…how did we get here?

the road is long...with many a winding turn...

…if you recognize that header image you most likely know where this is going much as you know the suitably imortalized post from which it’s taken…but for those who don’t…or are feeling nostalgic…I’ll start a little earlier

…once upon a time the internet didn’t exist…& then it did…& then eventually someone made a site called Gawker…& a great many smart, snarky, surprisingly well-informed and frequently funny people signed up as commenters in its heyday…many of whom remained “on the books” when said commentariat were…lock stock & barrel…inducted unceremoniously to the dubious delights of the in-house platform called Kinja…to somewhat less than everyone’s delight

…I won’t rake over the sorry business of what killed off Gawker…or the sorrier businesses that stuck around like corporate vultures determined to pick over its rotting corpse for what they thought of as a nice bit of juicy meat since there’s a pretty thorough bunch of folks who’ve done that in various places already…& very possibly better than I would, anyway…but I will note that the Kinja element of the thing was widely complained about by users to an extent that continues to this day…even those who had ventured beyond the “mainpage” elements to the hidden wonders of the various sub-blogs…of which more, anon

…throughout pretty much all of that I was very much part of the shadowy segment of the internet family popularly referred to as “lurkers”…& pretty much fine with that…there seemed to be an endless array of folks who wanted to have the internet include a piece of their minds & I’d always been fond of this old-fashioned thing called reading that we used to do with bits of paper (some of them printed as recently as that morning & containing what we quaintly thought of as “the latest news”) so I felt no great incentive to try to get my 2¢ in the mix…in fact, I might even have been moderately proud to have been a lurker…it is (as anyone who’s read Good Omens could tell you) a fine & venerable tradition

It wasn’t a dark and stormy night.

It should have been, but that’s the weather for you. For every mad scientist who’s had a convenient thunderstorm just on the night his Great Work is finished and lying on the slab, there have been dozens who’ve sat around aimlessly under the peaceful stars while Igor clocks up the overtime.

But don’t let the fog (with rain later, temperatures dropping to around forty-five degrees) give anyone a false sense of security. Just because it’s a mild night doesn’t mean that dark forces aren’t abroad. They’re abroad all the time. They’re everywhere.

They always are. That’s the whole point.

Two of them lurked in the ruined graveyard. Two shadowy figures, one hunched and squat, the other lean and menacing, both of them Olympic-grade lurkers. If Bruce Springsteen had ever recorded “Born to Lurk,” these two would have been on the album cover. They had been lurking in the fog for an hour now, but they had been pacing themselves and could lurk for the rest of the night if necessary, with still enough sullen menace left for a final burst of lurking around dawn.

Finally, after another twenty minutes, one of them said: “Bugger this for a lark. He should of been here hours ago.”


…sometime after the untimely demise of Gawker itself various websites wound up being formed into a sort of stable that included (among others) Jezebel, The Root, The AV Club, i09, Jalopnik, Deadspin and latterly a site they wound up calling Splinter…within which were to be found with moderate frequency acts of what can only be described as actual journalism, along with large helpings of opinionated takes on this or that aspect of popular culture &/or current affairs…not to mention the delights of the online version of The Onion, from which The AV Club had first been born…& there I lurked quite happily

…& then a funny thing happened followed by a series of distinctly unfunny ones…the funny thing…at least if you happened to have grown up in a part of the world in which the US definition of “the left” is generally taken to be a funny thing in itself on account of still generally finding itself on the right as we were given to understand the thing when I were a kid…being that down in the comments beneath Splinter articles there were frequently to be found people who seemed prepared to discuss that sort of thing as though there were some distinction to be made between concepts like socialism and communism & might even have troubled themselves to learn some definitions of the terms comprehensible to a non-native-US audience…the sort of folks who were willing to publically entertain outlandish nonsense like the concept that not having to go bankrupt in order to not die of a curable condition in a first world nation might in fact not be something that ought properly to be referred to as “radical”

…much as in the days of Gawker I continued to merrily lurk away my idle moments enjoying what the commenters of the various sites in what had become the Kinja community had to say on a great many topics…but ultimately found that I spent a lot of time…perhaps even what some would consider an unhealthy amount of time…checking in to see who said what under the articles to be found at Splinter where that leftward leaning tendency had a way of making me feel like maybe I wasn’t nuts to react the way I did to most US news & current affairs coverage

…meanwhile the series of unfunny things included (but was not limited to) the election of the single worst president in the history of the United States of America…along with the similiarly poor decision of the UK to announce its plan to secede from the European Union…& it turned out that my blithe assumption that both of those things were doomed to failure on the grounds that there weren’t enough idiots in the world available to fall for the insane rhetoric supporting them that innundated the online landscape in general…& places like the comment threads of Kinja in particular…was overly optimistic

…I say “in particular” not because it was a phenomenon unique to those environs but because I generally try to avoid the likes of twitter or facebook and thus it was predominantly in such places that I tended to encounter the vapid & almost inevitably fallaciously-founded claptrap the adherents of such causes hosed the place down with (particularly if you braved the modern day wasteland known as “the grays”) in a seemingly endless torrent

…eventually, more by accident than design, it dawned on me that in a fair few ways the Splinter comment section was a passably good microcosm of a problem that a lot of people were (in one fashion or another) not really taking seriously despite every indication that it had in fact already had some fairly serious repercussions…to wit the actively malicious inundation of social media platforms with bad faith trolling efforts…very possibly efforts knowingly directed by the sort of people one might be forgiven for thinking had better things to do with their time

…being (apparently) a glutton for a particular type of punishment I was one of the people who found this phenomenon curious enough to actually read the unredacted bits of the Mueller Report…& this tended to confirm my thinking that the degree to which the conversation “below the line” was more or less under something that might be thought of as an assault was a pretty obvious one…but…still being a confirmed lurker…mostly all that meant as far as I was concerned was that I began to mentally differentiate between commenters I enjoyed reading, those I did not & a third class the motivations of whom I found increasingly suspect

…if you’re wondering what the hell I’m on about I’d suggest taking a look (assuming Kinja hasn’t found a way to bork up your chances) at the pending category of comments beneath, well, just about any post on The Root…or comparing the grays on any Splinter article that dealt with a mass shooting event with one that drew a lot of comments without being firearms-related…if you feel really thorough you could go further & see how many of the mass of supposedly pro-gun-rights commenters that sprang out of the woodwork on such occasions seemed to have created their accounts for that express purpose & were otherwise not much involved in the commenting community…it wasn’t all of them but if you want to save yourself a lot of clicking about you can take my word for it that it was inevitably the majority

…& being somewhat less well acquainted with sleep than I’d like…& thus having what might charitably be described as more time on my hands than some…I did quite a lot of that sort of idle-ish clicking around…until one day the dam broke & I found myself signing up for one of the “burner” accounts of which I’d read so much…for the express purpose of having a go at one of the more egregiously irritating accounts that seemed to me to fall in that third class

…& there began what I think could reasonably be called my education in the mysterious ways of Kinja…& they were mysterious indeed…even to one such as myself who had by then long been reading not only the obvious comments but attempting to follow threads (perhaps ill-advisedly) in full & in chronological order…this wasn’t a thing Kinja seemed inclined to make straightforward…& involved scanning through a large amount of dross in order to find the more rewarding elements available…but had seemed to give a reasonably clear picture of how a conversation progressed…except that it didn’t…not really

…there were many reasons for this but few of them seemed discernible to those not actually engaged in the process of making & responding to comments since the various bits of technical sophistry that allowed (for example) for contributions to be cast into the void at the whim of the user being replied to were more than a little opaque to the casual reader…as were the ways that such functionality might be used to artificially curate a thread in a fashion that might only be described as woefully disingenuous to a degree that would rival the antics of the alleged president & his “fake news” crutch

…long story short…it was a steep learning curve but an oddly enjoyable one…& over time I began to have a certain sympathy for the much-maligned folks responsible for keeping the platform viable & the various neat tricks they had made available to the casual (& not-so-casual) users that routinely poured scorn upon their labors…& that would go for more than merely the commenters who got the benefit of them for free since the folks paid to post the articles beneath which such threads dangled were seldom shy in that regard…& if you don’t believe me, take a look at what some of them had to say about a man named Ernie

vaya con dios ernie…may the road rise up to meet you…for I doubt I shall…

…now this meandering set of musings might not mean much to you…much as the various musings of my own cast out into the gray wastes of Kinja most likely meant little to most folks…but that was fine by me…here & there I’d say something some hallowed commenter would feel worthy of elevating into the rarefied realm of non-pending comments & that was fine…but down in the grays I could direct some ire towards the innumerable candidates that struck me as being there for the express purpose of poisoning the well of discourse otherwise to be found & generally doing their best to make sure nobody got as much out of the whole thing as they otherwise might

…which might well sound like a pointless endeavor…& very possibly was…but not to me…because as the days & months of the most shameful presidential term in the history of the great american experiment dragged on I came to think that the commenting community of the Kinja platform…or at any rate the bits of it that were engaged in good faith…were potentially a valuable resource to considerably more folks than just me…kindred spirits, if you will…not that all of them necessarily agreed with me about all that much or anything…but all in their own ways seeming to feel the need to reassure themselves that it was the world going mad…not them…& that it wasn’t so much that nothing could be done about it but that very likely nothing would be

…while all that was going on there were a parallel set of misfortunes that beset the various sites found in the Kinja stable as they were steadily diminished by what might be described as the forces of venture capital…management buyout followed management buyout & at every stage the distinct impression was implied that at a corporate level the view was very much that the asset that drew many of us to bother with the place…that being the aforementioned community of commenters…was instead viewed as something of a liability

…several (if not all) of the mainpage sites – whether at the behest of management or simply because some of the staff got overly bruised feelings & threw their own version of a pity party – pitched longstanding commenters back into the grays & unaccountably elevated more than one exponent of the bullshit artist genre in their place…which to anyone who’d been paying more than cursory attention to the thing read very much as doubling down on making asses of themselves in a way I suspect several of them even now would fail to appreciate

…to the point that the more paranoia-inclined might have been forgiven for developing a belief that the parlous state of the comments was in fact something being actively encouraged…possibly in a woefully misguided belief that it was a useful way to boost their numbers in certain metrics that the corporately corpulent set store by but fundamentally failed to grasp the underlying shape of….but plausibly in the cause of diminishing the value the community added to the sites & thus handily dropping the price required for the next buyout…since one of the things that could have been done but largely was not seemed very much to be cleaning up the shitshow below the line by employing even a cursory degree of active moderation

…now that sounds insane…but (& I know I said I wouldn’t get into the whole Gawker post-mortem thing…but) it’s worth noting that a considerable number of people with deep pockets (& little love for that leftward lean) engaged in a less-than-subtle campaign to destroy Gawker…not the least of which being one Peter Thiel…& to say that the interests who developed a financial interest in the earthly remains of that enterprise seemed to have a matching interest in seeing the thing crashed, burned & buried is something of an understatement…& the truth of the matter is that the various sub-blogs of the Kinja ecosystem were always a pretty clear example of the fact that it actually wasn’t that hard to use the tools inherent in the platform to keep shitposters, griefers & sundry trolls of all sorts the fuck out of the conversation

…well…the ones they didn’t nuke, anyway (RIP clashtalk) but more of that, as they say, anon

…anyway…one fateful day…or more accurately night…since they didn’t have the balls to do it in the daylight…they summarily shuttered Splinter…because apparently it just wasn’t getting the traffic they needed it to in order to justify the expense of keeping the thing going…& who knows…maybe that had at least a sliver of truth to it, even…but…well…a couple of things strike me even now as arguing against that

…for a start it turns out that there was a loyal enough readership to have dipped into their pockets & bankrolled the staff in their new home which argues that it was the more a case of their business model being flawed than it was the site not being viable

…& for another thing…one that I’d argue was more important…in this of all years to remove the string in your bow that drew the most obviously politically engaged audience in a strikingly political era comes pretty close to being a contribution in kind to an incumbent desperately in need of eviction

…either way…it left a number of us feeling adrift to a degree I for one was unprepared for…sure, I knew I spent a fair bit of my downtime (& assorted idle moments) scrolling about beneath the posts on Splinter…but I was unprepared for the void I suddenly found myself noticing when I had to consciously break the habit of reflexively firing up the site to see what the commenters had to make of the latest bout of what-the-actual-fuck to hit the news cycle

…which brings us to that header image…which was used by a lady named Emma Carmichael in a post that a man less petty than Jim Spanfeller might have shrugged off


…to many, that was the thing that really set off the cascade effect that very nearly killed off the entirety of the personal/sub-blog side of the Kinja ecosystem in the aftermath of Deadspin being zombified…but to some of us…well, to some of us it seemed like they might have gotten mad about a couple of other things

…& this, much more than my brief sojourn as a commenter…& my even briefer time “in the black”…is where I thoroughly burned my bridges as a lurker…it was a couple of days after the summary execution of Splinter & I was trying to figure out how to find the various voices I was used to hearing from now that they were scattered all over the Kinja system & not handily grouped together in the Splinter column & I thought…maybe if I set up a new account I could go through some old threads & follow the ones I’d most enjoyed & then that might give me a set of bookmarks (& a feed) that would let me see where they were to be found…it sounded harmless enough & I wasn’t doing much else that day

…so I set up SplinterRIP & (mostly so they wouldn’t think I was some asshole troll) gave the account a post in case anyone came to see who the hell I thought I was…which I honestly figured pretty much nobody but me would ever read


[full disclosure: that’s no longer the URL – as you’ll see if you click on it – but I didn’t want to get ahead of myself if there’s anyone reading this who doesn’t know how the thing ends]

…&…well…it kind of got away from me…according to the help pages they still had up at the time it was possible to create a “group blog” akin to the groupthink/whitenoise/backtalk/thesaladbowl kind of deal but it turned out that in fact that functionality had been quietly deprecated so within a few days (& after some pointed references to GK Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday) I’d somehow managed to round up a few like-minded individuals with some time on their hands & shared the burner password to the account with them…& before we really knew what we’d gotten ourselves into we had a pretty thriving wake going on

…if you want to get a bit of a feel for how that went you could have a look through the posts listed here (on the basis that they made it as awkward as possible to leaf through them in their original home…& that one way or another we kinda moved a few of them about in the “chronological” list so it might be confusing to try to “start at the beginning”)


…the learning curve was pretty steep but it turned out that Kinja was a pretty forgiving platform in a lot of ways & if you made just a little bit of an effort you could have basically the whole conversation taking place in the black & still have no trolls fucking up anyone’s day…& with the writing very much on the wall as far as Deadspin was concerned we were somewhat ahead of the game so when the time came we were ready


[…again…sadly no longer at that URL, although that link should work just fine]

…& for a few weeks there we more or less proved that a handful of people could (in their spare time, no less) provide at least a ghost of the experience those sites had provided for those of us who spent entirely too much time hanging around thereabouts…of course we couldn’t have done it without the many, many folks who came along for the ride…or the skeleton crew(s) who were kind enough to pick up the reins & throw up posts, cross-posts, links & what we came to think of as “via” or “courtesy-of” posts when there was something someone wanted up where others could comment on it but lacked the time or the keys to the accounts

…not all of those folks have had the time or inclination to follow us all the way out here beyond the confines of Kinja but I for one remember them all fondly & I’d like to take a moment to thank them all for what remains probably the most fun I’ve had online since the inception of the internet…but all good things apprently must come to an end…& much like Splinter’s ours came at the heavy hand of some distinctly herb-ish types who pretty comprehensively broke both those accounts the same way they did Emma Carmichael’s…except where hers became a mashed keyboard’s worth of gibberish letters they consigned ours to a numerically-based memory hole

…before they got to that part, though, they threatened something of a nuclear option…in the form of a sudden announcement that all the personal & sub-blog content on the Kinja platform was to be summarily deleted & users were left to their own devices as to how they might go about salvaging anything they wanted to survive

…now, I don’t know how much of that was motivated by someone feeling like what we’d been up to was making them look bad…or the degree to which the traffic on those two modestly appointed & essentially under-the-radar sites seemed remarkably healthy for knock-off versions of sites they were very busy saying weren’t viable…but the timing of that announcement certainly seemed to line up somewhat remarkably with their existence coming to the attention of the herbiest herb & his pal Mr Maidment


…who (coincidentally, I’m sure) exited the C-suite of G/O Media a couple of days or so after those sites were memory-holed & the sudden death of the personal blog content of the Kinja platform received a stay of execution…they butchered those URLs & killed off our ability to add content on November 1st & he was officially out the door by November 5th…make of that what you will…but here’s a bit of context


…that post is timestamped 09:44 on November 4th 2019 (& has had the best part of 40 comments deleted from beneath it, for those who are counting) & announced that this notice had been placed as a header to any & all “personal” (which is to say non-mainpage) Kinja pages

…one thing I do know is that of the hundreds of people who followed those RIP pages while they were a thing a good many made a point of registering their disagreement with that summary death sentence through a variety of avenues & that post from a little before 10am was updated at 12:20 with the notice that replaced it

…& although they aren’t as well populated as once they were the remaining sub-blogs of the Kinja ecosystem persist to this day…something I’m extremely grateful for, since it surely did seem to me that had they been killed off a fair bit of that blood would very likely have been on my hands

…as it happened I’d also created an account linked to a gmail in the name of splinterrip where I left a few doors propped open in case anyone wanted to find the old place…but aside from crossposting Fur Face Friday it was mostly just a way to make the point that if provoked some of us were prepared to keep that sort of thing up…particularly if it seemed like it made some folks uncomfortable who seemed to deserve it


…but to be honest it wasn’t really fun without some partners in crime, so to speak…so when a certain someone reminded me (perhaps more than once) that this place might be more fun to hang out in I thought they might be on to something…& although that someone likes to remind me from time to time that I could probably spin several posts out of the slew of links I tend to dump into the DOTs I’m responsible for somehow I seldom seem to find the time…& now you’ve made it all the way to the end of this bout of scrolling perhaps one or two of you might have come to think of that as a mixed blessing of sorts

…either way, I’m glad I found myself hereabouts…sorry as I am that the rest of the old crowd doesn’t seem to have found their way to us…or if they have that they’re mostly lurking about the place the way I used to get away with…honestly I don’t know as I’d have hung on to what remains of my sanity had it not been for the good folks of Deadsplinter…morituri te salutant & all that sort of thing



  1. I’m glad that y’all managed to get Deadsplinter up and running. I was a very long time lurker and was quite distraught when everything started getting shelved over at Gawker( will always be Gawker to me). The commenters were the engine that drove the beast and even though I didn’t comment much – I tuned in every day to see what insightful, well thought out and very articulate views everyone had about all of the daily bullshit. Living in the conservative stronghold of Georgia(here’s to hoping it goes blue) and having to deal with repub or die family members – It’s nice to have somewhere to go that doesn’t make you want to rip all of your hair out. I’ve enjoyed this internet community immensely and appreciate the work every one puts into this site. Cheers to more years of Deapsplinter!

    • …& we’re glad of your company, too…but since I failed to make that particular point among all the wittering above I feel like I ought to stress that when it comes to deadsplinter there are many who are more deserving of appreciation than I

      …one manny both-hanz was the bright spark who set something up on the domain itself back when it looked like the collapse of kinja was imminent, for starters…although they seem to have been busy enough with the law-talking that we’ve not got hear what they’re drinking for a while

      …& our very own purblind prognosticator deserves pretty much all the credit for everything from the lights being on to the little stars you get to click & most stuff in between…& since it’s rare that I manage to produce more than some DOTs that largely don’t make for much in the way of cheer there’s obviously also the various folks who corral &/or contribute to the DUAN, FYCE & the other regularly appearing features like the happy hour, coffee break, brain drain or strange but true posts…not to mention the less regular but reliably enjoyable listicles or KC’s complaints or loveshaq’s brewing tales

      …all of which, frankly, I’m exceedingly grateful for since I more or less got roped into the DOT routine as a way of trying to make it clear that in addition to the lights being on, somebody was home…which early on meant I felt like I was hearing rather more of the sound of my own voice than I was entirely comfortable with…I’d go on…but I think I already went on long enough up there for the time being

  2. A bit of Deadspin trivia, but the whole herb thing went back even earlier in time to a post ripping on fans of the Golden State Warriors as herbs — a bunch of band wagon tech bros who were convinced of their superiority due to accidentally being in the vicinity of real success.

  3. I wouldn’t be surprised if the herbs of Kinja shut down the sub-blogs without warning one day. Leaving folks out in the cold, as stranded and bewildered as an elderly trump supporter at a midwestern rally. We’ll still be here, with room for everyone.

    • I do feel a little bit like I’m on a lifeboat watching the post-Gawker sinking ship pass beneath the waves. I went over to SNS on Jezebel Sunday morning, so the morning after the thread started, and there were 159 comments, of which about 130 were of The Community, so visible to all. And most of those were Old Reliables chatting back and forth. 
      Que será, será.

    • Yep!!
      The *here,* the Discord (for folks who are so-inclined), and the Reddit are DEFINITELY the safety hatches/escape pods/the places i expect folks to land, when the outer reaches of the pirate ship’s kinjaverse are finally all scuttled.
      I know I’ve had the Reddit GT page and the Discord… server?… bookmarked since they were started up. But I don’t GO there, like I read DS (although with the busyness/craziness of the last few months, I’m not even HERE, as often as I’d like to be!😉💖💗💓)

      •  the Discord (for folks who are so-inclined), and the Reddit

        …mistakes were made

        I don’t GO there, like I read DS

        …because this is the “final destination” (George Carlin may have had an issue with those two words side-by-side)

        I’m not even HERE, as often as I’d like to be!

        I can confidently speak for everyone and say that we’re delighted when you are.

        • …I could be wrong but I get the sense that for some “the” discord isn’t necessarily the one you’re thinking of…there’s a groupthink one & possibly others as well…but even the one you’re thinking of still might turn out to be a handy lifeboat if the day comes to sink or swim since I think quite a few folks signed up but don’t really sign in much?

          …I know I can’t really keep up with it, either way…but when it comes to reddit the fact that someone thought to make an r/SplinterRIP genuinely did make me think maybe we “did a thing” that actually counted for something in internet terms so I guess if something dire befalls our new home here I’ll see you there?

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