news about a circle of hell

Well, it looks like BeautyBash (or, the BB board) is no more. Bloody marvellous. I found out about it when I had a look at the Praise of Folly stats, as one does from time to time. I was pleased to see that one post I quite liked was doing well, and surprised to see another one was too. Turns out this was thanks to a MUAer over on the Café board! Thanks to them, I found out the good news. Massive happiness. Especially if this ending to that kind of unpleasant bashing is a final one. Makes the world a better place.

Welcome, also, to MakeupAlley visitors who have come here ten days or so after this post first appeared, via on the Hair Board. Hello there!

So here’s what happened… What follows is in the form of screenshots with no blacking-out of names, because
(1) as far as I can tell, there’s nothing here that constitutes private information (had there been, I would have edited the images to black them out):
(2) it is 2013 and I’m assuming no-one is so stupid as to have used their real name as their online handle, or to have associated identifying information with their account, or otherwise included private details in a public place;
(3) if any of these people are actual trolls, and worse still if they turn out to be renegade beautybashers, the raw screenshots are potentially useful archived evidence…

… Anyway, back to caffeinated delights:

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 2.04.57 PM

RIP educational standards in the general population (these are tech-competent people, and at least one is in the sort of job that involves having at least one intern) if that sort of rapidly-considered, -researched, and -written commentary really honestly seriously looks like “a research paper.” Kudos if it doesn’t: if that’s the case, this is one of the finest bits of tongue-in-cheek I’ve seen from an American.

But whtv, either which way, overall response is LOL. And happiness because this was what led me to The Good News!!!

What happened next:

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 2.05.31 PM

(((hugs))) to people whose work is that dull; here’s to hoping they find a way to convert “bored at work” into “idling.”

MUAers were doing online searches for the BB board. Nice to see that there’s little there; and on MUA, “BB” is now almost all “Bobbi Brown” and “BB cream” references. Back to normality.

Just plain unlinked screenshots follow next, because I’m being lazy. Saved for posterity, though, for the purposes of future historical work on online behaviour, the art of the in-joke, genuinely spontaneous wit, sock-puppet-spotting, looking out for troll/BBer reincarnations, and breaches of the fourth wall. There might even be some exciting useful examples for modal realism:

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 2.00.05 PMCue violins:

Cue nostalgic trips down memory-lane, with occasional moments of soft focus through rose-tinted-spectacles:
Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 1.57.29 PM Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 1.55.48 PM

I like that the person whose name begins with “bb” is protected by others: they’re still able to exploit the ambiguity in a joke, but stop the joke at a certain moment. It would be good if the BB board were to fade into a vaguely-remembered set of jokes. I’m still in two minds about this: maintaining accurate historical records is important, as is commemorating victims and not forgetting their suffering; especially as memory is a weak aid, and skewed and false memory sets in fast after an event; but some things barely deserve a place in the footnotes to the historical annals of online bullying, trolling,and the darker side of the internet.

Then yesterday:

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 1.54.11 PM  Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 1.53.07 PM

I am shedding no tears for happy days of yore. Sorry, but that site was really truly seriously appalling. It was. I know, as I was bashed there. It was unpleasant; it was so unpleasant that I could only just about bring myself to follow and read links there sent by other MUAers, and (stupid though I can be about such things) even I could see that this was one place that you should not add to your list of sites to keep up with on a regular basis. That you should avoid. Even if you wondered if someone was saying something about you there (MUA Café board feels the same, and 4Chan, and I don’t and can’t post in either place). Even an idiot like me can see that going there as a matter of routine would be damaging, hurting yourself, self-harming. Posting there was unthinkable and impossible, as it was so bizarre and fucked-up. It seemed to be speaking a completely alien language, behaving in a strange way, with completely unknown cultural, social conventions. Where the only thing you knew for sure was that you’d say the wrong thing, in the wrong way, and get ripped apart. That there was no good thing to say anyway, because if there’s a second thing that’s clear, it’s that BB was about saying bad things—and has been getting worse that way. There’s a world of difference between that sort of slurry and, on the other positive hand, fair criticism, complaint with just cause, and civil comment; in the latter three, observing the due separation between criticising what was said and criticising the (unknowable, and behind an online persona anyway) person who said it.

If ever there was a case for turning around and walking away, and not touching something with a barge-pole: that place was it.

It could have been much worse. I got off very lightly. Others suffered seriously. Some had personal identifying information (photos) posted up. Others had personal, private information posted, after BBers had researched them on social networking sites: telephone numbers, addresses, workplace addresses, names and contact details for famiy, friends, work colleagues. There was stalking. There were unrepeatable insults and threats. Like the kind in other online-abuse news. Unrepeatable even for me, and I’m from places and cultures that are a lot more mouthy and foul-mouthed than, say, ladylike Southerners. Or indeed most Americans; most of my experience of Americans has been one of courtesy, niceness, good manners, and squeaky-clean language.

I have a strong vested personal interest in the demise of BB. Consider this post the nearest that I’ll get, in my clumsy not very ladylike attempt to be ladylike, to a triumphant yell, victory dance, and celebration. A sense of justice having been done. Even though the sense of satisfaction feels dangerously close to vengeance, and I’m not comfortable with such barbarism. It feels too close to the mood and ethos of BB. But then again, maybe I need to get more comfortable with my inner barbarian, and stop being so sanctimonious and superior. Loosen up, chill out, say “whtv” a bit more often, and train myself into turning my back and walking away (in a more interesting direction) as an automatic reaction.

Anyway: the BB board was bad, and over the last couple of years it got worse. Went downhill: if it was in the gutter two years ago, it became the sludge seeping out escaping from sewers.

Positives, from two years ago: cutting comments that were often too deep and sometimes too sharp for their own good—maybe not knowing how sharp they really were—and useful for their targets, such as myself. Criticism by others can be useful, if you’re being foolish and haven’t noticed. That can help you to see how you seem from the outside. That change of perspective is always revealing. It can help you to change, and maybe to become a better person. Or, in my case, the best I can hope for is “less awful” but with more Geek Pride and more focus on Folly-Praising.

Mostly, though: BB was inane idiocy; stuff that was too idiotic even for the MUA Café board (whence it had sprung forth, legend has it, fully-formed). And then it turned to bilge, dross, insanity, American politics especially of a more right-wing (fascist, libertarian) nature, racism, misogyny, weird sex, violent threats, and general let’s-just-not-go-into-details nastiness. With no redeeming features.

Three downward trends that coincided:

  • a decrease in quality: um, OK, from “very low” to “sub-zero”
  • an increase in nastiness
  • and an increase in the posts that were going off-topic—that is, in that they weren’t about the aforementioned unpleasantnesses—and purported to be about freedom of speech

And a connection:

You see, this sort of thing is important. It happens to be in the news, and to have been in the news recently. The saying goes that any publicity is good publicity. That’s not immediately true: in the case of recent news, it’s been bad news with tragic consequences. But it is to be hoped that such negatives can have positive consequences, through teaching lessons. So any instance of online misbehaviour and nastiness jollywell ought to be reported and archived online. Because bullying, abuse, and cruelty are bad.

Anyway. There are some turns to the positive, in the form of gentle non-destructive and indeed creative, imaginative humour:
Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 2.03.12 PM Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 2.04.05 PM
So there you have it. “The BB board” has a chance of becoming a joke, which is probably a kinder fate than it deserves. “BB” can go back to its primary associations, referring as it does to a whole bunch of other things that are more important and interesting: BB King. Big Brother. Brigitte Bardot. Bed & Breakfast, the Busy Beaver function, the Bayerischer Bauernbund, etc.

That link from the abovementioned search is still amongst the Google search results. Nice research work on that, good choice, being one of the directly and indirectly richest data items. And BB had a (more-than-)fair innings, considering it was a pointless and often-incomprehensible waste of a URL.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 2.04.37 PM

On the other hand, on MUA’s Café board today (yes, that same Café board), there was a rather-BB-esque post that started out with “Ex-Legislator: I Warned Democratic Party About Filner Two Years Ago” and continued with a diatribe. One comment:

Why not discuss (D) ideas, not people?
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

(LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!—squeals Ginger, silently in her head, doing a discreet Muppet dance around her chair; ah, the joys of having one’s own office; but the horrors of remembering, usually too late, that the walls are thin)

Response from OP:

do you mean the DEMOCRATIC WAR ON WOMEN?

Hmmm… cue Twilight Zone music, or maybe not:

Blessed Be…


  1. Icaria

    Oh this calls for a celebratory glass of lemonade with extra ice! Let’s hope this time it’s for good! 🙂 xoxo

  2. Christy Payne of bay dot com

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent website.
    I stumbledupon it 😉 I’m going to return once again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.

    [Ed. LOL.]

  3. gingerama

    More tangled webs, c/o web stats going through the roof. See, this is something very obvious when you look at your WordPress blog stats. In this case:

    URLs or other references removed from screenshots, pseudonyms and content only. This is for information only. Doing anything more than that (like identifying the board and including the URL) would be kind of more the area of the actual true genuine trolling bullying stalking CRAY.

    Mea culpa: I used to link to original sources to back up evidence, as that’s what historical research training does to you. But outside of the world of research, doing that can be misinterpreted, as indeed is research itself a.k.a. professional geeking. I’m not going to stop doing research or thinking like a researcher in all areas of life, just like I’m not going to stop doing those other geeky things that get disapproved by non-geeks. Things like thinking and commenting and analysing and suchlike. But I learned that lesson, and am now less rigorous in linking; though the fact remains that what follows below is public information, and accessible via the Internet Archive.

    One reason I write about trolling a lot on here is that–besides its horrors and making me, like any other sentient being, angry–it’s a fascinating phenomenon. Writing about stuff can help one to understand it. The writing might be lots of stream of consciousness and open questions. It might not result in any answers. But that’s fine: trying to figure something out is at least as important as actually figuring it out. That’s an important thing about research: about the quest, the adventure, the journey. Pure geekery: geeking in an open-ended way, without necessarily nailing any results. I could ask about the discussions below: is there any trolling going on? Or other forms of online nastiness? Where do you draw the line? After all, my blog is public, it can be read by anyone, and any reader is entitled to their interpretation and opinion. None of which is trolling. That’s just reading and commenting. Same as I do. But, while questions about where you draw the line between trolling and fair comment are all very interesting, I don’t think they’re all that relevant here. Or even interesting. Whatever else is or isn’t going on, my conclusion is: fair comment.

    A question, to which I don’t know the answer: where does one draw the line between discussion necrophilia (and vengeful cyber-nastiness), and reading and commenting on older stuff? Which is after all just a form of historical research. Same as I do, same as thousands of online writers do, same as generations of historical researchers have done.

    Couple of further things:

    1. Obviously, most of these people are probably nice and not trolls.

    2. Commenting online is not necessarily trolling. Most commentary and discussion is not. Bashing the content and manner of what someone says is not trolling. It is perfectly legitimate free fair comment. Let’s just be clear about that!

    3. Any trolls (and worse online thugs and bullies) have probably changed their handles since three years ago, so could be hard to identify (though discourse / stylistic analysis could help); anyone with the leisure time, the data’s yours (public, anyway), but sadly I have other higher-priority and more interesting things to do.

    4. Fascinating to see the different approaches to analysis, from no reading at all through to over-interpretation, via misreading. And fascinating to see perceptions of time: the original post is ancient history, in online temporality.

    5. PHEW: saved by other people’s short attention spans and poor reading skills. And by this blog (and me) not actually being all that interesting in the first place. Sorry 😦

    Bored at work? Don’t let me and my witterings waste your time. Suggest instead:

    Gods bless futility, irrelevance, pettiness, and first-world non-issues.

    And now, back to actual issues, relevant ones, back in the real world.

  4. Not Elky either

    Hara Glick is the one behind Beautybash and none of you ever figured it out!

    • gingerama

      Aha, the obvious albeit disappointingly pedestrian dénouement. But memories are forever, and I will always treasure my own image of that character.

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