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File Pile at first glance is a website without any visual purpose. Yet under further inspection there is possibly one of the internet’s biggest mysteries. No one truly knows what File Pile’s purpose is, yet there are many theories about what file pile was created for . One is that the site was created to produce memes, and that one user went too far, when a meme affected US policy, resulting in the site being shut down by the FBI. Another theory is that the site is just a joke, and that no one is an official member. Another theory is that the site is real, and that it is a file sharing site, but it’s impossible to become a member, or at least very hard. Whatever it’s purpose, File Pile seems to have a profound effect on apparent users.
File Pilers, or Pilers is the term given to netizens who claim to be members of the site. They often refer to the “first rule”, and use intimidating language. They also claim to have created [this is good], +1, and “teh”. Some people think that they could simply be a collection of like-minded individuals, like the Anonymus group. Encyclopedia Dramatica called them “F-list internet celebrities such as Cory Doctorow and Anil Dash. Pilers treat the service as their cool secret clubhouse and attempt to slip references to it wherever they can.” ED also said that they are fond of the work of Johnny Cash, especially his song “Hurt”. When asked about File Pile on MetaFilter.com one file piler said:
“We are a rumor, recognizable only as deja vu and dismissed just as quickly. We don’t exist; we were never even born. Anonymity is our name. Silence our native tongue. Were no longer part of the System. We’re above the System. Over it. Beyond it. We are “them.” We are “they.”
Upon visiting the site all that is to see is a dummy login screen.
O June 14, 2005, a member of MetaFilter called teece, asked the question “What’s the cool-kid, hackerish and full definition of the phrase: [this is good]?”. The first response to the question was “Shh… we’re not allowed to talk about it.” from Khalad, followed 3 minutes later by arco, “Someone from the Department will be around to clear your memory shortly”. Then a user called luriete said “Whoever broke the rule, please report for your beating”, and after that a user called badstone said “this is not the meme you are looking for”.
San Francisco Citizen Blog
File Pile was mentioned on the San Francisco Citizen blog, despite being written many years after it’s presumed closure. The blog describes File Pile as “very secretive, very active”, and “a cross between Digg and craigslist”, and goes further than anyone else in trying to access File Pile. As the blog says:
“[Update: A certain Mr. Jacob I. has offered to hand over a valid user name and password for filepile but only in person and at some hard-to-find street in Burlingame (of all places). Frank says he has plenty of gas and he’s sure he can find the place, so we’re heading down there now. Wish us luck!]”
Despite the up-beat news, their plan didn’t work so well:
“[ReUpdate: Well we never found that place in San Mateo County. The address didn’t show up on Google Maps and the directions we had wound us up at McGraw’s Grocery. Frank said the whole deal was a “bum steer.” Man, looks like it’s going to be tough to get a password. Oh well. We made the best of it by having dinner at Joanie’s “Happy Days” Diner (did ABC license this name?) and then ended up at the loungey Vinyl Room. B’Game rocks! (but “JacobY” sucks ). Frank said the FPers would probably launch a “Dawes’ Attack” to take down my “crappy little WordPress.” But let’s worry about that tomorrow!] [Maltese Falcon references=OFF]"
But the important thing is that they did come to a helpful conclusion:
“[Captain’s Log, supplemental: So Filepile.org could be described as a cross between Digg and craigslist. You have an old-school interface (like craigslist) that shows interesting links, but there’s also a rating system (like Digg) that allows users to easily get to the good stuff. Self-policing serves to prevent too much snooping from the RIAA or the (American) Feds. Filepile.org has perhaps 10,000 accountholders with a few thousand especially active members. The reason why evidence of such an active site doesn’t show up anywhere, is that filepile.org rejects robots crawling all over it, which is fair enough. The reason why they don’t have a Wikipedia entry is that FPers will sign up for a Wiki account just to say how FP shouldn’t be on the Wiki. Mystery solved. Carry on, my wayward sons (you got to wait for the good part, just like on this one)]”
One of the most interesting things about this site is that the Pilers came, and they posted. Some of the comments featured links to an invitation to join File Pile, though none work any longer.
We move to Canada
“We move to Canada” is simply a blog about Americans in Canada, written by “Laura K”. But on the 20th of October, 2006, the author of the blog claimed she had received “nasty emails from this filepile crew”. The first comment in response to the post was:
“Mentioning “filepile” is asking for trouble."
And many similar comments followed.
There are many File Pilers which were practically well known for being users of the site. For instance one interesting apparent user is Mario Dinis. In the Meta Filter thread about File Pile, someone claimed that Mario Dinis was the File Pile creator. While most disagreed saying that it was Andre Torrez, it is very likely that he was in fact, a Piler. There was a comment posted on the SFC blog by a user of the same name. Also there has been one entry to the Urban Dictionary , and one article on Wikipedia which has been deleted because of it being “nonsence”.
Anil Dash’s blog
On June 6 2001, a blogger called Anil Dash, wrote about File Pile. To date, this is the most trustworthy source of information on File Pile, and included links and images of File Pile. He described the site as
“a terrific example of a simple concept that succeeds because of its implementation. It meets a requirement that I have for an “I wish I’d thought of that” idea, which is that it’s so straightforward in retrospect that it seems obvious. Those are the best kinds of ideas, and the most satisfying to work on. The entire concept and execution are the work of the inestimable Andre Torrez."
Also, he mentions a particularly creative member called “Goopy”, and had a link to his profile. But, upon clicking on the link, only a File Pile error page appears. This is as far as anyone has got into File Pile for years. He also included a link to “Goopy’s” own site, which is still running, called “Goopymart”.
According to the metafilter thread, the creator of File Pile is either Andre Torrez or Mario Dinis. It is also rumored that the name “Andre Torrez” itself is an in-joke, because it’s an anagram of Trader Zone R, an old BBS service. But in potuncle’s thread he calls the creator Taz. Wether Taz and Andre Torrez are the same person still is unknown. The probable creator is Torrez, seeming as he is mentioned so often.
The first rule
The first rule of file pile is that you don’t talk about file pile, and it is often used to try to stop other netizens from even mentioning it. Why no one can talk about it is unknown. Whenever anybody breaks the first rule, file pilers usually come swarming to the site to voice their discontent. Whether they are genuine File Pile members, or just fakes is also unknown. The 1st rule has become a small meme in itself, and does the opposite of what it’s users intended, by informing others of File Pile.
“Now all we have are teh memories. Ah, but aren’t they sweet?”
“Now all we have are teh memories. Ah, but aren’t they sweet?” is a quote from the MetaFilter thread which is a good example of the apparent affect visiting File Pile had on it’s users. Many netizens lament for File Pile, and wish that it was never shut down.
Even though the site has been dead for years, there are 2 groups on Flickr, and 1 on Steam dedicated to File Pile. Many of the same names are seen in each group.
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