Update, December 2002: I am aware that Adequacy is dead.

The site shut down on the 11th of September 2002, possibly as some sort of tacky "coincidence", leaving only a simple message on the front page. The message was a quote from what some AMD marketing suit had said on Yahoo! Finance, basically claiming that AMD would crush Adequacy. This was presumably meant to imply that AMD had ordered that Adequacy be "taken down". After 30 seconds, the message would then redirect to the trolls' old stomping ground, Kuro5hin. In her Kuro5hin diary, Perdida suggested that the Adequacy servers had been raided by the authorities -- no doubt the authorities in question were the Queen's corgis, acting on orders from the Easter Bunny. Furthermore, many ex-Adequacy editors had the gall to admit freely that all their stories were trolls, cruelly desecrating the memory of the thousands of people they had brutally slain for daring to reveal this blatant truth on Adequacy itself.

Recently, the site has reopened as an archive of all the stories that Adequacy had posted in its 14 months of existence. I have pointed all the links in this essay to the new archive locations.

We are Adequacy.org

Legal warning: linked items in the following paragraph really are controversial; visit them at your own risk.

adequacy.org proclaims itself as the most controversial site on the Internet. Well, it's not quite that good. I can think of a couple of other sites that are more controversial than Adequacy. Actually, I can think of many sites more controversial than adequacy.org. By Usenet standards, Adequacy is tame.

So just what is Adequacy, if it's not the most controversial site?

It's quite simple. It's an experimental web log run by a troll cabal. Not one of the glorious troll cabals of Usenet, but the children of the tribes of web logs Slashdot and kuro5hin. Unlike Geekizoid, it doesn't boldly announce itself to the world as the motherlode of trolls. It presents itself as the home of controversy, of controversial opinions, passionately held.

"A MODEST PROPOSAL", in case any Americans are reading

These comforting statements cloud the jaded minds of even the most cynical visitors. But a fiery heart burns at Adequacy. The majority of the stories are very well written, and make strong use of satirical and ironic content. For example, Why The Bombings Mean That We Must Support My Politics sends up all the hawks who were out in force after the September 11th tragedy, shamelessly claiming their political views were vindicated by the deaths of 5000 people. Eric Raymond, the Libertarian gasbag, put out an article stating that tragedy could have been avoided if people on the hijacked planes had been carrying guns with them. Yes, really.

The Noble Art of Trolling

However, most articles on Adequacy are not trying to put a point across via plain satire, they're trying to wind up visitors to the site with common trolling techniques: strong authoritative standpoints, religious or patriotic righteousness, understated alarmism, deck stacking, deliberate errors of fact (also known as lies), guilt by association, strawman arguments, argument from ignorance, facetiousness, and other methods which should trip every alarm bell going in the mind of the careful reader.

There is no official editorial stance at Adequacy; it carries pro- and anti- articles on all topics: guns, globalism, capitalism, socialism, evolution, religion, sex, family values, geek issues and so on. Adequacy gets a reputation for being very anti-geek, but this is actually Adequacy holding the mirror up to its readers. Adequacy itself isn't anti open-source, or it wouldn't be running on FreeBSD, Apache and Scoop. However, most articles operate by taking a stance intended to offend the target audience. The stories which generate the most interest, and receive the most comments, are those intended to offend geeks. Other types of articles can't garner nearly as many outraged readers. Personally, I suspect the "Slashdot factor" is at work here. Slashdot's most vocal participants are teenage angst-ridden geeks. They haven't developed critical reading skills yet, but are still ready to jump in with both feet when someone appears to slight them, their interests, or their occupation. They love to write point-by-point rebuttals of whatever offends them, without considering that this may the intended effect of the article they read. Adequacy provides them with just enough rope to hang themselves.

Fingers in many pies

Adequacy has advanced the noble art of trolling, and for that it should be commended. Until now, trolls posted directly to interest groups on Usenet or the Web, and had to withstand scrutiny within the very community that they were trying to troll. Now, the trolls run their own web log, and incite you to post your enraged replies in their community. Sinister Adequacy minions root around Usenet and the Web for communities to inform about the latest Adequacy articles. For example, talk.origins was invited by subversives to participate in Some major flaws in Evolutionary Theory. Similarly, Anime fans were told about Not just harmless fun, and so on. Adequacy's "buzz" page [12/2002: now defunct] gives a hint to just how "plugged in" the Adequacy crew are. Their attempts to lead people to their site are unavoidable in popular Usenet groups. Many interesting characters are lining up to promote adequacy.org.

Culture jamming

Jammers were put in their place when a soulless Nike advertising team took subversion to new levels, by "jamming" their own posters. The idea was to accept that Nike campaigns would be "jammed", and therefore it was imperative that the ad team get in there first, and make sure the "jamming" lead to a nice, safe, pro-Nike environment, where the raw hate for Nike was switched to faux-anger, and hang on, Nike are actually good guys after all! In an eerily similar move, Adequacy own [1] inadequacy.org. This site is full of geek rage about how terrible and mean adequacy.org is, but overall the strong sense that the site's author is a complete idiot overwhelms the reader. The Adequacy staff effortlessly mock all the genuine complaints people make about adequacy.org. Like in the Nike scenario, if your subversion plans for adequacy.org consist of stark, barren disgust for adequacy.org, it's too late. They've "jammed" you.

Godwin's Law: invoked

For many reasons, adequacy "trusted users" and editors like to delete [2] comments. A minority of them are just useless spam ("ADEQUEEZY SUCKS" and so on), but mostly it's comments from people who have just realised that they're surrounded by trolls, and want to let other people reading Adequacy know - particularly the ones who write long and tedious point-by-point rebuttals to intentional errors of fact.

As discussed before, the innovation brought to trolling by Adequacy is defined by the advanced control that the trolls have over their environment. You can't seriously expect Adequacy to hold on to comments that threaten their very existance.

Err... that's it

Have I missed anything? Stuff to discuss? Bring it on.

Stuart Caie is a professional software engineer. He is an atheist, enjoys open-source programming, anime and socialism, yet he isn't offended by anything on adequacy.org.

[1] "own" in the sense of possibly having heard of the person who does own it. Why let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory?
[2] "delete" in the Stalinist airbrushing-out-non-persons sense of making them invisible to the general public, whether they have an account and fiddle with it or not.