What better forum to start off this blog with than the Something Awful Forums? it’s often thought that these are where almost all the now largest internet communities stem from for one reason or another, and where their humour originates from.
Much of internet culture can be traced back to Something Awful, with 4chan and Reddit being created by long-time members of the Something Awful forums as a way to fix what their creators saw as problems with Something Awful’s format. Something Awful is also where memes first started to become created and shared on the internet, with many of the internet’s earliest and most well-known memes originated from.
The Somethingawful Forums were started as the forums for the Something Awful website; a comedy website built by Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka in 1999. This website largely started as Lowtax’s personal website for his various humorous articles and soon became popular enough that he created a forum for discussion of his posts on the front page and he started to gain more contributors and content.
In 2001, Lowtax introduced a paywall on the forums of $10 in order to both monetize his writing and only allow people into the forums that he believed would be a benefit to the community. This paywall is still in effect, though some forums are periodically open for public viewing in order to entice possible members. People that are members of the Something Awful forums are called “Goons”.
Some of the internet’s earliest & most famous memes were originated in Something Awful;
- Happycat, which depicts a happy-looking Grey Moggy
- All Your Base Are Belong To Us, A .gif of a poorly translated cutscene from the game Zero Wing
- Goatse, Tubgirl and Lemonparty, which are all images intended for shock value – often they would be disguised under innocent looking anchor text in order to troll anyone clicking the link.
- Chuck Norris facts, which are all ironic “facts” about Chuck Norris
- How is Babby Formed, a video in which various Yahoo Questions regarding pregnancy are misspelled are voiced by a “Goon”.
- Slender Man – While this one is newer (2009), it may be the most famous meme created by the Something Awful forums. In a thread entitled “Create Paranormal Images”, a poster named Victor Surge created the tale of a character called Slenderman who abducts and kills young children
The Let’s Play phenomenon also begun at Something Awful. Various threads started to appear with screenshots of various games in which the player would post an update to their game and ask the people following the thread how they should proceed with a choice/choices. Michael Sawyer under the nickname “slowbeef” then created a video playthrough of The Immortal in which he would explain what was happening as he went through the game.
Many on the forums then started to create threads following this process, and the forums made changes to allow them to be created easily. These Let’s Plays then became popular off the site and have now developed into what is commonly known throughout the internet as Lets’ Plays.
The forums have also been home to many controversies in which the mods started to ban users who would watch anime, engaged in furry culture and otherwise were causing problems with the forums community.
This is what caused 4Chan and Reddit to be created, which we will cover in future blog posts.