Something Awful

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Something Awful LLC.
Something Awful grenade logo
Type Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Founded 1999
Headquarters Pleasant Hill, Missouri,
United States
Founder(s) Richard Charles Kyanka
Key people Richard Kyanka
Zack Parsons
David Thorpe
Industry Web-based
Awful Video
City Name Sports Team
Awful Gear
Awful Mart
Flat Falls
Alexa rank Increase 9,011 (July 2014)[1]

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,[2][3][4] and it has been cited as an influence on Internet culture.[5]

Since the website's creation, it 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,[6] and an exhibition boxing match between Kyanka and movie director Uwe Boll.


Something Awful was created by Richard "Lowtax" Kyanka,[7] who controls the site and 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. He moved the "Cranky Steve" personality he had created to the Something Awful site in 1999.[8] 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.[9][10]

In 2001, the site began charging an activation fee (currently US$9.95) for forum access.[11] Non-members are not able to post messages or threads. Non-members were unable to read the forums as well, for random periods of time, as part of paid sign-up drives. From the second half of 2013 and on, this state is permanent. Non-members have not been allowed to read the forums since then. 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.[11]

Reportedly, this "10bux" (as it is often referred to by SA members) cost scheme was originally implemented for the following reason, as taken from the forum rules page:[12]

We here on the Something Awful Forums are very elitist and strict assholes. We pride ourselves on running one of the most entertaining and troll-free forums on the internet. This is accomplished by charging a $10 fee to filter out folks not serious about adhering to the rules, and banning those who manage to slip through and break them. We are very serious about keeping our forums clean and troll-free, so please consider your account an investment and treat it accordingly. Read the rules, use common sense, and help keep the SA Forums the best message board on the internet!

Spam Prevention Early Warning System[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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 However, that group and 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.[13]

Hurricane Katrina charity[edit]

As 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,[14] and promised to give some free merchandise to anyone who donated more than $10.[15]

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."[15][16] 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.[16] 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.[14]

Public appearances[edit]

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.[17][18]

Uwe Boll fight[edit]

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.[19][20] 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 purportedly acted like a silent film comedy character during the fight rather than seriously attempting to fight Uwe Boll.[21]

Shooting deaths[edit]

In 2005, William Freund sought advice in the Something Awful gun subforum about purchasing Hevi-Shot brand ammunition[22] several days before embarking on a "shooting rampage", 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.[23][24]

On September 25, 2007, a forum user posted a thread about a double homicide in Oviedo, Florida that involved an acquaintance.[25] As the thread grew, other forum users eventually found the website of Andrew Allred, who posted on the forums as "Bomber166".[25] The website contained significant details about the victims and the murder;[citation needed] Allred's account was subsequently banned and Allred himself was later arraigned on two counts of homicide, attempted murder and armed burglary.[24] He has since pleaded guilty to the murders of Tiffany Barwick and Michael Ruschack.[26]

Slender Man[edit]

The Slender Man urban legend was created on a thread in the Something Awful forum.[27] On May 31, 2014, two 12-year-old girls in Waukesha, Wisconsin, allegedly held down and stabbed a 12-year-old classmate 19 times; when questioned later by authorities, they reportedly claimed that they wished to commit a murder as a first step to becoming "proxies" (acolytes) of the Slender Man, having read about it online.[28]

Site content[edit]

Something Awful is home to a variety of content, including photo manipulations, 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 the forums. 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.[5]

On June 4, 2007, website columnist Jon "DocEvil" Hendren wrote "The Art of Wikigroaning",[29] 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.[30]

The frontpage article series Golan the Insatiable is the basis of an animated series of the same name that premiered on Animation Domination on Fox on July 27, 2013.[31]


The site is home to a collection of Internet forums running a highly customized version of vBulletin, charging an initial registration fee of US$9.95, with fees ranging from US$4.99 to US$29.99 for additional features.[32]

The forums have spread several Internet memes, such as all your base are belong to us[3] and tourist guy.[2] 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.[33] The website also highlights some of what its administrators believe to be exceptional forum threads in the Comedy Goldmine feature.[34] A forum member also launched 4chan,[35] and the Let's Play phenomenon originated in posts on the Something Awful forums.

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.[36] Kyanka did, however, get his name mentioned on their website.[37]

US diplomat Sean Smith, who was killed in the U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya, was a moderator of Something Awful's Debate Disco forum under the username Vilerat.[38][39]

In 2014, the American Folklife Center announced that Something Awful was one of the sites it would be archiving as part of its efforts to compile a history of digital culture.[40]

The Blue Ball Machine[edit]

A prominent periodic activity within the forums 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.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-07-10. 
  2. ^ a b "Tourist of Death". Retrieved November 24, 2006. [unreliable source?]
  3. ^ a b Johnston, Rich (February 28, 2001). "All your base...". London: Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved November 24, 2006. 
  4. ^ "All Your Base Are Belong To Frogstar". Retrieved November 24, 2006. 
  5. ^ a b David Thorpe, Kevin Pereira (July 5, 2005)., Pink Five, Chris Gore (television). G4 television. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Lynch, Steven G. "Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka". Retrieved May 10, 2007. 
  8. ^ Kyanka, Richard (May 10, 2005). "Here's Mud In Your Eye, Batman". Retrieved May 10, 2007. 
  9. ^ Dan Knight (October 11, 2000). "Something Awful &". Low End Mac. 
  10. ^ Tim Johnson (March 13, 2001). "eFront: What Went Wrong?". The Duke of URL. Archived from the original on June 17, 2002. 
  11. ^ a b Jeremy Turnage (2006-01-23). "Something awfully funny". Retrieved 2007-02-13. [unreliable source?]
  12. ^ Forum Rules
  13. ^ John Leyden (2003-08-08). "Something Awful going on with SPEWS". The Register. Situation Publishing Ltd. 
  14. ^ a b Farivar, Cyrus (2005-09-08). "PayPal Freezes Out Katrina Aid". Wired. Retrieved 2007-02-18. 
  15. ^ a b Koprowski, Gene J. (2005-09-26). "Feds Investigating Fraudulent Katrina-Related Web Sites". Retrieved 2007-02-18. 
  16. ^ a b Demerjian, Charlie (2005-09-04). "All your donations are belong us". Retrieved 2007-02-18. 
  17. ^ Lowtax speaks at the University of Illinois (2005) - YouTube
  18. ^
  19. ^ Kietzmann, Ludwig (2006-09-25). "Uwe Boll does something awful to another critic". joystiq. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  20. ^ Chris Baker (2006-12-01). "Raging Boll". Wired. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  21. ^ Tillson, Tamsen (2006-09-24). "Boll K.O.'s crix in the ring". Variety. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  22. ^ "Something Awful forum post". 
  23. ^ Kimi Yoshino (6 November 2005). "The Cyber World Shut Out O.C. Loner Too". LA Times. 
  24. ^ a b "Murderer leaves clues for forum users". 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  25. ^ a b "Something Awful Forums". 2007-09-25. (subscription required)
  26. ^ Suevon Lee (2008-05-17). "Jury won't weigh killer's sentencing". Ocala Star-Banner. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  27. ^ Dane, Patrick (October 31, 2012). "Why Slenderman Works: The Internet Meme That Proves Our Need To Believe". Retrieved 2013-02-20. 
  28. ^ Gabler, Ellen (June 2, 2014). "Charges detail Waukesha pre-teens' attempt to kill classmate". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  29. ^, "The Art of Wikigroaning"
  30. ^ Brophy-Warren, Jamin. "Oh, that John Locke". Wall Street Journal (June 16, 2007): P3. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  31. ^ Byrne, Craig (February 28, 2013). "FOX Announces Season Finale Dates & Summer Premieres". FOX. KSiteTV. Retrieved March 1, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Something Awful Secure Purchase System". Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  33. ^ "Photoshop Phriday". Something Awful. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  34. ^ "Comedy Goldmine". Something Awful. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  35. ^ Jerry Langton (2007-09-22). "Funny how `stupid' site is addictive". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  36. ^ Adam Gaffin (2001-11-30). "The most useless software ever". Network World. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  37. ^ Michael Small (2001-11-30). "Fan Flare". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  38. ^ Marsh Davies (2012-09-12). "EVE Online top player was US official killed in Libya". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  39. ^ Benjy Sarlin (2012-09-12). "News Of Foreign Service Officer’s Death Breaks Over Gaming Community". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  40. ^ Getting serious about collecting and preserving digital culture, by Nicole Saylor, at Folklife Today (at the Library of Congress); published June 5, 2014; retrieved December 15, 2014
  41. ^ James Lee (July 2006). "1 Web Site, 250,000 Idiotic Clips. LOL!". Wired News. Retrieved 2006-08-11. 

External links[edit]