Goatse

Goatse

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About

Goatse (site domain: Goatse.cx) is a shock site featuring an image of a naked man stretching his anus with both of his hands. One of the most widespread shock media on the web, the site has been notoriously used for bait-and-switch pranks or website vandalisms to provoke reactions of disgust. Although the original domain was taken down in 2004, the image continues to circulate online through mirrored sites.

Origin

The site was first launched in 1999 under the domain name Goatse.cx. According to the Wikipedia entry, the earliest known instance of the shock image was uploaded circa 1997 as “gap3.jpg” in a set of 40 additional images compressed into a single zip file named “Gap.zip.” According to Gawker’s investigative report published in April 2012, the photo set initially spread across gay porn communities on Usenet and was later picked up by The Stiles Project.

Site Content

The website was originally comprised of four sections: the main index page titled “Receiver” (filename: hello.jpg) which contained the most famous image that we now know as the Goatse; the counterpart image “Giver” which revealed another photo of a man reclining on a boat with a penis reaching up to his chest; A feedback page with e-mail contact information; and the “Contrib” page, which hosted a collection of tributes and parodies of the original image submitted by the site visitors.

Spread

Throughout the early 2000s, similar shock vandalisms and bait-and-switch pranks involving the image continued to flourish in chatrooms and message boards. On November 24th, 2000, the Goatse “Giver” and “Receiver” images were posted to the official Oprah Winfrey Message Boards in the Soul Stories board. Trystan T. Cotten and Kimberly Springer, the authors of Stories of Oprah: the Oprah-fication of American culture, later revealed that this “seemingly considerable male intrusion drove many of the women elsewhere, and the board was retired shortly afterwards.”

On September 30th, 2002, the earliest known Urban Dictionary definition for “Goatse” was submitted by user Bob Goatse, who described the term “goatse” as a colloquial verb when tricking someone into looking at the shock image:

1) To cause someone to inadvertantly navigate to the website of the same name
Example: I thought it was link for Amazon, but after I clicked the link at work I realized I have been goatse’d.

The tech news forum "Slashdot":knowyourmeme.com/memes/slashdot-effect was also forced to alter its thread display method after its users started a recreational game out of misleading clueless readers into visiting Goatse.cx.

Domain Suspension

On January 14th, 2004, the domain name Goatse.cx was suspended by Christmas Island Internet Administration after a local resident named Rhonda Clarke filed a complaint. However, the domain suspension virtually had no effect on the spread of the shock image, as dozens of mirror sites continued to host Goatse under various aliases. By January 2007, the Christmas Island Internet Administration had lifted the suspension on Goatse.cx, which subsequently became available for purchase. Through the rest of that year, the domain name was reportedly offered for auction sale on numerous occasions with an asking price as high as $500,000. By early 2010, Goatse.cx was still listed as for sale, though its asking price had been scaled down to $50,200.

The Man’s Identity

In May 2007, an article about the shock site was created on Encyclopedia Dramatica, which speculated that the model depicted in the photograph is a man named “Kirk Johnson”:

One very persistent internets user spent months and months trawling all the gay erotica and anal stretching newsgroups and eventually located the star of this picture, by matching the pattern of moles on his ass. It is with many lulz that ED advises the world that the Goatse guy’s real name is Kirk Johnson, and he posts pictures and videos of himself regularly on the newsgroup alt.binaries.erotica.male.anal.


In April 2012, Gawker’s investigative report on the subject identified the man in the image as a “Kirk Johnson,” a self-described bisexual man in his late 40s with a fancy for oversized black dildos. The article also detailed the man’s prolific collection of shocking self-portraits hosted on various porn sites:

His profile on the adult image-sharing site Imagefap, which holds the most complete collection of his work, boasts 15,156 photos, all of which have been compiled over the last five and a half years. His videos of xTube have been collectively viewed more than 22 million times.

Domain Transfers

Since the domain suspension in January 2004, the website largely remained unoccupied without a purpose, until as early as July 2008, when the homepage was updated with a still shot of Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly cringing on television and a warning for minors:

The goatse.cx lawyer has informed us that we need a warning! So.. if you are under the age of 18 or find this photograph offensive, please don’t look at it. Thank you!

Between 2009 and early 2010, Goatse.cx underwent several minor homepage makeovers, oftentimes accompanied by SFW variations of the original image and an advertisement for ImageChan.com.

E-mail Hosting Service

Then in April 2010, the website was updated again with a bulletin announcement of “Goatse.cx Stinger 2.0 Beta,” a forthcoming e-mail hosting service using the domain Goatse.cx as the address. However, the proposed e-mail hosting service was never materialized and by July 2011, www.goatse.cx had begun redirecting to a web hosting company.



Affiliation with Dogecoin

On February 6th, 2014, the website was updated once again, this time, with a YouTube video announcement[8] from a business-attired man claiming to be the legal counsel for the domain owner. In the video, the man, who introduces himself as “Kirk Johnson,” reveals that Goatse.cx will soon be relaunched as an affiliated website of Dogecoin, an alternative cryptocurrency (altcoin) which employs the iconic Shibu Inu dog from the Doge meme as a mascot. However, according to Shutterstock[11][12], the man depicted in the video is Michael-John Wolfe, a full-time stock photography model who makes his living as a freelance spokesman.



“I told [Goatse’s owner] to align Goatse.cx with the most powerful financial force on the internet, Dogecoin. Dogecoin is an online currency like Bitcoin that can give you everything you’ve ever dreamed of: money, houses, girls, the good life.”

On the following day, Redditor goatseadmin submitted the video announcement to the /r/dogecoin subreddit.[9] In the comments, the OP further explained the backstory for those who are unfamiliar with the meme:

The site was taken down by the .cx registrar in 2004 and is no longer allowed to show the image. Some wanted to launch Goatse Coin, but the Goatse Foundation found that Doge Coin is the superior crypto of the internet and Goatse.cx is now an official Shibe for Dogecoin.

Notable Examples




Hot-linking Deterrent

In June 2005, Los Angeles Times launched its Wikitorial website as a forum where readers could respond directly to the paper’s editorial section. The project involved consultations from the Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in the making and it was highly praised by the staff columnists. Despite the anticipation, the wiki was closed two days later on June 19th, 2005, due to some readers posting “explicit images known as Goatses,” according to the Guardian.

The image has been also used by website administrators to discourage other websites and blogs from hot-linking to image files hosted on their servers. In a typical set up, the adminstrator would replace the hot-linked image with the Goatse image, which was then made visible to all readers visiting the offending party’s web page. One of the more notable incidents occurred in 2007, when Wired hot-linked to another site in article about the “sexiest geeks of 2007” that resulted in the swapping of the image with the Goatse image.

Parodies

Due to its prevalence on the web and unmistakably shocking effect, the original Goatse image has spawned a series of humorous parodies and tributes. One of the most notable parodies surfaced after the Hurricane Charley in August 2004, when a photograph allegedly showing “the hands of God” in the stormy cloud formations began circulating via chain email. It was later proved to be a fake photograph with the clouds manipulated to resemble the human hands in the Goatse image.



In June 2007, BBC reader Sean Stayte submitted a sketch proposal of the 2012 Summer Olympics logo, which depicted two hands stretching the numeral “0” wide in “2012.” The design was subsequently featured on the BBC News 24 and its website as one of the best viewer-submitted alternative versions to the official logo, shortly before being taken down when the editor learned of its true meaning.



In April 2011, a photograph of an Audi billboard campaign made the rounds across internet humor blogs for its resemblance to the Goatse image.



Goatse Security

The Goatse Security, sometimes known as GoatSec, is a hacker group that specializes in publicizing security flaws discovered by its members, including Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer. The group, which derived its name from the Goatse.cx shock site, gained much notoriety in June 2010 for its involvement in a high profile AT&T data breach in which they obtained personal ID information of 114,000 iPad users.



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