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Shock Sites are websites designed to offend or startle the viewer. These sites usually feature pornographic, violent, offensive, proactive and scatological images or videos. Online, many use these sites as a social challenge or through Bait and Switch pranks in which people trick others into visiting the website. "Traditional" shock sites are intended to get an immediate reaction and generally fall into several categories, including pictures, video or viruses, in which the site crashes and potentially damages the visitor's computer.
On July 23rd, 1996, the founder of the web hosting company Soylent Communications, Thomas E. Dell, registered the domain Rotten.com, after writing a program that scraped and listed domain names available for purchase on the Internet. The site featured numerous videos and images of deceased people and murder.
According to the Rotten.com FAQ, Dell launched the site initially as a "'what should I do with this domain now that I blew a hundred bucks on it' excuse." The website's design has remained largely unchanged over the years, with the 1997 layout (shown below, left) nearly matching the 2015 layout (shown below, right).
The site considered one of the earliest Shock Sites online.
As internet usage increased over the next decade, shock sites, as well as message- and imageboards, such as 2chan and 4chan, where links to these sites spread, launched, the number of shock sites grew.
In 1999, the website Goatse.cx launched. The site became a commonly used bait-and-switch prank in which people would trick others into visiting the site, which features a naked man stretching his anus with both of his hands.
The domain name Lemonparty.org was registered on October 3rd, 2002, according to DomainTools. The entire site consisted of the pornographic image set to the 1963 doo-wop song "If You Wanna Be Happy" by Jimmy Soul. As early as November 21st that same year, the site was updated with a hyperlink to a picture of a cat which read "omfg crazy! Click here to wash your eyeballs!"
"Ethical" Shock Sites
These websites are not usually pornographic or scatological in nature, but instead, offend the viewer's principles. They sometimes offer a "realistic" service or product but are mostly hoaxes. Some of the most popular "Ethical" Shock Sites include:
- Bonsai Kittens
- Puppy Beef
- Child Trader
- AIDS Mapper
- Kids Concentration Camps
- Victims of Children
- Abortion Tracker
Bonsai Kittens, also known as Rectilinear Kittens, was an Internet hoax website claiming that kittens could be made into decorative ornaments by sealing them in glass containers, which forced their bodies to mold into various shapes. The site became the subject of controversy online in 2001 after many animal rights groups filed complaints for its removal, while others defended the existence of the website as a work of satire protected by free speech.
On December 20th, 2000, a group of MIT graduate students launched the website BonsaiKitten under the alias "Dr. Michael Wong Chang." The site featured a how-to guide for making Bonsai Kitten sculptures and a gallery of fabricated Bonsai Kitten images. The website was initially hosted by MIT but it later relocated to a commercial provider. The site's domain BonsaiKitten.com has since become defunct and now it redirects to a ThinkGeek product page for a Bonsai Kitten plush toy, but a mirror of the original site is available on Ding.net.
List of Popular Shock Sites and Compilations
Here is a list of some of the most notorious traditional shock sites:
- 2 Girls 1 Cup
- Church of Fudge
- Mr. Hands
- Pain Olympics
- Stile Project
- Last Measure
- Eel Girl
Here is a list of some traditional shock site compilations:
- Shock Horror Media
- Gardener Plants