There was a time when Fark Boobies links were mixed in with news links. Then it became its own tab. Then it was reborn as "Foobies"-- a wholly separate site. More recently, a strict "Anti-Misogyny" standard on Fark discussions was implemented which included the dis-allowance of the use of the word "rape" except in the academic sense, dis-allowing the use of demeaning terms in describing women, and suggesting that a female victim of a crime was somehow asking to be victimized.
Examples of dis-allowed uses include the meme "40 lbs. Box of Rape", references to the Whoopi Goldberg differentiation between "rape" and "rape rape", and Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" gaffe.
To say that the change was met with disdain would be an understatement. The ensuing threads were filled with battles back and forth between those who assert that such references and jocularity is proof a genuine hatred of women (misogyny) while others assert that lumping together edgy attempts at comedy with the genuine hatred of women is prejudicial and incredibly offensive.
Given Fark's historic culture of pushing/punching the boundaries of political correctness (see: "Welcome to Fark" memes) where almost nothing is so sacred that it cannot be joked about (see: "Window seat, please" memes), why was this decision made? Why were so many genuinely non-misogynistic actions/comments/memes lumped in with that term?
My partner and I have discussed the change at length. We're both fans of audacity humor, so we actually "get a kick out of the replies". Together, we came up with the following potential rationales. Which did we get right? Which didn't we?
- 1. I got older and my tastes have changed. I don't want to run a site that goes counter to my own sensibilities.
- 2. I received pressure from external organizations (other sites, special interests, advertisers).
- 3. I want to grow the site to be more inclusive of people who would be offended by such jokes.
- 4. I'm running for public office and Fark.com, if not cleaned up, would destroy my campaign.
- 5. I've received overwhelming negative feedback regarding the state of Fark comments and the numbers supporting a change greatly outnumber those who didn't like the change.
- 6. I actually believe that everyone who jokes about women hates women and they should be stopped.
Drew: It's a mix of several of these:
2. sort of - back in 2005 when we dipped our toes into direct ad sales we were told by media buyers they wouldn't touch us with a 10 ft pole with -links- to nudity. Which I still think is absurd. I argued like crazy that clearly-labeled links to nudity were no different in format than strip club advertisements in the phone book but made no headway whatsoever. So on the links note it was a business decision in 2005.
4. no impact whatsoever - in fact my instructions to the mods and admins were "change nothing". Part of my dislike for professional politicians is that they're manufactured people and we can all tell this is the case. I am a real person, I have flaws, and there is no way I'd be able to disguise my sense of humor from anyone paying attention.
5. this did happen - over the years stories rolled in about women being chased off the site by a very small percentage of men via behavior that we didn't expressly forbid. Our posting rules change was very slight and the vast majority of our community members had no problem adhering to it, probably because they were already in compliance anyhow.
It also fit with my general criteria for what makes taglines funny. I dislike rape jokes the same way I dislike puns - because as styles of humor go they're both too easy. I prefer more nuanced humor - especially slow burns.
Improving photoshop contests
Fark used to have some of the best Photoshop contests, both in terms of what people came up with (thinking of the Lukket fake Rand Corporation computer as an example), and in the way that the in-line display and voting for the entries worked. What would you like to do with these going forward to get more involvement for these contests?
Drew: I'm open to suggestions here. P.S. contests evolved out of caption contest pretty early on - I hadn't intended to make them a feature but people really liked it so we kept it (much like caturday). I don't know what makes them tick - the main thing I did was not kill them off. Basically I have no idea what to do but I'd take a look at anything anyone suggested.
- Discussions on Fark don't go to infinity and beyond anymore. Is the attempt to make Fark more PC a response to that or a consequence?
- You're HTML 2.0 compliant, it seems. Ever planning on updating the back end?
- A few times a year there's a post to TFD asking for ideas on how to improve things. Nothing changes: why?
- The ethos of Fark used to be say anything --- smash any idols ---just be funny doing it. Has moving away from that basically made Fark no different from a lot of other discussion/aggregation sites?
Drew: There's no attempt to make Fark more PC. I think what happened is the rest of the Internet moved -far- past us on the anything-goes relative scale.
Backend: We're constantly updating things but we're very slow. I'm fine with that.
Nothing changes: What do you think we should have changed that was suggested?
The ethos of Fark was never say anything. Close though. My perfect Fark tagline is one that makes you initially gasp in horror, then on second reading you discover that the tagline hasn't actually crossed the line but damn it's right on the line and thinking about jumping.
Hi Drew, what was the closest you ever came to shutting down FARK, due to litigation, threats from idiots you made famous, boredom, $$$ shortage etc?
Drew: We've almost been wiped out at least three times in the past 16 years. The worst was 2008-2009 when advertising all but dried up. I went without a salary for nearly two years. I was just about to pull the plug when all of the sudden right around xmas 2009 receivables skyrocketed out of nowhere.
Breaking Public Mindset
by Anonymous Coward
First off, thanks for Fark. Has killed many a hour of dull work! On to my question
For those of us techies immersed in the web, and those who have run across Fark on a given day, most of us will presumably know your background and to a point, your ideological leanings. How do you branch the divide with the public not versed on your background, with you being well versed on the tech. side of things, and translate that to Kentucky's highest elected position? And moreso, likely in the face of skeptics who might see you as an obscure 'Internet' site winner, and not someone who is versed in public policy, legalize, and politics in Kentucky?
Drew: It's correct that I'm not versed in public policy. However what's strange to me is that for some reason our elected officials, who should be far more well versed in publicly policy than I am, don't seem particularly intellectually curious about public policy ideas not backed by their own party. Democrats rarely budge from their set of talking points and neither do Republicans, but there's no way either side is 100% correct. campaign contributors impact this to a great degree.
But here's the thing - elected officials who belong to a political party are controlled by that party even while in office. Which means they can't (or won't) entertain the other party's public policy ideas while their own party is selling influence in the opposite direction.
This is ridiculous - if there's anything we all want it's the best solutions. Which have little to do with issues by the way - implementation matters far more than the issues. I haven't seen a candidate yet that can effectively separate the issues from the actual implementation.
For example, I'm all for smaller government but how's that going to work exactly? 20% off the top is a blunt implementation taken straight out of a late 1980s MBA textbook and it's a complete failure as a management strategy. Because meanwhile we still need roads, schools, and police that can function effectively. I'm not saying there isn't waste in government but let's go find it first before we cut blindly.
This is the crux of the problem - we are stuck with elected officials controlled by parties that sell influence to the highest bidder, usually in the form of ham-fisted solutions that have vast unintended (or intended) negative consequences.
So instead of doing the same thing we've always done, which no one thinks is actually working in the first place, how about we elect someone who's capable of investigating policy issues using data-driven analysis. And if the data can't tell us what to do, then let's just wait until we know for sure when more data arrives. Kentucky doesn't have to experiment - we can wait for other states to prove experimental ideas work. I want the legislature to send me exact copies of initiatives that have worked elsewhere.
Your biggest challenge to getting elected?
You and Ms. Curtis deserve tremendous credit for such a worthy effort. Thanks on behalf of US citizens eager for change -- or at least a demonstration that change is possible. Although some ambiguity remains, your site shows transparency, the application of sound business principles, a close examination of successful policies incorporated elsewhere, creativity, and an open ear for discussion from all sides. -- Which of the following is your greatest challenge to getting elected and how do you surmount it: (a) voter apathy, (b) lack of campaign funds, (c) misrepresentation or lack of presence in the media, (d) a self-described lack of political qualifications, (e) a lack of political experience, (f) lack of voter confidence, and (g) lack of voter advocacy?
Drew: Voter apathy. Everyone agrees the system doesn't work but no one thinks they can change it. There are 3.2 million registered voters in KY. Last gubernatorial election, 880k people voted. In a three way race it takes 300k-400k to win. Surely there are that many voters willing to try something different.
It's not apathy per se though - I've come to the conclusion that the parties actively don't want voters involved (other than ones loyal to their cause). It threatens their duopoly on selling influence.
Ask any party supporter in Kentucky and they'll tell you the same thing: that I can't win. What they're actually saying to you is don't vote. Give up. You're powerless to change -our- system.
Here are some interesting numbers however:
Last election, 9% of the electorate voted for an Independent whose positions aren't significantly different from my own.
At least 25% of democrats are voting against the main candidate as a protest vote. I don't believe he'll convince them to vote for him over me. Call that another 12%-15% of all voters (I'm fudging because 25% of Democrats are also undecided and he won't get all of them either).
Whoever wins the GOP will win with barely 30% of the vote if that. And it's been ugly. I don't know what percentage is available here but I'm easily sitting at 21%-24% in a race where I need 34%.
Which is 88,000-100,000 votes.
Those can come from any of the following pools:
- the ~100k undecided democrats who vote. I will get some of these.
- the remaining ~280k republicans who vote. I will get some of these.
- the 800k voters that number voted in the 2012 presidential election and did not vote in the 2011 gubernatorial election. I will get some of these - and the other candidates will not get many. These people were planning on staying home otherwise.
- anyone else who decides to jump in from the remaining 1.6m registered voter pool. I will get some of these - and the other candidates will not.
So we'll see.
Prevent Party Rollup
Say your political campaign is successful. Do you have a plan in place to stop one of the "two" parties from co-opting your message and claiming to be a part of the same movement? I'm thinking Tea Party -> GOP and 'Occupy' -> Democrats. Both only 'sorta' worked (TheTea Party was much more successfully assimilated IMO), yet ultimately were co-opted.
Drew: This is why I'm running independent - so that doesn't happen. I'm wanting to encourage other independent candidates to run as well. The only thing we should all have in common is that our votes can't be bought and we'll take a look at any solution presented to us. Sharing a common ideology isn't a requirement.
And if they actually did co-opt the message because they implemented it, well good.
by Anonymous Coward
Drew, what is the worst possible thing that a political opponent could dig up on you - what don't you want people to know?
Drew: Well in Kentucky it's probably the fact that I attended Duke's Talent Identification Program as a teenager for four years. I'm hoping my undying hatred of Duke's basketball team will help people over look that indiscretion.