I started hackingthemainframe.com a long time ago. It seems like a lifetime ago, really. Originally, the site was just a goofy tongue-in-cheek parody of some local websites. The first version of HTMF had an animated dog running back and forth on the screen. Awesome.
You can see old versions of hackingthemainframe.com here: bit.ly/oldhtmf
Throughout the history of HTMF, we have always provided an anonymous place for discussion of many issues. Originally, one didn’t even have to sign up for an account to post. This went away when someone literally shit all over the site. Then users were asked to sign up for accounts, but could remain anonymous if they didn’t use their real names.
Over the years I’ve received numerous letters from lawyers and other legal requests. I’ve always complied when I thought the requests were fair. However, we tried never to delete threads, as I believe people should be responsible for what they write, even if they think they’re anonymous.
The letters I could handle, since they were written and often had reasonable requests.
However, then the phone calls began. I received all kinds of phone calls. Some people called and asked for computer help based on their belief that since they couldn’t get on hackingthingmainframe, that it was somehow my responsibility to fix their computers. Others forgot their passwords and decided it was perfectly ok to call me at home and ask me to change them.
Then the really annoying calls began. For some, I even had to get the RCMP involved to make them stop. Even these I could handle, because clearly for some people, posts on an internet forum are part of a grand conspiracy. I’m a member of the Bilderberg Group, you see, and some people want to drive me out of town for wanting a one world government. Luckily I can always just use the black helicopter in my backyard to get to work. And the RCMP are in on the conspiracy, so they cheerfully helped me out after I gave the secret handshake.
The one type of complaining phone call that has become more and more common though, is the “I heard you did something bad” phone call. I received this kind of call at home (and even at work!), and the person would say something like “I heard there was something on the internet that you wrote or somebody else wrote. I don’t use the internet, and I didn’t read it, but I am outraged and you better do something about it!”
It’s this type of complaint that finally convinced me to sell the website. I’m not going to be a lightning rod for vague complaints from people who don’t even know what they’re complaining about.
Now I didn’t want to just close the site, as this rewards the complainers, and in my opinion is a chilling effect on free speech. Instead, I wanted to make it so that HTMF is even stronger, and that any chilling effect is effectively cancelled out. I wanted our very own Streisand Effect.
The complainers who don’t “use the internet” will not have heard of the Streisand Effect, but everybody else can just google it. If the complainers thought they could censor HTMF by complaining to me, they’ll be happy to know that the complete opposite has happened. Maybe whoever tells them about the bad stuff on the internet can pass along this note.
As of today, the website officially belongs to Feliks Kondrashchenko. He already hosts a bunch of websites, and is much better at dealing with complaints than I am. He shares some of my views on anonymous speech, and has agreed to leave HTMF alone, mostly. I’m sure there will be some changes, but the spirit of the site will continue.
Want to call and complain about something? I’m sure Feliks will soon be posting his contact details on the site.