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    Call it a Christmas miracle. Thanks to a kind group of contributors on Reddit, a deaf man will finally be able to read the words once spoken in a video by his late grandfather.

    The kindheartedness came Wednesday morning from the subreddit r/favors, where redditor Whoa_Bundy staked his impassioned plea.

    "I am deaf and I would like a video of my late Grandfather captioned," Bundy wrote. "I can't understand what he is saying and I would really like to."

    The video, a 38-minute interview that finds Bundy's grandfather talking about his experiences during World War II, has been in the redditor's possession for years, but youth and deafness has made it such that it's more or less a silent movie.

    "He was alive and I was 17 when I got a copy of it," he wrote. "I'm now 32 and he has since passed away. I watched the video and teared up just seeing him but I can't understand what he is saying.

    "If anyone has a suggestion for a website that I can pay to have this [translated], I welcome them."

    Turns out that the kind folks on Reddit had a whole lot more to offer than that.

    Redditor BoredOfCanada was the first individual to step up to the plate, offering that "we can all pitch in and help transcribe it" if Bundy would just upload the video to a dropbox. BoredOfCanada set up a Google spreadsheet to track all the progress.

    "If we all state which minutes we'd like to work on, then add the subtitles to the Subtitle Text sheet, this should work a treat," BoredOfCanada wrote. "Once it's done, I could convert it to a SubRip subtitle file and/or somebody could superimpose the captions, then we should have a subtitled video."

    Redditors started coming out of the woodwork to offer their services. Redditor Deracinated claimed fluency in the language of sign. Pvrbl told the crowd that both her parents were deaf; American Sign Language was literally her first language.

    Before long, BoredOfCanada's spreadsheet had started to fill up. Redditors reported hold-ups, stunted updates, and delays as they tried to fill in the blanks.

    "The goosebumps I got when I clicked on the link and got the 'Too much traffic' notice," redditor Germino wrote. "This is why I love this site."

    When Whoa_Bundy returned to check in on the progress, he was completely taken back.

    "I'm tearing up just reading this," he wrote. "I never knew my grandfather was in Holland. I heard about France. He was pretty quiet about his experiences. I'm surprised he even agreed to do this interview."

    Whoa_Bundy returned at 9:30pm Wednesday night to tell those who helped that the transcript had been completed.

    "I'm working on getting that in my possession," he wrote. "I've gotten offers from professional captionists, court reporters, transcription services, medical transcriptionists, and accessibility at Google."

    Bundy's next task is to figure out a way for him to line up the transcript with the video of his grandfather being interviewed.

    "I was told that if I upload the transcript to YouTube—without time codes—that YouTube will use speech recognition technology to automatically align the text of the transcript with what it hears in the video," he wrote.

    Is that the case? Frankly, I have absolutely no idea. But what I do know is that a man who's now 32 finally has the chance to read the things his grandfather had to say about his experiences in the second World War after 15 years of waiting to do so. Coming less than six days before Christmas, that's a gift as good as gold.

    Photo via TinyTall/Flickr

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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.

    Every snowflake is different, comprised of intricate geometric shapes that will never be repeated and are truly beautiful to behold. It's those unique mathematical figures that were the inspiration for two holiday GIF cards by Intothecontiuum, a math wizard and Tumblr GIF tag editor.

    "We experience change at different scales," Intothecontiuum told the Daily Dot. “From a temporal perspective there is annual and seasonal change, but these are part of a larger structural change that is always occurring. Although this change is a consequence of impermanence; there still remains certain similarities which preserve the re-occurring qualities that define these times."

    Intothecontinuum, 25, started making GIFs art journey in 2010 to explore the moiré pattern, an interface pattern created when two grids are placed on top of one another at different angles. Since then, Intothecontinuum, who asked to keep his identity private, has created more than 500 original animations using Mathematica, a sophisticated computation program created by Stephen Wolfram of Wolfram|Alpha fame.

    Each mathematical pattern takes about 15 to 45 seconds to create using Mathematica and a 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 processor computer. The animations vary in size but typically consists of 15 to 30 black-and-white frames. The results clean, efficient, and entrancing to watch.

    For the holiday GIF cards, Intothecontinuum worked his math magic to render two seasonal scenes, a nostalgic portrait of of snowflakes falling and a series of fireworks to welcome the new year.

    "In these cards, snowflakes and fireworks are used not only as traditional symbols for these times, but to also represent this sort of unique change we encounter every year—always the same in essence, but distinct in experience. Towards this end, each snowflake and firework is algorithmically generated making use of randomness to construct something that is always different."

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    A Georgia teen wanted to spread some holiday cheer, not holiday fear. But that's not how his school interpreted it.

    John George III, 16, announced on Facebook he was planning to dress up as Santa Claus and give out candy to his high school classmates. All well and good—except that he wrote an additional post, saying his classmates were in "for a big surprise."

    When a concerned parent saw that, she called police. 

    On Tuesday night, the cops met with George and determined he meant no harm. But when they turned the case over to the school, the principal suspended George indefinitely on Wednesday.

    "It's very unfair … they took it the wrong way," said the teenager's father, John George Jr., to the Telegraph of Macon. He said the school misunderstood and the principal overreacted. 

    School superintendent John Douglas defends his decision by saying they were being cautious—especially after last week's events in Newtown, Conn.

    "If I had to do it over again, we’d do the same thing, just to be cautious," Douglas said to the newspaper. He added that it would be against the school's interest if "we knew about this ahead of time, and we did nothing, and something happened."

    Douglas also assailed George III's wording of the Facebook post, calling it "kind of disturbing."

    His father admits the Facebook comment was poorly timed, but the school should have spared his son of embarrassment from the bus driver who asked George III to empty his backpack in front of everyone. The candy he brought dropped from his backpack to the ground in the front of the bus, his father said.

    A anxiety-riddled George III keeps asking his father if he's going to jail. Dad says the incident has altered his son's impression of Christmas.

    "He feels that he was done wrong, and he doesn’t really understand it all yet," said George. “This has been totally worked up after what happened in Connecticut."

    George Jr. said students are slandering his son by comparing him to Adam Lanza, the Connecticut shooter. He told the newspaper the school should've dropped the case after the police determined the Facebook post wasn't threatening. 

    School officials said the suspension was an act of self-protection, nothing more, and plan to work with George III to correct any issues caused by other students and missed schoolwork. 

    "We’re not trying to hurt this kid," said Douglas. "Everyone’s got to be more sensitive to what’s going on around us."

    Photo by Doug Kerr/Flickr

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    Allison was 17, stacked with a bright smile and big, brown eyes. She loved photography. She loved books. And she loved showering me with attention. She was altogether great and also quite cheap. I bought her for $5, and we dated for less than a week.

    I purchased Allison's company through GirlfriendHire, a website that sells female companionship to guys for the cost of a six pack. The site calls the arrangements "flings," with each one typically lasting for just under week.

    GirlfriendHire is wholeheartedly not a brothel. Think of it like an online marketplace—one where you can buy whatever nonsexual thing it is that you'd like to get out of a girlfriend. Need help on your homework? SoniaSwiss will help you learn English, French, or Dutch in three days. Want somebody to consult you on your style? HuntApril2 will handle all your online shopping suggestions. In the mood to make an ex jealous? Turns out there is literally an entire section of flings devoted to girls offering themselves as a breakup proxy. You can bring another girl into the picture and get the last one out of your hair like that. All it takes is $5 and a login key.

    I fell in line with Allison because I thought that she could provide what I wanted: a steady stream of conversation that I could ultimately turn into a story. Her offer was to text any takers for a duration of five days and "act as anything you need me to, whether it be hispanic, asian, black, white, mixed, etc.”

    She wrote that she could supply pictures of her face—and her face only—and that she'd be willing to trick whoever I needed into thinking that I had an amazing girlfriend. So she was pretty much my dream girl, except that she was only after my money. Little did she know that my editor had agreed to expense it.

    Photo viapandagirl21/GirlfriendHire

    I received my first message three hours after I signed up for the fling.

    "Please supply me with basic background information and what you want me to do specifically, whether it be making someone jealous, or impressing someone," she wrote. I told her that I just wanted someone to tell me what they're doing and that they're thinking about me.

    "Share funny stories and send me photos of your food," I wrote. "I'll want you to send some texts to my buddy Z to impress him at some point, but right now I just want you to text me and tell me how much you miss me."

    You know, all the basic stuff that comes part and parcel with young love. And again, all for $5. That's hardly a gallon of gas in some states. It's really remarkable, I've just got to say.

    I got my first text 15 minutes later.

    "How's a week sound? :))" she wrote. Smiley face and emoticon city. She promptly told me that she was 17—unexpected, since everybody onsite is supposed to be 18—and that she was "best at caring about people and making them important."

    "I'm a jealous type but I trust you enough to let you do what you want," she wrote to me when I asked if she'd worry. "A guy's gotta have his space too, but I would be jealous."

    That's when she told me that she was into photography.

    "Let's get started, shall we?" she asked when I'd finished with my 20 questions.


    Photo via Allison

    Having a fake girlfriend is stupid. Of course, I had a feeling that would be the case. The endeavor takes all of the good things—talking, sharing, the intimacy—and turns them into texts. Instead of laughter, it's "Lolol." Sharing? Allison and I just met that morning. And intimacy? Fetish, feelings, and fantasies aside, the girl was 17. What's more, GirlfriendHire highlights in its terms of service that "no registered user of GirlfriendHire may offer in any manner, explicitly or implicitly, services that could be deemed, in the sole discretion of GirlfriendHire, to constitute prostitution or other sexual activity."

    "It's a real PG website," Cody Krecicki, the site's 22-year-old CEO, told me when we spoke on the phone. "I've made a real heavy effort to keep it like that."

    As such, and considering all the aforementioned elements and roadblocks, my relationship with Allison more or less consisted of brief discussions about how our days were going and her quest to find new adverbs so that she could uniquely describe the degree to which she missed me.

    "You are my only man," she wrote to me on the second day that I'd known her. "I'm gonna be be thinking about you!"

    After two days, I'd resigned myself to trying to pick fights and find little snippets of the relationship that we did have that I could exploit to maybe try and get a rise from her. I'd accuse her of cheating on me after she'd gone silent for a morning, tell her that she didn't care enough about me for me to invest myself so seriously—$5!—into the relationship. She told me she was at school when I asked her if she was "out talking to someone else" one night while I was writing.

    "Don't worry, babe," she wrote back. "I was just finishing up some projects."


    By the third night, I couldn't take it. This fake girlfriend biz was too much, and boredom had gotten the best of me. Home after a concert and maybe just a little drunk, I decided to turn this courtship into an interview.

    "Are you really 17?" I asked.

    She said that she was. I told her she was young for a girl going to college.

    "I get that," she responded. "I did running start programs my junior year to start in a CEO (Career Education Options) program way back when, which propelled me to get all my necessary credits."

    "Do you get a lot of creeps trying to be your boyfriend on here?" I wrote. She said it was her first time that she'd used any part of the site.

    "My best friend thought that she wanted to do it," she said. "She told me about it and I thought 'Why not give it it a try?' I thought it would be fun."

    She said so far that it'd been "nice." I was the first and only fling that she'd ever had on GirlfriendHire, and she thought that it was "nice."

    Obviously, I could use some work on my text game.

    "$5 isn't much for all the work you're doing," I reminded her.

    "It's not like it's too much work," she responded. "I feel like it's pretty simple. It's kinda odd, but once you get used to it, it's nice to help someone out."

    What she'd come to realize quite quickly was that the people who hire these girls "need help or temporary fulfillment in some way, to impress a friend or offer advice" or whatever it may be that they need. Allison obviously liked texting. She considered it worth it for $5.

    I told her that I thought the site was rampant with creeps, guys who went online looking for strange sex or the closest that they could get to prostitution.

    "No doubt," she responded. "Looking at the sidebar, they are blatantly just trying to find a legitimate girlfriend."

    That's when she told me that she was probably going to delete her account after our deal was due.

    "I wasn't weary of the kind of those kinds of people, and I don't know if I'd want to deal with them," she wrote. Besides, she's a college girl in the prime of her life.

    "I'm just gonna stop," she wrote. "Focus more on my life and such."

    And with that, I closed the book on my fling with Allison, wished her well and sent her off. We haven't spoken since.


    Not all the girls on GirlfriendHire are as attentive and on point as Allison proved to be. I actually signed up for flings with two others: a brunette named AriaFinch who would critique me on my clothing and a wild woman named JerzeyGal27 who promised to whine about how much she hates the music I like. If you ask me, it rarely gets any more "girlfriend" than that.

    Both girls said they would take at least two weeks to respond, and after 14 days, I'd only heard from the whiner. She told me that my favorite band "sounds like some group of indie fuckheads who think the way they play their instruments is their greatest gift to the world" and then made a joke about them having bowl cuts for hair.

    "No thank you," she wrote, and then she never got back.

    The clothing critiquer never got back to me, and that may be for the best. I'm currently wearing some tattered jeans and a shirt that I bought at Goodwill. I can't begin to imagine what she'd think of my bowl cut. No thank you, fair lady. No thank you, indeed.

    AriaFinch's absence was disconcerting, but I can hardly say that it was surprising. The site on which she sells herself is a half-assed excuse for anything that would resemble a stable marketplace, with girls coming and going and few getting vetted beyond what they check on an introductory box.

    "You have to be 18-years-old to have a PayPal account," Krecicki responded when I notified him of Allison's age. "In our Terms of Service, it says that you have to be 18. There are no adult services available. They know we look at their flings."

    Krecicki is able to oversee the flings because a lot of the communication had between Buyers and Sellers takes place online, in something called the Relationship Shopping Cart, where orders are either, active, pending, completed, or canceled. Any type of communication that happens in there is subject to review from Krecicki, who operates every aspect of the site from his home in Naples, Fla., where he's an undergraduate student at Edison State College.

    But what about all that goes on offline? As we've mentioned, Krecicki's site has an entire section devoted to text-message communications.

    "People are going to be people," Krecicki reasoned. "The best thing you can do for them is set them up with an outline and a structure to work with instead of rules to follow.

    "People break rules. If they do, they put themselves at a chance to be banned from the website. The site's Terms of Service says that you should keep private any personal information you have."

    It's a novel concept, but altogether unlikely in practice. As it stands, I currently hold the phone number for a 17-year-old girl who once pretended that she was my girlfriend.

    Sound ridiculous? Did I mention it was all for $5?

    Photos via GirlfriendHire

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    A week after 26 people were killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the National Association for Gun Rights has started an all-out social media battle over gun control.

    Even while the more prominent National Rifle Association took a step back on social media in the days following the Sandy Hook shooting, the NAGR has continued to be vocal on its defense of the Second Amendment. Even on the day of the shooting, NAGR posted a picture that said “More Guns, Less Crime.” It was liked more than 39,000 times and shared almost 11,300 times, and it gained more than 3,000 comments.

    The gun-rights group has only gotten louder this week as politicians in Washington and across the country have called for more gun control. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama appointed Joe Biden to head a task force to look at preventing tragic events like Sandy Hook in the future. Although Obama said nothing about a ban on guns, you wouldn't get that impression by looking at NAGR's Facebook page. This week alone, the group has posted five pictures that urged people to “Stop Obama's Gun Ban” and each one gained thousands of likes.

    Although each of the posts have gained many comments, not all of them are in support of the group's message.

    “He doesn't want to ban guns! Did you bother reading his proposal? Assault weapons did not exist when the Constitution was written,” wrote Kathi Horton.

    “There's no greater example of paranoia than some gun owner in fear of losing his toy, wrote Joe Boyd.

    Interestingly, even after the Sandy Hook shooting, the NAGR had one of its best weeks yet on Facebook. According to the page, it has gained more than 30,000 fans in the last seven days.

    On Friday morning, the NRA spoke publicly about the Sandy Hook shootings, calling for armed police officers in schools.

    Image via the National Association for Gun Rights/Facebook

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    Most Pinterest users have pinboards dedicated to window shopping, a collection of wish lists for dream homes and perfect weddings. In Central Texas, one housing development has found a unique way to incorporate those concepts.

    Taylor Morrison's Ladera housing development has built the first-ever model home to take direct and deliberate cues from some of Pinterest’s most popular “dream home” boards and pins.

    "We're showing people that they can have these homes,” realtor Kristin France told the Daily Dot on a guided tour. “Your hopes and dreams of what you could have or could create: We're trying to make that a reality for people who can't visualize it.”

    The same could be said of Pinterest itself in 2012.

    Once considered too niche to succeed, the image-sharing site went from a fledgling idea to a serious reality this year, one that’s exceeded all expectation to become the third-largest social network in the world. (Only Twitter and Facebook have more users.) And over time, those pinners slowly remolded the site’s female, lifestyle-oriented majority to cover a multitude of interests on the site.

    Of course, the year wasn’t without its hurdles. In the beginning of 2012, the site was growing more quickly than any social network that came before it. As employees struggled to keep the site up and running, the site became a clamped-mouthlegal mess that sometimes harmed businesses more than it helped them.

    Once Pinterest was able to hire enough people to match its explosive growth (from less than 40 people to 70 over the summer), it was able to iron out most its kinks. The hiring of a PR agency meant Pinterest made news, not rumors, and a team of lawyers helped clarify Pinterest’s terms of service. Most recently, Pinterest has made itself especially friendly to businesses by offering profiles just for brands.

    These are the 10 power pinners that helped shape Pinterest’s remarkable year.

    1) Joy Cho Color Chooser

    Even if you don’t follow this design blogger’s boards, you’ve probably seen her pins—just about everything she posts goes viral. That’s because Cho has over 12 million followers, the largest fanbase of any pinner on the site, a status she maintained for almost all of 2012, after unseating Jane Wang (the CEO’s mom) in the spring.

    The Los Angeles-based blogger keeps her boards bright with luxe, colorful home goods. From stationary to tableware, Cho can find it in glittery pink with feather accents. Follow this designer for a pop of color. She’s simply too big and exuberant to ignore.

    2) Andrew “Oyl” Miller Viral Strategist

    If you think you need to be an early adopter to be one of the world’s most popular pinners, guess again. Dissatisfied with his meager 250 followers, Miller, a Tokyo-based copyeditor, cracked the code to gain 25,000 fans—in just three days.

    Miller didn’t stop there. Just a few months later, he’s sitting on 1,000,000 followers and counting, making him one of the 50 most-followed people in the world. The best part? Miller says anyone can do what he did.

    “I think you have to be willing to be obsessed and really dive into some kind of niche,” Miller told us in August. “And I’m sure at this point, there are some huge opportunities to own some untapped subject matter, like I did with sports. But I think if you approach any subject with a degree of artistry, looking for the unusual point of view, and keeping your pin choices surprising, that you will also be able to find success.”

    3) Christine Martinez Miles Stylist

    Pinning is fun, but can it make you money? This design blogger turned power pinner was the first to find out the answer.

    After amassing more than 1 million followers for her pins about fashion, art, and her pampered pooch Miles, Martinez caught the attention of fashion line Calypso St. Barth this March. The brand jetted Martinez (and Miles) to the Caribbean so she could live-pin a photoshoot in the first brand/pinner collaboration ever. Since then, Martinez has curated pinboards for Zales and Banana Republic. It’s a charmed career any pinner would envy. Martinez was just the first to think it up.

    “If it's something I believe my followers would like to see, then it feels good to bring that content to Pinterest,” Martinez told the Dot in June.

    4) Kelly LiebermanPinchatter

    Influence isn’t always about popularity on Pinterest. This social media marketer may not have millions of followers, but she single-handedly founded the network’s most authoritative chat on Pinterest news, marketing, and tools.

    Pinchat is a Facebook community and weekly Twitter chat for power users and average pinners alike. Every week, Lieberman guides discussion on a topic pertinent to Pinterest along with a guest host. Previous guest hosts have included social media directors from McDonalds, Zappos, and Virgin America. It’s these big names, paired with Lieberman’s careful moderation, that make #Pinchat a must for hundreds of pinners.

    5) Allison TylerPin Satirist

    Never mind the traffic; we knew Pinterest was destined to become a significant community when its humor became self-aware. With WTF Pinterest!?, New Yorker and all-around funny lady Allison Tyler documents the site’s wackiest pins.

    Apart from being an archive for pins that make no sense, Tyler archives Pinterest news and maintains a Pinterest lexicon full of site-specific words like “pinterject” and “pinspiration.” When we want to know what pinners are cracking up about, she’s the one we turn to.

    “Pinterest is, usually, calming to me because it lacks the human interaction—it's just ... stuff, and some of it is beautiful or inspiring or thought-provoking to see, and some of it is wicked insane,” Tyler told us in April. “It's a lovely escape.”

    6) Steve Asbell Hoax Spotter

    Be careful what you repin. Some of Pinterest’s most tempting weight-loss tricks, beauty secrets, and natural wonders are nothing more than Photoshop hoaxes. Before you believe your eyes, check Asbell’s board, Fake Plants and Other Hoaxes, to see if that viral pin is too good to be true.

    A horticulturalist, Asbell originally made the board to discount rainbow roses, purple watermelon, and other impossible plants. However, he soon opened it to other pinners as a group board. Today it is the social network’s largest fact-checking board of its kind.

    “I can spot Photoshop adjustments a mile away,” Asbell said in July, “so I decided to set aside the fakes both out of respect for the skills of the fakers and to inform trigger happy pinners who have no idea.”

    7) Chantel Paré The Protester

    Paré is the only person on our list even though she isn’t actually a Pinterest user. Despite that fact, she’s managed to influence many people who are. A stained glass artist, Paré launched Creators Against Pinterest to take a stand against the way the network makes it all too easy to share art without crediting creators.

    Since Paré began her campaign, Pinterest has taken action. It’s made a no-pin button for webmasters who want off the site and partnered with sites like Flickr and YouTube to make sure items from off site are always credited automatically, even if the pinner forgets. Whether this artist’s actions have anything to do with Pinterest’s changes is unclear, but her protest shows just how new and unusual Pinterest’s platform is and how the site will have to overcome uncharted challenges if it wants to keep content creators happy.

    8) BeatGirlWorld The Transmedia Experiment

    This Pinterest account isn’t really run by fictional DJ Heather Jennings. But transmedia company BeActive has tried very hard to make it look that way. BeatGirlWorld is the first Pinterest account that doubles as a storytelling experiment.

    In an effort to market the novel Beat Girl, BeActive has used Pinterest boards to tell the story over several forms of media at once. Pins link to music, photos, and videos that further the story of Jenning’s life. It’s a pioneering technology on an already innovative platform, an experiment you won’t want to miss.

    9) Barack Obama Presidential Pinner

    President Obama endorsed the site in February when his campaign reserved his name, causing many to wonder whether or not the president had truly joined Pinterest. That question was finally answered in March, when the his campaign began pinning quotes, reelection campaign photos, and more attributed to his name. Obama’s early adoption of Pinterest proved the site wasn’t going away and that even presidential candidates needed to court the Pinterest vote.

    10) Ben Silbermann Kingpin

    It’s been a big, strange year for the Pinterest cofounder, who promoted to president and CEO of after fellow cofounder Paul Sciarra stepped down.

    As the Pinterest boom kept building and more people kept joining, Silbermann did something drastic: He deleted his Pinterest account. The reason? Silbermann didn’t want to lose touch with Pinterest’s millions of new users. He started from scratch “to remember how new Pinterest user’s [sic] feel!” It’s a promising gesture from the CEO.

    Honorable Mentions:

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    The moderators of r/RandomActsofChristmas probably anticipated having their hearts warmed several times over by all the redditors who go out of their way to donate their time, energy, and pocketbooks to making Christmas a little brighter for children and other members of the community.  

    But they probably never expected that one of those redditors would be Iron Man, or that the superhero—or at least one cosplayer—would warm everyone's hearts this holiday season.

    In November, mod Pookie85 posted a request to the r/cosplay subreddit looking for someone to play Iron Man for a special kid:

    I am hoping to find an Iron Man Cosplayer near Southeastern Kentucky who could visit a little boy named Cameron. He has down syndrome. He's a sweetheart and loves Iron Man.

    If we can't find one who can come to KY, then I would like to find one (with an awesome costume) who could make a video and say hi to him, as well as wishing him a Merry Christmas.

    We do our best to make the Christmas Magic happen for kids all around the world. This is our second year running. This little guy did not ask for toys, just a visit from his hero. So if you know of someone who cosplays as Iron Man, please let me know! Thank you!

    After being flooded with offers from Iron Men across the forum, Pookie85 made a decision and contacted Redditor MartyJMcFly, who, in true Iron Man form, promised he'd "make it happen." Pookie85 sent MartyJMcFly a customized Iron Man a script personalized for Cameron and his family, and make it happen they did, in a video where Iron Man congratulates Cameron on being such a great kid and promises to put in a good word for him to "the big guy" at Christmas:

    Even better was Cameron's reaction, full of smiles from a boy who, according to his father, typically doesn't emote:

    Afterwards, Cameron even made a reaction video to wish Iron Man a merry Christmas in turn, looking delighted and showing off his skills:

    Pookie85 celebrated Cameron's happy holiday on the Random Acts subreddit:

    Random Acts of Christmas truly does try to give every child what they want most for Christmas, and we were able to accomplish that for Cameron.

    Merry Christmas, Cameron.

    Thank you, Iron Man.

    Redditors reacted with nearly universal praise, and in many cases, tears—proving, as if we didn't already know, that Iron Man, Reddit, and Santa Claus make a great team of superheroes.

    Screengrabs via YouTube

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    It turns out the Mayans were wrong. The world did not end in fire, nor did it end in ice. Dec. 21, 2012 came and went without so much as a bang or a whimper.

    That didn't stop some people from covering all their bases just in case the Mayan apocalypse did happen. People didn't want to be raptured—or whatever the hell was supposed to happen— without clearing their consciences first. And thus, #endoftheworldconfessions was born.

    The Twitter hashtag became popular overnight, becoming a trending topic. According to social analytics tool Topsy, #endoftheworldconfessions was mentioned 476,411 times between Dec. 19-20. Apparently, Twitter users had a lot of things to get off their chest.

    With that in mind, we've compiled some of the better ones. These run the gamut from funny to just plain bizarre.

    File our first tweet under "obvious confession is obvious."

    Photo via @Nikki_1D/Twitter

    It's not really much of a secret when the name of the boy band is part of your Twitter handle.

    Others used this opportunity to reveal their long-time secret identity.

    Photo via @boring_as_heck/Twitter

    Even some celebrities got in on the hashtag action. Unfortunately, not all of them got the point. Rapper Wiz Khalifa, for example, took it as an opportunity to tweet tired aphorisms.

    Photo via @TheWhizKhalifa/Twitter

    That's deep.

    Speaking of rap, it turns out some people have just been pretending they're fond of the genre.

    Photo via @lyoungbreezyl/Twitter

    Up next are four contenders for the title of "worst human beings in the world" award.

    Photo via @Chamill1/Twitter

    Pretty sure you can't give someone cancer, jerkwad.

    Photo via @laurenrehn557/Twitter

    That's just wrong.

    Photo via @TheeWizardKelly/Twitter

    In case you're wondering, that's not an example of racism. That is, however, the exemplification of douchebaggery.

    Photo via @pentylu/Twitter

    Yes, that tweet is awful, but we'd be lying if we said it didn't make us laugh. Moving on.

    It's not a legitimate worldwide trending hashtag without a mention of the scatalogical.

    Photo via @guacamallory/Twitter

    You probably should have kept that to yourself regardless.

    And finally, the winner for the weirdest and creepiest end of the world confession:

    Photo via @RonnieBitner/Twitter

    Just... wow.

    Photo via swruler9284/Flickr

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    Watching porn online could lead to something more embarrassing than explaining it to your significant other—your computer might be held hostage.

    Hackers are threatening porn-site surfers with "ransomware": the shady characters threaten to take your money to let you access lost data. The messages pop up to make it look like they're from the FBI, warning the users they're doing something illegal.

    But it's just a scheme from hackers to funnel money from the clueless. And it's working: According to the Ottawa Citizen, cyberextortion is expected to grow in 2013. 

    Kevin Haley of software security creator Symantec Corp. says the hackers force people to buy prepaid debit cards to unlock their computers. The hackers tell the captive users to send the card's PIN to them via the user's keyboard—the only thing not locked down.

    And when victims pay hackers their requested ransom, their computers might still stay locked. To remove the viruses, technicians have to wipe the computer clean, erasing the user's data and files.

    "These are not honorable people," said Haley, who notes the trend is moving beyond pornographic sites. "Unfortunately, we will see some really diabolical and nasty tricks used to try to force people to pay."

    It might not be honorable, but it's netting the cyber extortionists big money. The New York Times said ransomware gangs have earned more than $5 million a year. The plague dates back to 2009, when Eastern European Web users were initially targeted. 

    The shadowy gangs, believed to be based in Russia, are moving westward with it and expanding beyond computers. Haley believes Mobile devices are next on the hackers' hit list. 

    "People get upset when their computer gets taken over, could you imagine how upset somebody will be if they can’t access their phone? People will pay anything to get their phone back."

    Careful, Snapchatters: You might be next.

    Photo via hippiegirl46/Hashgram

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    A Canadian stuntman who rose to YouTube prominence in 2009 currently faces two charges pertaining to child pornography.

    David Rock, 51, has been charged with possession of child pornography and one count of accessing child pornography, London, Ont., police announced Thursday.

    The popular stuntman, who reported to have made more than $100,000 in AdSense revenue last year, told reporters Thursday that both charges stem from a nudist video that contains "no sexual content whatsoever."

    "That is all I'm going to say," he added.

    Rock was arrested but has since been released from custody and awaits a court date. Police say that the charges stem from a police search of homes in London and nearby Lucan, where Rock owns his farm. 

    This is the second time that Rock has faced sexual offense charges. In the early 1990s, he was sentenced to one year in prison after being convicted of several charges relating to child pornography, including the sexual exploitation of children. 

    The conviction stemmed from the police discovery of a videotape of Rock's that showed teenage boys masturbating. Rock admitted to encouraging the boys to masturbate on camera but denied any sexual activity. 

    "Don't call me a pedophile," he told 16x9 earlier this year. "Call me a voyeur," adding that he had lots of money and, if he wanted to exploit children, could "pay them to shut up."

    Google temporarily shut down Rock's Davidsfarm YouTube channel after learning of the conviction in 2010, but he quickly made a replica, which currently operates under the guise of Davidsfarmlives. It currently hosts more than 270 videos and has more than 8 million views. 

    Photo via 16x9onglobal/YouTube

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    Folks don't like it when you try to turn their online jokes into ad campaigns.

    Cheezburger, Inc., the parent company of The Daily What and Know Your Meme,  has co-opted popular memes like Condescending Willy Wonka and Futurama Fry to promote the Kia Sorento.

    The campaign, dubbed "Seasons Memeing Contest," encourages fans of the site to caption ten custom-made macros featuring the Kia crossover using 26 different images and words for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate of their choice as well as a $1,000 prize to fund a classroom project via the online charity

    Despite the financial and philanthropic incentive, burger lovers have not responded positively to the ad campaign. As of this writing, close to 70 different Kia-related memes have been posted to the site. Every single one of them has a more downvotes than upvotes.

    Even worse, the few comments that the memes have garnered have been just as negative. Below are some of the least popular images submitted, as well as the condemning comments they’ve received.

    Photo via Cheezburger, Inc.

    "Not sure if bad or BAD," quipped DaFunny.

    "This meme is definitely facepalm worthy. No more of this, please," begged HilmBobbyJoe. "NEXT!!!!!!!!"

    Photo via Cheezburger, Inc.

    "Kia, get off of the internet," demanded Camden Davis.

    Photo via Cheezburger, Inc.

    "This entire page is like someone barfed meme all over a car commercial," noted matthias2099. " None of this crap is funny, interesting, or entertaining."

    "The scumbag hat is actually fitting on this one, a shocking first for this meme series," added Pepto-Bismol.

    Photo via Cheezburger, Inc.

    "Who keeps throwing up cancer on all these kia memes attempts?" asked zck2020.

    "One does not simply LOL at these memes," snarked nkTJH7.

    Photo via Cheezburger, Inc.

    "STOP RUINING MY FAVORITE MEMES," begged Strottinglemon.

    Suffice it to say, this has not been a very successful campaign. Cue the sad trombone.

    Sorry, Cheezburger, Inc., but looks like it'll take a bit more effort in the ad business before you become Sterling Cooper Lolcat Pryce.

    Photo via Cheezburger, Inc.

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    Here at the Daily Dot, we’re firm believers in the power of the crowd—the transcendent ability provided by the Internet for anonymous users to mobilize behind meaningful ideas, for strangers behind computer screens to create significant action in the real world.

    We’ve reported—and quietly cheered with notepads in hand—as a Kickstarter campaign seeks to enable R&B singer Lester Chambers to reclaim his legacy; as random Reddit users found a way to protect orphans at the Faraja Children's Home in Kenya and saved Christmas for a father of four; and as citizens made their voices heard on the White House’s petition site, We the People, whether demanding something as ludicrous as a Death Star or as serious as gun control reform.  

    After the devastating tragedy in Newtown, Conn., we felt compelled to do more than just report from the sideline. We wanted to help the community on its path toward recovery and healing however we could.

    While public schools reopened in the affected area Tuesday, students of Sandy Hook Elementary School will resume classes in January at a temporary location in the nearby town of Monroe. The former Chalk Hill Middle School, a two-story building closed last year, is being restored to accommodate the students. While the school district is pooling resources, there is more that can be done, and investigators have stated that it may be months before they are allowed back into the building.

    The Daily Dot has partnered with CrowdTilt, a new crowdfunding endeavor, to raise money for essential school and office supplies for the teachers and staff of the Sandy Hook Elementary School. All donations will be given directly to Newton County Schools to support Sandy Hook Elementary.

    If you would like to contribute, please visit our campaign page.

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    Lucas Fabray was 22 years old when he realized that he was born in the wrong body. It happened at the grocery store. Fabray, who was born and raised as a girl, began looking at the older women around him. “They were casually pushing carts, holding their baskets, sorting coupons … and I realized that I didn’t want to grow old as a woman,” he recently wrote. “It was just then I realized that I wasn’t in the right form, and that I had to do something about that.”

    That was in 2002. The Internet had already become the predominant research tool for people of Fabray’s generation, but it was, well, limited. Once back at home, Fabray started looking up terms like “transgender,” “female to male,” and “gender identity disorder.” What he found was educational—but foreign. “There were these few guys that were out there that had these sort of super masculine names: Hudson. Alpha Dog,” he recalls. “They were like the forerunners, and they wanted to give back and make some awesome resources. And they’re awesome! But they scared the hell out of me.” 

    Fabray says that at that age, he wasn’t ready for surgery or hormones—and he wasn’t sure he ever would be. Living as an “alpha dog” seemed almost as alien to him as living out his life as a woman. And yet, 10 years later, the Web no longer presents such limited answers. To the contrary, it’s become a place that reflects how complex, fluid, and nuanced we now understand gender to be.

    Fabray’s story about the grocery store is his answer to the first question—“When did you realize the term transgender referred to you?”—on something called the “30 Day Trans Challenge,” a questionnaire first posted on Tumblr in the fall of 2011, though it had appeared elsewhere on the Web before that.

    The idea behind the challenge is simple: Participants answer one question about themselves each day over the course of a month (or thereabouts). In this variation, aimed at people who identify as transgender, the questions run the gamut: technical (“What is your binding choice and why?”), logistical (“Bathrooms”), legal (“How do you feel about the trans laws where you live?), personal (“Have you ever been outed?”), and profound (“How do you manage dysphoria?”).

    The answers are no less varied — both in substance and style. Some respondents knew their gender identity was in question from the moment they were conscious of gender itself, while others wrestled with it until they were young adults. Some say they are both transgender and transsexual; others call themselves straight or gay. And while most respond to each prompt with text, there are variations to that, too — Fabray with original art, others with video responses, often alongside updates on the way their bodies have responded to surgery or hormone treatments. 

    Taken as a whole, the blog confessions show that the transgender experience is far from singular — instead, it is as diverse and multifaceted as the human experience itself. Which, according to advocates in the field, is exactly why projects like this have value. “Everyone’s experiences are going to be different, obviously, but the more you hear about others, the more easily you will be able to navigate your own,” says The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s Aaron McQuade. “The more educated we can make people about a [group] that our society has been grossly uneducated about forever, the better it is for everyone.”

    According to the Transgender Law Center, between 2 and 5 percent of the population is transgender; and McQuade says that just 7 or 8 percent of Americans know someone who identifies as such. But the population has been more visible in recent years—competing in beauty pageants alongside biologically female contestants, appearing on reality television, and modeling in the pages of glossy magazines. Earlier this month, the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees announced that it would replace Gender Identity Disorder with the less-stigmatizing “gender dysphoria” in the next edition of the DSM; the University of Iowa also announced that it would add questions on sexual orientation and gender identity to its application forms, a move praised by LGBT advocacy groups.

    For McQuade and others, some of this increased acceptance is directly related to people sharing their stories—online and elsewhere. He says projects like the challenge, and another called “I Am: Trans People Speak,” are powerful ways of speaking not just to young people wrestling with their own identity, but also to their friends, families, classmates, and coworkers.

    For Fabray, though, the process has been just as much about taking the time to reflect on his own experience as it has been about sharing his story with others. Because he creates a drawing to accompany each response, he says the question it is intended to answer “sort of permeates the entire process.” “I kind of wrestle with myself,” he says. “It’s a really good process to be able to pause and ponder what you’re doing.” Sometimes, he’ll get questions or responses from readers who recognize their own stories in his. And occasionally, a reader will challenge him on an answer, forcing him to reconsider his own thinking.

     “Tumblr is just the place where people are talking about identity,” he says. “You see that you’re not alone. You’re not weird. You’re having feelings that can be out there and in forms that are celebrated. That is awesome.”

    By Jesse Ellison

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    After about seven years of heavy use, Rose Cahalan's MacBook Pro had had enough.

    "[I]t's now running very slow and freezing frequently," Cahalan wrote on Reddit's r/techsupport forum a month ago. "Mostly I just use the Internet and edit photos (no gaming or anything like that) but even that is pretty slow now. What can I do to make it run faster? Or is it time for a new laptop?"

    The answer? It was time for a new computer. At least that's what Tom Bowen, an engineering whiz known for his novelty account i_lase_you, thought. 

    "The singular purpose of this email is to get your expectations high," Bowen wrote in a message to Cahalan after finding out he had received the assistant magazine editor as part of Reddit's historic secret Santa gift exchange. "Anyone can be pleasantly surprised by a gift if their expectations are low. That's no challenge.  I want you to be expecting something amazing. That will make it all the more awesome when you receive it and are blown away. Brace yourself. Christmas is coming."

    The result was a month of Reddit gold, a Reddit alien ornament, and a handmade box engraved. And a brand new MacBook Air worth more than $1,000.

    "When I opened the package, my guess was that it would be an iPad," Cahalan told the Daily Dot. "A Macbook Air was way better, though. There's something surreal about a random stranger being so thoughtful."

    Cahalan posted photos of her presents on Reddit Gifts where they have become one of the most popular this season. She's also received awards for Favorite Over the Top Gift, Favorite Stalker Gift, Favorite Reddit Themed Gift, and Favorite Arts and Crafts Gift. 

    "This made me tear up a bit, how awesome are all these things?! I love reddit gifts and all the beautiful people who are a part of it!" lotuskid88 commented.

    In 2010 more than 17,000 participated in Reddit's Secret Santa. This year, that number more than tripled to 58,404 people across 126 different countries. In August the project was officially crowned the largest in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records.

    This year the average American will spend about $900 on gifts, according to the American Consumer Credit Council. While Bowen, 47, is well past that figure, it was well worth it.

    "I really do feel fortunate to have been given someone as appreciative as Rose for a match," Bowen said. "I've sent out hundreds of free lased stuff to redditors who ask me to, and somewhat surprisingly, probably 80 percent or so never even send me an acknowledgement that they received it, much less a thank you. And exactly two people have sent a physical letter thanking me, one the brother of a 12-year-old who was undergoing open heart surgery I did a lase for, and one from Alexander Rhodes, who is in the Tom Cruise movie Jack Reacher, who sent me a wonderful autographed picture. It really was very rewarding to see someone as genuinely appreciative as Rose."

    Photo by Rose Cahalan/Reddit

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    I can still remember the blank stare my low-tech friend threw me in June when I started to tell him about Pebble, the futuristic smartwatch that raised more than $10 million on Kickstarter.

    "What's Kickstarter?" he asked. Then I realized he wasn't kidding.

    Such was the plight of the largest crowdfunding site on the Internet: Adored by the ones who adored it, ignored by everyone else. If you didn't know a musician who was trying to make an album, it's quite possible that you hadn't ever heard about the wonder that was Kickstarter, a site founded in 2009 and designed to help you fund and follow creative dreams.

    But a funny thing happened on the way to mid-February: A Portland, Ore., native named Casey Hopkins raised more than $1 million for the funding of his Elevation Dock, an iPhone dock that was both versatile and svelte.

    A second project—this time a gaming project, Tim Schafer's Double Fine Adventure—broke through the $1 million ceiling a few days later. Kickstarter never looked back.

    By May, Eric Migocovsky's Pebble watch project had raised more than $10 million through the crowdfunding platform, and publications as big as The New York Times had started to take notice.

    With the attention came the jokers, then the stories of the scammers. Kickstarter did a lot of good—it helped fund people's dreams—but it also made room for some nightmares. And though the success stories of designers or artists who reached their goals and delivered on their pledges still severely outnumbered the ones that didn't, stories still emerged about creators squandering cash or, even worse, choosing to take the money and run.

    Today, Kickstarter, like Indiegogo and so many other crowdfunding sites of its ilk, is a full-blown community, one with heroes and villains and policemen watching over both.

    The site's seen its fair share of influencers over the past year, but it would be unfair to rule out those who participated in crowdfunding elsewhere. What follows is the Daily Dot’s crowdfunding top 10 for 2012, a rundown of the biggest names to emerge in the last year.

    1) Pebble, Pebble Technology
    Money raised: $10,266,845

    Eric Migocovsky and his smartwatch from the future kicked every other Kickstarter funding record to the curb this spring, generating more than $10 million in pledges and redefining what was possible in the ways of crowdfunding design. More than 68,000 people backed the Pebble E-Paper Watch project, with nearly 65,000 of those investors selecting to pledge money towards the development of their very own smartwatch. In the process, the Pebble team proved paramount in turning Kickstarter into the household name it is today.

    2) Double Fine Adventure, Tim Schafer
    Money raised: $3,336,371

    The gaming guru became the second campaigner to raise $1 million and the first to eclipse $2 million and then $3 million. Schafer set the bar for a Kickstarter category that's now the second-most lucrative on the popular crowdfunding site. The Double Fine Adventure campaign was one of the first to quite publicly blow the proverbial lid of its funding goal: Schafer and company raised more than eight times their intended figure.

    3) Amanda Palmer
    Money raised: $1,192,793

    The former Dresden Dolls frontwoman set out to redefine music's business model when she introduced her plans for Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra's new album, a campaign that would eventually raise nearly $1.2 million and become the site's most funded music campaign ever. The Massachusetts native would eventually face backlash for enlisting unpaid players while on the campaign's subsequent tour, but her final message still resonates: "This is the future of music. This is how we fucking do it."

    4) Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal
    Money raised: $220,024

    The popular webcomic countered a lawsuit from FunnyJunk by creating an Indiegogo campaign that attacked the comedy site and its owner. Called "BearLove Good. Cancer Bad.," the campaign set out to raise $20,000 for the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society and give Inman a change to humiliate FunnyJunk in the process. The whole effort worked. By the time his funding ran out, Inman had raised $220,000—and created one of the great sagas of our summer in the process.

    5) Karen Klein, Bullied bus monitor
    Money raised: $70,123

    Canadian Sidorov was so moved by the abusive nature behind June's“Making the Bus Monitor Cry” video that he set up an Indiegogo campaign to send the harassed grandmother on vacation. Sidorov wanted to raise $5,000 but ended up handing Karen Klein a whopping sum of $703,123 in what became a national feel-good story.

    6) Eyez, ZionEyez
    Money raised: $343,315

    Carlos Becerra raised $343,000 last summer from supporters of a project that promised a pair of glasses that could record video and post content onto social media networks in real time, but when the campaign completed, Becerra and company split. Not one pair of Eyez glasses has been shipped to date, and though Becerra told the Daily Dot in October that the team has "definitely made progress," it's easy to think that he's blowing smoke on the lam.

    7) Inspirational Tom Hanks Statue, Wonderment Consortium
    Money raised: $2,762

    Though their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, the three rabble-rousers from Oakland's Wonderment Consortium did great work this summer to expose the flaws in the way that Kickstarter's holds campaigners accountable with their allocated funds. "The rules around this platform are very lax and that's where Kickstarter starts to get murky," group organizer Scott Vermeire wrote in a blog post towards the end of his ironically unrealistic campaign. "Unlike an IRS certified 501©(3), you're not accountable for what you spend it on."

    8) Homestuck Adventure Game, Andrew Hussie
    Money raised: $2,485,506

    Andrew Hussie's crowdfunding success marked the first major time that Kickstarter's massive power to harness fanbases overlapped with fandom's massive ability to fuel projects online. In creating Homestuck Adventure game, Hussie tapped into the ultimate understanding of supply and demand. Even more than the successful funding of Inspector Spacetime, Homestuck's Kickstarter fund shows exactly how powerful a homegrown fandom can be.

    9) Zombies, The funding dead
    Money raised: All sorts of it

    Slice it any way you want it, there's no subgenre of once mortals that benefitted from Kickstarter's success quite like the zombies. Campaigns for the undead sprouted up clear across the crowdfunding canvas this season, with movies, video games, and comics all being pitched in the name of George Romero. One couple even tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to raise $20,000 in an effort to turn their wedding into a zombie movie. Zombies: Sometimes it seems like there's just no stopping them.  

    10) Ouya
    Money raised: $8,596,474

    Julie Uhrman's mobile gaming console raised $1 million in just a few minutes more than eight hours, becoming the fastest campaign to ever reach a million and inviting some experts to proclaim that the company could revolutionize the gaming industry as we know it. The project finished with more than $8.5 million raised—no small potatoes for a campaign long resigned to second place.

    Honorable mention:

    • Motown Tribute to Nickelback: Scott Bradlee’s successful Kickstarter campaign allowed the Queens, N.Y., musician to take his Internet famous Motown tribute to Nickelback offline and into the public eye at this year’s Live at Squamish music festival.

    • Lunar Aid 1985: Kickstarter saw nothing more ridiculous in 2012 than this North Carolina couple who set out to raise $21,474,836 so that they could make an album of legitimate moon-based folk music.

    • Dan Harmon: In September, the writer of NBC’s Community successfully funded the most grandiose Kickstarter film project of all time.

    • Anita Sarkeesian: The feminist gamer faced unprecedented Kickstarter sexism when she set out to create a video series that documented the misogynistic tropes disparaging female characters in video games.

    • Star Command: The creators of this gaming project were among the first to acknowledge that they didn’t spent their money wisely, issuing an apology to their backers and promising to fix what they’d done wrong.

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    The Daily Dot makes a point to focus on those points of fandom that intersect directly with Internet culture, so you won’t find a lot of reporting on the parts of fandom that happen offline. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been paying attention. Now, at the end of the year, we celebrate a collection of our favorite moments that made everyone in fandom happy, online and off-. As you'll see, this year's list is all about unexpected surprises and eager anticipation for 2013.

    1) Sailor Moon gets a reboot.

    Few fandoms have the staying power that this iconic magical-girl series has had ever since it premiered in 1991. But Sailor Moon has spread into a worldwide cultural phenomenon, and in July, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the anime, creator Naoko Takeuchi announced plans for a new reboot of the series. Sailor Moon joins other popular classic series that have already gotten revamps, like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Kenshin, which finally got a live-action film earlier this year, along with a new manga. Could another classic genre-defining series, Utena, which started streaming for free on YouTube earlier this year, be next?

    2) StarKid reunites for one last show.

    Team StarKid could have rested on their laurels and continued to reap the love from the fanbase they garnered from 2009's A Very Potter Musical and 2010's A Very Potter Sequel. The viral YouTube phenomenon that parodied Harry Potter in fine musical fashion began as a project by a University of Michigan acting troupe and ended up launching several careers and making Darren Criss into a Hollywood heartthrob. But fans attending Harry Potter convention LeakyCon in August were treated to StarKid's own kind of magic as Criss and the entire ensemble returned one last time in 2012, with AVP3D: A Very Potter Senior Year.

    Screengrab via Vanessa Criss Anderson/YouTube

    Though the production was just a staged reading, fans were overjoyed at getting to see nearly every StarKid member who'd been involved in the production company over the last three years onstage and celebrating. Last week StarKid released the soundtrack and the script on YouTube, hopefully in preparation for eventually releasing an edit of the production itself for everyone to enjoy, like they did with the previous two musicals. In the meantime, StarKid has already positioned itself to expand its fanbase even further, with a comedy sketch scheduled at legendary comedy circuit Second Story next month.

    3) Coulson Lives!

    Step one: Take a beloved minor character and elevate him into an avatar for The Avengers fans everywhere. Step two: Give him a heroic, but suspiciously ambiguous, death. Step three: Watch as fans launch a summer-long campaign to honor his memory and bring him back from the dead. Step four: Announce what you'd planned to do all along: to feature the character in your new TV series. Step five: PROFIT.

    Contrary to what you might think, Joss Whedon had always intended to feature fan favorite Agent Coulson in his planned The Avengers spinoff series, S.H.I.E.L.D. But the noise in Marvel fandom over his death in the summer blockbuster made the franchise's decision to revive him a huge one—especially when it was the centerpiece of Marvel Television's panel at New York Comic Con, heralded by the president of Marvel studios, Kevin Feige, sporting a "Coulson Lives!" T-shirt. Though Coulson may not actually be revived from death in the new series, in the world of comics, we all know that anything can happen; and after spending months writing "Coulson Lives!" across the Internet and even in real life, fans have proven the demand for Coulson is something that will stick around for a long time to come.

    Photo via The Realm Cast

    4) Dean and Castiel finally get a hug.

    After coming in second on AfterElton's epic slash tourney, which got over 5 million votes, fans of the relationship between Supernatural hunk Dean Winchester and his angelic bestie Castiel needed a pick-me-up; and with episode 2 of Season 8 in October, they got it. And how: It was the hug felt round the world, or at least around Tumblr.  

    Granted, it was totally one-sided, but as the video's top YouTube comment points out, "We've waited years for Cas to get his hug." In the words of allavengedromance on Tumblr, "Cas just didn't get a hug... the entire fandom got a hug."

    5) Darcy appears on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

    What kind of fandom will keep tuning in for nearly six months before they ever even get a glimpse of the main character? The Jane Austen fandom, apparently; or in this case, fans of the modern Pride and Prejudice reboot The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, where Elizabeth Bennet is a vlogger who frequently mocks the iconic Mr. Darcy,but never actually interacts with him onscreen—at least not for the first 59 episodes (which is more like 80, if you count the side vlogs of other characters).

    The buildup around Darcy's character was intense even for fans who had never read and had no idea what was going on. When Darcy finally did show up, his appearance made such a splash that the five-minute YouTube video gained over 250,000 views. Though the Diaries frequently get over 100,000 views per episode, the popularity of this episode probably had two causes: an influx of new viewers who tuned in because of all the buzz,and amazed fans who were content to watch the clip of Darcy, played by actor Daniel Gordh, over and over again.

    Screengrab viaThe Lizzie Bennet Diaries

    6) Phoenix Wright returns for Ace Attorney 5.

    You might not think a video game about the law would be anyone's preferred entertainment, but with its well-done humor, logic puzzles, and endearing characterizations, the Japanese adventure game Ace Attorney is a huge fan favorite. The Capcom/Nintendo-produced game series featured defense lawyer Phoenix Wright as its main character for the first three games; but when the third [spoiler alert!] ended with our hero disgraced and disbarred, it seemed likely we'd seen his last game.

    Instead, the next game in the series cleared Phoenix of all charges and restored his good name and law practice. Now he's back and in 3-D: In the fall, Japanese magazine Famitsurevealed that Phoenix Wright would not only be starring in Ace Attorney 5 but that he'd be back in the defense chair. The game will be released in Japan and the U.S. and Europe in 2013.

    Image scan via aceattorney/Wikia

    7) TOPANGA! Boy Meets World gets a sequel.

    When news broke that ‘90s coming-of-age classic Boy Meets World was getting a current-day reboot titled Girl Meets World, fans were excited. But when original stars Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel signed on to reprise their roles as Cory and Topanga, teenage sweethearts who grew up to become the ideal couple, fans went wild. In a touching, widely reblogged post on her Tumblr, Fishel promised the fans would get a show worthy of their affection:

    “When the news leaked that GMW was in the making, literally days after I first heard about the project myself, Michael Jacobs and I had a conversation and we talked about how we were both so blown away by the reactions from all of you.  We felt honored. We felt nostalgic. We felt touched by the excitement in your comments, tweets, Tumblr, and Facebook posts.  But most of all, we felt inspired.”

    8) Arrested Development returns.

    2012 may have been the year of cult hits with avid fan followings getting an unexpected second life, whether it was Girl Meets World, Community's surprise renewal (though it may be the show's last chance for survival), and most of all, Arrested Development. The offbeat comedy, widely considered one of television's best, has only grown its fanbase over the six years since its untimely cancellation in Season 3, with the result that not only did Netflix order a short season to debut in spring of next year, but they just expanded the episode count. If the rumors are true, and creator Mitchell Hurwitz is building up to a movie, this news makes it all the more likely that the show's fans could get even more material—perhaps even six seasons and a movie.

    Illustration by Nolan Harris/Deviantart

    9) Studio Ghibli is back with two new films.

    Two years ago, rumors flew that Studio Ghibli, the production company responsible for Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle, to name just a few of their beloved animated films from Japan, was in danger of shutting down. Legendary studio head, director/animator Hayao Miyazaki, may have felt that if his latest film, The Secret World of Arietty, failed to garner a positive response overseas, then he'd prefer to bow out rather than see his studio's reputation for producing brilliant films start to wane.

    Instead, Arietty grossed a neat $19 million in the U.S. and nearly $150 million worldwide. And now Ghibli is back with not one but two films in the works. Miyazaki and studio cofounder Isao Takahata, director of Fireflies, plan to direct. Miyazaki's The Wind is Rising will go against the studio's usual fare by featuring a male protagonist, World War II fighter plane designer Jiro Horikoshi. Takahata's The Tale of Princess Kaguya is based on a famous folk tale, Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter). Japan's version of Thumbelina, this story of a tiny princess who was born in a bamboo shoot will see Takahata take the helm for the first time in over a decade.

    Both films are planned for same-day release next summer in Japan. The last time that happened, according to AnimeNewsNetwork? 1988!

    Illustration via

    You'll notice that unlike all of our other end-of-year lists for fandom, this one only stops one shy of 10 items. That's because we want you to tell us: What made you really happy in 2012?

    Photo via The Realm Cast

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    The movement to make printable guns suffered yet another setback last week when Thingiversea Makerbot Industries site that hosts user-created design filespulled a collection of blueprints for gun components from its servers.

    Among the deleted data was a file for a reinforced AR-15 lower receiver, uploaded by Michael Guslick, a Wisconsin-based IT administrator and gun aficionado who goes by HaveBlue on various Web forums.

    Defense Distributed, a libertarian-oriented collective working toward the development of the world's first fully 3-D-printable gun (dubbed "the Wiki Weapon"), used a modified version of Guslick's receiver in a YouTube demonstration that caused a United States congressman to call for the renewal of the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988.

    According to a letter Thingiverse lawyers sent to Guslick, the files were pulled from the site because it violated its terms of use. 

    "You agree not to use the Site or Services to collect, upload, transmit, display, or distribute any User Content [that] ... contributes to the creation of weapons, illegal materials or is otherwise objectionable," Thingiverse's terms read.

    But Thingiverse has done very little until now to enforce the terms, which have been in place since February, said Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson, who spoke with the Daily Dot on the phone.

    Wilson speculates that the company pulled any weapon-related files from the site as a result of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

    They've had from February to now to enforce those rules, but they've been kind of doing it both ways," Wilson stated. "Now they execute them for ... well, it's kind of obvious why.

    "It would be difficult to think that wasn't the reason why." 

    But not all weapons-related files have been pulled from the site. As pointed out on, a site devoted to 3-D printing culture, blueprints for a revolver and a Colt M1911A1 pistol are still available for download on Thingiverse.

    The Daily Dot reached out to Thingiverse, but they have yet to respond to our inquiry.

    The company did speak to Forbes—though not on this specific issue—explaining that their actions were just another step in the site's evolution.

    "MakerBot's focus is to empower the creative process and make things for good," stated spokesperson Jenifer Howard. "Thingiverse has been going through an evolution recently and has had numerous changes and updates. Reviewing some of the content that violates Thingiverse's Terms of Service is part of this process."

    As per the deleted files, Wilson and Defense Distributed launched a new file-hosting site,

    "This site is a makeshift response to Makerbot Industries' decision to censor files uploaded in good faith at Thingiverse, specifically firearms-related files," reads the site's About Us page.

    "We're not sure how this site might fit into Defense Distributed's efforts, but know that THIS place, if there will be no other, IS a home for fugitive information. No object file will be censored unless it is malicious software. When we say freedom of information, we mean it."

    Photo via

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    At least 11 high school football players have been targeted by Anonymous hackers after two of their teammates were charged with the rape of a 16-year-old Ohio girl.

    Steubenville High School football players Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, both 16, were arrested on Aug. 22 for allegedly raping a girl from a nearby Ohio private school after "taking her to several parties while she was too drunk to resist," The New York Times reported:

    "At that third party, the girl could not walk on her own and vomited several times before toppling onto her side, several witnesses testified. Mays then tried to coerce the girl into giving him oral sex, but the girl was unresponsive, according to the player who videotaped Mays and the girl. The player said he did not try to stop it because 'at the time, no one really saw it as being forceful.'"

    Tweets sent by the accused teens and other students during the night of the alleged rape included words like “rape," “drunk girl," and at least one Instagram photo of the victim.

    The case has completely polarized the 18,000 residents of Steubenville, Ohio, a town where high school football is taken very seriously. One local blogger for, Alexandria Goddard, has posted screenshots of the tweets and spoken out against victim blamers.

    "I have been reading tweets and posts online for the past few days and I can tell you that I am DISGUSTED. TRULY and UTTERLY DISGUSTED at the things being posted by those who were in attendance of this brutal attack or the posts by their girlfriends who are disparaging the victim’s reputation," Goddard wrote on prinniefied

    "I am disgusted with the students who are protecting their friends and tweeting 'Oh, ______ better not get in trouble for this.' Tweet after tweet has been filled with support for the boys who were arrested, as well as vowing their support and willingness to stick together because they are '#StuebenvilleStarsForever.' No, you are not stars. You are criminals who are walking around right now on borrowed time."

    Other Steubenville community members have defended the two football players and criticized the victims story.

    "The rape was just an excuse, I think,” Nate Hubbard, a volunteer coach, told The Times. "What else are you going to tell your parents when you come home drunk like that and after a night like that?"

    These sorts of comments and the fact that only two students have been charged inspired the Anonymous community to launch OpRollRedRoll. On Sunday night the hackers defaced a website for Steubenville High School athletics

    The YouTube video embedded on the defaced site warned the school that if other student witnesses did not come forward to speak out against the rape, "a full size dox [i.e. released personal information] of everyone involved including names, social security numbers, addresses, relatives, and phone numbers" would be released on Jan. 1. 

    The video, which was removed around 11am ET Monday for violating YouTube's policy, included a description that included the names of Richmond, Mays, and the names of 11 other Steubenville High School football players. News of the hack and the video were the topic of three Reddit threads (one of which made the front page late Sunday) where the community called for justice.

    "Please Anonymous, make these assholes pay," yarr_be_my_password wrote on a thread on Reddit's r/4chan forum. 

    Three weeks ago, Anonymous targeted Hunter Moore, founder of notorious "revenge porn" site Is Anyone Up, after he announced a new version online venture would include a GPS feature for stalking women whose naked images were submitted, often without their consent. In retaliation, Anonymous released Moore's address, telephone number, and other personal information in a Pastebin doc.

    More recently, hacktivists targeted the Westboro Baptist Church to prevent them from protesting the funerals of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

    The website for the Steubenville High School athletics has since been returned to normal. But if the school doesn't comply with Anonymous's demands, that could change.

    "Make no mistake, all you need is a Google search engine to realize we are serious in what we do," the masked hacker said in the YouTube video, which collected 68,000 views before being taken down. "You can hide no longer, you have attracted the attention of the hive. We will not sit idly by and watch a group of young men who turn to rape as a game or sport get the pass because of athletic ability and small town luck. You now have the world looking directly at you."

    Photo by Wim Vandenbussche/Flickr

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    Fans of the NHL have placed a digital lump of coal in the league's stocking.

    Last Wednesday, the National Hockey League posted a collage to its Facebook page showcasing eight of the league's mascots dressed in Christmas garb and wishing its fans a happy holiday season. 

    Big mistake.

    The image, which you can see below, gave disgruntled fans an opportunity to lash out against the NHL, which finds itself in the midst of a labor dispute with the National Hockey League Players' Union. The league locked out its players on Sep. 16, 2012, after the last collective bargaining agreement expired. The two sides have been in contentious and fruitless negotiations. As a result, the 2012–2013 season has been canceled through Jan. 14, 2013.

    Photo via NHL/Facebook

    The well-intentioned image has garnered over 4,178 likes. Unfortunately for the NHL, it has also received close to 5,000 comments, the bulk of which are highly critical of the league.

    "Really? How out of touch are you morons? Is this a joke? Screw the NHL," fan Eric Strianese angrily commented. "I gave up my season tickets for good and stopped watching out of disgust for 2 full seasons after the last lockout. That will end up being nothing compared to my response to this one. Friggin' selfish, greedy, clowns."


    "Are you kidding me? Get a clue," added Charlie Zimmerman. "We'll all be watching college football for the holidays. Nice knowing you."

    "Why waste time making a Christmas card when you could be canceling more games?" Sebastian Peralta asked rhetorically. "Go suck a fat one NHL!!"

    "Amidst a horrible lockout and perhaps one of the most mismanaged years in the history of organized sports, the NHL—when not busy destroying its league and its brand—has taken to Facebook to wish its followers "Happy Holidays,'" wrote Daniel Kayser. "The resulting 4,000+ comments from frustrated followers are pure comedy gold. Unfortunately, this is the closest the NHL has come this year to being entertaining …"

    Something tells us the league's public relations team isn't laughing.

    Photo via NHL/Facebook

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    In many ways, Etsy stretched out of its longstanding comfort zone in 2012.

    The artsy marketplace now boasts more than 875,000 active stores all over the world, thanks in part to CEO Chad Dickerson’s fundraising push toward global expansion. With the recent addition of Etsy gift cards and internationally available direct checkout, buying handmade is more seamless than ever.

    But the transition wasn’t without serious growing pains.

    A scandal centered on an Etsy store accused of outsourcing manufactured goods rocked the handmade world, bringing its core values into question. A protest blacked out portions of the site. And Etsy drug deals were shut down for good.

    These 10 power users helped shape Etsy’s biggest, most lucrative, and controversial year yet.

    1) Chad Dickerson The Boss

    Etsy has changed more under Dickerson since he took over as CEO in August 2011 than the company did in the six years prior.  

    For starters, Etsy went global, raising $40 million for international expansion, and enabled direct checkout, which lets buyers make purchases without leaving the site. Dickerson also headed the purchase of wholesale marketplace Trunkt and encouraged wholesale selling on Etsy. In turn, Etsy broke its own records for traffic and sales, and while the tech world’s eyes were caught on the likes of Facebook and Pinterest, Etsy had its biggest Black Friday sale ever.

    2) Mariana Schecter Outsourcing Outsider

    Once the domain of individual artisans working out of their homes, this one shop changed the definition of what it means to craft on Etsy.

    After Etsy featured Ecologica Malibu seller Mariana Schecter on its homepage, users cried foul. There was proof Schecter outsourced most of her crafts to a factory overseas, a practice that was against Etsy’s seller rules. After an investigation, Etsy confirmed Schecter’s outsourcing but insisted it was within seller guidelines, so long as Schecter agreed to define her shop as a “collective.” The ruling infuriated the community, which was used to an altogether different definition of “handmade.”

    Ecologica Malibu vanished in June. The store’s absence, however, didn’t change its status as a symbol of the changing face of Etsy.

    3) Etsy Handmade Team The Protesters

    Convinced that Etsy’s definition of “collective” was a cop-out, this anonymous group led the site’s largest ever protest.

    More than 3,500 shops closed in commemoration of the protest, a number that unfortunately doesn’t even make up 1 percent of the 875,000 strong marketplace. However, protesters deemed the strike a successful one after Etsy responded to it, stating that all community members’ concerns are important. It was the right thing on Etsy’s part—the protest site has gone dark and its participants have gone back to focusing on making sales.

    4) April WinchellSatirical Watchdog

    It’s tempting not to take Etsy’s most popular parodist seriously when she makes jokes at the community’s expense. However, Winchell (who goes by Helen Killer on Regretsy was the first to notice and cover the Ecologica Malibu scandal, which forced Etsy to make a rapid response. Disguised as satire, Winchell exposes sellers who break Etsy rules and chides Dickerson in open letters for not doing more to police them. Don’t let the jokes fool you—Winchell is Etsy’s most powerful watchdog.

    5) Vincent Forest Power Seller

    For the second year in a row, Vincent “Bean” Forest is once again the site’s most prolific seller, according to Etsy statistics site Craftcount, he’s. In 2012 alone, he’s gone from 53,000 sales to more than 71,000. What makes Forest’s handmade buttons and pins so irresistible? Perhaps because their witticisms—meant to appeal to math geeks and grammar nerds—mesh perfectly within Etsy’s homespun vibe.

    6) Emily Martin The Black Apple

    Martin’s shop was one of Etsy’s first and continues to be one of the top 10 sellers (according to Craftcount). From paintings to picture books, Martin’s dark-fairytale brand stands out from the Etsy milieu. Martin was invited to speak alongside Dickerson at this year’s XOXO conference. Her takeaway? It “was a nice reminder that I've been doing something with my time, lo, these past seven years!”

    7) Pamela Fleming Santa’s Little Helper

    If Pamela Fleming’s success is any indication, Etsians treasure their pets. At the Magic Sleigh, Fleming sells nothing but custom ornaments of family dogs and cats, and in doing so, she became this year’s top winter holiday seller, according to Craftcount.

    Fleming carefully sculpts each custom order with a photo reference. If the pooch has passed on, she adds a halo or a pair of angel wings. The best part? Ten percent of each ornament goes toward animal rescue and rehabilitation.

    8) Inkpainter Vintage Curator

    Sellers—like the Etsy Handmade Team—who defend a very narrow definition of what it means to be “handmade” on Etsy sometimes forget that a large chunk of sellers have never sold things they made themselves but instead curate vintage goods. This year, Inkpainter held the honor of being Etsy’s most successful vintage shop.

    Inkpainter’s seller doesn’t disclose any personal information, but the shop is characterized by glitzy costume jewelry and period gemstones. With all that shiny sparkle, it’s no wonder that it’s caught the eye of more than 13,000 buyers.

    9) Lauren Engelhardt Policy Manager

    Did you know that as recently as 2012, it was OK to buy human bones and drug paraphernalia on Etsy? You can’t anymore, and it’s due to enforcement by Engelhardt, Etsy’s policy manager. An Etsy employee for more than five years, she’s helped shepherd the site from obscurity to globalization.

    For years, Etsy hasn’t policed sellers’ claims of fertility- enhancing crystals or sales of pot-leaf necklaces. Why is it changing its policies now? Probably to coincide with Dickerson’s drive to grow and expand Etsy. What once went under the radar on a tiny marketplace won’t fly anymore.

    10) Brad TroemelJunk-food Maven

    If this Brooklyn artist’s Etsy shop isn’t the weirdest shop on the marketplace, it’s certainly the one most famous for being weird. Troemel’s useless handmade products have gone viral not only for their insanity but for their equally outrageous high prices.

    In October, Troemel gave us an interview, the likes we’d never seen, complete with unfounded statements and even visuals. It’s apparent that the man behind “taco locks” and decorations made from expired junk food has barely scratched the surface of his inventive mind with his current offerings. We’ll keep an eye on what he comes up with next in 2013.

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