The Terrible Secret of Space

The Terrible Secret of Space

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About

The Terrible Secret of Space is a flash animation based on a prank ICQ conversation in which Something Awful creator Richard Kyanka[1] convinced a stranger he was manufacturing space robots. The chat log also went onto inspire the catchphrase “Do you have stairs in your house?” which is used to identify other Something Awful users in public places.

Origin

In 1999, Something Awful founder Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka began publishing a series[7] of transcripts illustrating his prank conversations on ICQ[8], the first internet-wide instant messaging system. The seventh in this series, titled “Space Robot Bonanza~”[2], was published on April 7th, 2000. Over the course of the conversation, Lowtax tricked a New Zealander ICQ user with the handle Corn_Boy into believing that he was a programmer who designed intelligent robots. By the end of the conversation, Corn_Boy appeared to be convinced that he was talking to the robot and it had pushed Lowtax down the stairs in order to protect him from a “terrible secret of space.”



Spread

Some time after the conversation was published, American music group The Laziest Men on Mars[6], who were already well-known on Something Awful for their song “Invasion of the Gabber Robots” inspired by All Your Base Are Belong to Us, wrote a song inspired by Lowtax’s ICQ transcript titled “The Terrible Secret of Space.”[9] By the end of 2000, artist Jonathan Robinson[3] and a friend created a flash animation to go with the song. The flash largely remained an in-joke on the Something Awful forums until September 30th, 2001, when a viewer unrelated to the creators posted it on Newgrounds[4] and made it available to a wider audience.



In April 2001, a definition for the song and video was added to the Internet culture reference site Everything2.[10] A video version of the original flash animation has appeared on Popscreen[11], World News[12], Technorati[13] and Albino Blacksheep.[14] In addition, several phrases related to the video have been defined on Urban Dictionary, including The Terrible Secret of Space[22], Pusher Robot[23] and Shover Robot.[24]

Do You Have Stairs In Your House?

As early as February 2002[17], the question “Do you have stairs in your house?” was taken out of the context from the video and used as a passcode between Something Awful forum members to identify each other outside of the forum. When another Something Awful user is presented with this question, answering with “I am protected” lets the other person know they are familiar with the site. The phrase has been used in this manner on the Straight Dope message board[16], Yahoo! Answers[21], Democratic Underground[19] and Amazon Askville.[18] “Do you have stairs in your house?” also has been defined on Everything2.com[15] and Urban Dictionary.[20]



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