Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Adequacy.org was a satirical web site. It featured articles on politics, religion, technology, history, and sociology, as well as the "Linux zealot" cartoon series. The site shut down on September 11, 2002, but has since made its archives available.
Adequacy.org's slogan was "News for grown-ups", a play on the slogan of the popular Slashdot technology news site, "News for nerds. Stuff that matters.", as Adequacy's founding editors were regular trolls on Slashdot.
The Adequacy authors began as trolls on Slashdot and Kuro5hin, another technology-oriented discussion site. They devised and posted many comments designed to provoke outraged responses; common styles included slighting a revered operating system or open source leader, or posting messages with simple but deliberate technical errors, which would incite hundreds of corrections.
After several years of such behaviour, the Adequacy authors decided to open their own site consisting entirely of such articles intended to incite the reader, where confederates would post comments agreeing with the articles. All comments posted by outsiders, openly stating their belief that an article was a troll, were removed from view.
Behind the scenes, the targets of the articles would be enticed to come to Adequacy and read the article. Adequacy members would post to weblogs, and other discussion forums, often pretending to be outraged by the article themselves. As an example, the article Not Just Harmless Fun, which argues that all anime is hentai and is designed to destroy Christian morals, was promoted on Usenet as such: "the author is some kind of Christian lunatic who believes that anime is all about paedophilia!". The person behind this Usenet posting was James "spiralx" Skinner, a.k.a. "Jon Erikson", the author of the article in question. He later stated, "I wrote the article to wind up anime-loving geeks."
Roger "localroger" Williams attempted a summary of Adequacy's general modus operandi in a mildly controversial Kuro5hin article, The Adequacy-Style Troll: A Brief Refresher. Williams' article was composed in response to the article titled Pedal Error: A Brief Refresher, written by "RobotSlave", a former Adequacy editor. Williams argued that the articles on Adequacy used a common methodology; that they started with basic, factually correct premises, followed very reasonable-sounding but carefully constructed flawed logic, and arrived at outrageous, unacceptable conclusions. The article takes the stance that trolling attempts to cause chaos or disorder and is thus critical of Adequacy (it claims Adequacy-style trolling "brings a blender to the ordinary practice of shit-stirring"). Williams claims that deadpan satire of the sort found on Adequacy is too easy to mistake for sincere argument.
Another popular device used in Adequacy articles was to hyperlink almost every word or phrase to another article on the Internet, related to the specific word or phrase linked, often humourously, but meaningless in the context of the article. For example, the sentence "we survived a hardy winter" might have the word "hardy" linked to an article on Laurel and Hardy. Adequacy would also occasionally hyperlink to itself using words like "controversy" or phrases such as "the world's most controversial web site".
Adequacy would often deliberately misspell the targets of its satire. For example, Linux was always written as "Lunix", which has connotations of "lunatics" (although this spelling was already widely used in humorous contexts elsewhere, notably by JeffK). Linus Torvalds was written as either "Linux Torvalds", "Lunix Torvaldez" or "Linyos Torovoltos", and claimed to be a native of various countries, most often Russia. There were also technological in-jokes such as the idea of "IP Tokens" which could be stolen by hackers and used for nefarious purposes if you didn't have the correct protection mechanisms. Interestingly, this predated genuine "your computer is broadcasting an IP address!" web adverts which try and scare people into buying firewalls.
Many respondents to Adequacy used the point by point rebuttal format for raising their objections. For a brief period, Adequacy responded to such comments by removing them from public view and replacing them with a "Deletion Notice", which contained only their consequently incoherent responses, together with a copyright violation notice, chastising the poster for reproducing the entirety of the contested article without the author's permission.   This was termed a "War on Copyright Violation", perhaps as a satirical reference to the War on Drugs or War on Terrorism.
Adequacy vs. The Onion
Adequacy might be described as a freer version of the parody newspaper The Onion. Unlike The Onion, Adequacy took reader submissions openly. Further, The Onion focuses on satirizing the writing style of newspapers and magazines in the pseudo-intellectual pop culture pinnacles of Time, Newsweek, or one of the many local newspapers often owned by multinational newspaper conglomerates such as Gannett, made largely of reprints off the newswire services . The success of The Onion has been attributed to the money-controlled poverty of information brought about by the conglomeration of the news media in the 20th century.
However this focus limited The Onion, leaving its authors sometimes unable to branch out and forced to keep producing fake horoscopes, stat shots, or any number of other satires on USA Today or The New York Times. Adequacy authors did not share this limitation. They could do anything. Some parodied public service announcements, editorials, or most especially, parodying enthusiastic web board posters, or simply writing crazy rants. A better description of Adequacy might be comparison with the work A Modest Proposal, a satirical 18th century work that suggested eating babies; the satire of said work being often lost on many readers who from it recoil in disgust.
Reality and illusion
Recoiling in disgust might be a frequent reaction among Adequacy readers, except that a much more frequent reaction would be to take the story absolutely seriously and post long rants about how horrible the story was, how reprehensible the morals of the author were, how devoid they were of even the most basic ability to reason, and so on. This was often considered by the Adequoids to be a mark of high honor and success. Regular Adequacy readers often continued the joke by posting comments agreeing with some or all of the story's premises, further baiting the unwary visitor.
Post-Adequacy, the former editors continue to assert that Adequacy's demise was due to legal action from AMD. When a link was posted to Is Your Son A Computer Hacker? on Yahoo!'s AMD stock board in November 2001, an alleged AMD employee stated in response "I promise you I will not stop until your company is bankrupt and your editors are in jail". On September 11, 2002, Adequacy closed their site, and all their front page contained was the above quote. Was this one final wind-up? Nobody but the Adequacy editors know for certain.
One can never be sure on Adequacy what is reality and what is illusion. Often the notion of "reality" had gotten a little boring for the authors, as they frequently decided that no matter how horrible it was, just pointing that out to people would not accomplish anything. So why not twist it so oddly that people had to notice?
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