.net; Rest in peace, frikk.tk
Lots of data accounting systems 'back in the day' counted every packet as 1500 bytes. So if you send 1 million packets it was
1,500 * 1,000,000 = 1.5GB
600 * 350,000 = 210 MB
1,500 * 650,000 = 975 MB
Total = 1.185GB (a difference of 315MB)
Depending on your packet profile you may have seen anywhere from a 20 to 50% overhead.
This was a small independent ISP with maybe 3-4 sysadmins/network operations people. Not doing at least that much seems pretty rinky-dink to me. It was trivial to do that much.
What did you call that little chat box? Shoutbox?
You invented twitter, pretty sure.
Forgot all about that little shoutbox.
Same here, though probably about a decade later on early versions of mobile data. They still owe me like 15 euros of prepaid, but they're out of business by now.
Never lose hope.
Back when the term was current it was described to me as standing for "entertainment/news".
(This was by someone who ran a small e/n site and generally followed the scene - though of course it could still be wrong.)
e/n had a variety of celebs itself. "Stile" was in the scene and took clickbaiting to the extreme (though it wasn't called that at the time) by essentially turning into a site packed with "extreme" images and porn. A perennially down on his luck Rush Limbaugh fan called Jon Bence was also pretty famous for describing his mundane life in excruciating detail.
The scene fizzled out within a few years, particularly once "blogging" became its own actual thing.
A few bloggers (most of a feminist mindset) agreed to launch it together, and they linked to each other. Then several dozen other prominent bloggers joined in, linking to each other with text, which varied but basically stayed with the same theme: "Blonde jokes are sexist, so I don't usually promote them, but this one was really funny..."
So a person reading the first blog would click the link, and go to a second link where the text was again "I know, I know, I should not promote blonde jokes, they are sexist, but this one really made me laugh..." and you click again and again you read "This is the funniest blonde joke that I have ever read" and you click again and again you read "I hate blonde jokes, but this one made me laugh out loud..." and you click again...
How many times did you click, before you realized the joke was on you? The joke was pretty much a test of your social intelligence.
That joke really only worked in the blogosphere of 2000-2006, the era when the blogosphere was at its peak. I am not sure how anyone could recreate that joke now.
Off topic, but back in college I was sitting in a big lecture hall next to a guy who felt compelled to tell me a few blonde jokes. I gave a concerned look and pointed to the blonde woman sitting quietly right in front of us and he responded "Oh, don't worry, she won't be offended til Thursday". Thus ended the conversation.
Are you kidding? I see people living through that joke all the time, it's Facebook -> Buzzfeed -> Mashable -> Vice -> names I don't know, promising you funny images, hot celebs, and OMG you won't believe what they look like now.
They never deliver, because they don't have to: before you get to number 26 and see how unbelievable it is, something (promising something) even more shocking has popped up in a banner ad, and you've clicked on.
I've seen something similar in a series of tweet responses expressing shock, outrage, glee, surprise - any emotion, really - that only ever replies to more of the same.
I had vast amounts of fun starting from popehat wading in going back through the QTs looking at the social graph as I went deeper down the rabbit hole.
I released some untested code and wound up emailing every user with a huge email which was essentially a concatenation of every user's email content, personal information et al.
Much anger was unleashed.
Back in these days, dating sites and tested code both weren't things yet, IIRC.
I often think back to that time period. He mentions that there was no concept of social networks back then, but IMO he's totally wrong. I mean, obviously there weren't any social networks as they exist today, but between the message board communities, and the massively interlinked personal e/n blogs ... there very much was a social network. And it was decentralized. For a short time, it was turning out to be a beautiful thing, especially once RSS started gaining popularity.
I understand why myspace and facebook took all of that marketshare; it wasn't easy enough for the average person to put up their own site, and by the time things like wordpress became popular, every instance was so generic looking (despite templates) that it was tough to get anyone reading your stuff. There was a glimmer of hope with things like google's RSS reader, and Google's social graph API (https://developers.google.com/social-graph/) ... the future could have been awesome, but alas
I agree, I preferred some of the old technologies, as they seemed more open with a lower barrier to entry, but I don't think the future is particularly bleak.
This is brilliant insight. I appreciate this site contributed to better understanding what a reality without trust would look like.
Clicking on that was a mailto: link that sent mail to an internal mailing list that we had. Got some good laughs from it but we could never figure out what to do with it. The archives are still floating around somewhere...
So ironic that this shows up now, during the internet's "let's scrub out the fake news" phase.
"Should I be concerned about Dihydrogen Monoxide?"
This kind of content is most likely still available today but I do think that it's deeper under a surface and that a kid or anyone is less likely to stumble on it while browsing.
That's not to say that there weren't good things about early Internet. I have good memories of irc, usenet and the decentralization that existed back then. In a way, it felt more magical than it is now but that's maybe the kid in me talking.
Oh god yes. It's also not... new. Alost everyone has seen at least one unforgettably horrible thing, and we're not stronger or better for it... just a bit sadder. When almost everyone has that under their belt, it's not really a cool or new thing to look at someone rotting off a noose, it's just pathetic and childish.
I think that, as much as anything, has changed it.
That, and it's just... at the time you could watch Magical Trevor again, or go to the dark places. You could spend the rest of your life in 2017 just looking at a slideshow of kittens.
I remember waiting for minutes to download a picture (with all my family nervous because I was using the only phone line at home) and then being totally shocked by something I had never seen before. Images of this kind could not be found in books or magazines. Nowadays, kids see one of those images and either they just sweep left or write a 'not wtf' comment.
That said you have just given me a flashback to https://xkcd.com/467/. I haven't forgiven Randall yet.
The Web isn't the Wild West any more. It hasn't been for a long time now. What we have today is more like the sort of well-aged cyberpunk shithole you find in films like Blade Runner, translated from the physical to the virtual. That's an interesting world of its own, and it has its own challenges. It also has gatekeepers - many of them - and they mostly bounce old-style shock site content pretty fast.
I am going to go ahead and assume that there's much more terrible shit on the web nowadays. 1996's Rotten.com is probably pretty tame by today's standards.
Back on the original topic, I remember another early satire site that was taken seriously and created very real outrage, Bonsai Kitten.
From todays perspective i can't even tell how we were not able to easily disprove this, and as far as i remember everyone, including all the parents who had to witness our presentation were shocked about the bonsai kittens.
There was no wikipedia or anything stating that it was wrong, and if there was a article somewhere that mentioned it, we either did not find or (also likely) it was written in english when our internet bubble was mostly german.
Really? I'm sure the domain alone is a cash machine.
Look at the top websites from before the turn of the century:
I doubt CompuServe.com or geocities.com is a cash machine.
That being said, rotten.com might actually be owned by a bigger parent company for all I know.
Hah! That and manbeef
List of emotions experienced: https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/cms/page_17760284.html
Orgish.com forever baby
I'm sure he largely set their style.
Someone must be paying the bills and maintaining it. But it's the same folks behind ...
... so maybe it's just for nostalgia.
Does nobody remember consumption junction? My girlfriend introduced me to it, oddly enough
I truly loved doing it, but the problem (presumably one all the sites of that nature had) was it was incredibly difficult to monetize. Pretty much the only customers willing to advertise over a video of someone being pooped on were porn sites, so our choice was to go all-in on porn, or have a very, very expensive hobby (monthly bandwidth bill was in the $30k-40k range). We eventually sold it to one of said porn companies, and they "solved" the monetization problem by putting an age verification system (AVS in porn-speak) on the landing page, which was ultimately just a way to bang people's credit cards.
As for resurrection, my old partner recently spoke to the current owner of the domain about re-launching it, but he wasn't interested. I hear he's a big VC muckity-muck now though, so, "S", if you're reading this, let's do a deal. The people demand to be horrified.
If they were interested in marketing themselves and making some money, they could easily spin it into a fascinating YouTube channel.
Anyway I am past this "searching phase" for shocking material, I bet it is really creepy nowadays.
In the same way that on youtube Russian Car Crash videos get huge viewings, those that show loss of life happening are usually hived off onto extreme websites where there is an audience for that type of material.
It's a touchy distinction (as any intent charge is), but it makes a certain amount of sense - one major reason for criminalizing content is to reduce demand and thereby hopefully prevent further production. Recording an accident or unrelated act of violence presumably doesn't create any incentive for more violence.
>Recording an accident or unrelated act of violence presumably doesn't create any incentive for more violence.
Getting visitors for your gore site is pretty good incentive for more violence and more extreme content. Same with selling of early non-web based content like the Faces of Death series.
Please don’t be too concerned with people possessing things which do not exist. There are no snuff films.
Actually, there are no such films. I’m not saying someone could not, in theory, create one – I’m saying that, to my understanding, no such films have ever been shown to actually exist. Be careful with what you assume.
But the ones I watch are regular dashcam video footage where some kind of mishap is captured while it's happening - sometimes just a fender bender, sometimes road rage, sometimes serious accidents, sometimes a third vehicle which just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time . I'm of course biased towards such channels, but the number of such channels are far higher in my opinion, atleast on youtube (sites like vimeo or liveleak possibly have a different ratio).
It wasn't really gore that was most "shocking" to me. It was realizing just how easily and suddenly an accident could happen. In fact the most shocking one I remember was an in-car footage of a cab passenger thrown violently like a ragdoll when its rear was hit hard by another vehicle. It happened in the blink of an eye and it was severe. Now I insist all my backseat passengers wear their seat belts, despite a lot of eye-rolling and groaning :)
I started in 1994, and I don't know how I could have avoided rotten.com a couple years later. It was just the social circle you "hung out with" online I'm guessing. It was almost a gross-out form of rick rolling, if nothing else.
We certainly share an Internet generation, but we likely are in fairly distinct cohorts simply due to a few years difference. You probably had a much different social network than I did, even if we were the same "irl" age.
I find this topic somewhat interesting, the vastly differing online experiences people had just within a 10 year timeframe is pretty amazing looking back at it.
Do you know about goatse, by the way?
It's so awful it's seared itself into my mind. I now think of OMG as "Oh My Goatse" and OMFG as "Oh My Farting Goatse".
Still it gets worse. There's 2 girls / 1 cup and 1 man / 1 jar. Awful, NSFW, don't go there for your own sanity.
I was forced there by my younger brother.