What Happened to Encyclopedia Dramatica?

Unofficial 4chan wiki Encyclopedia Dramatica, the user-authored repository of memes, racism and homophobia, is no more. It's been replaced by OhInternet, a much cleaner site with much less offensive content. We asked its founder: Is ED preparing to sell out?

Until this past Thursday, Encyclopedia Dramatica, or ED, was (in the words of Gawker's Adrian Chen, himself an ED subject) "one of the last bastions of Internet nastiness." Founded in 2005 by a kid woman named Sherrod DeGrippo, the site exhaustively catalogued thousands of memes, in jokes, characters and concepts from the internet's adolescent underbelly; unsurprisingly—since it was written and edited by the same 4channers and Anonymous hangers-on who created those memes—it reveled in homophobia, racism and misogyny, not to mention dozens of really gross pictures. The wanton bigotry made it a frequent subject of attack, and earlier this year, when tech issues briefly took the site offline, rumors flew that ED had finally been shut down for good.

But those were just rumors. This time, DeGrippo has confirmed that ED is gone for good, and has been replaced by OhInternet—a sanitized version of ED's free-for-all meme wiki, accompanied by a frequently-updated blog. (Coming soon: Forums and an IRC channel.) "Shock for shock's sake is old at this point and we're looking forward to the future and how things are evolving," DeGrippo told Geekosystem. "When you put user experience first, the language becomes highly important and that's what we've done."

If DeGrippo sounds suspiciously like someone hoping to sell a hot property—meme-documentation rival Know Your Meme was recently sold to The Cheezburger Network for a "low seven-figure payday"—she's not letting on. We reached her by email on Saturday and she responded at length. Some selections:

On the need for change:

Change is made for several reasons:

  • Implementation of Semantic mediawiki, the best thing to ever happen to wikis. An amazing technology that allow for easier editing and querying. This is the kind of data that needs to be easily organized and queried. It also needs to be a piece of cake to add information quickly and easily. Semantic mediawiki does that. I am excited and I love it
  • There had previously been no upgrades, no redesigns and no changes in seven years. Sites that don't change, become irrelevant. There are tons of examples. I would like to discuss them with [Gawker founder] Nick Denton. We will sit back and talk about those inscrutable users and their dislike for redesigns. [Ed. note: LOL]
  • I think generally SFW is a good way to go. Having a site that is blocked by so many office and school filters is frustrating to work on.
  • That domain name was way too long. Good god.

On the possibility of a sale:

I am not looking to sell the site. I am looking to have something that I, personally enjoy working on and using. Every project I'm involved in is for my own enjoyment and because I just want to do it. That's my motivation for things and I think that's the motivation of all internet users, really. They go to sites they like, they contribute to sites they like. I'm not any different.

On the Know Your Meme sale:

The KYM sale happened well after we started Ohinternet. All the changes were made literally months prior. They're time stamped on both the wiki and the blog. This has been in the works for about 10 weeks.

On the future of OhInternet:

I'd like to see the site continue to grow organically and enable a lot more people to contribute easily. The future looks good, I am really excited about the team involved (100% made up of sysops or users from ED, it is all the same team). Overall, this is a site that we like working on and are actually having fun with something.

We're also creating a lot of original and interesting content at the blog, and I have a lot more exclusive pieces coming out there. We're on phase 2 of 5, so there is a lot more stuff coming. I've been cataloging internet culture and archiving material for seven years. I think it's pretty clear that we're the experts in this space and know how to do it right.

Finally, she asked that we clarify some info in an earlier version of the post:

The site was created to house information on livejournal users. I have never been a part of anonymous, I have never been a chan user. This is some weird cognizant dissonance that people are seemingly unable to accept. The site was started because I wanted to house some information from livejournal and some drama about hackers Theo DeRaadt and Darren Reed. They are my OTP.

Unsurprisingly, the change has not gone over well with the people for whom "shock for shock's sake" is still totally fun—Geekosystem reports that OhInternet's Facebook page was "bombarded with hate messages, graphic pornography," and though the site is up right now, it was reportedly down for much of yesterday thanks to DDoS attacks. And if you still want to page through the old ED—which, though horrible and offensive, had its moments—the more productive members of the community have already put up several mirrors of old ED, and you can download an archive of the entire site. This is, after all, the internet, where nothing ever really dies.