- Something Awful
Something Awful LLC. Type Limited Liability Company (LLC) Industry Web-based Founded 1999 Founder(s) Richard Charles Kyanka Headquarters Pleasant Hill, Missouri,
Key people Richard Kyanka, Zack Parsons, David Thorpe, Kevin Bowen, James Ormrod Products somethingawful.com
City Name Sports Team
Something Awful, often abbreviated to SA, is a comedy website housing a variety of content, including blog entries, forums, feature articles, digitally edited pictures, and humorous media reviews. It was created by Richard "Lowtax" Kyanka in 1999 as a largely personal website, but as it grew, so did its contributors and content. Since then, the website has helped to perpetuate various internet phenomena, and has been cited as an influence on internet culture.
Since the website's creation, its forums have amassed over 165,000 accounts, and the website in general has been involved in a number of notable events. These include a conflict with the Spam Prevention Early Warning System, a Hurricane Katrina relief fund being caught in PayPal's red tape, and an exhibition boxing match between Kyanka and movie director Uwe Boll.
Something Awful was created by Richard "Lowtax" Kyanka, who remains in control of the site but is supported by other contributing writers and administrators.
Kyanka started Something Awful several months before leaving his previous job, after using his "Cranky Steve" persona to write a comedic website update deriding the attitude and work performance of a fellow Planet Quake administrator. The original idea for the website arose when Kyanka was a student at Turtle Mountain Community College. He moved the "Cranky Steve" personality he had created to the Something Awful site in 1999. In the years immediately following Something Awful's launch, several sponsors, including GameFan and eFront, failed to compensate Kyanka as promised for advertising on the site.
In 2001, the site began charging an activation fee (currently US$9.95) for forum access. Non-members are not able to post messages or threads. The site and forums draw continuous income from fees for new accounts, forum upgrades such as custom avatars and access to the forum archives and search features, and merchandise sales.
Spam Prevention Early Warning System
On July 20, 2003, the spam filtering organization Spam Prevention Early Warning System (SPEWS) added an entire class-B subnet with the Cogent ISP to their spammer list, since Cogent was hosting a known spammer that SPEWS found difficult to block. Something Awful was added to the list in the process, disrupting its ability to communicate with its customers who were using SPEWS. Upon appeal, SPEWS initially refused to delist SA. The Something Awful administrators responded by telling their users to post their support in the Usenet newsgroup news.admin.net-abuse.blocklisting. However, that group and news.admin.net-abuse.email were flooded with off-topic posts and trolls from Something Awful users, incensing SPEWS advocates. The SA administrators claimed that SPEWS was attempting to hack the Something Awful server. Forum users responded by threatening to perform a distributed denial of service attack on SPEWS, although this type of behavior was strongly discouraged by Kyanka and assistant editor Zack Parsons.
Hurricane Katrina charity
Since the website's servers were located in New Orleans, the site temporarily went offline in August 2005 during the flooding from Hurricane Katrina. After the site was brought to a semi-functional state, Kyanka set up a link to a PayPal account where people could donate money to the survivors of the hurricane via the Red Cross. Kyanka put in $3,000 of his own money, and promised to give some free merchandise to anyone who donated more than $10.
In under half a day, visitors helped to raise US$27,695.41 before PayPal froze the account under suspicions of fraud; automated messages said that there had been "more than one report of suspicious behavior from your buyers." PayPal stated that they would unfreeze the account once it was provided with proof of shipping from aggrieved buyers. Due to the nature of the collection, there were no actual "buyers", and it was impossible to provide proof of shipping for an intangible good such as a donation. Eventually, Kyanka contacted a customer service representative over the phone, and asked to have PayPal donate all of the money to the Red Cross. However, he was told that PayPal would only give the money to United Way of America due to their business affiliation; Kyanka initially agreed, but after receiving several emails from readers detailing alleged corruption and inefficiency within United Way, he changed his mind and told PayPal to refund all of the money to the individual donors. PayPal refunded the money, but did not refund exchange and handling fees for international donors.
In October 2005, Richard Kyanka was invited to speak at the University of Illinois for their reflections❘projections seminar hosted by the Association for Computing Machinery. The presentation, "Enabling the Online Community through Vertical PSOTs and Automated Adverse Content Delivery Systems", primarily focused on Kyanka's professional history, the development of Something Awful, and internet subculture.
Uwe Boll fight
In June 2006, Kyanka accepted an open challenge from German movie director Uwe Boll, who had offered to fight critics of his movies in a series of 10-round boxing matches. Something Awful had posted a humorous review that was critical of one of his films. The event took place in Vancouver, British Columbia on September 23, 2006; after being knocked down several times and eventually forfeiting the fight in the first round, Kyanka claimed that he had been told by Boll, a trained amateur boxer, that the fight would be just for show. To that effect, Kyanka had acted like a silent film comedy character during the fight rather than seriously attempt to fight Uwe Boll.
In 2005, William Freund sought advice in the Something Awful gun subforum about purchasing Hevi-Shot brand ammunition several days before embarking on a shooting, in which he killed two people before committing suicide. Freund had stated in the thread, which was closed before the killing spree, along with his ability to post comments being revoked, that he intended to use the ammunition to defend his Halloween pumpkins from vandals.
On September 25, 2007, a forum user posted a thread about a double homicide in Oviedo, Florida that involved an acquaintance. As the thread grew, other forum users eventually found the website of Andrew Allred, who posted on the forums as "Bomber166". The website contained significant details about the victims and the murder; Allred's account was subsequently banned and Allred himself was later arraigned on two counts of homicide, attempted murder and armed burglary. He has since pleaded guilty to the murders of Tiffany Barwick and Michael Ruschack.
Something Awful is home to a variety of content, including photo manipulation, parodies, pranks, satirical reviews of products, and reviews of websites, video games, and movies. The material is written by several different editors, and occasionally by members of its forums as well. On July 12, 2005, David Thorpe, the author of the features Your Band Sucks and Fashion SWAT, "represented" the website on G4's Attack of the Show. He made several absurd claims, such as that the site started up as a monster truck rally newsletter and that the forums were a front for a cult that required a registration fee of $80 per month.
On June 4, 2007, website columnist Jon "DocEvil" Hendren wrote "The Art of Wikigroaning", coining the term wikigroaning. Wikigroaning is a game in which readers explore two Wikipedia articles with similar topics of contrasting seriousness, such as half-life (the scientific concept) and Half-Life (the game), and compare the length and comprehensive depth of the articles. Hendren's article was featured in the Wall Street Journal.
The forums have helped to perpetuate Internet memes, such as All your base are belong to us and Tourist guy. The forum's users refer to themselves as "Goons". A weekly activity is "Photoshop Phriday", where users will modify existing images to create parodies through the use of image-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop. Another periodic activity is "The Blue Ball Machine", where users create animated images that tile together in such a way as to appear like a seamless whole; these tiles are incorporated into a screensaver which displays them in random order. The feature gained popularity when users on the website YTMND looped the animation to music from Pee-wee's Big Adventure. The website also highlights some of what its administrators believe to be exceptional forum threads in the Comedy Goldmine feature. A forum member also launched 4chan.
During Entertainment Weekly's 2001 "Entertainer of the Year" contest, in which votes are submitted online, forum users quickly found a weakness in the voting system, and scripts were written to vote for Kyanka dozens of times per second, thus ensuring his victory. Kyanka was quickly disqualified when Entertainment Weekly found that many of the votes were coming from very few IP addresses. Kyanka did, however, get his name mentioned on their website.
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- ^ a b Farivar, Cyrus (2005-09-08). "PayPal Freezes Out Katrina Aid". http://www.wired.com/news/technology/hurricane//0,68788-0.html. Retrieved 2007-02-18.
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- ^ Somethingawful.com
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