Something Awful’s notorious Fuck You and Die (FYAD) board, one of the early indicators of just how horrifying a place the internet was going to become, has now gone to that big web archive in the sky.
Something Awful (SA) was founded in 1999 by Richard Kyanka and was important in establishing much of the tone of the modern internet, from bizarre, original satire and parody to its rampant cynicism. Originally a simple personal webpage that ran absurdist humour by Kyanka and others under the catchphrase “The internet makes you stupid,” its attached forums became one of the biggest web hubs of the 2000s and the origin point of much of today’s web culture, like memes. The SA forums now have 200,000 registered users (around 5,000 of whom were logged in on Wednesday evening EST), though it is far less active than in its heyday and has lost ground to competitors like Reddit, 4chan, and Twitter.
Kyanka told Motherboard in 2017 that he started FYAD as a sort of forum dumping ground for flame wars, personal vendettas, and garbage posts that would otherwise flood its General Bullshit board. It later became less about flame wars per se and instead more about contrarian, mutually antagonistic trolling and inside jokes between users—which included a slew of deliberately offensive content like Nazi imagery.
In a post to the SA forums’ announcement board earlier this week, Kyanka wrote that element of the board had grown out of control (a not uncommon phenomena with forums abandoned by their original community) and it was time to put FYAD down.
“FYAD, back in the day, used to be full of funny people producing funny content,” Kyanka wrote. “There were some incredible threads, and they had their own unique sense of humour that couldn’t be found anywhere else.”
“Now FYAD is a fucking racist shithole with no redeeming qualities whatsoever,” he continued. “I tried to give the people there a chance by reopening it, and they just got even edgelordier with Nazi shit everywhere. Nazi shit WILL NOT be tolerated ANYWHERE on the fucking forums. You’re a goddamn moron if you’re posting pro-Nazi shit just to be edgy. Go to fucking Stormfront, because you are absolutely not wanted here.”
In a followup post, another administrator wrote that the SA management team had noticed violations of rules against hate speech, bullying, and doxxing were on the uptick and would not be tolerated. FYAD was a particular hotspot for these issues, Kyanka told Motherboard, and the shutdown was necessary to protect the rest of SA from harassment—particularly its large trans community.
Kyanka told Motherboard that as veteran FYAD posters left for Twitter or elsewhere, the board had become dominated by “right wing Nazi people… I’ve found, in my 20 years of running the site, that whenever you ban an ironic Nazi, suddenly they become actual Nazis.”
“They doubled down. They tried to get around the rules. They started making code names for certain posters,” Kyanka told Motherboard. “The mods and admins were scared to death… so I’m just like, ‘OK. The end. This is done. All the funny people have left FYAD… I would like to stay as one of the few remaining communities that do not have Nazis in it.”
FYAD’s shutdown follows other disruptions in the far-right internet ecosystem over the last year, battering it but leaving its foundations mostly intact.
Image board 8chan was driven offline earlier this year after network infrastructure provider Cloudflare terminated its account, citing 8chan’s white supremacist sub-board /pol/’s ties to three mass shootings targeting Jews and Muslims that collectively killed 74 people and wounded scores of others. The site subsequently rebranded as 8kun and relaunched on the dark web (the portion of the internet only accessible through software like Tor), though Slate reported in October 2019 that many of the fascists on /pol/ had scattered to other web destination in the meantime.