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There was this website, a little over a decade ago, by the name of Somethingawful.com. It was a significant part of this weird geek culture (that celebrated the internet, facilitated the trading of illegal filez, openly mocked anyone and everyone, DDoS'd sites they didn't like, invaded forums, griefed gamers, insulted women, and so on) that was small and novel. It had significant overlap with old-school hacker & phone phreaker cultures, and included a number of people that eventually grew up to be slightly-better-than-bit-players in mainstream media (comedians, producers, art directors, graphics design specialists, politicians, etc).

The somethingawful.com moderators would really crack down on their users. It was a very strange style of moderation. See, at a certain point the heat got too much, and the site shut down all the filesharing subforums*. Around that time, Lowtax, the sites admin, decided to start charging a one-time registration fee of 810 to join. The problem with forums, prior to this, was that trolls would simply re-register when they got banned. IP bans can be effective, but being a website that caters to geek culture, most of the trolls would know how to get around it. So instead, there's a ten dollar registration fee. If someone wants to keep shelling out tenbux over and over again, they can keep trolling and getting banned. The effect of this system is a dramatically improved signal-to-noise ratio (over competing forums that are either free or charge a recurring subscription fee).

Sometimes someone would register on SA just because of the rumor that you could trade filez there. They'd post a thread - 'where da filez at?' - and would instantly get banned. Lowtax would pocket tenbux. It's a good racket. One iteration of the off-site movie trading site was known as the 'Washer Dryer Maintenance Association' - WDMA (or, 'where da moviez at'). They had a webpage set up that looked like a maintenance company, and a tiny link for 'webmail login' that allowed you to access the site (if you had an account, but registration is closed and the site is not visible to search engine crawlers.

At one point, the Church of Scientology had a HUGE problem with a front page update on the somethingawful site. They sent a cease & desist letter for using an image of L. Ron Hubbard. Normally Lowtax would simply sic Leonard J. Crabs on the assholes, but this was different. This was Scientology. They are notoriously litigious. They are not known for working within the law. Anyhow, Lowtax just drew dicks all over Hubbard's face, obscuring the image, and called it a day. Eventually Arnie Lerma joined the forums. He's a bit of a kook, but he was a powerful force in resisting Scientology, prior to Chanology. I met the guy in DC in 2008, at the 'over 9000 man march.' In 2006, the SA forums started a viral campaign known as the 'First Church of Xenu.' It was basically proto-chanology. SA beat 4chan to a lot of things. We were harassing habbo hotel half a decade before they were. We created swap.avi well in advance of 4chan creating 2girls2cup. We would 'archive' websites we didn't like, and goons even created scripts that would make that more effective. 4chan invented the 'Low Orbit Ion Cannon' that does the same thing. Hell, FYAD was basically the original flaming forum.

Anyway, somethingawful's forum had a main forum, known as 'General Bullshit.' Every so often some trend would become so popular that it pushes other posts down. Like when youtube was new, everyone that found a video they liked would start a new thread - and that flooded the forums. So they created a 'post youtube videos here' thread, and relegated all such posts to that thread. Similarly, when furries started showing up, Lowtax created the 'furry concentration camp.' It was a subforum that people could get locked in if they spam the forums with furry shit. Eventually, anybody that was outted as a furry would get locked in there (and they'd get a custom avatar of a star of david with the word 'YIFF' on it, in hebrew script). Similarly, when anime started to invade GBS, a subforum named 'Anime death tentacle rape whorehouse' was created. There was some dispute over whether or not cartoon depictions of prepubescent children being raped counted as child porn. I don't know what the final 'ruling' on that was, I'm not a regular in ADTRW. I do know the forum caused the admins a lot of headaches. Similarly, around this time, SA decided to make 'catchphrases' bannable. Catchphrases were basically memes before they were called memes. You may recall that SA was a central player in popularizing the 'all your base' meme, which was the first major internet meme to make the leap to mainstream media.

One goon - SA posters by then had adopted the identity 'goons', thanks to a harsh e-mail someone sent lowtax criticizing us as cyber-bullies - by the name of 'moot' was a huge japanophile. Maybe he didn't like SA's moderation style. Maybe he really liked 2channel.jp's image board system. Either way, he created 4chan.org about halfway through the decade. It was an anonymous image board, and its moderation style was the exact opposite of SAs, while incorporating much of the same culture.

4chan was free, so it tended to pull in a younger audience. SA requires a ten dollar payment, which means most people here are old enough to have credit cards. 4chan quickly became SA's 'stupid little brother.' For the longest time, it was bannable to even talk about 4chan on the somethingawful forums. And their memes were definitely not welcome here.

Channers were pretty much the perfect age when the film version of 'V for Vendetta' came out. They were the target audience of the film, and it spoke to them. They were also huge fans of fight club, which was SA's favorite movie for the first half of the decade. One sub-forum of 4chan was known as /b/, which is the 'random' forum. Rule 1 of /b/ is 'you do not talk about /b/.' Rule 2 of /b/ is 'you do not talk about /b/.' It's silly, but strangely appropriate.

Shortly after the film came out, a channer created a series of comics known as 'epic fail guy.' It was a stick figure with a guy fawkes mask. The meme went viral. It was, arguably, the origin of the reddit ragecomic memes.

In late 2007, some dude published an unauthorized biography of Tom Cruise. It made scientology look particularly horrific, and it identified Cruise as being, effectively, 'second in command' in the church. The author referenced a number of internal scientology videos in his book, and in early 2008 he released one of those videos - where Tom Cruise looks like a fucking nutbag. I remember it dropping as I was heading out the door for work. I loaded the file before leaving, because I didn't expect it to be available when I got back home at the end of the day. Predictably, Scientology tried to have the video removed. Gawker refused to comply. A bunch of channers got pissed off at this attempt at censorship. A small group known as #marblecake, led by Gregg Housh, put out a 'Message to Scientology' video - and it went viral. That was the start of Chanology. Immediately, a number of goons created a forum - enturbulation.org -to help with the fight. The moderators were all recruited from somethingawful.com. These included tamphex, le, fuctifino, myself, and a few others. Pelvidar utilized his impressive video editing skills to create the 'road to' video, which was breathtaking. Chanology pulled off the first ever global flash mob. OWS is the second global flash mob in history.

Because Scientology had such a strong reputation for doxing, attacking, and destroying critics, anonymity became central to taking on the church. This is well and good if all we're doing is DDoSing their sites, but after Mark Bunker (aka WiseBeardMan) posted his youtube video, the decision was made to do a flashmob. How do we prevent their private investigator from following us to our cars? How do we hinder their ability to identify protesters? Masks. Lots of masks. And the Guy Fawkes Mask became the dominant choice. Imagine being a cult leader, peeking through your curtains, seeing a hundred guy fawkes masks, getting on the phone to orgs all over the world, and hearing that they are all seeing the same thing. Scary as fuck, right? In any case, it was quite effective. It helped that a lot of these channers already owned the masks, being fanboys. It also helped that at least one costuming company saw an opportunity to make a huge profit and sold masks in bulk for cheap with expedited shipping as soon as they saw the demand shoot through the roof. They were aware of the urgency of those orders, and did everything they could to help. Free market at work there, lol.

Anyhow, Chanology has grown and evolved. A lot of chanologists ended up in support roles for the green revolution and the arab spring. There have been dozens of schisms. There are individuals that associate with Anonymous that specialize in hacking, and others that specialize in graphics design, or law, or philosophy, or history, or math, or physics... they've got a really diverse and intelligent braintrust. And they are leaderless. They have no formal platform, no formal organization. There is no membership. It's open-source, bottom-up, non-hierarchical. Anyhow, *that* is what the Guy Fawkes mask represents. Not a fetish for V for Vendetta; but a storied history of the rise of geek culture. And many Goons hate this, because it involves their despised little brother. And few actually know the story behind the masks, the story I reveal here. I find it both appropriate and acceptable that there are V masks scattered throughout the crowds of people.

*goons set up off-site forums, using SA reg date to ensure the MPAA and RIAA wouldn't discover the secret forums. 'Deep Web' and whatnot. Rules are, you do not talk about these sites except on these sites.