Oh Boy.

July 20, 2012 § 122 Comments

So. A terrible thing happened in Aurora, CO last night. By this morning, certain anonymous instigators were triumphantly declaring that 9gag, the much-maligned mostly SFW content aggregator, was somehow responsible for, or at least contributed to, the shooting. Adrian Chen at Gawker has a rundown of how the story unfolded.

One major detail is missing from this account — it’s called Operation 9gag, and has been in effect on 4chan’s /b/ board (in my original post I didn’t bother including this qualifier, since it’s 2012 and where the trolls live on 4chan isn’t exactly a state secret) since late 2011. Essentially the op is an attempt to frame 9gag for everything terrible on the internet. Consider the following case:

A few days after Christmas 2011, 15 year-old Amanda Cummings attempted suicide. She was still alive at the scene, and was rushed to the hospital. Trolls got wind of the story via the local news and posted links to her “get well soon” page, and later RIP page, onto /b/. They weren’t alone, however; as Jezebel reported, 9gag had apparently joined forces with 4chan. This was a shocking, unholy union. In fact participants seemed more upset about 9gag’s involvement than Amanda’s death. Posters repeatedly apologized to Amanda’s friends and condemned the site and its users, whom an increasingly vocal majority of voices decried as being the worst sort of internet bully. On /b/, trolls howled with laughter as 9gag was thus raked over the coals, revealing the true target of their raid. Not Amanda Cummings, not her friends, not her family. But 9gag itself.

Why this raid, why this focus? For months, trolls had been grumbling about 9gag, which they charmingly refer to as “9fag” (they’re so clever, these trolls!). 9gag has come to occupy the go-to scapegoat role once filled by Ebaumsworld, making public references to the site akin to a subcultural calling card. In Amanda Cummings’ case, the calling card was used to harness what the trolls knew would be a strong media reaction, which would be made even stronger based on the 9gag tie-in.

In other words. Media outlets. THE AURORA SHOOTINGS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH 9GAG. EVERYONE PLEASE IGNORE THE TROLLS.

Normally I keep my mouth shut about these sorts of details. My job as a researcher is to watch things unfold, not participate. But in this particular case, the stakes are way too high — if the trolls get their wish for hyperbolic, breathless media coverage, ideally (for them) culminating in a moral panic surrounding 9gag, what will actually come under fire is meme culture first, and online anonymity second. This will be framed as the new “violent video games” bullshit media effects non-argument, which could prove to be a catalyst for all sorts of nasty legal interventions, not just for trolls, but for everyone who has any investment in anonymous online communication.

Don’t take this bait. There are other things to talk to talk about here, much more important things, like the fact that the shooter, who was clearly disturbed, was able to get his hands on some serious weaponry. Forget 9gag, forget 4chan, forget anything related to the internet. Be in the real world with this one.

Update: If you hadn’t guessed by reading through the comments section, the trolls in question got wind of this post. Enjoy?

Tagged: , , , , ,

§ 122 Responses to Oh Boy.

  • Damon Poeter says:

    Excellent points, Whitney. BTW, we’ve also published an article on the 9gag ‘connection’ at PCMag (www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407431,00.asp) … for anyone who still believes there may be a chance the shooter was a 9gag user, please not that the two 9gag posts cited as ‘evidence’ he was (his supposed ‘warning’ image and a celebratory post that claimed ‘we got him to do it’) have precisely the same number of tweets and Facebook shares listed in the post details. Remarkable coincidence or obvious hoax? Hmm …

    • You know what they say about obvious trolls (hint: they are obvious).

      Also, thanks for the link! Very good article, and nice catch on the tweet/FB share count…

      • Damon Poeter says:

        Cheers! Just updated the article with a link to this post explaining operation 9gag – just have to clear our server cache and it will appear in the story.

      • Really? says:

        Hey have you actually ever gone on 4Chan?
        If you had you would know its made up of many different boards. And also know that most people couldn’t give two fucks about 9gag. And the only place that really gives enough fucks to care about it is /b/.

        Oh and the whole “9fag” thing. It’s because of word filtering. You can’t actually type 9gag on /b/. You would know this if you actually done research.

        So next time you decide to play the blame game do some actual research instead of playing on Internet stereotypes.

        Also I am pretty neutral in this whole thing. I couldn’t give two fucks who did it! What I do give a fuck about is when someone comes on here with only part of the whole story and states it as if it’s fact.

        Instead focusing on this pathetic Internet “war” we should be focusing on what actually happened. A tragic shooting, which affected many families.

    • I was on 4chan when they made that fake post. It is most definitely from 4chan. I don’t exactly have a screencap of it but I do have this:

      http://i.imgur.com/0N7Et.jpg

  • Nuck Figgers says:

    Digger Nick

  • Excellent post -thanks for looking into the potential effects of this ridiculous troll gratification. I wish these neanderthals would consider how thoughtless action can threaten everybody’s good time. /smh

  • Anon says:

    Internet troll scholar? Are you fucking serious?!

    • I’m afraid so, anon. Oh what a world, etc.

      • toni says:

        What exactly does an internet troll scholar do??

      • Technically I have a PhD in English, with a Digital Culture/Folklore emphasis. My dissertation focuses on trolling subculture(s), which is where the title “internet troll scholar” comes from. That’s not how I describe myself, but titles are just details, so I don’t mind. This particular project examines how trolls interact with their environment, defined very broadly to include individual platforms, for example 4chan, as well as larger systems/institutions, for example corporate media. To do this, I spent about 5 years reading everything I could about trolls, lurking any forum having anything to do with trolls, and of course interviewing all the trolls who would answer my questions — which added up to thousands and thousands of hours of participant observation. Using that data, I was able to construct larger arguments not just about trolls, but the culture(s) out of which they emerge. I hope that answers your question, thanks for asking!

      • Bagas says:

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  • FluttershyIsMaiWaifu says:

    OP is a faggot

  • anon says:

    9gag army FTW
    we did it guys!

  • Anonymous says:

    9gag for life
    These lols don’t come free, Live a short life you gotta.
    9gag for life

  • Anonymous says:

    Please fuck yourself with a rake, you and your le 9fag army lol le troll le le le le fuuu le redditface xd

    • Thanks for the tip, micropenis

      • t says:

        personaly, those comments above all look like 4Chan’ers trying to make 9gag look bad. I meen who says “9gag army FTW, we did it guys!” about an article that is talking about a guy who shot REAL PEOPLE in REAL LIFE. dumb assholes think that this is all make-believe fairy-tale
        shit and it doesn’t matter.

  • Anonymouse says:

    >Implying operation 9gag exists
    >implying 9fag is not to blame
    >implying you are an expert

    OPs a fag

  • 9gagisgay says:

    Hi I’m Whitney Phillips, the local fat chick and internet troll scholar.

  • Kaan Ovaran says:

    I don’t know If you have noticed it but…I did a little research about the posts above and below the supposed image after I realized I recognized them, Myjas’s post is about avatar the last air bender, not the shooting…I’m uploading photo to imgur, please spread the actual lining and post to help myjas and 9gag

  • 9gagisgay says:

    I’m Whitney Phillips, I studied Liberal Arts in college. IM A TROLL SCHOLAR ROFLMAO HERP DERP!

  • rfk says:

    I thought 9gag was already responsible for everything terrible on the Internet.

  • Anonymous says:

    “My job as a researcher is to watch things unfold, not participate.” Then do it, especially when you’re wrong.

  • Jobs says:

    “My job as a researcher is to watch things unfold, not participate.”

    -Then do your job, don’t participate.

  • Lol Whitney Phillips is cancer.

  • James J. Russle says:

    9gag is the overmind behind all the internet, they’re surpassed 4chan and they’re not trying to eliminate it, they are to blame for this massace, they deleted the warning.

  • Naysayer says:

    Lady, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    First of all, you clearly haven’t spent any time on 4chan, since you blame 4chan as a whole. You don’t seem to realize that 4chan is made up of tens of boards. You’re obviously referring to /b/, but since you’ve never been on /b/, or 4chan for that matter, you just refer to it as 4chan.

    Also, the name 9fag comes from the fact that the word ‘9gag’ is actually blocked on /b/. Go ahead, try to use it, won’t work. Hence everyone has to say 9fag, so that people know what they’re talking about. Had you spent any time on /b/ before writing this, you’d know this too.

    You’re just as bad as the low-life internet trolls you claim to study. You clearly spend very limited time on the internet (taking into account you claim that you’re an expert in the internet), and you clearly spend what limited time you have on your blog, Facebook and 9gag.

    Please leave these things to the actual experts, ergo police investigators, rather than making up bullshit.

  • Patricia says:

    4chan assholes trying to fuck up this post.. sooooooo hardcores! Nice post Whitney, thanks for the information!

    • Jimmy Rustles says:

      You will never be the man your mother was.

    • Jan Bergenhoek says:

      I’m sick of 9gag trying to blame 4chan again, this is really sick, a lot of people died during that film and I think it’s just truly disgusting of you to make this an internet war.

      • Patricia says:

        i’m not making any war, i have nothing against that site, i was just making a point.. i know a lot of people died and was injured during the premiere and it’s so sad that people is trying to blame 9gag users for that, be real this is not a social media war

  • Annabel Song says:

    You’ve never really digged deep into 9gag, have you? They’re expert trolls, much better than 4chan could ever be. True, 4chan tries to attack them frequently, but those attacks are usually pathetic because it’s a tired old imageboard full of “cancer”. 9gag however, hides behind its seemingly friendly social-oriented community a team of elite soulless hackers and master trolls who stop at nothing. I’ve been a 9gag user myself since June 2009 so believe me, I know what I’m talking about. I’m not sure if you’re simply not aware of 9gag’s true nature or are actually afraid of them and covering them up for that reason, but it’s clear that if anyone’s behind this, it’s them and not 4chan with its endless get threads and other trash.

    • Naysayer says:

      I have to agree with this post, 9gag has proved itself time and time-again as a ruthless entity, stopping for no one and showing no mercy to those who put up a fight. It’s sort of like 4chan’s “Anonymous” entity, except it’s real.

    • ANNABEL SONG says:

      BELIEVE ME I AM A 3 YEAR USER. EVERYTHING I SAY IS CREDIBLE. 9GAG IS BETTER THAN ANYTHING EVER.

  • the dude says:

    wow. owned

  • Anonymous says:

    Whitney phillips i will knock your nigger ass out if i hear you talkin shit about those pople that died. they were an hero and yuou just making fun of them is unforgiveless. i will beat u the fuck up niger try my u bitch ass cheeky kunt m8

  • Skiddly Ding Dongs says:

    whitney you fat fucking psuedo-scholar, I will murder you in your sleep you dumb bitch

  • Annie says:

    You’re an idiot for trying to draw attention away from the actual VICTIMS of the tragedy and playing the blame game JUST FOR FUN. What is wrong with you??? Don’t you think the VICTIMS have suffered enough???

  • Anonymous says:

    I guaranteed when the Investigators get a hold of James Holmes’ PC. They will see in his internet usage he is a 9gag.com user. Oh wait by your assumptions are he’s a Martha Stewart user. You are protecting him and 9gag Whitney Phillips. I see through your trolling in trying to throw off the connections. You, Whitney Phillips are probably a 9gag user yourself.

  • WE R LEGION 9GAG ARMY WE R LEGION 9GAG ARMY WE R LEGION 9GAG ARMY WE R LEGION 9GAG ARMY WE R LEGION 9GAG ARMY

  • Anonymous says:

    9GAG ARMY WILL NEVER FORGET THIS GLORIOUS DAY, WE WILL CONTINUE THE FIGHT FOR OUR GLORIOUS SITE! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

  • nigger says:

    this kid is fucking cock sucker

  • I like how you try to blame 4chan for trying to frame 9gag. Your conduct is extremely unacceptable and you’re seriously in **it knee-deep. Libel, ESPECIALLY OF THIS SORT, is a serious crime.

  • Jan Bergenhoek says:

    Whitney, your trolling makes me sick you are just defending 9gag and cannot look past your own selfish ideals.
    Does this make you laugh? I thinks it’s sick!
    You are just trying to blame everything on 4chan like 9gag always did.
    You will have to do a lot to recieve the Lord’s forgiveness now!

  • Jimmy Rustles says:

    Yeah… 4chan also caused 9/11, stop being a pathetic internet troll scholar.

  • David Davidson says:

    Don’t you dare taking this glorious victory away from 9gag! Those 4chin faggots don’t even have the balls to plan and execute such a brilliant shooting. Just wait. We know how to hack and will take your shitty blog down soon. We do not forgive. We do not forget.

  • Jan Bergenhoek says:

    The worst part is that you are trying to get money out of this sick situation.
    You and your so-called “9gag Army” just don t deserve the Lord’s mercy and will rot in hell

  • Anonymous says:

    An Internet Troll Scholar?
    How lame can you get?

  • Anonymous says:

    Hey witney how much do you actually make for researching what dumbass kids do on the internet?

  • David says:

    Hi, my name is David. I need to tell people a story so this DOESN’T happen to them. 4chan is EVIL. 4chan turned my life upside down. I had been browsing 9gag one day (literally, not trolling/joking) and I perused across a couple of memes that were accredited to 4chan. So I decided to check the site out, and I see lots of funny things. I stay. Couple days later I decide to go back, I figure I’d upload a picture of my girlfriend and I having fun on 4chan. I captioned it and said something about how much we were laughing at their memes! Well, a couple of minutes later they viciously demanded tits.

    They really, really were pressing hard on seeing my girlfriends tits. They vigorously pursued her tits with violent threats. They had my phone number, name, email, and address. I remember sitting at my girlfriends house thinking and saying to her “I’m so sorry, how was I supposed to know these awful people would do this?” Of course, my girlfriend and I (both 14) were NOT going to post her boobs online! They were ordering pizzas, strippers, 24 hour plumbers, among other pricey things. Not only that, I got the thick end of her dads belt, he told me about the consequences of all the bills I was racking up, they’d never be the same again. We received many death threats, had a flaming brick thrown through our window. I decided to call a cab and go home before her dad got even more pissed.

    I got in the cab, and I had gotten into the wrong one. I had called a cab, but they had also called on before me. He tried to take me to New York as instructed. And I was expected to pay. I got that settled quick, though. I pulled up to a house about seven or eight and I yelled to the cabbie, yo holmes smell ya later! Looked at my kingdom I was finally there
    To sit on my throne as the prince of Bel Air

    -David Davidson

  • Anonymous says:

    https://boards.4chan.org/b/res/413511558 Dunno if you’ve seen this thread yet, but you seem to be pretty central in it. The folks over there appear to be rather grudgeful too. Pretty sure that most commenters here come from that thread or similar ones.

    U MAD CREATURES OF /B/?

  • Shao Kahn, Ruler of Outworld says:

    Who the hell cares who the guy was affiliated with, he was a nutcase. People are dead and he’s the only person to blame. Trying to sift through the internet for blame is just as bad as those Fox News people blaming violent vidya gaems for actual violence. He was a nutcase, pure and simple.

  • How do I get a degree in trolling?

  • Pobert Raulson says:

    Rules 1 and 2

  • Mitchel Henderson says:

    “9gag had apparently joined forces with 4chan.”

    You lost me right there. It’s clear 4chan and 9gag members hate each other to the point they would never “join forces”.

  • Anonymous says:

    boards.4chan.org/b/res/413511558

    Dunno if you’ve seen this yet, but you seem to be pretty central in it. The folks over there appear to be rather grudgeful too. Pretty sure that most commenters here come from that thread or similar ones.

    U MAD CREATURES OF /B/?

  • Anonymous says:

    Tits or GTFO

  • Constantine says:

    Why does your chin look so groce?

  • Bitch got trolled HARD lulz. +1 to 9fag.

  • Anonymous says:

    fuckin bitch making shit up.wtf is operation 9gag? 9gag IS the root of things all evil

  • Anonymous says:

    Fuck you, whore

    LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY LE 9GAG ARMY

  • Constantine says:

    She mad when she got trolled with a PHD in trolls

  • Anonymous says:

    So, faggots. Has the 9fag army dox’d this bitch yet? I bet she’s in the mood for some pizza and Craigslist hook-ups, amirite?

  • stalinshomie says:

    rehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere

  • Anonymous says:

    > For months, trolls had been grumbling about 9gag, which they charmingly refer to as “9fag” (they’re so clever, these trolls!).

    Actually, you fucking idiot, it’s referred to as ‘9fag’ because of word filtering. PhD my ass. Get a real career, moron.

    • Gustavo says:

      Really comfortable and to size. There is alot of room for your feet, they arn’t sqhisued together. I would rather wear new balance than adidas, but would take some Air Forces over both of then.

  • LeAnonymouslele says:

    “Troll Scholar”? And she has a PhD? That’s fucking HILARIOUS.

    “Forget 9gag, forget 4chan, forget anything related to the internet. Be in the real world with this one.”

    I agree. Forget aalllll about 4chan and 9gag.

  • Anonymous says:

    What the fuck did you just fucking say about me, you little bitch? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Navy Seals, and I’ve been involved in numerous secret raids on Al-Quaeda, and I have over 300 confirmed kills. I am trained in gorilla warfare and I’m the top sniper in the entire US armed forces. You are nothing to me but just another target. I will wipe you the fuck out with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my fucking words. You think you can get away with saying that shit to me over the Internet? Think again, fucker. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of spies across the USA and your IP is being traced right now so you better prepare for the storm, maggot. The storm that wipes out the pathetic little thing you call your life. You’re fucking dead, kid. I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can kill you in over seven hundred ways, and that’s just with my bare hands. Not only am I extensively trained in unarmed combat, but I have access to the entire arsenal of the United States Marine Corps and I will use it to its full extent to wipe your miserable ass off the face of the continent, you little shit. If only you could have known what unholy retribution your little “clever” comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your fucking tongue. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re paying the price, you goddamn idiot. I will shit fury all over you and you will drown in it. You’re fucking dead, kiddo.

    • Anonymous says:

      “I graduated top of my class in the Navy Seals”
      “I have access to the entire arsenal of the United States Marine Corps”

      fail

    • Anonymous says:

      Gorilla warfare AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, too funny

    • It might be nice if you actually knew how to spell Al Qaeda, which, by the way, does not exist as an organization and is simply a blanket term the United States uses to describe all the different Islamist-leaning cells out in the world, many of which are not connected to each other, or are connected in the loosest way possible.

  • 9gag King says:

    Hey bitch, go fuck yourself with a cactus

    Sincerely,
    9gag army

  • Lil'nigger says:

    Ah shit son… what about area code?

  • FaqoNeal says:

    What the fuck did you just fucking say about me, you little nigger? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my nigger in the Nigger Seals, and I’ve been involved in numerous secret niggers on Al-Nigger, and I have over 300 confirmed kills. I am trained in nigger warfare and I’m the top nigger in the entire NIGGER armed forces. You are nothing to me but just another nigger. I will wipe you the fuck out with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my fucking nigger. You think you can get away with saying that shit to me over the niggernet? Think again, fucker. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of niggers across the USA and your NIgger is being traced right now so you better prepare for the storm, nigger. The storm that wipes out the pathetic little thing you call your nigger. You’re fucking dead, nigger. I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can kill you in over seven hundred ways, and that’s just with my bare niggers. Not only am I extensively trained in nigger combat, but I have access to the entire arsenal of the United States Marine Corps and I will use it to its full extent to wipe your miserable nigger off the face of the continent, you little nigger. If only you could have known what unholy nigger your little “clever” comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your fucking nigger. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re paying the price, you goddamn nigger. I will shit fury all over you and you will drown in it. You’re fucking dead, nigger.

  • I am a 9gag poster, and I will say it is not a hoax. I have been loyal to the site for many years, and I saw the post by James. He did warn us about the shooting and the 9gag administrators seemed to condone him. I can recall a line of a chat by one of the administrators: “do it, faggot. kill those suckers”

    death to 9gag

  • [...] a op is an try to support 9gag for all terrible on a Internet,” Phillips writes in a blog post that lays out a box for a whole thing being internecine goblin crusade and small more.For some-more [...]

  • GagChan says:

    ummmm whats to say this isn’t 9gag reverse trolling? they could easily do this just to make it seem like 4chan is framing them…

  • Anonymous says:

    I was reading that while taking a shit. how ironic

  • Anonymous says:

    You are very brave to talk about internet trolls within reach of internet trolls. Godspeed, Doctor!

  • Anon says:

    You are very brave to talk about internet trolls within reach of internet trolls. Godspeed, Doctor!

    • Thanks for the kind words – but it’s not so bad, they’re just doing their job, and I’m just doing mine. It’s part of the territory I guess…but again, thank you, and thanks for reading!

  • N3f4str10 says:

    Reading this post… Well that’s the work of a Troll: Say something to make discord in the internet. 4chan is making it because 9gag is making the web so saturated of “Memes” that aren’t funny. I’m not making blame of 9gag but is true since you have to make your account with facebook, that make the web wannabee (It’s bad spelled, I know) But the thing is that not only 4chan is involved: it’s tumblr, Reddit, cheese burger that are blaming 9gag too, I didn’t see a Op9gag since the feb 14 on 4chan

    • Oh, I don’t think 9gag is solely to blame for unfunny memes. 4chan is also quite skilled at producing shitty content. And you’re right, 4chan isn’t the only site that’s piled up on 9gag. I didn’t post this piece to defend 9gag, but because I didn’t want to see the media go into full-on panic mode over something that wasn’t true…

  • James Russel says:

    Everyone calm down. Take a deep breath. And remember… rules 1 and 2

  • Rourke says:

    Interesting piece overall. I was a little caught off guard when I read in one of your comments that you were able to get a doctoral degree with only five days of actual infield work. My undergraduate thesis required a couple months of lab work alone, and my masters will require a minimum of nine weeks’ worth of actual bench work, but it could easily take significantly longer. It’s intriguing how vastly different the requirements are between disciplines.

    • Five years, not five days…

      • Holy crap! How did I make such an egregious mistake? That’ll teach me not to read websites early in the morning. (I did wonder how “five days” dovetailed with “thousands of hours”!)

        My sincerest apologies for misreading your comment. I think your work is fascinating and I have read most of your blog entries already. Did you ever publish a version of your dissertation, or does it exist in the form of one copy sitting on a university library shelf?

      • Oh, no worries — I figured you misread that sentence, it happens! 5 days’ worth of research would have given me pause too…like, “I read Wikipedia, now give me a PhD!”

        I’m actually finishing up the last few edits to the dissertation as we speak — I defended in June, but needed to make some tweaks before depositing with the graduate school. Once that happens, it will be accessible through the UO library website, though I’m not sure how long it will take for the manuscript to go “live,” so to speak. I am/will continue to work on edits for the book version of the manuscript, but I’m not sure what the timeline on that will be either. In both cases, the best answer I can give is SOON, and the sooner the better!

        Thanks for reading, and for the kind words. Out of curiosity, how did you find me? And have you had much experience with trolling?

      • Judging by the chronology in my history list, I found you through a reference on this article: http://www.dailydot.com/news/9gag-colorado-shooting-screenshots/

        Internet troll scholar (yes, they exist) Whitney Phillips has written a blog post with more background on the 9gag connection. She explains that the prank was probably launched by 4chan users, who have a long-running operation to “frame 9gag for everything terrible on the internet.”

        How I found that particular article, I am not sure. It was probably an Outbrain reference from another site.

        I have ample experience with trolls, indeed. In fact, the website I edit was founded in response to the foundering of another site from an overproliferation of trolls on a very well-known, high profile site. I’d be happy to discuss the story sometime, but because I am in the middle of editing articles as speak, I’ll have to save that for another time and probably another venue. Blog comments aren’t the most efficient medium of communication.

      • Ah, interesting — well, my email is on the About page, drop me a line if ever you feel like sharing! I do love those sorts of stories…:)

      • Speaking of stories, I also produce a daily radio show called It’s Your Dime. It’s actually a sports-themed show, but given that, as I said, our origins are in a revolt against a site overrun with trolls, I am sure our listeners would find your work fascinating. Would you be interested in appearing as a guest? We go on the air daily at 5:30 p.m. CT. We’re a lively, friendly bunch, and it would be a fund conversation.

      • Sure! I’m finishing up edits today and tomorrow, so the best day for me would probably be on Thursday or Friday…send whatever info to my whitneyxphillips gmail!

      • Also, thanks for the invite! :)

    • Here’s the comment you were referring to…

      Technically I have a PhD in English, with a Digital Culture/Folklore emphasis. My dissertation focuses on trolling subculture(s), which is where the title “internet troll scholar” comes from. That’s not how I describe myself, but titles are just details, so I don’t mind. This particular project examines how trolls interact with their environment, defined very broadly to include individual platforms, for example 4chan, as well as larger systems/institutions, for example corporate media. To do this, I spent about 5 years reading everything I could about trolls, lurking any forum having anything to do with trolls, and of course interviewing all the trolls who would answer my questions — which added up to thousands and thousands of hours of participant observation. Using that data, I was able to construct larger arguments not just about trolls, but the culture(s) out of which they emerge.

  • [...] several moviegoers at a Batman screening in Aurora, CO had used 9GAG to issue a warning, was shot down by meme sleuth Whitney Phillips, who said that both were likely orchestrated by members of 4chan’s anti-9gag [...]

  • [...] at work), and 9gag, another, newer, user-driven meme-swapping site. There’s been an operation at /b/ for some time to frame 9gag for anything likely to garner media attention, such as encouraging the [...]

  • [...] Much more likely, in my opinion, is that someone photoshopped this cap, for the simple reason that that’s what people on the /b/ board do. They also included a subtle –what appears to be a subtle– reference to the perception [...]

  • ............ says:

    >t
    October 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm
    personaly, those comments above all look like 4Chan’ers trying to make 9gag look bad. I meen who says “9gag army FTW, we did it guys!” about an article that is talking about a guy who shot REAL PEOPLE in REAL LIFE. dumb assholes think that this is all make-believe fairy-tale
    shit and it doesn’t matter.

    > I meen who says “9gag army FTW, we did it guys!” about an article that is talking about a guy who shot REAL PEOPLE in REAL LIFE.

    >we did it guys!” about an article that is talking about a guy who shot REAL PEOPLE in REAL LIFE.

    > THE MILITARY.

  • Alfred says:

    Superb blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress
    or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there
    that I’m totally confused .. Any tips? Cheers!

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