I was thinking of copying my Storify here, but that would change the layout and look. And it would be more work than is necessary for this moment (and I’m a little tired currently). Please feel free to read it here. If you have any thoughts or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!
Thanks for reading through everything!
https://storify.com/EnglishNerd/gamergate (so it’s easier for everyone to be able to find it).
Update: I updated the site, so the Storify now lives here, too! https://www.englishnerd.net/?p=1190 Please still feel free to comment! (especially if you find dead links.) Thanks!
I feel like everyone knows that there are always dark alleys regardless of how bright the streets are. The Internet has always had dark alleys the size of California freeways. The most recent incarnations of these are 4chan and 8chan. The forums most pertinent for the GamerGate conversation on 4chan (boards.4chan.org/v/) and on 8chan (8chan.co/gg/). They are absolutely Not Safe For Work! They are barely safe for people who actually like other humans to tread through. The addresses for the dark alleys will change, as they have through time. The users always feel like wherever their current home exists sells out, which precipitates a move to a new, more welcoming space for what has always existed online.
Trolls live on the Internet. The traditional stories of Europe may have them under bridges threatening and being threatened by goats, but with the creation and rise of the Internet, we have learned they live in the forums online.
In the stories they turn to stone in the sunlight and are generally giant oafs who will eat anything they can catch. Online, they post comments wherever they think they can get a rise. They are generally anonymous, and their posts are generally targeted to be the most offensive they can get past the moderators. The comments are generally easy to pick out, because they are designed to illicit the most vitriolic response from the other people in the forum. The rationale that has been gleaned over the years for this behavior is that the troll is looking for attention and enjoys the discomfort of the people who post responses. Years ago, I saw someone explain that they had created a game with a friend where they would go onto comment sections and post tolling comments in order to gain points for all the responses, and for the types of responses, they each received.
The long standing admonition has been, “Don’t Feed the Trolls“. This advice is to ignore the people posting the outrageous comments with the thought to starve the poster of the attention that they desire.
Recently, though, there is beginning to be some resistance to this ancient wisdom of the interwebz. Whitney Phillips reframes trolling as a form of bullying and creates space for nuance in the activities that have historically been grouped together under the term troll. Phillips then argues that the long-standing advice actually turns into a form of victim blaming if the target speaks out and receives more attention in response.
As the Internet continues to become a home for more people from diverse backgrounds, trolls and how people deal with them will continue to change.
This statement is a little bit of a slight against the harassment that many of the women (and to a lesser extent men) involved against the misogynistic presentation of ideas and basis of attacks in the GamerGate Twitter fight. The sentiment it sums up was the frequent refrain of sea lioning type tactics. The phrase has a Tumblr dedicated to it. And it has even made it to the archive of Know Your Meme. The constant refrain helped to shape part of the conversation as a whole, while becoming a kind of joke amongst those who spend a large portion of their time on the internet.
A quick note on hashtags. If you’re old enough, # is a pound sign. I’m not entirely sure what it did on touch-tone phones (because I’m apparently not old enough. As this note isn’t about that research, I’m not doing it this time around. Please leave notes and links in the comments regarding this gap in knowledge, if you feel so inclined), but the symbol predates the internet. Twitter was the first (as far as I know) major social media platform to being utilizing this symbol for a specific Internet era purpose. The use of # (known now as a hashtag) tells the internet to sort and archive the data surrounding the hashtag. So, when someone posts a Tweet to Twitter, if they include a # and then words connected to it, such as #GamerGate, the platform knows to sort that information into a searchable category. This tagging system allows for easier search through millions of bytes of data to find related information more easily. Going to Twitter and searching for #GamerGate will provide a plethora of tweets beginning with the most recent tweet using the hashtag.
Instagram and Facebook adopted the # as a method of categorizing the data on those platforms as well.
This is a collection of the numerous blog posts and news articles that archive the predominately agreed upon historical narrative regarding the beginnings and elements of GamerGate. I skimmed through them as they popped up in my Twitter feed. The history presented in my Storify is created from how I remember the history unfolding. There is also, I am sure because I am now re-telling it within the context of an academic paper for an Advocacy class, an element of editorial arrangement for flow and application to the meaning being made in the story.
This list is the one that I collected. If you’re looking for evaluative posts, that is still pending. Check back later to see if it’s been revised. And feel free to leave links in the comments to other take you fee hold value to this discussion.
Merriam-Websters’ definition can be found here. I frequently use this word as it carries the academic connotation of akin to fight. When I’m talking in person, I usually pause a beat before deciding discussion is the most effective word.
In the GamerGate project, I see the hashtag as more of a record of a fight. But fight doesn’t carry the same academic weight as discussion. Argument is also a probable synonym, but that holds a different meaning in academia. Attack would also probably work, if it did not also carry military and conquest elements. And while these additional elements may meaningfully add to the conversation, I am making the call that it opens the conversation to be directed in unintended ways I wish to avoid.