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Recent Society articles from Daily Dot

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    Mixed martial artist Ray Elbe had what most guys would consider to be the worst injury imaginable.

    He fractured his penis.

    The fighter fractured his junk on Dec. 3 while vacationing with his girlfriend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The cause of of the injury? Out of control sex.

    "I was having intercourse with my girlfriend," Elbe states in a YouTube video recounting the horrific events. "Came out the top, and as [she] came down, it ended up breaking, fracturing my penis bone. It's actually possible."

    Technically, it's not. While penile fracture is a real thing— according to Wikipedia, "it is caused by rapid blunt force to an erect penis, usually during vaginal intercourse or aggressive masturbation”—there's no such thing as a penis bone.

    Elbe recounts that he immediately started seeing blood shoot out of his groin, which prompted him to get up and run to the shower. In the process, he felt himself losing consciousness. At that point, he tried to head back to bed but passed out instead, chipping a couple of teeth and causing a flesh wound that would eventually require ten stitches.

    According to the doctor, Elbe also tore his urinary tract and some membrane on his member, which easily makes this the least fun sexual experience any guy has had in the history of humanity.

    Prior to uploading the above video to YouTube, Elbe took to the forums of the day of his injury to do an "Ask Me Anything" session— a question-and-answer format popularized on Reddit.

    "In the E.R. with a penis fracture AMA," he told his fans.

    If you thought his video description was graphic, just wait until you read some of the details Elbe revealed on his AMA. Below are some of the better truth nuggets and an appropriate reaction gif to accompany each quote. Because, honestly, no words can do justice to what I felt reading this.

    "Surgery tonight...Dr. Said diagnostic is for a full recovery...though I'll be in the hospital for 3 days...and be forced to take anti erection pills for 2 weeks."

    Photo via ReactionGIFs

    "the worst part of this has been the fact that literally everyone who works in the hospital has come in asking to see my shaft out of curiosity. Guess in a muslim country this type of accident isn't as frequent as you would suspect."

    Photo via ReactionGIFs

    "They have been trying to clean the dry blood of my swollen shaft in between my tears and pleads for them to be gentle."

    Photo via ReactionGIFs

    "Their [sic] has been a tube stuck out of the small hole at the end of my pee-pee which has allowed me to go urinate without having to get out of the bed...however I must admit, seeing the amount of blood leaking from the hole onto the sheets has made me feel like puking every morning."

    Photo via ReactionGIFs

    Okay, that's enough. For those of you concerned, Elbe is fine, and he's learned a lesson or two. For starters, he now knows that he wants to marry his girlfriend because she stuck it out with him after this ordeal.

    He's also come to the realization that  he "will never let a girl on top again."

    And finally, Elbe now believes that "keeping it safe isn't just wearing a condom."

    Good to know.

    Photo via magicalraydotcom/YouTube

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    The Daily Dot is proud to present a new way to spread holiday cheer: GIF cards. Each business day leading up to Christmas, we’ll be presenting two or more fun and easy-to-share GIFs to get you and your loved ones in the spirit of the season. To see our entire catalog, visit us on Tumblr.

    If Instagram is the Polaroid camera reimagined, the GIF is the modern day flipbook.

    This simple form of animation is what helped artist Hoppip pass the time in grade school, doodling imaginary scenes frame by frame at the bottom corner of his books.

    Today Hoppip, who borrowed his Tumblr name from the cute grass Pokemon, is a GIF artist and tag editor who helps curate the network's best content.

    Hoppip started making GIFs in 2000, during an era of cheesy "under construction" animations on Geocities and tiny AOL buddy icons. He re-embraced the image format after Tumblr launched in 2007 and hasn't looked back since.

    Hoppip's blog features thousands of original animations that range from glitch art and 3-D rendering to experiments with typography and beloved movie scenes. His work is often very clean and simple, perhaps best exemplified by this floating heart he posted two weeks ago. It has collected more than 860 notes.

    But if he had to chose, it's his handdrawn illustrations of cats and coffee that he's most proud of.

    "I like to see them as animated doodles,” Hoppip said of the format.

    “I think doodles have powerful capabilities since they are the purest form of an idea in my opinion. This one-take policy, as I like to call it, succeeds most of the times on transmitting the warmth of an idea in its rawest form. That's probably the main topic I had tried to explore and exploit in all those little animations I do."

    As much as Hoppip loves chopping movies like The Shining into forever-looping animations, he's also a GIF teacher whose detailed Photoshop tutorial has helped hundreds learn how to animate.

    In the spirit of giving, Hoppip created two exclusive holiday GIF cards for the Daily Dot.

    "I think the holidays are a special time of the year because they bring people together, no matter their beliefs, and there is always this 'good mood' in the air," he added. "My family and I aren't very religious, but we like to keep the tradition so we always gather in some special locations and just celebrate, chat and have fun."

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    Search your email with the term “disclaimer.” It is unlikely you will find fewer than half a dozen results. You may well get dozens. You probably ignored them as they came in, and that’s for the best. You see, legally speaking, when it comes to privacy, they are as worthless as they are omnipresent.

    Here is one example of a typical disclaimer.

    “Disclaimer: This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.”

    Here's another:

    “CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER:... If you are not the intended recipient of this e-mail, you are prohibited from sharing, copying, or otherwise using or disclosing its contents.”

    And another:

    “CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT: This email message is for the sole use of the recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited.”

    Have you identified the element that makes them about as legal as self-printed currency? Let attorney and author Adam Freedman explain it.

    "[A]n email disclaimer does not create a contract with an unintended recipient. Contracts require a 'meeting of the minds'—they cannot be dictated unilaterally."

    In other words, no one can, by dint of a bunch of legal gibberish at the end of an email, enforce on you a contractual relationship. So if your idea of protecting your privacy is to tell someone you send an email to that they can’t nuh-uh no way share the information, you are dead in the water.

    “[A] footer stating that nothing in the e-mail should be used to break the law would be of no protection to a lawyer or financial adviser sending a message that did suggest something illegal,” wrote The Economist, “So why are the disclaimers there? Company lawyers often insist on them because they see others using them.”

    There are some instances in which disclaimers are valid, but only when they are simply registering a truth already enshrined in law. “You can’t share this email” is probably legally unenforceable. “You can’t murder the sender of this email” is, but only because murder is already illegal. The disclaimer doesn’t make it so.

    Freedman admits to using a disclaimer himself. His rationale is not that the disclaimer creates an enforceable situation. Instead, should you claim his blog constitutes legal advice and it does not turn out well for you and you figure he is legally liable, the disclaimer will add to evidence that you and he do not have an attorney-client relationship.

    In fact, email disclaimers range in public mood from preposterous to a waste of valuable time. To the former category belong the “longest email disclaimer” on Lawyerist and the Register’s decade-old Email Disclaimer Awards (its Longest Disclaimer award beats out Lawyerist’s by a comfortable margin). To the latter belongs this rather prolix complaint from the Wall Street Journal and this article by the Chicago Tribune’s Ameet Sachdev, which hits close to home for a reporter.

    But the key issue of import to Daily Dot readers interested in real email security is this: If you believe that by including a privacy disclaimer in your email you are indemnifying yourself against legal action, whether seizure or use of email information in a court case against you, you are mistaken.

    Photo by Seth Anderson/Flickr

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    We love the Internet. Except when we hate it. Every week, Jordan Valinsky bottles the angst of his Millennial generation and finds something to despise about the Web.

    Five years ago, Time magazine announced that you were their person of the year.

    Labeling the Internet a “cosmic compendium of knowledge,” the magazine cited your playlists on Myspace, false Wikipedia edits, and rewatching of the OMG, Shoes video on YouTube as the reason why you should be awarded the title.

    Well, congrats! A half-decade later, you’re still living up to that title by concocting a special blend of insufferability and detestable behavior that is best shamed in a very public manner.

    From the torturous “Call Me Maybe” covers that your aunt couldn’t stop emailing you to the despicable tweeting in defense of Chris Brown, it all demands a stink eye and a wag of the finger.

    So let’s review the 10 people who ruined the Internet in 2012.

    1) Donald Trump

    The glorified Holiday Inn Express owner went mental on Twitter during the run-up to the election and hasn’t recovered since (if he was ever right to being with). Trump’s two-million-strong followers were treated to golden trolling against anyone who didn’t agree with him, which was basically everyone to the left of sanity, including NBC’s Brian Williams, Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez, and Star Jones. Also, let’s not forget his totally methodically planned-out YouTube video aimed at President Obama to get his college transcripts. #ThanksDonald for letting us watch your midlife crisis firsthand. It’s been a treat.

    2) Hunter Moore

    Deciding that becoming a model for Hot Topic wasn’t ruining enough lives, Moore pivoted to peddling “revenge porn.” After confusing Anderson Cooper last year about IsAnyoneUp’s purpose (and seeing it subsequently shutter), Moore is back with a new porny site dubbed HunterMoore.TV. And this time he’s being more of a crass creeper by reportedly adding a stalking feature. (He’s since backtracked on the issue.). Watching Moore’s grasp to achieve his former notorious level of bad-boy behavior has just been plain sad. If Moore misses posting naked images, perhaps he should see if Snapchat is hiring.

    3) Carly Rae Jepsen

    Jepsen, who is an iced maple-flavored latte in human form, trail blazed her way into fame thanks to her cautiously titled breakout single, “Call Me Maybe.” The Justin Bieber-backed single provided a chilled aperitif for our throats, but it’s the deplorable covers suffocating YouTube’s servers that are giving us heartburn. After a cute cover from the Harvard Baseball Team, other groups/teams/so-called “YouTube celebrities” decided it was something they should also replicate. No, all of your covers were terrible. You danced out-of-step, the vocals were pitchy, and you can’t wash a car as cute as Carly can. Cut it out or else you’re just giving the producers from the Today show ammunition to expand the show to five hours.

    4) Chris Brown

    Brown has just one mode when he tweets, and it’s apparently stuck on stupid. The controversial R&B singer/convicted felon, whose career is propped-up by a group of indolents better known as #TeamBreezy, is no stranger to stupidity. He’s always used his to Twitter slam his haters and bemoan his first-world life, but his imbecility was highlighted in late November. Catching notice of Twitter-famous comedian Jenny Johnson’s barbs against him, he threatened to “shart” on her and then subsequently peaced out of Twitter. Is there way to report Brown for spam and have him deleted for life?

    5) Graydon Sheppard

    Can I be honest? Sheppard’s masterful creation, @ShitGirlsSay Twitter account scaringly—and accurately—imitated some of the silly things girls (and I!) say on a daily basis. We expressed enthusiasm when its YouTube counterpart appeared. (Also, for doing Juliette Lewis a service by putting her on a series that people actually watched.) But again, YouTube users ruined this for us. The thoughtless imitators made for an aggravating Internet experience. Yes, we get it, your subset of friends can say the goofiest things, but if we’re going to get real here, the meme’s fattening original is so much more tastier than its low-calorie, generic knock-offs. Speaking of, froyo anyone?

    6) One Direction fans

    I don’t know what the hell you’re sprinkling on your Weetabix, but ya’ll need to chill the hell out. Third-place winners of 2010 season of The X Factor (a show that people actually watch in the U.K.), the British twinks stormed into your brainpans thanks to their catchy hits and stilted dance moves. But it’s the fans that we should be concerned for. Their Tumblr and Twitter-based inquisitions will attempt to strike fear if you diss their coveted “1D” members or discount the fact that Louis and Harry are never, ever, ever getting together. Anyway, where’s the love for the Wanted? They’re British, too!

    7) Boo, the dog

    Big or small, coarse or silky, I love dogs of all shapes or sizes. But not Boo because his stupid little face enrages me. The Paris Hilton of dogs, Boo is an alleged Pomeranian, but I’m convinced that it’s a muppet controlled by our Illuminati overlords to profit off the Internet’s adoration for anything cute. It doesn’t do much except for pose with its terrible SuperCuts haircut and past season outfits. IT DOESN’T EVEN WALK CORRECTLY. OR BARK. Just like Anne Hathaway’s laugh, this is just one of those things that annoys me for an unidentifiable reason. Keep staring at him. His black, beady eyes will anger you too.

    8) @Sweden curators

    By breeding Abba and creating the world’s most frustrating furniture instructions, it shouldn’t be breaking news that Sweden contains a special type of people. The country’s citizen-powered official Twitter not only sounds like a premise for a TED Talk but alarmingly amplified how bored they are over there. @Sweden has alerted me that it contains fewer Jews than a Mitt Romney campaign office, stares at its cows for amusement, and doesn’t find Stephen Colbert as funny as we do. Do we need return Alexander Skarsgard to pep you up?

    9) Ryan Gosling

    I never thought I’d say this about the Internet’s most well-defined six pack, but our stock has dipped in regards to Ryan Gosling. Granted, his firmly sculpted shoulders and soothing voice provided us fodder for our single-serving Tumblrs, but sort of like the first half-hour of Drive where no one talks, the Internet has reacted in a similar way toward him. “Hey girl” memes no longer take over our Facebook, and the Tumblrs are now only sparsely updated. And watching him act in an antiquated episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? doesn’t make us want to throw our iMac with vigor that would have a year ago. Andrew Garfield, are you up for ready to fill the role of being the Internet’s boyfriend, because Gosling is so yesterday?

    10) You

    My little recovering Time magazine Person of the Year winner, you, in particular, have been terrible.I’ll give you pass on those Gotye covers because that’s so late-2011. However, plenty of you gullibly spread Facebook scams around, created horrifically unfunny political parody Twitter accounts, and had a tendency to overuse hashtags when describing your Instagram photos. Also, your sharing BuzzFeed listicles all over my respective news feeds/timelines has become unbearable. Those pictures aren’t that powerful .Grab your phone, take a selfie, look at yourself, and think long-and-hard how you’re going to reverse your ways in 2013. If not, no Internet for you.

    Illustration by Jason Reed

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    Most people are afraid of rejection. Jia Jiang embraces it.

    In the last month, the 31-year-old entrepreneur has developed a sizeable Internet following thanks to his various failings. Everyday Jiang, a Chinese native, uploads a video to his YouTube channel that shows him making a crazy request.

    He’s tried to be a human mannequin for Abercrombie & Fitch, asked a local news anchor live on television if he can do the morning weather report, and got jiggy with a dancing Santa.

    It’s all part of a project he calls “100 Days of Rejection Therapy,”a personal effort to find “hope from nope.”

    “My goal is to desensitize myself from the pain of rejection and overcome my fear,” Jiang wrote on his blog detailing the project.

    Jiang wasn’t always afraid of rejection. In December 2009, he proposed to his now-wife in front of hundreds of people at a cultural talent show held at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where the couple received masters in business administration. (A video of his proposal is currently on YouTube.)

    The couple moved to Austin, Texas, to work for computer giant Dell. It was good money—they were both independently earning close to six figures in annual salary—but Jiang wasn’t entirely satisfied. He felt like he was meant for something greater, that his time would be better spent building his own company.

    “I had a big disagreement with my wife, who was pregnant at the time,” he told the Daily Dot. “The baby was about to be born, but I told her ‘If I don’t do this now, it’s going to be difficult for me to be an entrepreneur.’”

    After various contentious conversations, Jiang’s wife gave him six months to follow his dreams. Three days before his child was born, Jia Jiang quit his job. He announced his decision at his wife’s baby shower, in front of his friends.

    “At the day of the baby shower, I told everyone that I had quit Dell. I did it because I wanted to hold myself accountable. It was a good way to have people know that I was seriously trying to do this. I put pressure on myself because I really wanted to succeed.”

    Free to pursue his dreams, Jiang assembled a team of engineers. They started building various applications, finally settling on Hooplus, a social app that aims at helping individuals keep their promises.

    “Users will be able to send and requests promises to each other and acknowledge them when they are fulfilled,” reads the app’s description. “The percentage of execution will translate into a trust/execution score for app users.”

    With a promising product at hand, Jiang and his team started approaching potential investors.

    In mid-November 2012, Hooplus scored a big interview with a key investor group. A successful meeting would have resulted in the company taking a major step forward. Jiang and his team prepared exhaustively for the meeting, hoping to propel Hooplus through sheer determination.

    “I dreamed of it coming through,” Jiang said. “ I had five separate dreams where we gave our presentation, and at the end we would be shaking hands. We would get the money.”

    For all his optimism, the investment group passed. The rejection was a serious blow to Jiang’s confidence.

    “It made me want to give up,” he admitted. “I thought, ‘I tried this hard, and I worked on that pitch for weeks and weeks.’ To be turned down like that, I felt like I didn’t want to do this anymore.”

    Despite the hackneyed nature of the adage, Jiang felt that a window was opened when that particular door was closed.

    “The Chinese [Mandarin] word for crisis translates into English as ‘danger plus opportunity.’ I thought, ‘where is the opportunity here?’ How could I use this disaster to improve myself?”

    Jiang was not about to wallow in self-pity. Eventually, he came across rejection therapy, a social self-help game invented by Jason Comely that employs the psychotherapeutic technique of flooding—constantly exposing oneself to a feared stimulus—to gradually reduce the dread.

    “I thought this concept was kind of cool, and I’ve always considered myself a fun-loving guy, so I decided to do it,” Jiang said. “I knew that I needed to get stronger and tougher. Even if I don’t become a successful entrepreneur, I felt like doing this was going to make me a better person.”

    For 100 days, Jia Jiang planned to not only put himself in situations where people would often say no to him but to film the exchanges and post them on his personal blog and YouTube channel.

    His first quest for rejection was a successful. Jiang approached a security guard at a hotel lobby and asked him to borrow $100. Predictably, the man responded with a no and a look that left little to interpretation.

    “I had no idea how he was going to react,” Jiang told me two weeks after the incident. “As soon as he gave me what I was looking for, I just scurried away. I was afraid that he was going to shoot me.”

    For his third video challenge, Jiang walked into a local Krispy Kreme store to ask that they reproduce the Olympic symbol with donuts. He was expecting yet another rejection. Instead, he met Jackie.

    Jackie, the shift leader working that particular day, was initially perplexed by Jiang’s request. Instead of rejecting him, however, she went to the back of the store and emerged 15 minutes later holding a box of donuts linked together and frosted in the colors of the Olympic symbol. When Jiang tried to pay for them, Jackie refused, claiming that it wasn’t perfect and therefore she couldn’t charge him. It was one of the better documentations of amazing customer service.

    A few days later, thanks to Reddit, the video went viral. As of this writing, the post has received 3,066 karma points and 1,324 comments, the bulk of them extolling Jackie for her actions.

    “Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I sent the link to Krispy Kreme, hopefully she'll get some sort of recognition for her kind act,” wrote user synakus.

    The video, which now has more than 5 million views on YouTube, also made it to the front page of Yahoo. It has earned Jackie much deserved recognition from corporate headquarters, and it brought a large audience to Jiang’s self-imposed challenge.

    “I was surprised by its popularity,” Jiang recalled. “I was in a Dallas at a coffee shop, waiting for my wife to finish an exam. My phone started going crazy. It ran out of power because of how much it was vibrating because of the Twitter follows and friend requests I was getting. It was a crazy day.”

    Since then, Jiang has learned how to handle rejection better. He told me that after two weeks, he wasn’t as phased by getting turned down. In fact, he often follows up now by asking the subject why his request was rejected—a process that demystifies the refusal and opens the possibility for a change of course.

    With each new challenge and video, followers have watched Jiang become more confident and satisfied.

    Last week, I witnessed it firsthand.

    I had asked Jiang to tag along for one of his rejection challenges. The original plan was for him to go to a mattress store and ask someone if he could take a 15-minute nap there, but for whatever reason he chose to scrap that idea.

    Disappointed, I followed him to a coffee shop close by for the interview. After talking to him for about an hour, and emboldened and motivated by his story, I asked him if he could do another rejection video on the spot. Without much hesitation, Jiang obliged. His challenge was to approach the young and amiable barista and ask if he could go behind the counter so that she could teach him how to make her favorite coffee beverage.

    He confidently walked over to the counter and made his request. I was sitting a good 15 feet away, cringing and think that the barista would feel like he was hitting on her.

    But I was wrong. The barista happily let Jiang behind the counter and walked him through the process of making a Chai tea latte.

    Afterwards, as we were walking back to our respective cars, I asked him if he was afraid.

    “Yeah, I’m afraid, but not of having a girl say no to me. I’m confident but with real fear. Real fear is being afraid of failure, of having to go back to work. This? It’s not that big of a deal.”

    He told me that the biggest lesson he’s learned is to not equate a rejection of a request with a rejection of oneself.

    “I hear a lot of ‘no’s now, which I’m OK with.”

    Screengrab via YouTube

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    Good news for all the drunks in Great Britain: Your alcoholism may get you out of trouble for the offensive things you post to Twitter and Facebook after hours. 

    At least that's the message coming from the desk of British director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer, who, in an effort to cut down on the number of people facing prosecution over offensive social media posts, has announced a set of interim guidelines for prosecutors that "make a clear distinction between communications which amount to credible threats of violence … and other communications sent by social media, e.g. those that are grossly offensive." 

    The distinction alleviates concerns drunkards may have if they wake up the next morning with a headache and a whole handful of guilt stemming from an indecent comment they posted to Twitter before nodding off. 

    Under the interim guidelines, "a prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest if the communication is swiftly removed, blocked, not intended for a wide audience or not obviously beyond what could conceivably be tolerable or acceptable in a diverse society which upholds and respects freedom of expression." 

    So basically, if you wake up reeling from regret, delete the post and you should be scot-free. 

    Starmer stressed that the interim guidelines are in place as much to protect the expression of "unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, or banter or humor, even if distasteful to some," as they are to protect those who are being subject to targeted attacked. 

    Moving forward, the public prosecutions office will place a more heavy emphasis on bringing justice to those who carry out a concerted effort to threaten or harass.

    GB victim support head Javed Khan welcomed the new rules, telling the BBC that "sustained and vindictive targeting on social media can leave long lasting emotional and psychological scars, so we warmly welcome clarification on how prosecutors will deal with online threats or harassment. 

    "The distinction between the communications which constitute a credible threat and those which may merely cause offense is sorely needed," Khan added. 

    Effective immediately, Starmer's office plans to keep the guidelines in place until March 13, 2013, at which point it will determine a more permanent set of standards for the public. 

    Until then, drink up and tweet like mad. Just remember to delete whatever you wrote the next morning. 

    Photo via MeSoRandy/Twitter

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    Two large pizzas. A year-long subscription to Lucky magazine. A catalog for Enhanced Vision, an organization that creates product for the visually impaired.

    What do all of these things have in common?

    They’re just some of the items fraudulently ordered using my name since I started reporting on 4chan, an imageboard community notoriously known for its random forum /b/ and historic pranks.

    Over the last four months, I've reported on 4chan's best (and worst) moments, such as gaming an online competition to have Taylor Swift perform at a school for the deaf and trying to name a new Mountain Dew flavor “Hitler did nothing wrong."

    But I unintentionally kicked the proverbial hornet’s nest with a series on how a group of 4chan, 9gag, Reddit, and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) members who took over Time's Person of the Year poll. The anonymous users were ultimately able to vote North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the top of the list using a Java script that automated the voting process on Polldaddy, the survey site powering Time’s poll.

    The pranking began after the first Time-related story ran on Nov. 27, only a day or so after the magazine opened its prestigious poll. That afternoon, while sitting in a computer lab at the State University of New York at Oswego, I received a phone call from Amore's Pizzeria, an Italian restaurant in my hometown.

    "Hi, is this Fernando Alfonso?" the woman on the phone said. "I'm calling to verify an online order for a Family Feast [1 large 16" pizza, 1 spaghetti dinner, mozzarella sticks, garlic knots]."

    I kindly told the woman that I did not place that order. And neither did my father, who had also received a call from Amore's verifying the transaction. My father, who worked at IBM for more than three decades, was unfazed at the news of some Internet misfits playing a prank. My mother, on the other hand, had a different perspective.

    "How the hell did they get our address?" my mother balked over the phone, forgetting that she and my father have been listed in the White Pages since before I was born. "I don't like any of this. Get our address off the Internet."

    Sorry, mom. There’s no putting the toothpaste back in the tube.

    4chan pranksters soon went digital. They bombarded my personal and work email accounts with subscriptions to Lotto Daily, HerRoom (an online lingerie shop), and recipes from goodtoknow. I also received notifications from Twitter and BlueHost that password resets had been requested from my accounts. The emails, and pranks in general, seemed to slow to a trickle over the last week—until I received another call from Amore's Monday.

    This time it was to verify an order for a large pizza and fried shrimp platter (which they were calling to change since they were out of shrimp).  

    Of course, I’m not the first reporter to land in 4chan’s crosshairs. After publishing his masterful book, Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4chan's Army Conquered the Web, author and Anonymous expert Cole Stryker received more than just the occasional pizza.

    "I received pizzas and death threats, the usual,” shrugged Stryker.

    “My favorite was a single $90 Dominoes pizza that came with triple of every available topping. Also, someone sent my middle-aged aunt an invitation for a sexual rendezvous with 'Cole Stryker' from a Facebook account that mimicked my own perfectly. I got a free Koran. To be honest, I'm surprised they're still doing this sort of thing in 2012. It seems kinda boring at this point."

    No matter how many precautions are taken, like using fake addresses online, 4chan users and their like-minded contemporaries have ways of digging for information. That was the case for _js5, an IRC user who created the Java script used to spell “KJU GAS CHAMBERS” with the first letter of each Person of the Year candidate. After cooperating with the Daily Dot on a story about the Time prank, _js5 had pizzas ordered under his name.

    "It's kind of scary the amount of information that is on the Web and how easy it is to find said information," _js5 told the Daily Dot. "There is much worse they could have done, but they didn't seem to be very angry."

    Since 4chan was started nine years ago by Christopher “moot” Poole in his parents’ New York apartment, the community has grown to be an Internet force to be reckoned with. The site has more than 100,000 users who publish more than 1 million posts a day to more than 50 different boards covering topics like video games, anime and science.

    On Aug. 3, the site collected its landmark billionth post.

    Over the years the 4chan community has done a lot of good. It has helped cheer up a WWII veteran on his birthday and helped police track down a girl who threw puppies into a river.

    Yet despite these good deeds, the site has also become notorious for the random imageboard known as /b/, a place where users exchange foul language, violent images, and sexual content under the cover of anonymity. 4chan users have hacked the Facebook account of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, caused Apple's stock to plunge following a Steve Jobs death rumor, and helped the swastika land on Google’s Hot Trends, a popular list that tracks the most searched terms or phrases at the moment.

    So the question is, what can an ordinary person do to avoid being pranked? The simple answer is also the most difficult: Pay them no attention.

    "My advice is to not engage with the trolls at all,” Stryker added. “Don't email or call back, just ignore them and they'll lose interest. Also, be supremely apologetic to the [pizza] delivery men.

    “They're the real victims here."

    Illustration by Fernando Alfonso III/Photo by id-iom

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    Sometimes, when a mysterious journal intended for a globe-trotting archaeologist shows up in your mailbox, it’s the start of a grand adventure. Sometimes it’s just a postal error.

    The University of Chicago has unraveled the mystery of the strange parcel that arrived at the University of Chicago admissions office last week and sparked an online quest for answers.

    The journal—a near-perfect replica of the one given to Indiana Jones at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark—was on its way from an eBay user in Guam to a customer in Italy. Because the journal itself was intended to look like the one mailed from Professor Abner Ravenwood to his protégé, Indy, it was actually addressed to the university. Thinking the address was legitimate, the U.S. Postal Service forwarded it to the admissions office. 

    Although admissions staffers at the university nearly missed the Indiana Jones connection when the package first arrived, they soon realized its significance: Henry Walton Jones Jr. is the full name of the school’s most famous, fictional alumnus. 

    After finding similar journals on sale as prop reproductions on eBay, admissions officers correctly theorized that the journal may have come to them as shipping error. But they still turned to the online world to help verify the journal’s origin.

    Verification finally came in the form of a reply from eBay user Paul From Guam, who came forward as the sender of the journal.

    "According to Paul, this package was en route from him in Guam to his intended recipient in Italy … when it must have fallen out of the package in Hawaii," the admissions office wrote on its Tumblr page. "Our address had originally been put on the manila wrapping of the journal just for cosmetic effect. We believe the post office wrote on our zip code on the outside of the package and, believing the Egyptian postage was real, sent it our way." 

    Although the cryptic package wound up having a fairly mundane origin, it didn’t stop Internet commenters from coming up with a wide range of theories about the journal and sending them to a special email set up by the the admissions office. 

    Some users suggested it was part of an elaborate viral marketing campaign to promote a fifth Indiana Jones film—though that idea was shot down (thankfully, in this writer’s opinion) in a response from LucasFilms. Others theorized it was part of an elaborate alternative-reality game. Some optimistic folks even went so far as to suggest that Harrison Ford himself made it (a favorite theory of the admissions staff, but one they knew was probably wishful thinking). 

    Although the mystery of the Indiana Jones journal was largely a diversion for admissions staffers before their holiday break, the school did get something out of it. Paul From Guam said he will make a new journal for his original customer in Italy, allowing the school to hang on to its copy. The University plans to put it on display at their Oriental Institute because, as Indy would say, "it belongs in a museum."

    Photo via the University of Chicago Admissions Office

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    National Geographic, Wired writer Mat Honan, and singer Pink are three of the latest Instagram power users to quit the photo sharing application following changes in its terms of service (ToS).

    National Geographic, known for its award-winning photography, had 638,000 followers and "must be the biggest account to back out of Instagram over [the new ToS] so far," tweeted Lexi Mainland, New York Times social media editor.

    On Monday, Instagram altered its ToS to allow a business to pay the company "to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you."

    The change essentially meant that anything a user did on Instagram from mid-January onward could be used in advertising—with no financial benefit to the user. The company also claimed it would not have to notify users when their data was used. The only way to opt out of the terms is delete your account and photos.

    The change in its ToS caused an uproar around Twitter and forced the company, which by Facebook in April for $787 million and stock, to release a statement to try and set the record straight.

    "From the start, Instagram was created to become a business. Advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become a self-sustaining business, but not the only one. Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear."

    But for many users, like Honan, the mea culpa was too late. In a column for Wired titled "Why I Quit Instagram," Honan explained how he quit the app because of the company's "thoughtlessness."

    "I believe Instagram should be able to make money. Facebook telegraphed that something like this was coming just last week, and my reaction at the time was 'good,'" Honan wrote. "Yet I also believe it’s wrong to take people’s photos – out."

    Pink, on the other hand, was far more blunt with her feelings about application known for its filters.

    "I WILL BE QUITTING INSTAGRAM TODAY. WHAT A BUMMER," said the singer’s message, which was retweeted 4,100 times. "YOU SHOULD ALL READ THEIR NEW RULES."

    Photo by MJ/TR (´・ω・)/Flickr

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    Robin Williams would probably make a very annoying hobbit. Yes. Hoho!

    The Twitter account @HobbitWilliams reimagines the Oscar-winning comedian as one of the hairy-footed little people of J.R.R. Tolkien’s the Shire. It also makes a good case as to why even the relatively pacifist Frodo Baggins might slap him upside the head.

    In Williams's defence, much of his humor stems from his often-manic delivery, which is lost to the plain-text stylings of Twitter. The account, with just 11 tweets and 526 followers, does a grand job of aping his vocal tics and stream-of-consciousness style of comedy, albeit from the perspective of a half-man.

    Williams is a man whom I often find funny, but this has caused me to take a hard look at my sense of humor. If this mashup is anything to go by, his Lord of The Rings standup material would be simply Orc-ful.

    Photo via Hobbit Williams/Twitter

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    The most-followed Anonymous Twitter account was suddenly silenced, and millions of tweeters cried out in anger.

    But eh, a few hours later, the account went back up.

    @YourAnonNews, an Anonymous account that boasts 791,870 followers and tweets regularly about world news, was suspended Wednesday, surprising, it seemed, everyone. Many suspected that the reason was Anonymous involvement in releasing the personal information of members of the Westboro Baptist Church. Twitter terms of service prohibit such activity.

    In a sense, they were right. According to a notice from Twitter, which @YourAnonNews screengrabbed and tweeted, the reason was "posting an individual's private information such as private email address, physical address, telephone number, or financial documents." Twitter cited the tweet, which as of press time is still available:

    The tweet linked to an image, itself a screengrab of an email apparently sent to Westboro spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper, that had the subject line "Worried - your Twitter is hacked." Anonymous indeed did release information belonging to Westboro members, and someone claiming to be the teenager hacker cosmo the god announced control over Phelps's Twitter account.

    Part of Twitter's notice to @YourAnonNews asks that users "confirm that you've read and understood our rules." Elsewhere, it warns that "future Twitter Rules violations may result in permanent account suspension."

    A similar account, @AnonOpsSweden, went through a similar ordeal. After retweeting a link to a hacked site that seemed to include the private phone numbers of Spanish right-wing activists, that account was also suspended. Though it was reinstated four days later, Twitter then banned the account permanently in December. It cited "posting permanent information" again, but didn't reveal what that information was.

    @YourAnonNews, as well as its backup, @YanBackUp, celebreated reinstatement as a victory.

    "[T]hank you @Twitter, all the press about us being gone[; it] may help us reach 1M [followers]!" the account tweeted.

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    This holiday, the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that runs and operates Wikipedia, is getting a huge present from Cards Against Humanity.

    The folks behind the irreverent (and very popular) party card game—which became a reality thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign—announced via infographic the sales data from their recently released holiday expansion pack.

    The group, which makes the game freely available under a Creative Commons license, sold approximately 85,000 hard copy sets of cards (for a total of $295,831) by allowing customers to name their own price. This unorthodox method of doing business has become more common thanks to artists like Radiohead, who used this model in 2007 upon the release of their album In Rainbows. Humble Bundle also operates this way.

    Of the total sales, $225,762.63 will go to cover expenses (the bulk of it paying for manufacturing and postage), meaning that the Cards Against of Humanity holiday expansion set made a profit of $70,066.27.

    But what to do with the money?

    The group could buy a private island, Or 341 partridges in 341 pear trees. Better yet—or worse—they could buy bucket loads of fresh boar sperm, which at $5 a dose, would total 1,000 liters.

    Photo via Cards Against Humanity

    Instead of making any of the aforementioned crazy purchases, they've decided to donate the entire proceeds to the Wikimedia Foundation.

    "Wikipedia is very important to us because without it we would not have known the exact volume of a dose of fresh boar sperm or graduated from college," they mention in the infographic.

    Cards Against Humanity also posted a video showing them writing the check and then mailing it out.

    Photo via Max Temkin/Vimeo

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    Redditor PBSCdonor has become the site’s latest bone marrow donor—and perhaps the first to hold an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session while donating.

    On Dec. 19, PBSCdonor submitted a post to r/IAMA that read “IAmA person who is literally donating bone marrow as I type this AMA!” He noted that he had signed up to donate as part of Reddit’s Be the Match program in December 2011, and was recently called upon to help a 26-year-old female suffering from Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.

    “I am currently hooked up to an Apheresis machine that will filter these cells out of my body to be transferred to the recipient. I'm gonna be hooked up for 6 hours so AMA!,” he wrote. “Bear with me on the typing. I'm doing this one handed.”

    Within hours of his post, which came complete with a photo album documenting the process, the comments and upvotes poured in. Over 1,000 redditors chimed in and the post received over 4,000 upvotes.

    Forgive my ignorance, but how does the procedure actually work? Is bone marrow actually taken from inside the bones or am I just picturing the wrong thing? (resting_parrot)

    “There are two ways. One is a surgery (which is what you are thinking of). The other way is shots to increase your white blood cells and a sort of dialysis which removes the cells from my body for transplant. What is awesome to think about is that my immune system will become her immune system. And she will change to my blood type as well.”

    I have heard it is extremely painful and I have also heard it isn't any more painful than donating blood. What is your opinion? (bnor9)

    “No more painful than giving blood. I am hooked up to two IVs currently. The only side effect is a full body tingle that I have.”

    What are the real dangers of it as told to you by the doctors?...What made you do this? (abionicwoman)

    “My uncle died of leukemia several years ago. I didnt even know there was a registry until I saw it on reddit last year. I signed up immediately. The dangers are low with the process I am using (PBSC)”

    Does this operation benefit you at all? Or are you just being good samaritan? (CreditingPond)

    “It makes me feel amazing. Bad year, perfect ending”

    The AMA’s most-upvoted comment, however, came from someone with whom PBSCdonor is very familiar.

    “Love you - mom,” wrote redditor Smuermann.

    PBSCdonor confirmed that Smuermann was indeed his mother.

    PBSCdonor’s procedure is hardly the only example of redditors assisting with bone marrow donation.

    • In December 2011, redditor DonateYourMarrow became a registered donor after seeing a Reddit post earlier that year on bone marrow donation. His r/IAMA post inspired over 650 fellow redditors to sign up—including PBSCdonor himself.

    PBSCdonor later edited his post to let his fellow redditors know that he had completed the procedure and that his “donation is off to help someone.”

    Photo via PBSCdonor/Imgur

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  • 12/20/12--05:00: GIF Cards: Memey Christmas!
  • The Daily Dot is proud to present a new way to spread holiday cheer: GIF cards. Each business day leading up to Christmas, we’ll be presenting two or more fun and easy-to-share GIFs to get you and your loved ones in the spirit of the season. To see our entire catalog, visit us on Tumblr.

    In the early 1990s, while your everyday grandma spent the holidays baking cookies with her grandkids, artist Jason Reed's tech-savvy granny was busy tinkering with a VCR.

    She even had HBO.

    "One of my favorite memories is seeing all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins on Christmas," Reed told the Daily Dot. "We'd all pile in to my grandma's house for a second round of presents and a feast of a ham dinner, then play cards and watch movies. (Who knew she was a tech nerd early-adopter type?) Seeing family has always been the big thing for me, though I have to admit that the Christmas I remember best was the one I unwrapped a Nintendo (OMG DUCK HUNT) with my brother and sister."

    These days, Reed is creating his own family traditions. He's a father of two who spreads cheer via GIF animations. His work has been featured on Tumblr’s GIFwich, a blog where artists live GIFed the recent presidential debates, and Reblorg, a new art hub run by Tumblr’s editorial team. He is also a freelance illustrator here at the Daily Dot.

    On Tumblr, Reed is known for chopping up old black-and-white films into animations and live-GIFing events like the presidential debates. But it's often his nostalgic animations—like the fuzzy blue "play" screen of a VCR—that have resonated on Tumblr the most. 

    "I appreciate the format's versatility, having seen them used as Cinemagrams, deployed as ads, and used to devastating effect in forum flame wars," Reed told the Daily Dot in June. "If a picture is worth a thousand words, a good animated GIF is worth 24,000 words per second. By that math, a 10-second GIF is equal to the word power of Moby Dick. If Melville read that he would weep, and I would post this in reply.”

    This Christmas, Reed and his family will travel to grandma's home again, but this time around, he'll be the one schooling his son in the latest technology.

    "Seeing my son get excited about Christmas, watching the classic holiday movies, and putting up decorations with him makes the season more fun now than it ever was," Reed said. "I can even tolerate Christmas music, for December at least. Being Santa is pretty nice, too. [My son's] only two years old, but one of his favorite YouTube videos is of Walk off the Earth singing a rendition of 'Jingle Bell Rock.' So we might do some caroling at our next-door neighbors’ houses."

    All illustrations by Jason Reed

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    One day, redditor Bamka was riding a city bus on her way home from class. As the vehicle made its way through a mall parking lot, a car attempted to cut it off mid-turn. Not only did the bus driver refuse to allow the errant sedan to complete its maneuver, but he also muttered a line that perfectly summed up the situation.

    “Bitch, I’m a bus.”

    Bamka’s day was made by the expertly timed yet unusual comment. She shared the story with family and friends, who immediately turned it into an in-joke. In February 2011, she shared it with Reddit, where it became something much bigger.

    “It wasn't long after I posted the story that it blew up,” Bamka told the Daily Dot. “I had no idea it would become a ‘thing.’ I think about 6 hours later when we had THOUSANDS of votes, caitlinreid made the subreddit and added me as a moderator. I put up a Facebook Like page because people were commenting and asking for one.”

    That subreddit is r/bitchimabus. Its creator, caitlinreid, who admitted that she doesn’t even ride buses, nevertheless noted the obvious humor and appeal of “Bitch, I’m a bus.”

    “I personally knew it was pretty darn funny and would probably be popular for a little while, but I had no idea it had the longevity that it does,” she said.

    r/bitchimabus, which has more than 8,400 subscribers, collects examples of buses being the badass vehicles they are. Video submissions of buses living up to the no-holds-barred phrase are naturally common, as are GIFs; Catlinreid points to the October 2012 submission “Plowing Through Traffic” as her favorite. Additionally, users share photographs of different buses in the wild intimidating the bicycles, cars, and even trucks around them. Take the hungry shark bus, for example, submitted this month by Bob_Pandora.

    Photo via Bob_Pandora/Imgur

    “The best/funniest submissions for me personally are the ones with buses really ridiculous scenarios,” Bamka added. “Off-roading, in a random field, in a river, whatever. Places you wouldn't expect buses to be. Those buses are so badass they said: ‘Fuck roads and your societal expectations of me. Bitch, I'm a bus.’”

    Photo via Fishtails/imgur

    So, what makes buses—and their drivers—feel that they can stand out in this manner?

    “I feel like the drivers give buses most of their ‘attitude’ just because, like cab drivers and other types of people who drive for a living, you have places to be, and screw everyone who gets in the way because you have a job to do,” Bamka explained. “Buses themselves are pretty sturdy by design since they have to carry lots of the general public. Old people, babies, people society doesn't want to die horrible deaths at the hands of shitty drivers.”

    While caitlinreid does not prefer one type of bus over another, Bamka enjoys the public transit buses.

    “It just fits that ‘fuck all of you’ persona that gets applied in these ‘Bitch, I'm a Bus’ meme photos,” she explained. “Ragged around the edges, kind of smells like pee.”

    Photo via kefurbush/Imgur

    As far as Bamka is concerned, the “Bitch I’m a Bus” meme goes further than providing Reddit with such proclamations as “ice is no match for buses.” It also gives a voice to determination and accomplishment.

    “I think it's a fun phrase to apply to that ‘Fuck everyone’ feeling we all have every once in awhile when we're on a mission, or just give zero shits about the rest of the world,” Bamka explained. “It's that kind of egotistical mindset that—of course, in retrospect—Reddit would be drawn to.”

    Photo via kefurbush/Imgur

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    Continuing our series on the year in fandom, today the Daily Dot examines the most important events for fandom in 2012.

    In considering what kind of lists to make for this series, we asked the following questions: What events, people, and fandoms seemed to create larger discussions about fandom within pop culture? What and who created shifts in how the mainstream viewed and interacted with fandom? What were the far-reaching decisions and moments that will continue to impact fans long after 2012?

    Four of our most notable events this year involve fans fundraising. That three of them involved Kickstarter campaigns is interesting to say the least, and it suggests that in the future, even more creators may turn directly to their fanbases to fund projects instead of waiting on a studio or a publisher. Moreover, fans may seize even more control over projects in order to make their voices heard and have the shows they want.

    It wouldn't be the first time fans have taken on such projects, but with the advent of Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, fans may be realizing, more and more, just how easy it is to interact with, and directly support, the creators and creations they love.

    Read on to find out what kind of amazing events impacted fandom this year—and what events could linger for years to come.

    1) Fifty Shades of Grey hits the jackpot.

    We’ve said it 50 ways, but Fifty Shades of Grey blew all comers out of the water. It’s sold over 40 million copies worldwide and more copies in the U.K. than all seven Harry Potter books combined. It singlehandedly kept the publishing industry afloat and opened the floodgates on a barrage of erotica (pejoratively termed “mommy porn,” as if women reading porn is somehow new), hitting a bookshelf near you.

    But a side effect of Fifty Shades has been the undeniable mainstreaming of fandom and fanfiction. Fifty Shades’ legacy—beginning as a Twilight fanfic called “Master of the Universe”—meant that wherever mentions of the book or author E.L. James went, mentions of fandom were sure to follow. That also led to a complete reversal in terms of how publishers viewed fanfic writers. No longer an illicit secret where fans, if they published their fic as original novels, filed off the serial numbers and never said a word, in 2012 published fanfic became an actual cottage industry, with even formidable traditional publishers like Penguin scrambling to tap into the popularity of fanfiction—for better and for worse.

    2) Gaming and comics fandoms go 13 rounds with misogyny.

    What a year. It’s not like sexism wasn’t always a hot-button issue in these two cornerstones of geek culture, but in 2012 we saw a veritable fusillade of jaw-dropping instances where women were overtly attacked, often just for daring to occupy mostly male spaces. Gamers sent death threats to Jennifer Hepler and Anita Sarkeesian for daring to criticize the activity and the genre. Game creators invited us to brutally murder sexually objectified nuns and “protect” a freshly raped Lara Croft. A male member of her own team harassed a female Cross Assault member into resigning mid-game.

    Meanwhile, women in both comics and gaming were attacked all year long for being “fake geek girls.” Women attending conventions were harassed, while women buying comic books and games had an equally difficult time. And to top off the year, this month one of the most powerful women in comics, Gail Simone, was inexplicably fired as writer of the popular Batgirl series.

    There is an upside to all of this, though: After the lengthy list of 2012, it’s no longer remotely possible for members of gaming and comics cultures to pretend like there isn’t a problem within their respective industries. More and more, women are speaking out, telling stories of being dismissed and silenced throughout both industries. And as the discussion about sexism continues, change is happening at the individual level and the corporate level.

    Here’s hoping 2013 will give all the gamers and comics fans a break, regardless of gender.

    3) Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick-Heart becomes the first crowdfunded anime.

    You might not think the love story of a wrestler and a nun would be anything to get excited about—that is until you combine it with the iconoclastic style of Masaaki Yuasa, the visionary animator who’s had a hand in over a dozen respected productions, including designing fight sequences in Samurai Champloo and directing the award-winning short series Kaiba.

    The Japanese Media Arts Festival awarded Yuasa’s brilliant series Tatami Galaxy its Grand Prize in 2010 for “[turning] the limitations of TV on its head.” In 2012, he did it again, by taking the concept for his next project, Kick-Heart, directly to his fans.

    “My hope is that investors would pay for what they think is interesting,” Yuasa said in his Kickstarter concept video. “But they don’t. I think crowd-funding... is a great system.”  

    His gamble paid off: Over 3200 fans chipped in to raise $51,000 more than needed to bring Kick-Heart to life. “Fund this and you’re funding quality animation from visionaries in anime and setting a new precedent in the industry,” fan willrc wrote on Tumblr.

    “Congratulations, Kick-Heart,” echoed ian-ime. “This is a big day for anyone who believes in making cool things happen.”

    Illustrations via Kickstarter

    It’s worth noting that Bento Books also successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign this year to produce its manga series, Math Girls.

    4) After backlash, Bioware gives Mass Effect 3 fans entirely new ending.

    Among gamers, few fans are as loyal and as passionately supportive of their canon as fans of sci-fi shooter game Mass Effect. So when those same fans universally responded to the ending of the critically acclaimed trilogy with outrage, it meant something. (Game spoilers ahead.)

    The ending to Mass Effect 3 nullified all the effort players had put into the entire series. From the retakemasseffect Tumblr:

    “[Y]ou reach the ending of ME3 and realize that everything you have done means nothing.… No matter what you do the galaxy as you know it is destroyed.… This is a horribly unfulfilling ending to what should have been the masterpiece of the trilogy.... Fans of the Mass Effect trilogy have put far too much time, effort, and money into the game to be abandoned with such a fate.”

    Fans of the game united in their attempts to “Retake Mass Effect.” They liked the Facebook page to that effect 63,000 times, sent Bioware passive-aggressive cupcakes, attempted a thwarted charity project, and compiled over an hour of testimonials from distraught players.

    Among the fallout from the ending were fans demanding refunds, a Better Business Bureau claim that Bioware engaged in false advertising, and the eventual retirement of its two cofounders. But ultimately, Bioware listened. In June they released a new, expanded ending that offered fans closure, made available to fans for free download.

    It didn’t satisfy everyone, and a few months later the fans were getting enraged over My Little Pony fanart. But as far as interactions between fans and producers go, gaining a new ending (as opposed to a complete mid-series do-over) has got to be a first.

    5) Homestuck fans raise $2.5 Million for Kickstarter fund.

    Homestuck, the massive and massively popular webcomic that’s nearly impenetrable to the uninitiated at this point in its plot, is slowly nearing its conclusion. So what do a million fans do to show their appreciation for a beloved comic that has given them three years of hilarity, confusion, drama, and trolling?

    They send creator Andrew Hussie’s Kickstarter project straight to the bank by raising $2.5 million to fund his Homestuck game.

    The server costs to keep the Flash-heavy comic alive under the strain of a million daily visitors is so enormous that it’s a miracle Hussie was able to make Homestuck into a viable living at all, but instead his model of incorporating fanart, fan soundtracks, and other fan input into the website has thrived and flourished. Fanartists also contributed to the giveaway incentives for his Kickstarter, which drew so many takers that Hussie had to take a long break in order to autograph 11,000 posters.

    The Homestuck Adventure Game is currently the eighth most successful Kickstarter on the site, and perhaps the most successful business venture ever to come from a pre-existing fandom.

    6) Inspector Spacetime becomes a reality.

    Combine two of the Internet’s favorite things—Doctor Who and Community—and you’re sure to have a hit on your hands; so it was only a matter of time before Travis Richey, the actor who played the title role of Community’s recurring Doctor Who parody Inspector Spacetime, decided to try and make it happen as a fan project.

    Alas, NBC quashed the idea of running with the original title, but so far, they’ve allowed Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time to go forward. And after a $25,000 funded Kickstarter campaign and a first episode with over 100,000 views—5 percent of Community’s regular viewership—they’ve probably figured out it’d be a terrible marketing ploy for a show that desperately needs all the extra love it can get.

    7) Manga publishing companies go DRM-free.

    Numerous members of digital technology and publishing communities have argued that Digital Rights Management for books—the restrictions that prevent you from being able to read your Nook purchases on your iPad or your .mobi files on your Kindle, and in some cases from sharing files between your devices—does more harm than good. Typically, arguments run that DRM limits access and fails to protect users from violations. Less frequently discussed are the ways in which DRM also impacts access to manga—Japanese comics—and graphic novels.

    In 2012, manga publishers apparently began to change their minds about the efficacy of using DRM to restrict access to their products: Digital Manga, June, and Sublime joined behemoth sci-fi publisher Tor’s imprint Seven Seas, GEN Manga, and a handful of other manga publishers in offering DRM-free downloads. Lee, a reader at MangaBookshelf, sums up what this means for manga fans:

    “As a BL reader, I think the biggest/best thing this year has been to see SuBLime, and more recently DMI, come out with DRM-free PDF options... This seems like a groundbreaking development in a climate where readers across all genres are beginning to understand and react against the severely restrictive nature of DRM and platform limitations in e-reading.”

    The trend is spreading, primarily among ebook publishers. Tor recently announced that all of its books would be going DRM-free. “It’s clear to us,” said senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden, “that this is what our customers want.”

    8) The Box Scene Project gets its wish and raises thousands for charity.

    Photo via yeeitsanna/Tumblr

    Last December, the Glee fandom went nuts when a scene between everyone’s favorite gay power couple, Kurt and Blaine, or Klaine, failed to make the cut in the aired version of an “Extraordinary Merry Christmas.” Two Klaine fans got the idea to ask the Glee fandom to bid on an auction copy of a script containing the deleted scene, and the response was so overwhelming that they not only bought the script but raised over $30,000 for charity in an ongoing awareness campaign called The Box Scene Project.

    The project has partnered with other not-for-profits that promote equality, like the Harry Potter Alliance, as well as focused fundraising efforts on a variety of charities like the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Project Angel Food.

    So what was the scene that caused all the fuss? Glee creator Ryan Murphy finally released it in August. We dare you not to be charmed.

    9) MTV puts Sterek on a boat.

    When MTV decided to film a promo for the Teen Choice awards, in which its hit Teen Wolf was up for Choice Summer TV Show, it could have played it safe and focused on actor Tyler Posey, who plays the lead. Instead, they went straight for the heart of the show’s fandom: the legions of slash fans who ship Sterek, the completely unintended hypothetical romance of characters Stiles and Derek.

    “Shipping” is a play on “relationships” in which fans root for two characters to find love regardless of what the series may actually have in mind. It was all too easy for MTV to play along by filming the two actors, Dylan O’Brien and Tyler Hoechlin, cuddling on a boat.

    What makes this marketing ploy different from similar wink-and-nods to homoerotic subtext from Hollywood is that MTV creator Jeff Davis has always been positive towards Sterek fans, and tweeted in June that he was open to the idea of the ship becoming a reality.

    Screengrab via Google cache/Twitter

    Though interactions with fans haven’t always gone smoothly—Davis has since deleted his Tumblr and his Twitter accounts—MTV clearly recognizes what a coup it’s scored in Sterek. After all, the legions of Sterek fans and others who voted in AfterElton’s slash tournament were enough to galvanize that website to start its own regular column devoted to slash pairings. Could it also be enough to give Derek and Stiles their own steamy on-screen romance?

    We’ll have to wait and see, but in the meantime, MTV has already broken ground by becoming the first mainstream television show to actively embrace a gay relationship that began as purely a fan construct.

    10) Disney buys Star Wars.

    We don’t quite know what it means yet, which is why this shocker is last on our list; but we know it’s going to be big. With three more movies on the way, the possibility of tying Star Wars characters into other Disney-owned franchises, à la Kingdom Hearts, and a whole new generation waiting to discover the Star Wars universe, this is one event that will have dividends for years to come.

    And in the meantime, there’s plenty of time to enjoy all the crossovers.

    Illustration by Masaaki Yuasa/Kickstarter

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    Now we know why Tom Anderson looks so happy in that profile pic.

    Anderson, one of the founders of Myspace, was casually tweeting about Instagram's new terms of service Wednesday evening, telling followers not to worry. That's when a follower chose to mix it up with him

    Anderson later noted that @polotapia deleted his account. Makes sense: This sick burn was retweeted more than 6,300 times. 

    @polotapia was sent comments such as"you got ooooooowwwwwwwwned by myspace tom ahahahahahahahhahahahhahahahahah" and"dude you got dissed the fuck out by @myspacetom ahahaha." Probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise that he deleted his account rather than having to deal with messages like that.

    Meanwhile, as others were talking about Anderson replacing his famous Myspace profile photo (as the default first friend for early Myspace users, his face is familiar to hundreds of millions of people) with a new one from his quality Instagram feed, he hit back at another follower:

    Photo via Tom Anderson/Myspace

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    Tumblr: It’s not just a “microblog” anymore.

    In 2012, the blogging network created by high school dropout David Karp became a mainstream destination, offering a unique source for breaking news, candid celebrity portraits, and enough GIFs to help the decades-old image format become Oxford’s Word of the Year. Tumblr cracked the top 10 list of the most visited sites in the world, with more than 20 billion posts and about 20 billion monthly pageviews.

    While a bevy of high-profile advertisers have helped the site retain its independence, it’s been the creative GIF artists, meme addicts, and passionate fandoms who have helped grow the network to an impressive 83 million blogs. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a strong undercurrent of spam and porn.)

    “You guys have earned an audience bigger than the biggest TV networks, and you continue to make some of the most thought provoking, insightful, inspiring, funny, diverse, and compelling content being created today,” Karp wrote in a recent blog post.

    Tumblr users are not required to reveal how many followers they have, and the company does not make that information public. Instead of hard stats and Klout scores, our list of the most influential Tumblr users is based on perceived impact and reach—the artists whose work rippled across the network in waves of reblogs and likes, driving the conversation and creativity.

    There are no hard stats on which to base our list of the most influential users in 2012.  But never fear. While our list may be subjective, we believe the following users have had profound influence on art, comedy, design, and  politics.

    1) President Barack Obama Commander in GIF

    In what was dubbed the Facebook election, Barack Obama leveraged social media to help win the 2008 presidential election. This year, Obama’s campaign added Tumblr to its repertoire. His official Tumblr blog has more than 1,240 posts, out-blogging his opponent Mitt Romney almost every step of the way. More importantly, Obama’s campaign used Tumblr to interact directly with users in a way that was relatable, posting GIFs of the president listening to music and giving speeches.

    “It gets him in front of a much larger audience, especially more and more young people who spend time on the Internet,” said Tyler Pearson, a front-end developer and designer for New Media Campaigns, a North Carolina-based creative agency that helps build politicians’ Web presence.

    And as was the case in 2008, all that time online paid off. Especially on Tumblr. On election night 2012, Obama collected more than 75,000 mentions compared to Romney’s 35,000.

    2) Humans of New York Reblogging, Rebuilding

    After Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East cCoast, thousands of New Yorkers came together in a manner not seen since Sept. 11, 2001. On Tumblr, photographer Brandon Stanton led the charge with Humans of New York (HONY), a blog that documented the citizens of the Big Apple one photograph at a time. Stanton launched a fundraiser on Nov. 12 for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, offering stickers, tote bags, and photographs in exchange for contributions.  Stanton’s campaign collected $318,000 in 10 days—three times the original goal.

    “Sandy left behind a lot of sad stories, but also some happy ones,” Stanton wrote on Tumblr. “We’re going to try to tell them all.

    3) Mr. GIF GIF economists

    From a last-minute flight to London to meet with One Direction to hobnobbing with models during New York’s fashion week, Mr. GIF helped some of the world’s biggest brands and celebrities embrace the GIF. Jimmy Repeat and Mark Portillo formed Mr. GIF in 2011 to bring two long-established mediums, comics and GIFs, together. Since then, they have created animations for Forbes, Vice magazine, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and chef Anthony Bourdain.

    “It’s kind of crazy how respected it’s become in just the last year,” Repeat told the Daily Dot in August. “I can see more and more people wanting it.”

    4) Kate Harding Author activist

    When an Arizona judge told a sexual assault victim that if she weren’t in that bar that night “none of this would have happened,” author Kate Harding was disgusted. But she wasn’t surprised. Victim blaming has become an epidemic largely perpetrated by the media. On her blog Don’t Get Raped, Harding points out how absurd and offensive victim blaming is through attention-grabbing headlines, such as “Don’t go to the gynecologist” and “Don’t bum an Advil when you’ve got a headache,” drawn from real life stories of women being assaulted under those circumstances.

    “I hope everyone can look at this blog and see the absurdity of telling women over and over that if they don't drink, don't wear ‘slutty’ clothes, don't walk alone at night, do learn self-defense, etcetera, they'll be safe,” Harding told the Daily Dot in September. “The list of situations to avoid could go on forever, and trying to keep up with it would eventually mean holing up in a cabin off the grid somewhere and growing your own food.”

    5) Benjamin “Frogman” Grelle Corgi kingpin

    With just a quick glance at the Benjamin Grelle’s Tumblr, you’d think all the 30-year-old from St. Louis, Miss., did was snap photos his pet corgi, poke fun at absurd memes, and create hilarious original GIFs. And you’d be right, to a degree.

    Despite suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, Grelle has used his popular Tumblr blog to earn a modest living from his parents’ basement. The problem is that his career has been under attack from content thieves who have stolen his work more than 200 times. The biggest culprits have been users of Reddit and Imgur, which hosts a majority of images that appear on the social news site.

    Taking a stand for Tumblr, Grelle sent a message to Imgur on Aug. 10 asking for $10,000 in compensation. He came up with that rough number using the amount of money he receives on his personal site per 100,000 pageviews, multiplied by the number of posts on Reddit and minus $10,000 because Imgur’s “bandwidth is expensive.” Grelle received a response from Imgur, but nothing has changed at the hosting giant.

    “I think if my audience grows as consistently as it has been, I will eventually make enough to support myself,” Grelle told the Daily Dot in August. “It's just frustrating to know that I could already be there if sites like Reddit and Imgur would make small changes to their attribution policies.”

    Regardless, Grelle’s efforts have brought the issue into the spotlight for discussion and hopeful resolution.

    6) C.J. Chivers Frontlines Blogger

    If you’ve ever wanted to see a closeup of strange, unexploded ordinances or learn about the dirty tactics being used by the Syrian government to quell rebels, look no further than C.J. Chivers’s blog. As a senior writer and foreign correspondent for the New York Times’, Chivers’s life abroad has been well documented on his blog The Gun, named after his book on the social history of the AK-47. Chivers documents the strange ammunition he finds on battlefields and provides an unadulterated look at the world’s deadliest wars.

    “We know that in our social-media age some people approach or handle potentially dangerous items intending then to send the photographs or video to others for identification,” Chivers wrote in November. “We hope to discourage such foolish and risky behaviors and to encourage smart documentation and research. As we do so, we also hope to learn and to teach the little bit we manage to know.”

    7) Marlo Meekins Class Clown

    No matter how old a person gets, there’s something about fart jokes that still retain their charm. Just ask Marlo Meekins, an animation professor in Toronto whose Tumblr comics reflect a lifelong fascination with juvenile humor mixed with serious issues surrounding sex, beauty, and men. One of her most popular pieces features a partially nude woman with exaggerated features wearing her hair in the shape of a noose. The caption reads, “Sometimes you’re depressed & horny.” The illustration has collected more than 900 notes.

    8) Terry Richardson Pop provocateur   

    American fashion photographer has shot for Rolling Stone, GQ, and Vogue, but he’s perhaps best known for his work on Tumblr. His Diary offers candid, controversial, highly sexual photographs of models, artists, athletes, and actresses, captured with startling, almost confessional honesty. It’s also quite personal. Leading up to his mother’s death in early September death, Richardson posted about a dozen intimate photos of his mother in the hospital.

    9) Texts From Hillary Secretary of Lulz

    Some single-serving Tumblrs exist for months and even years without ever getting the mainstream recognition their creators believe they deserve. Texts From Hillary, which features a photo of the secretary of state checking her phone in a military plane, landed its creators on CNN in less than about a week. The meme also landed its co-conspirators Stacy Lambe and Adam Smith of “I’m With Kanye” fame in the presence of Clinton herself.

    While the idea had a short shelf-life, it brought serious mainstream and political exposure to Tumblr this year and raised the bar for single-serving Tumblrs.

    “Yep, this just happened!,” Smith wrote in April, adding that the duo personally met Clinton and presented photographic evidence.

    10) I Love Charts Data Experts

    Started as a place to post hilariously depressing recession charts, I Love Charts has become a breakout hit that landed founders Jason Oberholtzer and Cody Westphal a successful book deal and partnership with Tumblr. Now three years in, the blog has more than 100,000 readers and has set the standard for comedic charts by curating infographics on Tom Waits’ anatomy, how to button a shirt, and global warming.

    “There have even been a few moments in my life when I've thought I was good at it,” Westpal told the Daily Dot in May. “But I never would have guessed that I would be co-author of a published book that was being sold across the country. This whole experience has just been incredible and exciting. It's been a lot of fun making this book, and I feel very lucky that Jason and I have had this chance.”

    Honorable mentions: Christopher Price, Liz Climo, Pleated-Jeans, Really Fox News, Popculturebrain, Beyonce

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    Despite retiring at the end of the 1995-1996 season, Earvin "Magic" Johnson is still helping the Los Angeles Lakers win games. Indirectly, at least.

    Tired of watching his beloved team lose—the Lakers are currently 12-14 despite trading for star center Dwight Howard and for Steve Nash— the hall-of-famer took matter into his own hands and announced on Dec. 14 that he was going to step away from Twitter until the team won three games in a row.

    The former point guard was going to deprive the world— and his more than 1 million followers— of golden nuggets like:

    Unsurprisingly, Laker nation was devastated.

    Photo via ReactionGIFs

    The Twitter blackout worked. The day Johnson threw down the gauntlet, Kobe Bryant & Co. defeated the Washington Wizards (the worst team in the league, but hey, that's irrelevant). Two days later, they extended their streak to two Ws, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 111-98.

    On Monday, the Lakers did the unthinkable: they won their third game in a row for the first time... well, since last month. But more importantly, it was once again the Magic Hour on Twitter!

    His fans— all 419 of them who retweeted his comeback— rejoiced! Among the jubilant fans were these two Laker aficionados:

    Photo via Deadspin

    True Lakers fans, however, are still hoping that Johnson will extend his Twitter hiatus indefinitely in hopes that the team can win its 17th NBA title.

    Photo via cliff1066/Flickr

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    "#WBC—If truckers, bikers, hackers, preachers, teachers, soldiers, Anonymous & me ALL agree ur a piece of shit..ur a piece of shit."

    So saith the Jester, a self-described "patriot hacker" and longtime foe of Anonymous.

    Once all of those groups—plus the KKK (keep reading)—got stirred up, it would have taken divine intervention to rescue the Westboro Baptist Church, and that was not forthcoming. 

    In Sandy Hook to protest at the funeral services of the victims of the mass shooting, the WBC was apparently expecting business as usual: hostility from locals, tons of press. 

    That they should have expected Anonymous is as true as it is cliched. 

    * * *

    As coveredextensively in the Daily Dot, Anonymous has become increasingly activist (those who believe hacks and trolling should be completely amoral would call this “white knighting" or “moralfagging”) and increasingly active offline. The tragedy of the school shooting at Sandy Hook, and the outrage of its innocent victims having their funeral services picketed by a homophobic and litigious organization, galvanized hacktivists from all corners of the Internet, bringing them together in #OpFuckWBC and #OpWestboro.

    UGNazi, the crew of almost superhumanly talented teen hackers; Anonymous, the amorphous collective born from 4chan’s troll dungeons; the Jester, advocate of law and order, Anon's enemy; thousands of civilians: All these joined together to make sure Fred Phelps and his crew at the WBC would never forget Sandy Hook.

    Anonymous called for its members to converge on the town and keep the WBC members under surveillance. It worked rather well. WBC members were literally hounded from a Burger King (it's unclear if they ever got fed) and changed their hotel at least once in a nervous fluster after Anonymous released the location. They reportedly downgraded themselves all the way to a Motel 6. "Heritage hotel saying that WBC is not there anymore. Who wins? We Win!" tweeted @YourAnonNews. 

    Yesterday, the account was suspended briefly, reportedly for tweeting a link to a dox containing WBC's private information. This included social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and emails. When @YourAnonNews returned, it had gained so many followers in sympathy that the account now boasts more than 1 million, all thanks to Twitter and the Westboro Baptist Church. Well, and the Streisand Effect

    According to UGNazi and Rustle League member Shm00p, "So @twitter suspends Cosmo, YAN, LulzExecutive, & myself, for wanting to help the CT victims? That's some pretty good logic, brb gravy bath." Currently the only account suspended is Shirley Phelps's @DearShirley.

    In a perfect tweetstorm, Anons and others were encouraged to tweet (legal) gay porn images at Church members. This was an initiative the public could really get behind, judging by the number of retweets. 

    Image via KYAnonymous/Twitter

    When the Ku Klux Klan indicated that they would head to Sandy Hook to take part in the human walls keeping the WBC from the mourners, Anonymous decided that "the enemy of my enemy is not my friend." Anon, possibly in concert with UGNazi allies, took down the Klan’s main website, just to give them the hint they were not wanted. 

    The human walls so far have consisted of Anons (both with and without masks), townspeople, bikers, police, and firefighters. They will continue over the weekend to protect the remaining funerals, or until the Westboro Baptist Church has finally left town. Ten funerals have already taken place.

    UGNazi put its considerable hacking skills to work, taking over Shirley Phelps's and Fred Phelps Jr.'s Twitter accounts in the name of Cosmo the God, the 15-year-old hacker who earlier in 2012  was sentenced to have no unapproved computer use until he turned 21. Given UGNazi’s history of pranks, it’s likely that Cosmo himself did not perform the hacks (he did not respond to inquiries from the Daily Dot) and this is probably a troll by his crewmates using his twitter account. 

    But what judge in his right mind would revoke a kid’s release for this? Only one that didn’t care about being re-elected, ever.

    The takeover of the Twitter accounts inspired the hashtag #GodSenttheHacker, in direct response to WBC's claim that "God sent the shooter." Cosmo and most of the UGNazi crew all attached "God" to their usernames (Josh the God, Cosmo the God, Shm00p the God), and fittingly, they now have a new legion of awestruck worshippers. A Topsy search indicates that in the last two days, the hashtag has been tweeted more than 5,000 times. The Fred Phelps Jr. account is up 1,000 followers overnight as a result. The last thing the account did was tweet out the names of the victims one by one, saying, “Rest in Peace.”

    * * *

    When online trolls popped up looking for trouble, the collective did not hesitate to give it to them. Unfortunately, a crisis-generated sense of urgency often works against meticulous research. When a fake Adam Lanza Twitter account, @Blastinkids, surfaced, doxing specialists got to work and quickly singled out one Jake/Jacob Dean Douglas as the perpetrator. 

    According to a participant in the investigation who wishes to remain anonymous (but is not Anonymous), the “original tip came on Dec. 15 by a 16-year-old boy who thought he may have been mentioned/threatened by @RabbiJewey.” 

    @RabbiJewey is another of Douglas's trolling accounts, this one clearly pedophilic and anti-Semitic. “BEFORE #Newtown because of the @RabbiJewey Pedo Comments. A kid was scared by them and asked for help reporting this guy," a source told us via DM. "The op was long in place before he made @BlastinKids!!!” 

    via Twitter

    Another participant explained, “It's really very funny @RabbiJewey our first Target from an earlier complaint, ..... 1st-followed @BlastinKids making it my own ‘fastest ever dox.’”

    The owner of the accounts was already on the radar and had already been investigated and identified when he reportedly created the other account.

    via Twitter

    Unfortunately, according to the Daily Beast, the first dox that was released contained the wrong phone number, leading to some 600 irate phonecalls to a 71-year-old quilter who was not involved and didn’t even have a Twitter account. “We are not infallible,” tweeted AnonPsyOps.

    Our source asserts that Douglas was behind all three accounts, and worked at the FAMS Recovery Solutions call center, which does collections on overdue accounts, until he was apparently fired recently. His Facebook profile has been deactivated, and the original dox deleted. Hackers have identified another phone number for him, but for obvious reasons we aren’t releasing it.

    As the weekend and the holiday approaches, there have been unconfirmed reports that the WBC have left town. But the activists remain; after all, 17 funerals are still to come.

    Image via YourAnonNews/Twitter

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