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An Oral History of Something Awful (vice.com)
201 points by never-the-bride on Apr 15, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 108 comments

SA was great during the GWB years. The developer forum had really smart and helpful users. The Photoshop challenges produced work that was significantly better than what floats up to r/all today. The political arguments were vicious and pretty smart. The front page could almost always make me laugh.

Another brilliant monetization not mentioned in the article: you could pay to customize your own user image and title. For twice the price, another user could pay to anonymously choose their own title/image for you, usually to insult. Want to change your appearance back? Pay again.

If you were banned you could pay to re-register and come right back. If you were permabanned you couldn't. A funny pseudo-permaban was that sometimes a user would get put on probation for a ridiculously long time like 9999 hours.

I'd love to find a modern SA: large enough to be always raucous and lively, moderated well enough to keep out really poisonous users. On Reddit the only good subreddits are locked down really tightly and the ones that aren't are full of garbage and full of meh.

One of the threads from that era that really stood out for me was when they went on to a predominantly-gay niche dating site, posted pictures from it, and mocked the members for their height, weight and general appearance. It eventually got gassed after a newer member who didn't share the traditional SA belief that it's not homophobic to call men from groups SA has dehumanized who are in relationships with men "faggots" - because obviously they're not really gay, just too much of a loser to get women to sleep with them - objected to the people using this term, someone bought him a custom title calling him a faggot, and the mods finally decided this was too far.

The thing that contributed most to SA's reputation, in my opinion, was the fact that it became an internet cultural norm that their choice of who to dehumanize, their morally grey tactics, and their edgy humour were beyond criticism even by sites and people who campaign against the exact same things elsewhere on the web. Imagine what Vice would say about a subreddit that did this, or harassed someone until they killed themself, or permabanned a woman because her boyfriend said she'd been raped at a community-related meet up by someone from the site, or...

Yep. There was a definite feeling of "elitist tastemaking" that permeated SA as it hit its peak and post-peak years. The forum regulars were consciously engaging in the performance of a forum post, rather than a forum post, which, in tandem with the banning and fees, developed towards an anxious, cynical, and insincere atmosphere ripe for toxicity - qualities which remain true of many of the prominent alumni. At the same time, it was productive for a certain kind of effortful, memetic content, which made it alluring and popular.

Because open hate clearly wasn't in good taste and tended to get moderated out, SA would more often focus on dogwhistle cues, e.g. furry groups instead of LGBT groups, [0] and then harass critics for not getting the joke. Material that originally developed from outside the forums was claimed and appropriated as it passed through. There were a lot of ways in which the claims to quality were overblown or outright false. Even so, I got curious and bought an account too, though I lost the password to it at some point.

[0] https://twitter.com/spacetwinks/status/728349066178998274

The SA you describe still exists, and it still has those things you mention.

A lot of people (including SA posters) say it's not as good as it used to be, but that may be the same phenomenon HN users complain about when they say HN used to be better back in the day.

I just took a look for the first time in years and it does look pretty good, though not as active as I remember. I was never banned. I ended up walking away permanently in early 2008 because I realized that it had become a dangerously deep time-sink for me. I just logged out and never logged in again. (I left kuro5hin earlier in a similar way.) Now of course I sink my time across other forums. HN is my current favorite. I seem to have a little better graduated self control nowadays; I'll not post here for a week or more if higher priorities interrupt.

I'm still active on Ars Technica but the constant political sniping allowed there is really tiresome. I could happily live the rest of my life without seeing "snowflake" used as an insult again. Or without seeing a snarky anti-Trump comment in an unrelated article with 70 upvotes. I don't like Trump either, but that doesn't mean I want to read lazy insults against him all day in every discussion. Reddit's never tempted me to register an account though I like to read Ask Historians.

You are absolutely right about the time sink aspect, although the User Control Panel is pretty useful in that it provides a view of only the threads you have subscribed to, which minimizes the "hmm, this thread looks interesting... ah crap it's 4 AM!" problem.

But then you're just more efficient and get more posts in the same amount of time.

SA was the first forum I really got involved in and I posted there for years. When I was there I thought it was the pinnacle of comedy; I'd never been exposed to that brand of humor before it, and I thought it was genius.

When I look at SA today it just seems juvenile and try-hard. Really, painfully unfunny.

I think part of it has to do with the stricter moderation; SA in the early 2000s was 4chan before I knew there was a 4chan, and I appreciated the raucous, sometimes offensive humor.

Moreover though I think you're right, SA is still SA. My ideas about what is funny have changed, but SA is still the same.

>When I look at SA today it just seems juvenile and try-hard. Really, painfully unfunny.

this is how trends work. the originators are truly creative and interesting, but over time the paths they forge spread across populations, and inspire increasingly poorly executed knock-offs. eventually it becomes embarrassing for earlier adopters.

SA lost lots of good people to 4chan, mainly because a bunch of them were banned for loli on a Direct Connect hub (Raspberry Heaven). All of the original 4chan admins, mods, and posters were also SA posters, including moot himself.

I've not logged into my account in a decade. I suspect that SA didn't change, I think we've changed. Getting older sucks.

It's also worth noting what an important role the SA file sharing forums had on on SA and the file-sharing scene. Many of today's private file-sharing communities are direct descendants of what began as "No Mp3s" and "Don't Post Porn Here". It was terrible for the SA community, but I'm sure all the bans for "where the filez @" posts were quite good at mitigating server expenses.

ah nmp3s was great for so long and IIRC oink grew out of it as well.

We don't talk about nmp3s/dpph.

The 9/11 thread was pretty shocking. Two things stuck in my memory from GBS/SA, the "All your base" thread and the 9/11 thread.

But you laughed.

As someone who's read SA since Hellchick was joking about crates, I think the SA boards are still pretty great. There's a weird phenomenon currently tolerated where some posters sort of lazily semi-troll, but other than that it's still a good forum.

Much like Reddit, the value at SA is in niche sub forums. I haven't looked at GBS in years but still visit places like Ask/Tell, Book Barn, etc as well as specific game threads. (Is this like advanced "there's a front page?) I bookmark them and visit via the control panel pretty much exclusively. Big threads are like communities, especially around specific games and TV shows. It's wild to me that SA is still a thing after all these years (I started in 2001) but I think the site has been through so much that it can survive anything these days.

Voat had a lot of promise, but it's degraded into a cesspool of racism.

Voat had remarkably little promise and followed the standard tragectory of sites designed to clone a site for angry users jumping ship.

Moot, founder of 4chan, had some good comments about the phenomenon during his resignation:

>To single out 420chan, it’s actually one of the imageboards that I have actually respected over the years. I think that what's kind of defined a lot of image boards, even going back to the first kind of spin off from 4chan (which was 5Chan), 7chan and all these others. They tend to spin out based on a decision I make, or they don’t like me, or they don’t like 4chan, or they don’t like 4chan culture or whatever. More or less over the years, most of those sites have kind of fizzled out.

>While 420Chan started similarly to 5chan, (the admin didn’t like me), I really respect that he wanted to have a bunch of topics that 4chan didn’t have ... ["]4chan is never gonna have a drugs board, or a wrestling board, or all these other boards that I want, and so we may as well create a site that caters to that.”

>I really respect the fact that he really took it in its own direction, it doesn't look like 4chan. The other sites ... created a whole era of open source clones of 4chan that offered 4chan in a box and emulated our front page and everything.

>People, for whatever reason wanted to make 4chan that wasn’t 4chan.

Voat is just the latest "reddit that isn't reddit".

>or a wrestling board

It does now, in the form of /asp/ I think :)

However I don't know how well moot's prediction of fizzling out holds for say 8chan, which has started to very much grow in popularity; granted, having roughly some of the same popular boards as 4chan (except for where moderation doesn't matter, like on NSFW boards) but with some interesting and nice top boards, like /leftypol/ which 4chan would never host.

I remember being on 4chan when the total amount of content currently hosted was listed as 50GB. And I thought it would be going down.

8chan's growth rate looked promising for a time, but I believe it's pretty inactive at the moment.

Well, being removed from Google surely doesn't help, but it's still one of the 5k top visited sites in the US according to Alexa: http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/8ch.net

Why did it get removed?

They say because of CP, but I highly doubt it. I'm assuming a three digit organization didn't like the conversations going on there.

The SA forums were so amazing from 2000-2004. I spent some of my most formative years posting there (no regrets!). It's pretty crazy to think how many people who were active on SA around then went on do Big Things:

- CliffyB

- moot

- notch

- deadmau5

- llamaguy (guessing most people here don't know who he is, but he created a Gamefaqs spinoff called Luelinks/EndOfTheInternet, and was one of the first 100 employees at Facebook and is now a 9-figure millionaire)

- vilerat (aka Shawn Smith, one of the Americans who died in Benghazi)

- garry (of garry's mod and rust fame)

- Yahtzee

Stuff that can trace back to SA around that time:

- 4chan itself

- Memes ("image macros")

- Let's Plays

- Weird Twitter

- That shitposting/shittexting ironic writing style that is now beloved by modern middle/upper class American teenagers everywhere

Nearly everyone that I met as a teenager and still keep in contact with is really successful.

Sadly, I think Lowtax is the most incompetent businessperson I've ever encountered. It's frankly amazing how badly he mismanaged the SA forums, and how much he took all of that amazing talent that was creating free content for him for granted.

I think the best example is how he initially offered Yahtzee some insultingly paltry compensation for doing Zero Punctuation. IIRC it was like $100 per episode. Zero Punctuation alone could have kept SA relevant, I think.

The stuff that went down in 2005 and beyond drove all of the best posters away, IMO.

Regarding VileRat, he was an active member in the online MMO EVE Online. Around the time SA was living it's glory days, an Icelandic company started EVE. A large group of SA members formed an organization in that game called "Goonswarm", which proceeded to become a dominant force in the game over the next decade. Organizations in EVE (called Alliances) became giant, complex things, and required a considerable amount of skill and a dedicated management team of players to run. VileRat was one of those.

Reading about all of those folks makes me feel like I wasted my time in the early 2000's on BBS systems talking about prerelease Windows systems like Neptune.

I spent most of the late '90s and early 2000's building fiber networks across the country-side and then helping with the technical aspects of increasing Cable Modem speeds and reliability - I guess I missed most of the important human aspects of the Internet at that time?

right - this was my high school life.

There's no way llamaguy is worth 9 figures.

shrug, david choe is worth 9 figures and did the first mural a year before llamaguy started working there

Keep in mind SA forums hated "memes" unless you were really good at it. That made the forums great because it also involved an element of risk so if someone wasn't sure how good their stuff was they're at risk of getting banned.

A simple example: There use to be a forums poster who posted just screenshots from old NES video games that was always super relevant so he was never banned (usually if you just post a meme with nothing else in the post you'd get banned).

Another one: The whole concept of tricking users into reading a long fictional story that started one way and eventually delved into some other topic altogether. I guess you'd now call it a bait-and-switch (w /an anti-clamatic ending).

That too was started (or at least popularized) on SA. A user named, "Hakan" posted a lot of fictional stories that were pretty good and always had a twist ending. Imitators who tried to copy him but sucked were told, "You're No Hakan." Then that catchphrase became too memeish and was banned from the forums (unless again your comedic timing of the phrase was hilarious).

Edit: Even the meme of, "Read post, then read saw username <username>" meme, seems to have come from Hakan/SA which was a "meme" where you'd read a story, get tricked by it and make a post just to specifically say you were tricked. That got banned pretty quickly as well but it's so common in reddit and other parts of the internet now.

It's a shame that nearly all of gamequoter's history is gone.

Not sure if this applies to Gamequoter's posts specifically, but for a while there was a site called Waffleimages that was created basically for SA in the same sort of way Imgur was created for Reddit when all the other image hosts sucked. Just about everyone used Waffleimages for a while and when it eventually went away, tons of images went with it.

thanks for that. yeah looks like almost all of his history is gone. the images weren't saved...

Something Awful really set the stage for a lot of what followed in internet culture. "Let's Play" spawned from it. The template of the modern meme. 4chan's culture was really seeded with a lot of people kicked out of SA, which steered it in an interesting direction.

But it maintained quality via community, and through a simple $10 barrier. Rules were followed because they were simple and mutually agreed with.

I don't think anything like it could happen today.

Something Awful certainly spawned a lot of things.

But it's funny, I sort of have the opposite opinion of SA in regards to its content. Once the 10$ barrier was in place I felt it lost a lot of the quality. I understood why it needed to happen, it got too popular for its own good. However, I couldn't help but feel that once it created a barrier to entry a lot of the "aliveness" got sucked right out of it. Slowly.

A really interesting comparison of Reddit and SA takes place in Eve Online, where massive fleets clash on the regular. SA has a huge history there, and tons of political heroes (vilerat! rip) but they ended up sort of being the exclusionary bullies of the Eve universe. TEST/Dreddit (Reddit's corporation) ended up having that easy entry and encouraged a lot of growth from the people other companies in Eve were ignoring - the new player. This resulted in a lot of good fun and chaos. Now there are whole companies devoted to new players (Brave Newbies)

>>Once the 10$ barrier was in place I felt it lost a lot of the quality. I understood why it needed to happen, it got too popular for its own good. However, I couldn't help but feel that once it created a barrier to entry a lot of the "aliveness" got sucked right out of it.

Quantity went down, but quality increased.

I mean, that's what barriers to entry are about: they keep out the lowest-common-denominator trolls, while those who actually care about the community have no issues paying the entry fee (sometimes several times, as they get temp-banned).

The $10 entry fee and heavy use of bans made the topic subforums the best on the web. While FYAD may have given birth to the shitpost, shitposting is only allowed in the designated shitposting zones.

If you want to talk or read about a massively popular topic: cars, guns, motorcycles, games, money, pets, health, houses, coupons... it's nice to go somewhere that weeds out low quality posting. How ever quality happens to be defined in that particular forum.

I wouldn't say that quality increased at all, however it certainly made managing the forum a lot easier. I think around 2008 or 09 I shit posted a ban me thread with numerous images of god and the dinosaurs until I was culled. I had had an account since '00. I found by the time I had been banned that the quality (which is of course, subjective) had been lost by becoming exclusive. Sort of the same way an NYT Paywall made me lose interest in it. The decline did take a while, but I would say that when they instituted the paywall it was "Day 2" as Bezos said. The beginning of the end.

> Something Awful certainly spawned a lot of things.

That's an understatement. By the time I started seeing tl;dr being used in its original meaning elsewhere on the internet, it had already long been a bannable offense on the SA boards.

With the $10 in place, it died through attrition.

If they haven't added the $10 barrier, it would have died through a flood of low-quality content and not enough moderation resources.

It's your typical "how to grow a community" dilemma.

There are many private forums still out there that are invite-only or have an entry fee, and some of them have communities as large and "healthy" as SA during its hay day

How to find them? Any links or requirements to get links, etc?

They tend to find you, and your quality commenting, on other sites and invite you.

> But it maintained quality via community, and through a simple $10 barrier.

One thing written-out of the official history. 10bux was introduced when SA had a wide variety of infringing bittorrent links in various subforums. Somehow, Lowtax shut this down before he got busted for it, but if anyone ever mentioned it for years afterward, insta-permaban.

The idea that $10 was quality control developed later. The real rules had nothing do with "quality" and were always opaque and deeply political. Pretty much a Lord of the Flies scenario -- which was great if you loved internet drama, and they weren't coming after you. SA's business model was essentially semi-randomly banning people who would re-register. I haven't been back in more than ten years, so things might have changed. But to pretend they were trying to foster some great community ... no. Just no. Goons were acknowledgedly horrible people engaged in online barbarism.

I have all sorts of conflicted feelings about my time with SA during the Bush years when I was a college student. It was fun, but I think the time I spent there cost me a point or two off my GPA. The people I knew of that went off to the Microsofts, Googles, Apples, and various startups of the world were more focused in their studies and their technical passions and didn't pay too much attention to many of the things that concerned Goons (video games, politics chatter, the ongoing internet popularity contest).

In the end, SA's culture was something I should have put down earlier if I wanted to get ahead. Message boards are not where the 'A' players of the world spend their time. Caring about the fans of your stream is not exactly of the list of 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People'

"Message boards are not where the 'A' players of the world spend their time."

Effectively posted on a message board. My eyes are rolling out of my fucking head. I spent the GWB years on SA. There were many brilliant people there. Dare I say, they spurred me into learning more. You get what you give.

On the other hand, a lot of successes spawned from something awful forums - e.g. Cards Against Humanity.

When you look back at those successful people everyone so desperately want to be, in tech a least, they often frequent various types of message boards.

Reading forums won't cause you to not be successful in life. Not doing stuff will.

I know many successful people (PhDs, government employees, "popular twitter users", SW engineers) who used SA to make weird jokes to get over boredom in college.

The most successful people either became mods or were permabanned. SA admins liked to take their life problems out on the forum by breaking it, a kind of self-harm, and then ban you if you complained.

Also liked to claim anime forum posters were "child molestors" and ban them as a joke, one of the sources behind 4chan's growth.

By the way, all of the least successful people I know identify as "gamers" and keep trying/failing to become pro Twitch streamers instead of applying for jobs.

Those guys can be amazing game QAs if they make the leap to trying to make a good game great by trying to find all the weird corner cases that can ruin someone's experience of the game.

As one described it to me, he's trying to protect the reputation of games as a creative medium by pushing back against bad works of the craft.

I'll basically never be an A player, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. The world needs B, C, D, E, and F players too.

I wish I could upvote you twice.

I also lost a point or two off my GPA playing WoW/EVE, and lurking 4chan. Now I work at Google and life isn't nearly as fun.

Some days I wish I could go back, so cheer up m8.

As I hit my mid 30s, I look back at all of this and I find myself missing it terribly. It's not like today is bad. But back then, it was really neat.

I was too young to experience BBS and Usenet; I grew up with AOL and Geocities, and when the 2000s hit and I could convince my parents to get a cable modem, things were just off the wall.

I spent a lot of time on forums too, overclocking this or that, or waking up for alarm clock-ops in EVE. I met people at LAN parties who I ended up working for later; set up servers to host our Unreal Tournament matches and learned to edit and repackage files so I could run around Jedi Knight as Deadpool with a lightsaber.

I cringe thinking about some of the stupid arguments I got in, things I wrote on my blog, my livejournal, on the forum. I like to think I learned a lot about how people feel their way through an argument, and how a flame war gets started.

One evening, when I'm not trolling HN at 1AM, I'll sit down and write how the early 2000s affected us all and set us up for today. I wish it was so fresh and new like it felt to me then. But I don't feel like today isn't as fun...but it definitely is different. I'm inclined to think that it's on us now to determine what the next chapter will be, what we will create that is fun that the next 18 year old will experience tomorrow and go "this is f&@#ing awesome."

Gonna go play some Descent. =)

> I spent a lot of time on forums too, overclocking this or that, or waking up for alarm clock-ops in EVE. I met people at LAN parties who I ended up working for later; set up servers to host our Unreal Tournament matches and learned to edit and repackage files so I could run around Jedi Knight as Deadpool with a lightsaber.

As someone approaching mid-thirties, aside from EVE that's pretty much me you're describing.

Jedi Knight was my first foray into modding. I never release anything, but spent a lot of time in JKEdit (and/or that other editor). I also working on two UT and UT2003 mods after that.

Then there were the LAN parties, coping tons of crap from each other computers in between Quake and whatnot. There was also local play: Comet Busters, Liero, Molez, One Must Fall 2097, Wacky Wheels.

And the flash stuff! Salad Fingers, Strongbad, that thing with the cats singing Independent Women in a French accent. JeffK, Cliff Yablonski Hates You.

The drama fascinated me too: the TTLG forums and their colorful cast of characters, Digg 'selling out' and this new 'reddit' website, etc.

> One evening, when I'm not trolling HN at 1AM, I'll sit down and write how the early 2000s affected us all and set us up for today

I, for one, would very much like to read more articles like this submitted one about the history of the web, similar to the earlier posts here on the days of Ultima. It's far back enough in the past to be worth writing about (damn, makes me feel old) and yet I can't help but feel understanding those developments, or discussing them chronologically, will play an important role in understanding our current world. More, at least, than often superficial articles and theories about Trump/alt-right/Brexit/SJW that are written by people who did not experience what 'we' did.

It kinda hurt that I tried to impersonate jeffk in this thread and got downvoted into the negatives. I think people thought I was serious. Now I know for sure that I'm out of touch.

> Message boards are not where the 'A' players of the world spend their time

So what are you doing here?


Personally, I don't regret the time I sank on 4chan/video games (still play a lot), anime, etc from ages 13-22. Maybe I am less ambitious than you, but I have a programming job in a good city and I'm not stressed about finances/rent. Good enough for me. My career is going fine and I'm learning new skills at work every year.

I look back on those years and remember a lot of fun nights with friends. In fact, sometimes I miss it!

> So what are you doing here?

HN is a nice stream of links with comments, not a community with a revolving cast of characters like SA. Totally different use case.

Yeah dude. You've totes graduated to the 'A' players message board.

I think that it's reasonable to feel conflicted. The internet is interesting and addictive, especially the social corners. Other commenters have pointed out that SA, HN, FB, etc are potent time sinks--it's all too easy to spend more time than you should. Of course, whether a site is a good use of time isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. It can be productive to skim the news for 10 minutes a day.

It's a good habit to periodically reflect: would I be happier spending more time there, or would I be happier spending more time [working on that side project, with my family, watching a movie, hiking, etc]. Most highly effective people 'waste' their time too, just that they're aware of the decisions they make, and strike a good balance. It's important not to let play get in the way of work, but work isn't the only thing worth living for.

I think it's a YMMV thing. I'm at google, and I'm pretty certain that a lot of my improvement as a programmer came from time spent posting/irc-ing with the SA programmer crew, to the degree that I don't think I would've made it to google without it. But, definitely spent too much time there.

But do you regret it? I'm gonna guess "no" :)

And what of Twitter?

The best times were when the internet was rapidly spreading but old people didn't understand how easy it was to fake thing. So many local news broadcasts punked. A lot of those early dot-com memes and hoaxes got their start on SA. It was way too easy back then and a bit more innocent. Goatse'ing a live on-air broadcast is gross but doesn't undermine democracy.

Short 3rd-party addendum on SA's defunct politics subforum "Laissez's Faire", the secret birthplace of many parts of internet leftist political culture.


There's a strange graduation you end up going through as a mid-term denizen of the internet (i.e late 90s), for me it was SA rather than Slashdot etc, even before Digg, 4chan and Reddit. Lots of high quality threads in the specialised forums like Debate & Discuss, dedicated games threads etc. Very fondly remembered. I do still prefer the threaded format rather than the subtree style of Reddit et al.

A big part of Reddit's success has been the ability for any user to create a new subreddit for any topic. And a big part of the SomethingAwful forums' success has been having subforums for a whole lot of different general topics.

I wonder why no-one's made a forum site where anyone can create subforums the way reddit does subreddits (or have they?). There are still major benefits to proper chronological forum-type discussion, but forums for different things are spread in small groups all over the Internet and you have to discover, learn the interface, and sign up for every one separately.

I don't know if you could also make it a paid service like the SA forums in this day and age, but the $10 entry sure kept the site running and kept the spam and some of the idiots out as well (particularly since if you got banned you had to pay another $10 to come back).

They have, it's a private gamefaqs spinoff that's slowly dying ever since Megaupload shut down, since all of the site's content was hosted there. There are less than 300 active users at any given time when it used to peak at 10k. I'd be surprised if people are still posting a year from now. I hope the software gets open-sourced by the creator because it's the best forum I've ever used UX wise. I personally stopped using it a year ago.

Llamaguy:) already did source the core of it. I don't know if tags were included, but a large majority of it was there, and Tiko was working to replicate the other functionality awhile back too; not sure what happened with it though. He had a prototype where you could have a board up and running and make your own tags, etc. I think livelinks still didn't work at the time.

The SA forums had predecessors on Usenet in the form of alt.flame, alt.tasteless and others.

alt.tasteless, in particular, promoted high quality and originality. Using catchphrases and hackneyed meme-like sentences resulted in humiliation.

There was the occasional real gem. It was quite a feat considering the lack of moderation.

Not that I would suggest reading it unless you have a stomach for actual (occasionally extremely) tasteless content.

alt.sysadmin.recovery was Slashdots precessor

Wow that site feels slugish on a Core i7 + GTX 970 with 16 gigs of RAM.

Glad I am not the only one. This seems to be the problem:


Since they have not fixed it, almost would think it's by design? It definitely forces you to read the article slowly... fast scrolling is discouraged.

This is literally the only reason I have upgrade a machine for the past 6 years. Web pages are too slow. Rendered text.

I tried to install TurboTax [2016] on a small Windows partition. Turns out i'm an idiot, because I only left 5GB free, and it requires 5.2 gigabytes to install.

I hate modern software.

Hey, you have the same setup as I do! Yeah, I have that problem too. It's sluggish. It is truly remarkable how wasteful websites like these are.

With noscript + request policy blocking everything the content loads perfectly fine. Everything else is apparently unnecessary junk.

I'm amazed. What browser do you use? Firefox is flying by really well (that too on a Core i3 5th gen + NVIDIA 920m with 8GB RAM).

This sounds nuts.

I'm on Ubuntu with Google Chrome.

I think it could be some issue with hardware acceleration then? The link is a bit old so I don't know if things are still the same, but I used this long ago.


My money is on IE. No self respecting, self aware, SA reader ever used INERNAT EXPLRAR.

You think you can run artisanal handcrafted websites using cutting edge JS frameworks on that lugubrious relic!?

SA really had an amazing culture. I ran GBS FM (a 100% user-contributed online radio station for Goons) and some of my best friends to this day (offline and online) come from that project.

I once made an advert for you =)

"Welcome to goon radio... get off my plane!"

I remember GBS FM :)

I'm actually really surprised to see this on the front page of HN today. I wonder how many people who actively read/post on HN were also on SA back in the day, or still hang out in Cavern Of Cobol and/or YOSPOS.

I'm one of them. I didn't post much, but I was on SA as much as I am currently on HN and this is all a huge blast of nostalgia for me. I just read through the whole 9/11 thread and logged in an explored what's currently going on. Very strange feeling.

Kyanka also gave several presentations over the years.

UIUC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Gvo1uWAhHc

MTU: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM4D4wrk6Vs

A lot of the same content as this, he previously defined the tendency for the internet to form niche communities as the "parrot-ass club".

Despite Something Awful's notoriety for shitposting as noted in this article, the Let's Play forum (the concept of which was incidentally pioneered by SA) is the highest-quality forum on the internet for video game playthroughs, due in part to the registration paywall, chronological ordering of posts, and very heavy moderation.

I do think the older BBS architecture could still work in the 2017 for new discussion forums (e.g. Discourse), although it likely would not be very appealing to venture capitalists who want to see explosive growth metrics.

I read this about a week ago and it is very well done. I've not logged into SA (I only used the forums) in a couple of years at least, glad to see they're still existing.

I still use a torrent site that was a SA spinoff.

i have no idea why but i remember you from some old efnet channels and SA as well... can't remember what you did though.

I was an EFnet server admin at Texas.Net up until '98 or so when the smurf attacks became too much and we pulled the plug on that server. Not too long after that a few friends and I started a tiny network of our own that still runs to this day.

I can credit SA and MetaFilter (what a combo, eh?) for keeping me sane after I got laid off in '02. Nowdays Reddit has pretty much replaced SA for me, and I don't participate on MeFi as much as I used to... but the folks there kept me from killing myself after my wife died suddenly in '09.

You sure? I heard that went down with what.cd?

So I hear.

Wow, downvoted and I didn't even give specifics of which offshoot site it was.

Shhh. What torrent site? The one that doesn't exist? I think that's what you mean.

I find it annoying when people do this, so I'll save others the frustration. "The one that doesn't exist" is probably referring to LUElinks (that's their little in-joke). It's a pay-to-join + invite-only forum/link sharing site. Its userbase significantly declined when MegaUpload shut down, as many of the links were broken.

Spin-off of a spin-off of a spin-off...

Edit:Wow, downvotes for making an oblique reference to the fact the SA offshoot torrent sites have disappeared and reappeared under new names a half dozen times in the last decade.

Yeah, I believe Demonoid had its beginnings rooted in SA (or at least some connection,) which was definitely the most popular.

Dreamhost also had beginnings on SA, they used to give steep discounts to SA members.

Edit2: Wow, more downvotes for... fades into the beigy haze

I found out about SA via playing a norwegian real time browser strategy game planetarion. I remember the day AYB was discovered in much the same way I remember 9/11.

Is there anything as relevant today as SA used to be back during its golden years? What's the site that gets the closest to that in 2017?


Is this oral history written?

Transcribed, thankfully

I am surprised nobody mentioned http://www.tranceaddict.com/forums

It was massive! Well still is!

Derek Smart Derek Smart Derek Smart?

"fuck you and die". My CPU took this literally when it visited the site.

I'm not sure it's worth remembering. Being funny wasn't unique to SA. Fark and Random Drivel and a bunch of sites existed with different allowed formats. SA as a 4chan lite was even less interesting. I did meet Kyanka a couple times when I was out and about.

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