Richard ‘Lowtax’ Kyanka, founder of Something Awful, dead at 45


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Image: Nate Milton / Motherboard

Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka, the creator of the forums that define the era of Something Awful, committed suicide on Nov. 9, Motherboard confirmed to Lee’s Summit, Missouri Police Department.

When the administrator of something horrible for a long time “fragmaster” job on the site for the first time in years on November 10, it was to announce to the community that its founder, Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka had passed away. “Guess I should start off by saying it’s not a 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 said. He bonded to a video praise where he shares his extensive thoughts.

Preceding the news with a warning that this isn’t a joke was necessary – faking her own death for laughs sounds like the sort of thing Kyanka would have done. It characterizes the crass and shocking humor associated with Something Awful.

Kyanka was a comedian and programmer who started the Somethingawful.com website in 1999. It started out as a simple web forum and has grown into a cultural phenomenon. Being on the internet in the 2000s was swimming in a sea of ​​Something Awful influence. The macro image meme format, the creepy pasta story Slender Man, and the Twitter dril all debuted on Something Awful. Much of the basic grammar people use to communicate online comes from her forum posts.

But his influence was also terrible. Its members have launched targeted harassment campaigns and formed communities that have become too toxic even for Something Awful to spread through their own websites. 4chan started as an alternative image board after Lowtax banned hentai from the forum in 2003. Users who started targeted harassment campaigns on Something Awful switched to the Kiwi Farms doxing forum and took their targets with them. . While much of the basic language of the American internet has been influenced by forums, the kind of emotionless irony that begins with people pretending to be Nazis like a joke and ending up like real Nazis.

Kyanka sold Something Awful to longtime YOSPOS administrator Jeffrey in 2020 following a domestic violence incident at her Missouri home. Kyanka had a history of domestic violence, details of which unfolded on the Something Awful forums. Years of Kyanka neglecting the site and disgust with his personal life ultimately turned the community against him.

One of Kyanka’s ex-wives shared details linked to his death on Something Awful. Motherboard has confirmed some of them with the Lee’s Summit Missouri Police Department.

In a second post, she both clarified the nature of the abuse she suffered and praised Kyanka. “I know the three of us loved her very much when we first met”, she said.

“He was a complex man and it was devastating that there was so much potential for a happier life if he tried to cure his demons and addictions successfully, and it ended like this. Most humans are not good or all bad. I have behaved in a way in my life that I am not proud of. I don’t really know what I’m trying to say here other than that the grief is really complicated and I wish he had tried harder to heal, if not for himself than for his children. I’ve hated him lately, but I’ve also loved him deeply at one point. My daughter is five years old, she will do better than her other children who are teenagers and may see people celebrating the death of their father.

Kyanka’s life and Something Awful’s legacy are complicated and charged.

“Ultimately, Rich created a community where interesting things happened and people connected,” fragmaster said in his video praise. “It has led to a huge number of positive things. Many marriages, friendships, children can be traced back to meeting Something Awful, private messages… many lives have been strangely improved by Rich and his creation.

But many lives have also been distorted and destroyed. One of the most popular discussion threads on the site was Groverhaus, the story of a sprawling and bizarre house-building project. The henchmen were so hungry for more information about the strange house that they didxed the owner and harassed him and his family for the lolz. Kiwi Farms and 4chan’s targeted harassment campaigns were born and perfected on Something Awful before they left the site. The Internet’s general interest in seeking justice through public humiliation was encouraged there.

Kyanka’s legacy is ingrained in the soul of the internet, for better or for worse. He hated the internet, the internet hated him back, and it’s not clear that anyone learned anything from what he helped release.

“I’m obviously not a visionary, but I predicted the internet would be crap in 1999,” Kyanka told Motherboard in 2017. “Everyone was talking about how the internet was going to revolutionize everything and everything was going to be great, but no one ever said how crappy the internet can be.

If you are struggling with a mental health issue in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. In Canada, visit suicideprevention.ca for more information on how to get help.


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