name = b3ta
url = http://b3ta.com/
commercial = No
type = Digital Arts Community, Message board
registration = Optional, Required to post
Rob Manuel, Cal Henderson, Denise Wilton
author = Communal
launch date = 2001
current status =
B3ta (pronounced to rhyme with "Peter" [ [http://www.b3ta.com/features/faq/#sayb3ta B3ta: Frequently Asked Questions] ] ) is a high-profile [http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/01/the_planet_houston_data_center_fire/] British
website, described as a "puerile digital arts community" by " The Guardian". [citation|last=Green|first=Dave|title=Web watch|newspaper=The Guardian|date= 2003-08-21|year=2003|url=http://technology.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,1022657,00.html] It was founded in 2001 by Rob Manuel, Denise Wilton and Cal Henderson.
B3ta's main feature is a
newsletterfeaturing the latest work of the B3ta community and other interesting, humorous or perverse things found on the Web. The newsletter is published weekly and has about 100,000 readers. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/blackcountry/features/2003/08/rob_manuel/rob_manuel.shtml 2003 BBC interview with Rob Manuel] ] A message boardallows members to post digital images and short animations they have created, the ones considered the best appearing on the front page, along with various announcements. Previously there was a B3ta radio show on the London station Resonance FM. To inspire creative works, B3ta poses a weekly image challenge, such as "if cats ruled the world", and a "question of the week", for example asking "what's your most embarrassing injury?"
Many popular Internet phenomena were created by B3ta members (also called "B3tards"). These include the
Macromedia Flashcartoons created by Joel Veitchand Jonti Pickingand the quizzes by Rob Manuel.
March 2006, it was announced that The Friday Projectwould be publishing a B3ta book entitled "The Bumper B3ta Book of Sick Jokes". The book was published and made available from both online and real world bookshops on the 20th October 2006. The book consists of a series of "sick jokes" that were submitted and illustrated by B3ta contributors. A public wiki site ( [http://www.sickipedia.org Sickipedia] ) was established to collect and edit joke material for the project.
The weekly newsletter is published on Friday afternoons, to a group of about 100,000 subscribers. It features the best work by members of the B3ta community. Famous examples include
Rob Manuel's [http://www2.b3ta.com/femaleorshemale/ Female or Shemale] , Jonti Picking's Badger Badger Badger, and Joel Veitch's [http://www.rathergood.com/punk_kittens/ Punk Rock Kittens] . Generally, the newsletter consists of the following sections:
* "Newsletter Title" – These are usually humorous or offensive (or both), and often can relate to a news item. Recently Rob has invited suggestions for the title on the main board.
* "What B3ta people have been making this week" – websites, animations and photos created by people who either post on the messageboard, or email their work to the site directly.
* "Sites in brief: Stuff we like that wasn't made by our mates" – although in theory similar to the first section, it increasingly features oddities from around the Internet in general. This frequently includes items not intended to be humorous but that are from their context, such as a watch with inbuilt Geiger counter.
* "Things that make you go aaah" – usually linking to photographs of baby animals. The newsletter itself describes it as its "great voyage to catalogue the cutest things in the world".
* "B3ta image challenge" – the results from the previous week's image challenge, and up until recently, the announcement of the next week's challenge. The image challenge is currently announced on Wednesdays.
* "Question of the week" entries which caught the editors' eyes.
* "Video Schmideo" – links to online videos, often hosted on
* "What happened next?" – follow-ups on stories previously featured.
* "Star in next week's issue" – a plea for content for further newsletters. This is very tongue-in-cheek, but occasionally one of the less ridiculous suggestions will get made.
* "Top tip" – a domestic tip provided by one of the board members. More recently this has been replaced by a random joke from Sickipedia.
* Some older newsletters also contained a "B3ta radio" section – a summary of the content of the up-coming radio show, and listening details.
On the message board, photoshopped images are posted by the members. The B3ta message board has a strong code of "
netiquette" – a new thread should generally not be started unless it contains an image or link. Spamming (promoting one's own web site) or posting something which is deemed to be cliché is not tolerated. These cliché links are often referred to being "glasscock", named after the famous image of a female golfer kissing a glass trophy, which appeared to be a phallic shape due to the camera angle.
Newly registered users cannot post on the board until the Tuesday after they register, known as "Newbie Tuesday". This gives an opportunity to discover site etiquette before getting involved.
This is an honour granted to the best images of the day, where they are displayed on the front page of the site hence reaching many more people. The Board members vote by clicking a button labelled "I like this!", then the site moderators pick their favourites.
The gay shift
The "gay shift" was the B3tan name for any period of time shortly after 12:00 a.m. GMT when the proportion of American- and Antipodean-based board members generally increases. This was usually used as an excuse to post anti-homosexual jokes, pictures of users genetalia and doctored images of
lesbians. The name arose as a rhyming companion to the time period before midnight, the "day shift", and the unusually high proportion of gay men that appeared to be present around that time. Occasionally an effort was made to call it by the more politically correct name "super happy fun time".
Bandwagons and bandwagoning
Bandwagoning is the act of posting images related to a certain theme, or of a similar nature to a group of previously posted images. Bandwagon posts are generally unwelcome, unless they are particularly clever or inventive. Some bandwagons are started based on various cultural references such as advertisements, news items, etc; which may explain why they cease to be amusing very quickly. The B3ta FAQ explicitly prohibits, or at the very least "strongly discourages" the use of bandwagons, yet they are still common. The difference between a bandwagon and a
memeseems to be based on the joke's longevity; a meme is a bandwagon that never gets old (or at least takes much longer to become so). Pictures which have inspired bandwagons and memes include the [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/4946120.stm ambulance] and the [http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blsharkattack.htm shark attacking a helicopter] .A recent bandwagon example is Flap.After posting many crude drawings of birds in new threads, [http://www.b3ta.com/board/profile.php?id=6686 Sir Sand Goblin] posted a picture apology, involving [http://www.b3ta.com/board/7551074 "Flap" wanting a "Happy Internets"] . When [http://b3ta.com/users/profile.php?id=41942 Mr McBadger] replied with an animated Flap, many others joined in the bandwagon.More recently films and their associated advertising materials have become bandwagon fodder (images used by members of the forum in a bandwagon) these include 'Attack of the 50ft bandwagon' - based on the poster for the film 'Attack of the 50ft Woman' and 'HandWagonCock' based on the promotional images for the upcoming film 'Hancock'.
The [http://www.b3ta.com/talk/ talk board] is identical to the main message board except for the fact that it is not possible to post images. It was created in response to the arrival of 4rthur, a (now defunct) talk based offshoot of b3ta which drew a couple of hundred members away, and, more recently,
cliqr, Dynafoo(both also defunct now) and [http://www.c4mbodia.com/ c4mbodia] . Also, the site owners wanted a place where people could banter without worrying about creating images.
Like the many message boards, the b3ta talk board has developed a clique-like atmosphere, with many users having met one another at so called "B3ta bashes".
Oxfordin particular has become known amongst members as a bash hotspot, and has developed from a few B3tards getting together for a drink to a genuine spectacle. On 31 May 2008, the biggest "bash" so far took place in Earls Court, London. Although this was mainly a messageboard event.
This is a weekly competition, where images are posted along a certain theme – examples include New Software Products, or The World If It Was Run By Kittens. The entries are posted as normal threads on the message board, but are marked with a "C" icon to differentiate from normal posts. All the entries also accumulate in a central repository that can be browsed anytime, with the highest voted images displayed first. The three 'special mentions' are chosen by the site mods, and are posted along with the theme of the new challenge in the Friday newsletter. See also
The challenge topics are alternately chosen by board members, and the "Challenge Dictator" (basically a site moderator) on a two week cycle.
Question of the Week (QOTW)
Recognizing that "not everyone wants to muck around with Photoshop", the site asks a question each week hoping to provoke amusing anecdotes. It was originally used as material for the radio show and the newsletter, but realising the popularity of the content, the site owners decided to continue the questions after the close of the show. A new topic is begun every Thursday (at which point it becomes impossible to reply to the previous QOTW) and, as with the other areas of the site, Question of the Week attracts regulars known for their characteristic posts.
The first question was "Worst Record Ever?" posed by Rob Manuel in 2003 [ [http://b3ta.com/questions/worstrecordever/ b3ta.com qotw ] ] ; examples of questions since include "Why should you be fired from your job?", "Mad Stuff You've Done To Get Someone To Sleep With You" and "Expensive mistakes?"
QOTW Off Topic
QOTW Off Topic was invented for those users of QOTW who found they had things in common and liked to talk to each other using the reply system. Over several weeks it became clear that more and more people were preferring to chat to each other through the replies instead of the /talk board which was already set up, so Off Topic was created.
"I like this!"
Answers to questions and Image Challenge suggestions appear to be generally listed in order of posting, with the newest responses first. However, whilst a question is open, other users can click "I like this!" which gives a score of one point to that answer. Answers are actually listed by the number of users who have clicked the "I like this!" on that answer; however, as many answers are submitted each week, most are never clicked on and so are sorted by the time they were posted.
2003until July 2004, B3ta had its own radio show, which was broadcast from Resonance FM(104.4 FM in London, also available via streaming broadcast from the Resonance FM website) between 4PM and 5PM. The show was presented by Rob Manuel, a co-owner of the site, and his accomplice, David Stevenson. There were often special guests – sometimes contributors to the site, sometimes semi-famous people, such as the drummer from Blur, Miles Huntof The Wonder Stuffand "a chap who once played a Dalekin " Doctor Who".
Internet memes are the lifeblood of B3ta messageboard. Meme is a name given to a clichéd image that is frequently used in images as a cheap gag. Although many older board members may resent the lack of originality shown by using these clichés, some, such as "Teh Quo" or "The Fear", crop up regularly. A brief-lived spate of postings featuring a new meme is known as a bandwagon, in the sense that everybody is jumping on it.
Some prominent B3ta memes include:
Teh Quo sic
Status Quo, are represented by an image of the two principal members of the band laughing, and has proved to be one of the most long lived memes. This image is usually hidden in another, often one portraying a scene of havoc or a disaster - the implication being that "Teh Quo" have caused the disaster. These hidden images can range from the blindingly obvious to the extremely subtle, sometimes only involving their outline rather than the band members themselves.
It is not known if either
Rick Parfittor Francis Rossihave seen these images or learned of their infamous reputation.
The Glass Cock
An image [http://vsbabu.org/mt/archives/2002/05/22/lgpa_trophy_really_needs_a_redesign.html] of golfer
Cristie Kerrkissing the trophy she received for winning the LPGA Longs Drugs Challenge at the Twelve Bridges Golf Club in Lincoln, California, April 21 2002. As the name implies, the camera angle makes it look as though it is a vitreous phallus. The image was passed around via e-mail so much that the term "Glasscock" came to be known as a synonym for a cliché. A link which many people have seen before is hence derided as "glasscock" or "GC". The "Glass Cock Index" (see link below) was set up to list all links posted recently to B3ta, to prevent any duplicate links in a short period of time. The Glass Cock Index also sports said image as its logo.
A heavily photoshopped image of a peculiar creature with two heads [http://b3ta.com/board/68689] . It was originally made by user Spacefish, but the name was given to it by
Joel Veitch, who claimed that:"That creature's purpose is to be waiting, staring at your face, as soon as you wake up, and then to sneak up and stare at you until you turn slightly and see it and leap with shock. All day, every day."
The standard response given to an image containing The Fear is "Argh! The Fear! The Fear!", with "The Fear!" repeated ad nauseam and often in capitals.
I Love Horses
shock sitesare generally looked down on at b3ta, so quite often people post links that lead to the site [http://www.deagostini.co.uk/ilovehorses] of I Love Horses Magazine, as it used to automatically load the girly theme song, often leading to embarrassment for the reader if they have the volume turned up and other people are in the vicinity.
With the creation of the talk board, a number of "text memes" have arisen and evolved. They are found less frequently than their picture board counterparts, but they exist nonetheless. Among the most common are:
* "Apologies for length" appears in a vast number of posts, most often in the [http://www.b3ta.com/questions Question of the Week] . It was originally used only on long posts and there is often a childish pun (ranging from implied to obvious) about penis length.
* *fwaps* – this is used to indicate that the user is "
masturbating" and, like "*bums*", is used to indicate arousal, often at inappropriate or disturbing things. The word "fwap" originated as an onomatopoeicsound effect in manga, used to indicate being hit, however an ambiguity in one panel led to its current meaning. It has also been backronymed as "Furiously Wanking At Porn".
* "Hamtoucher" – this is a profanity free swear word, generally used to suggest that a user has crossed the image guidelines, either by posting a pearoast (see below) in a new thread, by posting too large an image or by generally being obnoxious. Originally coined by [http://www.b3ta.com/board/profile.php?id=51047 Lord Manley (aka Pedantichrist)] , to break swear filters, this has been widely accepted into the vocabulary of the b3ta community.
* "Thread Jack" - Evolved from the term or
carjackis used when a member wishes to change the subject in an existing thread thus hijacking the thread. In practice the actual words 'thread jack' are rarely used with other soundalike variations used instead such as 'Fred Jacques' and 'bread crack'.
* "Pea roast"/"Pearoast" - a spoonerism for "re-post", used mostly when old images can be re-posted to fit the context of a conversation or an image challenge.
* "bindun?" - a short form of "been done?", sometimes lengthened to "Mustapha Bindun" ("must have been done") or "Shirley Bindun" (surely been done), used to query the originality of a post's idea.
* "RIS?" – 'I do not understand' – this phrase originates from an image of a
Morrisonssign, where the letters RIS had been extinguished, leaving the word MORONS. [http://www.b3ta.com/board/4890991#post4891002] .
* "Why am I looking at your dog?" – is a recent text meme which is posted in reply to an unaltered photograph. Originating as a response to a photograph of somebody's pet dog, the meme has connotations of "why should I be interested in this?".
* "But can it be milked?" – this phrase is often used in reply to an image posted of an unusually photoshopped animal.
* "Woo Yay" - The phrase "woo yay" started when the site co-founder Rob Manuel shared a flat with Joel Veitch in Leeds in the early 1990s.
* "Ronseal" - Used for the title of a post, usually on /talk or /links, when the post does not require a title because, like a tin of
Ronseal, it does "exactly what it says on the tin", i.e. is self-explanatory.
B3ta and its contributors have been subject to controversy. The most notable events were the production of a
Popstarsflash animation which relied heavily on the use of phalli. When threatened with legal action the animation was pulled from the site. The site has also suffered from several media attacks and features in tabloid press on occasion. A photoshopped calendar by a member called sick_boy purporting to be of naked MPs caused particular concern – see "External links" for a newspaper cutting. Another user, Pxyzyzygy, who posted a Flash animation of George W Bush morphing into a variety of apes still receives hate mail four years later.
Virgin asked B3ta to run an image competition where board members could win
PlayStation Portables and an Xbox 360for creating something on the theme "What would happen if you said Yes to everything?". However, Virgin cancelled the challenge early because they didn't like some of the images being created, including Richard Bransonurinating on Rob Manuel, dressed in baby clothes [ [http://www.b3ta.com/board/6461163 b3ta.com board ] ] [ [http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2167581/virgin-pulls-compo-website Virgin pulls competition on b3ta website - vnunet.com ] ] .
On 4 June 2007, a b3ta member posted an " [http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/43006000/jpg/_43006883_sean_stayte_416.jpgalternate logo] " for the
2012 Summer Olympicsin London, which referenced the goatseInternet meme. The BBCthen posted this logo on its website and ran it on its BBC News 24channel as part of a viewer-submitted contest. [ [http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/archives/2007/06/08/updated_b3ta_hacks_the_bbc_with_olympic_goatse.html UPDATED: B3ta hacks the BBC with Olympic goatse | Technology | Guardian Unlimited ] ]
On 14 November 2007, a b3ta image challenge was withdrawn and an apology was made on b3ta's frontpage to the artist Prince over the "Prince" photoshop image challenge-
"Under threat of legal action from Princes legal team of "potential closure of your web site" - We have removed the Prince image challenge and B3ta apologises unreservedly to AEG / NPG and Prince for any offence caused. We also ask our members to avoid photoshopping Prince and posting them on our boards." [ [http://www.b3ta.com/board/7786729 b3ta.com board ] ] .
By web filters
Although images which could be interpreted as being pornographic are not shown explicitly, and marked "NSFW" – "Not Safe For Work" – B3ta's content is considered by many to be distasteful. B3ta also held the somewhat dubious honour of being one – if not the only – website to be banned under six categories by web filtering company N2H2 (see  ). Some of these categories, particularly "Nudity" and "Sex", were seen as undeserved by some. Sometime in 2004, in response to this, its status was downgraded to just "Tasteless/Gross" and "Jokes". Regardless, many companies and schools use N2H2 to filter out their employees' or students' web requests, and B3ta arguably reduces office productivity - hence the justification for its being blocked.
To prevent blocking a swear-word filter was introduced. Unlike most swear filters, which simply replace profanity with asterisks, the B3ta filter replaced offensive words with far more innocuous, if unusual, words, such as "cranberry", "watermelon", and "happy baby orangutan". The board users quickly found ways of circumventing the filter by placing HTML tags in the middle of such words, causing the filter to fail to parse them; other ways of getting round the filter were to post images of offensive words, or replace letters with
ISO 8859-1codes. However the filter was partially successful with several images made to celebrate it. In addition to replacing words considered rude, "hug", "cuddle", and "snuggle" were also filtered as a response to (what was seen as) excessive "fluffiness" on the talk board. The "swear filter" was removed after Rob, co-founder of B3ta, watched a TV programme on Derek and Clive. The "hug" filter was subsequently also removed, and changed to a block on the word "freeipods", due to many of the board members posting their links to the www.freeipods.com website (in this case the word "freeipods" was replaced by "ratemykitten").
* [http://www.b3ta.com/ B3ta web site]
* [http://www.flickr.com/photos/robmanuel/sets/540143/ B3ta press] – a collection of press clippings about B3ta site.
* [http://glassco.cx/ Glasscocx] collects all the posted links into one place, and provides a working search engine for the B3ta message board.
* [http://www.b3takit.co.uk/ B3ta image kit] – images of the most common memes.
* [http://b3ta.wik.is/ B3ta wiki] – Unofficial wiki detailing memes, common b3tan phrases, and b3ta members
* http://www.snopes.com/photos/animals/shark.asp – Snopes' discussion of the "Is it Real?" meme.
* [http://b3ta.com/features/b3taradio/ B3ta Radio] Includes archived B3ta radio shows.
* [http://www.resonancefm.com/ Resonance FM] , on which the B3ta radio show was broadcast.
* Spin off sites run by messageboard regulars or ex-regulars include [http://tattyworld.net Tattyworld] and [http://www.c4mbodia.com c4mbodia]
* Homepages of the site owners, [http://www.b3ta.co.uk Rob Manuel] , [http://www.styledeficit.com Denise Wilton] & [http://www.iamcal.com Cal Henderson]
* [http://www.sickipedia.org Sickipedia]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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