Most people reading this will know that I have had a long history with GamerGate and with Gawker Media. I was someone who read their sites for many years and enjoyed much of the content there. Most of my patronage was confined to Deadspin, Kotaku, & Jezebel (where I would argue with feminists in the comments), but I did read a little Gawker here and there. Over the years, I watched as Deadspin and Kotaku took on more of the SJW-style Jezebel influence. I was already trashing the new direction pretty much daily in the comment section of those sites when GamerGate started.

That was my frame of reference when all this shit kicked off. By the time TheRalphRetort.com started gaining attention as a result of our series of exposés on Leigh Alexander I was fully involved with GamerGate. It took up 85% of my day and I didn’t sleep much for fear of missing a breaking story. The pace and scale of happenings were sort of addictive back in those early days. Plus, there was just so much fun and camaraderie with the people involved in the cause. Of course there were issues with factions behind the scenes, but they weren’t as pronounced then as they would eventually become.

Speaking of those problems, by the time late October rolled around they were already coming to the fore. So when Sam Biddle went on Twitter and said we needed to “bring back bullying” so that GamerGate nerds could be brought to heel, it was a huge gift to us. I played the whole thing straight, as if he was seriously promoting the concept of restoring the prevalence of weaponized physical intimidation (it’s never truly left in the first place, let’s be real). It’s much more likely that he was in fact telling a joke. Despite the claims today in New York Magazine by former Gawker chief Max Read, I think most of us knew that Biddle was joking. But that’s not the point, ladies and gentlemen.

The point is, Gawker (and Biddle himself) helped created the culture of fear around speech. They used rhetorical missteps and careless tweets as bludgeons against their political enemies and media competitors. Fortune recently detailed their corporate structure, which shows you that Gawker Media’s hypocrisy knew no bounds. So, why should Gawker be so surprised when their enemies turn tactics they pioneered against them? Of course I and many others played it straight. It’s much better to take you down by any means necessary, or so I thought at the time. I’ve since revised my opinion on the Disrespectful Nod, but if we were in the heat of battle again, I can’t say for sure that I wouldn’t go along with it once more.

Speaking of Read’s column today, every one of you should read it. It’s excellent and insightful. It also shows that our approach towards Gawker caused them some major headaches:

3. Gamergate

Of course, “public opinion” online is hard to gauge, since it tends to be determined by the loudest and most persistent voices. If you can mobilize and engage even a fairly small number of people, you can create an impression of enough outrage to destabilize a business. As Gawker was imploding in the summer of 2015, a group of teenage ­video-game enthusiasts was throwing gasoline on the already-raging fire. These were the Gamergaters.

Of all the enemies Gawker had made over the years — in New York media, in Silicon Valley, in Hollywood — none were more effective than the Gamergaters. Gamergate, a leaderless online movement dedicated to enforcing its own unique vision of “ethics in journalism,” had first taken up with Gawker Media the summer before, in 2014. Earlier that year, a writer for Kotaku had had a brief fling with a well-known video-game developer. In August, the developer’s ex-boyfriend, a 24-year-old computer programmer, wrote a 10,000-word blog post about her, spawning rumors that she’d traded sex for a positive review of her game on Kotaku. That no such review ever actually appeared on the site should tell you a lot about Gamergate’s relationship to the truth; that Gamergaters believe this is how sex works should tell you a lot about the Gamergate demographic. But none of the specifics of the story really mattered, because ultimately Kotaku was being targeted less for specific ethical violations than for its critical coverage of the portrayal of women and minorities in video games and the sexism of the gaming community. The teenagers behind Gamergate were young, obsessive, deeply resentful of women, and had no sense of social boundaries, and now they finally had a rallying cry —“Ethics in journalism!” — and a common enemy — or, really, enemies, among them the developer in question, Zoe Quinn, and feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian, who became the object of both sustained harassment and violent threats.

That fall, Gamergate began waging a hugely annoying, and sometimes genuinely menacing, war against Kotaku. I personally came to the attention of Gamergate in October 2014, not for a fearless act of journalism, but because I was messing around on Twitter and I stepped in it. Sam Biddle, one of Gawker’s best and most notoriously aggressive writers, had tweeted that the lesson of Gamergate was that nerds should be bullied into submission; this in turn led to a flood of tweets and emails to me demanding that he be disciplined; I responded in a mode that seemed appropriate: I goaded and dismissed and largely treated the people complaining with a great deal of contempt and flippancy.

In retrospect: This was extremely stupid. Even in 2014, Twitter had already become a mechanism by which indiscreet people lost their jobs. Still, it was very difficult for me to believe that anyone genuinely thought that “pro-bullying” is a stance that anyone has ever adopted, or that Sam Biddle’s tweet was a statement in support of bullying. But what I believed, or didn’t believe, didn’t matter. I wasn’t messing around with irony-fluent trolls but with teenagers and college students who seemed unable or unwilling to understand context or sarcasm — exactly the kind of people who might actually believe that Sam Biddle would get a raise for bullying gamers (a myth that still floats around the various Gamergate communities).

More problematically, it would turn out, I was also, unconsciously, messing with the only group even less able to grapple with irony or context: brands. What I’d missed about Gamergate was that they were gamers — they had spent years developing a tolerance for highly repetitive tasks. Like, say, contacting major advertisers.

On Reddit, a campaign was launched to contact every advertiser Gamergaters could find on Gawker’s site — and not just the marketing departments of advertisers like Adobe and BMW, but specific executives. If you can bug a chief marketing officer, it doesn’t matter that your complaints are disingenuous: He just wants to stop being annoyed.

And so Gawker went into full-on crisis mode. Our chief revenue officer flew to Chicago to meet shaky clients; someone I hadn’t spoken with since high school Facebook-messaged me to let me know that her employer, L.L.Bean, a Gawker advertiser, was considering pulling its ads. Nick asked me to draft a non-apology apology — a clarification, basically, that we did not, institutionally, support bullying. Sam was compelled to tweet an apology. Joel, then the executive editor, published on Gawker, over the objections of the editors, another clarification. I then published, without Joel’s knowledge, an apology for the apology. Perhaps tellingly, it was the first time I’d ever really been confronted with the business side of Gawker besides small talk at parties.

Then it all went away. Gawker had taken a hit — thousands of dollars of advertising gone, at least. But in the weeks we’d been hemorrhaging advertisers and goodwill, stories in the New York Times and other outlets — the real media—and a segment on The Colbert Report made it clear that the Gamergaters were the bad guys in this case, not us. The sites went back to normal.

But of course it didn’t go away. Gamergate proved the power of well-organized reactionaries to threaten Gawker’s well-being. And when Gawker really went too far — far enough that even our regular defenders in the media wouldn’t step up to speak for us — Gamergate was there, in the background, turning every crisis up a notch or two and making continued existence impossible.

I think most of us involved with GamerGate in some capacity, even those among us who don’t like each other now, can be proud of that quote:

“making continued existence impossible.” 

Also, notice the part in red above, where Read talks about getting involved with GamerGate through Twitter spats? I was one of the people he sniped with. Although he’s since deleted all those tweets because he’s a pussy, through the magic of the Internet (it’s forever) I am able to bring them to you…

2016-08-19_18-01-13
http://archive.is/n7Qz5
2016-08-19_18-08-41
http://archive.is/2nD46
2016-08-19_18-16-07
http://archive.is/Y747X

Less than a year later, Mr. Read would resign in disgrace from his perch as Gawker.com editor-in-chief.

It’s funny how shit works out, isn’t it?

32 comments
  1. Huh, he refers to ZQ as “a well-known video-game developer” which makes me wonder what, exactly, his relationship to the truth is. Can’t be that mad at what he wrote though. I would like to see why he thought “the sites went back to normal” though.

    1. It’s just more lies. Nobody at Gawker will admit they got their asses handed to them for being assholes because they aren’t man enough to admit when they are in the wrong.

    2. Zoe Quinn made only one game (Depression Quest) and if I had even the
      tiniest, most microscopic influence in the games industry (well me
      buying games does give me influence, but not the kind that’ll work in
      this scenario), I would declare it to be the absolute Worst Game Ever
      Made, not one of the worst, not worst of the year, not worst of the
      decade, but the Absolute Worst. My hatred for her “game” is at the
      point where with any other bad game I may play, the fact that it isn’t
      Depression Quest will be a redeeming quality.

      After playing it, I was thoroughly convinced that games journalism was
      ethically bankrupt because the only way that piece of shit got any positive reviews was through bribery and sex. I only trust user sites like GameFAQs now.

      1. Gamefaqs, pffft….only good thing I got out of there was organising the undertale raid!
        if anyone is unaware of the timeline, they actually shot first, because they didn’t think their own users could LEGITIMATELY be breaking their annual Nintendo fapfest.
        You invade chans, what the hell did you expect to happen? (specifically they sought out and then began trying to sink the ‘undertale generals’ inside both /v/s by pretending to be normal posters ‘fed up with seeing this marxist bullshit promoted’)
        Well, when it turns out those IPs (or hashes in 8’s case) have never been anywhere on 4/8chan before, not in a single other board…something was deffo suspicious!

        They were easily back-traced to gamefaqs and the votewar was on! And as salt continued to pile up more and more joined the fray for the lulz, from ED to slashdot. (yea I was surprised they still existed too!)
        And then they tried to drag Pewdiepie into it only for their greatest hero to BETRAY them by deciding to LP it instead, thus driving twitter and YT into the mix too.
        So there you have it, a short rundown on why Undertale is gamefaqs’ #1 of 2015!
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb0TBtLT0y4 Just one of many videos taking note of it and exposing the N-cult Nsanity. Totally effin’ beautiful.
        (specifically I and 2 others in #Burgersandfries handled the 8 side of things)
        also if any shitakus are reading this they’re also responsible for spamming shitaku/destructoid/polygon to try and make it seem like GG/GGr hated the game. But GG’s part of the reason it won! So hah, total failure on their part.
        https://drawception.com/forums/offtopic/27108/gamefaqs-best-game-ever-undertale-is-back-on-the-roster/ oh yeah almost forgot about Drawception

        1. All I just really look at are user ratings and walkthroughs, I don’t go onto boards or stuff like that.

    3. I did notice he mentioned SOME of the ads coming back…though not that they came back with a little green triangle in the corner ;]
      From dimes to pennies in a day!
      The implosion was probably inevitable at that point, he’s just spinning it so the giant wrecking ball destroyed the dam, not that it was still leaking and cracking and would soon collapse.
      Kind of funny he does notice in hindsight the exact things that did lead to their destruction though.
      Thank goodness none of them apparently read the Enquirer, because Pecker figured all that shit out like 20 years ago. Enquirer does about the same shit at least as celebrities go, but they’ve become renowned as unassailable for the past decade. If Denton were as savvy as Pecker it’d still feel like we were in November 2014. Pure narrative and self-preservation failure
      Damn shame Vox walled itself off so that wouldn’t work (changing over to majority VC funding)
      Would’ve liked to send them to the poor house too.

  2. Hah, as much of a shitdick as Max is I give him mad props for consistency, and he’s also one of the few that never did the virtue signaling shit, just a plain normal browbeating media thug. He was ‘older school’ than the rest of the fawkers. Points for consistency, I say.
    Also the only one who never wanted to pull a single article at any time, again good consistency.
    If something actually ‘hot’ that burned their own side came across their desks, he’s probably the only one that would’ve published it. Although he’s a bit off on his twitter evaluation. Twitter is actually falling prey to much the same thing, despite not being a news platform. It’s being deluged in garbage from all fronts, and calls from the survivors on rooftops to do something. (Also I had no idea that native advertising shit actually worked, PT Barnum truly was born too soon!)

    Twitter incorporates all the worst elements of the other social media sites and doesn’t even have anything extra to pre-occupy yourself with. There’s a really good write-up here on why Friendster died, which as more celebs of either stripe leave, or eh, get banned (lol) is why it’s the one in most danger of folding. It depends almost ENTIRELY upon user interaction, whereas amateur photogs could keep Pinterest and Instagram going for some time after everyone defriended everyone else.
    https://archive.is/NQ0zT http://www.wired.com/2013/02/friendster-autopsy/
    (basically every time they’re forced to ban someone like Kincannon or allow Baldwin or Draiman to leave, they are taking a legitimate unsalvageable longterm hit to the pocketbook.)
    Twitter’s gotten 4 years of literal advance warning to unfuck its code and get its shit together. It looks like it’s still unwilling to listen to reason. R I P birdies, won’t miss ya and your constrained text limit.
    The others can continue to zombie-stumble along without an engaged social network due to having additional parts that lazy people would typically need another site for. Twitter has just plain NOTHING.
    Their putting all future efforts into “ENGAGE” rather than fixing the fucking video or unfucking threading or new search methods shows it’s got as competent a coding group as Josh and his NEXT shit.

    tl;dr If you’re reading this, they will never hire you Randi, stop bugging them. You’re over-qualified!

  3. Always best to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, even if it is laced with lies, spin, and propaganda. In desperately throwing blame off himself and his ex-Gawker colleagues, he gave GG vindication, and I’d argue more credit than we really deserved, but hey, I’ll take it.

    GG, Gawker.

  4. You think this is brutal, the paychecks will be stopping soon and then just like Jack predicted they’ll start selling the company’s closet skeletons and each other’s dirty laundry just to make their absurdly expensive Brooklyn rents for one or two more months.

      1. Cool, but frankly it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a hit out on Denton for several times that much by now. Denton is the sort of guy I could see going the way of Hoffa.

          1. If Shillery does want him dead this is the exact right moment to do it. The media will treat her like a saint and white knight for her no matter what she does so long as a Trump presidency remains possible and if Denton died tomorrow they’d just speculate endlessly that one of us evil internet people finally snapped and did the deed. Authorities would never be able to solve the case either because the man has more enemies than his site had clickbait headlines.

        1. Like if Denton entered into some sort of deal with the Mexican Cartel and he can’t pay the debt since he’s bankrupt.

          1. Or if his sister has him offed because his liabilities to Hogan endanger the family trust fund. Yes there’s a Denton family trust fund and yes this asshole was born rich and didn’t need to create something as evil as Gawker to get ahead because he was already wealthy. Also yes I really hope Hogan and his patron really go after that fucking trust fund.

          2. This is one of the most fascinating comments I’ve read about this whole thing. Nick Denton uses his family, particularity his sister, to weasel out of taxes and such. But what if she turns on him? At the very least, she will pay him $12.8 million in 2028 through all this manipulation, but what if she and the other Gawker money handlers decide that Nick is a threat to all of them? Absolute movie material.

            What I just got through reading about Gawker’s money: http://www.financialsamurai.com/a-most-beautiful-way-to-legally-evade-taxes-and-a-legal-settlement/

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/30ac940fa08067fef931fcf25bccc88f26e8807eb5e69b8670dac098c9ca2ea7.jpg

  5. “teen-age video game enthusiasts” – that pretentious cunt Read never really bothered to investigate just who Gawker had fucked with, did he?

    1. That’s what pissed me off. So people older then teenagers don’t game? News to me, I’m in my mid 30’s and still enjoy gaming. These guys are blind to the facts.

      1. Turned 40 this weekend. The motherfuckers had me convinced I was the dinosaur that was being passed behind by the gaming community for not liking the faggy shit they kept cumming over.

  6. Max Read’s remarks about how the mainstream media the so-called “Real Media” spinning Gamergate out to be the “bad guys” just shows you how disconnected from reality that fucking ideologue is. It also demonstrates how corrupt the mainstream media is when it comes to maintaining their precious “protect the womynz who can do no wrong everz” narrative.

  7. I still love how he belittled Gamers in his statement, labelling us as teenagers and such. Gamers vary throughout the ages, myself 35 years old and fiercely proud of gaming and I just read this as a “Pity Me” statement that still doesn’t get the fact he lost.

  8. As IA said, GG, powered by the tism.
    Oh, we understand sarcasm, they were just being held to their own standards. What’s fair is fair.

  9. Sorry, I couldn’t read past the first paragraph or so. Same typical bullshit trashing of GG. “GamerGaters”-even though many of you, wrongly BTW, like the tag even though it dismisses all of us as conspiracy theorists, well known ZQ developer LOL, GG hates women, etc etc same shit different day. Why would I bother reading this shit? Because he concedes defeat to us? Whatever man. Dipshits are still dipshits who deserve no reader audience.

  10. I love all of the butthurt coming from the salt-based lifeforms at Gawker and Kotaku.
    Re: GG is “unable or unwilling to understand context or sarcasm”
    They were merely holding Gawker to the very same scrutiny that Gawker applies to everyone else.
    Cry me a river.

    1. It’s funny how when you build a complex system of law to destroy others, then get tripped up by the very law you’ve created. That is what makes it especially yummy.

  11. Yet, he still believes the shit they spewed, showing that this is why they must be destroyed, they can’t just admit we played their game better than them, they truly think we are teenage, basement dwelling masturbation artists.

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