I did it. And now apparently I’m internet famous. What sort of interests me, aside of the fact that Rusty’s wife still tolerates the continued existence of Kuro5hin, is that the news handles internet pranks the way it should handle school shootings.
Of course, this is absolutely the wrong way to act.
In a school shooting, the shooter is just guaranteed his 10 minutes of fame. The media fawns over him, the guys face is all over the news, and everyone wants to know what would compel someone to do such a thing. In this prank, my name doesn’t come up once. Even more interesting, Rusty’s blog – kuro5hin.org – suspiciously doesn’t come up either. It’s no real surprise, google doesn’t index it anymore and it has a total readership of six. Sye has been pushing content to it via some sort of bizarre perl script, if he’s even a person. I think I doubled the readership alone posting a diary. I don’t really want the attention, I just want K5 to die. Oh and I enjoy a good prank, I really do.
Kuro5hin, for those not in the know, used to be glorious. A fork from slashdot back in the Web 1.0 days back when pictures of cats were expensive modem time, the text only essayist site provided not only interesting content but it was cheap. It filled a niche slashdot couldn’t, which was actual content on the site by people who knew what was actually happening. It was sort of a punk rock wikipedia if wikipedia were actually successful because it required peer review. Slashdot, reddit, twitter, and other small blurby social media sites were the future, but K5 was the here and now and it was great.
Rusty set the tone for the site fairly quickly, a site named Kuro5hin with a broken bridge was just flat out a bad meme. It would prove to be like finding out the guy who owned GrumpyCat was actually really grumpy in real life. A combination of lassie faire attitude towards moderation along with the general abuse of the userbase at the hands of the staff meant the best posters were quickly driven off, and as the trolls figured out they could set up fights between the staff and the well meaning users, it quickly frayed. This is really the same problems that the progeny of the site face – DailyKos has their “content” paid for and written by professional poltical hacks and digg accepts money for promotion. The former runs the code base (scoop) and the latter used the K5 look and feel up until recently. While these do actually spawn legitimate content, the reason why they work and K5 didn’t was because K5 never got the sponsorships enjoyed by slashdot, etc. In some ways it was a testament to integrity, and in the same way it was a harbinger of what was to come.
I submitted content and made friends, then I succumbed to the zeitgeist. Rusty, completely failing to secure any sort of nominal success in the media and walking off with $40k in donations from his own users, just stopped caring. The rest of the staff soon followed, and then the users, and then me. I became a troll. At one point I even offered to help Rusty, who had offered to make the last three users into admins. That never materialized and the shambling corpse continued on. It was actually sort of a pariah. Unlike Adequacy.org, it refused to die. At least Adequacy had the decency to clean up the worst of the off topic crap, set the database to read only and leave the lights on. K5 continues on as an insult to the content it hosted.
This blog post wouldn’t even be so rambling if I actually thought anyone knew was K5 was at this point. My facebook is filled with “lolwut?” messages. Social media is done, and now I blog.
When I bought a house, the remaining K5 Kamradery helpfully told facebook (and K5) I had died. It was actually fairly lulzy, and a plot point from the movie Hackers. Not one to pass up a hilarious opportunity, when Rusty proudly proclaimed he was turning off the internet and going to Mexico, I paid it forward.
I reported his facebook profile (log out if you’re from “the K5 crowd” and can’t see it – he keeps it public and your dupe account on facebook will work) as deceased with some random strangers obituary. As of right now, that obituary is the most popular link on google for “rusty foster obituary”. Poor guys family has no idea who he is. Facebook, employing people who live in third world shitholes, bought it. With no reply to the email they send, they did what any morally responsible social media company not stealing $40k would do – they turned off his account.
Rusty’s twitter predictably filled with butthurt, and I let it stew for a few days while I enjoyed confused family members, two people who were friendly enough with him to ask what happened, and the general confusion and bemusement. After a few days I decided to let him in on the prank and at least sent him a link to the obituary so he could get his facebook back. It still took facebook four days to actually sort it out. Four, lulzy days.
Rusty responded by editing my “I killed K5” post on Kuro5hin.org and killing the account, and AnilDash declined to run the story after I sent him a link to K5. The NBC community blogger was a bit of a surprise, but I like the tone of the story. For what it’s worth. All six users of K5 responded by goading Rusty, and he deleted just as many more commented, cutting the K5 user base fully in half (six users to three). Oh, and those vacation pictures of his trip to Mexico? Still public.
Update: Slashdot brings up the rear as usual.