Richard ‘Lowtax’ Kyanka, Founder of Something Awful and Former King of Internet Thugs, Died at 45

Richard ‘Lowtax’ Kyanka, the founder of Something Awful and a key influence on aspects of modern internet culture, has passed away at the age of 45. The news was originally posted on Something Awful by longtime forum administrator Fragmaster, who was a personal friend of Kyanka, and Motherboard was able to confirm with Lee’s Summit Missouri Police Department that Kyanka committed suicide on November 9.

“Guess I should start off by saying it’s no joke, especially since I’m posting for the first time in 10 years or something, but I got the bad news today straight away. from Rich’s family, ”Fragmaster wrote. “Lowtax is deceased. I didn’t ask for details. I don’t know the details. I don’t know what Rich’s current opinion is here. Not here to answer questions, I share the news. I really do. hate to share this news. But there you go. Goonspeed golden manbaby 555s 2 Heaven. “

Fragmaster also shared the video below, in which he pays a more complete tribute to Kyanka, and encouraged people to donate to a GoFundMe supports Kyanka’s daughter.

Kyanka’s influence on the internet and modern social media, good and bad, is impossible to deny. Something Awful was designed as a comedy website, but its origins can be traced back to Quake.

“I dropped out of school in my freshman year because I hated engineering and accepted a position as a systems administrator for the Vanderbilt Vision and Research Center,” Kyanka said Vice in 2017. “In my free time I played Quake 2 a lot and wrote about Quake 2. Around 98, GameSpy said, ‘Do you want to run PlanetQuake? . I got paid $ 24,000 a year to write Quake 2. “

Something Awful appeared in 1999, designed as a personal comedy website and a place for Kyanka to speak up on GameSpy, but with features that allowed users to share blogs, images, and forum posts. The motto: “Internet makes stupid”. And it’s probably shitposting more than anything else that has seen Something Awful – and its influence – explode.

One thing that would later annoy Kyanka was his role in popularizing internet memes (he viewed sharing someone else’s humor as unoriginal), with SA spawning things like “Your Entire Base belongs to us “and later the urban legend of Slender Man. Other major aspects of SA were the idea of ​​weekly Photoshop Phridays, the emergence of Let’s Play videos, and the launch pad for bands like Mega64. The site’s “Fuck You And Die” forum is an infamous troll haunt from which Internet figures like Dril have emerged.

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But there was still a toxic side to Something Awful. Its members would form brigades and organize harassment campaigns. It encouraged some of the most basic online behaviors imaginable, and when these groups got too toxic for even SA, they left and founded much worse sites. Kyanka’s decision to ban SA hentai resulted in one individual leaving and founding 4Chan. Hence this image.

Worst in Kyanka’s biography were the accusations of domestic violence that surfaced in 2020, which he denied, and the way they were discussed on the Something Awful forums: in recent history he had become a somewhat hated presence on the site, and in 2020 sold it to longtime administrator Jeffrey of YOSPOS (who six months later banned Kyanka’s account).

Kyanka’s legacy is therefore both undeniable and extremely contrasting. If you were into games and the internet in the early 2000s, like me, SA was just a ubiquitous part of the experience: this was where you would see the jokes and silly pictures and rant about Sonic Adventure. . Back in the days when people were still sharing memes via email, I would swear most of the ones I received were from this site.

Or, as SA poster Breetai “It’s like lowtax definitely belongs to the Internet’s Mount Rushmore, but it would also wear the uniform of a Confederate general and be immediately blown up.”

As you can guess, many of the reactions to Kyanka’s death take the form of dark humor – which, at least in this case, you can say the man himself would have appreciated.

Something Awful founder Richard Kyanka.

(Image credit: Richard Kyanka)

“I can’t comment on the sordid stuff I’ve read on Rich since leaving the site, but he’s never been a stranger to controversy.” writes redditor Vertigo3PC. “It’s not a platitude to make him look like a genius that divides; he was a shmuck. But he was our shmuck, so seeing that he’s dead is like finding out the stupid dog biting you. ankle 1 in 5 times you saw him, but you still associated feelings of home and longing with him, got hit by a car and died. “

The Something Awful thread announcing Kyanka’s death is now locked. “The thread went from funny jokes to returning henchmen getting mad at the jokes to an intense fur / monster debate to sth in just 150 pages” wrote GrimGypsy in one of the last comments, “and now nothing is funny or satisfying and it all just seems boring. truly a fitting memorial to Richard.”

Kyanka in his later years became disillusioned with what he had helped to create, and the internet more generally, seeing the early years of Something Awful as some kind of golden age.

“I would wake up and instead of going back to sleep like a normal person, I would start to write. Most of the time, that would be stupid, but it would be stuff that amused me ” Kyanka said Vice in 2017. “That’s all I was really interested in. Parody, satire, stuff about… I don’t mean news, but shitty things on the internet. I would find a page about horrible and scary dolls and review the dolls. Parodies of crazy people who said the Internet was the future without saying, “Well, there might be a possible downside to the Internet.” Obviously I’m not a visionary, but I predicted that the Internet would be shit in 1999. Everybody was talking about how the internet was going to revolutionize everything and everything was going to be great, but nobody ever talked about internet crap. Could be too. “

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact National lifeline for suicide prevention (WE), Crisis Services Canada (CALIFORNIA), Samaritans (United Kingdom), or Safety rope (AUS). If you are outside of these regions, check this list for a hotline in your country.

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