Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Excerpt from Sir John's journal: The Dream Interpretation Forum

Some time ago, the Safari made its way to an unusual little forum that we knew simply as "the Dream Interpretation Forum." Sadly, very few records remain of this brief venture, as we were forced to pack up and leave quite well before we had even settled in properly. However, it is with great pleasure that we reveal to you what may well be the only surviving record of this event, courtesy of the esteemed Sir John (pictured below). His account is as follows:

On November 30th, 2008, the Internet Forum Safari traveled to a sleepy little colony in the remote jungles of the Internet wilderness. A camp was set up, the tea put on to brew, and our exploration began. Many interesting discoveries began to trickle back into camp: the locals fascination with the symbolism of the number five (a fascination shared by a few Safari members) as well as their fascination with certain letters. The local culture seemed to revolve almost exclusively around dreams and the interpretation thereof. Some dreamers pleas for interpretation were left unanswered by the native dream shamans and others received lengthy discussion, however, during our study we could not determine the precise reason for this phenomenon.

The most notable discovery was the lethargy that had settled over this village of dreamers. As the safari gained momentum, the lack of contact with the local tribe became a concern. The expedition made countless attempts to engage the local tribe members, diving into the challenge with great enthusiasm only to fail at all attempts to make contact. The expedition's post count, at one point, made the top of the list on the statistics page, and many fine explorers took to the gin bottle upon discovery that this notable event had not been recorded (some claim the gin is the reason for the failure to make a record).

Our first and only contact with a local of this tribe was when the mod awoke from his slumber and without saying a word banned us and deleted all Safari posts...

The Safari's doctors say that, while it is undoubtedly contagious, the Safari members do not seem to have contracted this mysterious "sleeping disease" and it is probably for the best that or trip was cut short and minimal contact made.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mad Philosophers Forum


What ho, mates! It's been a while, but myself and several colleagues have decided that, in light of finding a new locale, it's a smashing good time to start up a new Safari!

We shall bravely go into this uncharted territory, to learn what we can without disrupting the locals too terribly much. None of us have any idea what this place is like, so don your pith helmet, pack only the essentials, and TALLY HO!

Friday, December 26, 2008

"The Way" Cult Recovery forum preparation

Alright maggots, start polishing your bogus accents, dust off your pith helmets, and listen up!

Make your accounts here, starting now:

The Safari Base Camp will appear either late Saturday evening or Sunday morning (Eastern US time). You'll find it in the "Just plain silly" subforum.

Now remember, we aren't here to antagonize these people. This is a cult recovery forum, and our sole purpose is to provide a goofy good time for as many people as possible (ourselves being the priority, of course). We're looking for the kind of positive reaction that we got at the African Safari forum; consider that the "ideal" situation.

Now get out!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


This is a short piece by Robert Fulgrum which talks about seeking out other creative, imaginative people. A lot of people felt it was pretty close to the vibe of the Internet Safari, so I'm posting it here.


by Robert Fulgrum

Definition: Persons with enough nimbleness of mind to accept a surprise invitation to jump into a quick game of imagination.

Example: Here’s a city bus driver standing in the door of his vehicle, staring into the rain. An invitation from me, passing by: “OK, here’s the deal: I’ll pay for the gas, and you’ll drive us straight to the beach at Santa Monica.”

He smiles. “OK, meet me here at midnight. It’s the end of my run and they won’t miss me or the bus until morning. I’ll get some barbecue.”
A player.

Example: This lady with a shopping cart full of oddball stuff standing beside me in front of the cheese counter at the grocery story. My invitation: “I like the groceries in your cart better than mine. Want to trade? You take mine and I’ll take yours. Could be interesting when we get home.”

She smiles. Checks out my cart. “You’ve got a deal,"she says. We take each other’s carts and roll away. Later, she’s waiting for me at the check-out counter. She knows and I know: we weren’t really going to go through with it. But the few moments of madness brought new meaning to “going to the store for a few things.”
A player.

Example: There’s a tailor shop on Queen Anne Avenue. Sign in the window says “Alterations and Repairs for Men and Women.” The tailor is standing in the doorway. I stop. “I’d like to get altered and repaired,” I say.
She looks at me cautiously. Goes inside. Closes the door.
Not a player.

Example: Vivacious young woman who works at the sidewalk flower stand at a nearby market. Last year she called me “Babycakes"just before Valentine’s Day, but I haven’t seen her since. Invitation: “Do I still look like Babycakes to you?” I ask.

She looks at me shrewdly. “Sir, it is the policy of the store that employees are not to get familiar with customers.” “Oh, too bad,"say I. She’s no longer a player. As I turn my back and walk away, she whispers, “Thanks for coming by, babycakes.”
An undercover player now.

Example: Me at a well-known company to pick up copies of a manuscript, I am visibly annoyed - this is my third trip to get what was promised yesterday. The anxious clerk, Miss Saucer-eyes, is obviously new to the herd behind the counter and doesn’t know what to do with me or for me. The work is still not done, despite promises. Getting mad at her won’t help.
“OK, I won’t make any trouble,” I say, “Just give me a really clever, off-the-wall creative excuse - the wildest thing you can think of. Make me laugh and I’ll go away.”
Miss Saucer-eyes is mute. This situation was not covered in training school last week. She whispers: “I’ll speak to my manager.”
Not a player.

Miss Saucer-eyes retreats to the back of the shop and consults with her manager, a high-energy, sharply-dressed woman. The manager marches briskly up to the counter, gives me a steely look, leans over the counter, and explains: “Sir, you may not know this, but this store has been a front for the Irish Republican Army for years. We’re supposed to be turning in our firearms, and it seems a bazooka is missing from the inventory. When we find the bazooka, things will get back to normal. If I were you, I wouldn’t make any trouble - just come back tomorrow, OK?
A player.

Example: A garbage man with monster truck. Cold. Rain. As I pass by, he says, “You look prosperous.” “Thank you. I feel prosperous.” “You look like the kind of guy who might have some frequent-flyer miles.” “As a matter of fact, I do. Lots of them.” “Listen, I need enough to get me to Buenos Aires, one way.” “I’ve got enough. They’re yours. But what’s in it for me.?” “Here’s the keys to this garbage truck. Even trade.
Yes! I’ve long had an urge to drive one of those things. I’d like to dump a whole load of garbage on a certain person’s front porch. “It’s a deal.” “You got a license to drive a truck?” “Well, no.” “Deals off - I can’t be part of anything illegal, but no problem. Get a license. I’m here every Monday.
A player.

Example: Early morning. Lady standing at a bus stop. All seven people waiting with her have wires coming out of their ears. Radios, I-pods, Walkmans, or something. All seven are in a zone - nodding heads in time to music or staring off into space. As I pass, I say to the lady: “They’re all alien robots, you know. Their souls have been sucked out of them.” The lady gives me a hard look and moves closer to the curb.
Not a player.

A man who has just walked up says, “Yes, but they aren’t useless. They’re a street-theater company and I’m their manager. We’re on our way to a gig downtown.” “Really? What’s the name of the performance?” “Bus Stop Stupor. Look for us everywhere.
A player.

Example: Clerk in a bookstore - older lady with dyed red hair. “Can I help you?” she asks. “Happy birthday,” I say. (Makes people smile - sometimes you’re early, sometimes late, but sometimes right on.) “Well, I hope you’re coming to my party,"she says. “We need someone to jump out of a cake.”
“I’m your man.” “You’d be expected to go-go dance in the nude.
“I’m not your man.” “My mistake. Thought you looked a little kinky.
A player.

The lady waiting in line behind me - who overheard this conversation - drifted away from the counter and then walked out the door.
Not a player.

Later, as I walked by a sidewalk table at a nearby coffeehouse, I spot the lady customer who fled the store. “Sorry, hope we didn’t annoy you,” I said.
She smiled. “Oh, no,"she said, “It’s just that I jumped out of the cake last year. It hurts my feelings to think they’re looking for a replacement.
A player after all.

People in the real world are more full of mischief than I could ever invent. Most are primed and ready to play. While I didn’t make up these stories, I had to make some of them down - they were unprintably creative.

Look for players. They’re everywhere. You may be one.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Reality Check Forums

Allo there, chaps! Yesterday I was telling you about our original internet safari. Today I'd like to talk a bit more about that trip.

In July of 2007, we decided to head over to the Reality Check forums. This is a canadian forum which was attractive to us for a few reasons:

  • Quick moving board - that means little waiting to get a response to our antics
  • A wide range of topics and interests to discuss
  • The locals seemed to have a good sense of humor

This seemed like it'd an interesting place to explore. Here was one of the posts that outlined the project:

Plan of Attack: Brainstorm


Wherever we decide to explore, we should have an "intro" thread where we all make an initial appearance. Think of it as the opening credits to our TV show "....And Payne as Dr. Phineas T Poxswattle." *Payne poses*

We'll dick around on the forum, but most of the time, when something relevant is "happening", it'll happen in our intro thread. So as a brainstorm...

we all show up as safari explorers. In our intro thread we comment about the long dangerous trip through the internet, and the awful atrocities we've witnessed (you know like Goatse). We're looking for Dr. Livingstoned, who is lost on the internet. Smalltalk smalltalk adlib, etc

The next day, someone makes an alt of a "native forumite". He shows up in our thread and gives us some clues as to where Dr. Livingstoned is. Maybe he's been sighted viewing some other thread on the board.

Anyway, when we're ready to draw the antics to a close, Dr. Livingstoned shows up in our intro thread and we all shake his hand. Having recovered our teammate, we can leave this god-forsaken place. Then, before we leave, we'll post a link to the next message board we're exploring.

If we meet anyone supercool we'll link them to our forum.

anyone want to riff on this?

soon after, we arrived. We boarded en mass, set up base camp, and began spagging around. 

People made a variety of hilarious characters. I played the role of the safari guide. One of my favorites was Payne, our human pack mule. His job was to carry around all the heavy artifacts we had found as we crossed the internet. 

(right click -> view to see full image)

As we hunted for Dr. Livingstoned, the locals started to interact with us. In particular, one of the board's administrators made an account named "Dr. Livingstoned" and played along with us for a while, which we found hilarious.

Some of the locals thought we were awesome. Some seemed annoyed. This is typical of internet forums, especially larger communities. People get very attached to the comfort of static, and are wary of perceived threats. At some point, somebody called us annoying, and following suit, we dogpiled into that thread, being SUPER annoying.

Here are some screencaps, taken later of our ventures:

Americans Don't Understand Others part 1 , part 2 - our attempts to participate in serious discussion.

Machete Weight Loss Program part 1, part 2 - about weight loss

It wasn't long before I tried to log in and was greeted by the following message:

This was frustrating, but not unexpected.

Basically, a moderator had signed in, seen a bunch of new activity, seen a little bit of annoyed response, and decided to "get out the ban stick". Within an hour, we were all banned and most of our posts were deleted.

Most of our group was composed of experienced internet trolls who do see banning as a sort of challenge. To some, getting banned from a forum is a form of flattery. There was a bit of motion to return to the forum under proxy and begin gradually provoking tension, stress, and paranoia to the forum as we systematically dismantled social relationships. But this wasn't a trolling mission - this was a safari! We thought better of it and moved on...

One of the explorers, Knight Raider (a picture of david hasslehoff in a pith helmet), snuck back over to the forum under proxy, and posted the following message:

Dear RC Forumites--

Thank you for participating in the Exotic Internet Safari. It was a fun experiment for us, and we hope there are no hard feelings or whatever. If you'd like to join us on the next expedition, please stop by [Our Forum] tomorrow morning. We'll be hamming it up as explorers.

If you're interested in participating, you're welcome to tag along. The intent is to explore the internet and meet cool people. Please don't break any rules or intentionally troll unless it's hilarious.



He was immediately banned. Seems the mods had been set to "ban everybody" mode. Even new users who happened to sign up that day were immediately banned before posting.

We learned a few lessons here:

  • Apprehension can quickly slide into opposition. Forum Mods are territorial beings who don't want fecal matter where they eat. If provoked, they can be quite quick to respond.
  • Merely signing up en mass can be seen as a threat.
  • It's hard to get banned for being friendly, positive, funny, or cute. It's easy to get banned just for being condescending.

The real lulz came soon enough...  the admin of Reality Check found us and started lurking in our discussions. We found this out the next day, when somebody signed up to our next safari target (discussanything.com) with MY user name and started warning of incoming trolls.

That was the tip off. All we had to do was monitor who was reading the thread at our board, and we soon found Brutus. A little datamining, and we soon had all sorts of fun information about him -- like where he lived, the names of his dogs, and this amazing picture:

He posted, "Nice work on the google skills but you could have picked a picture where I don't look borderline retarded." We were frustrated because he was actively trying to thwart us, and fur was bristled. 

Once hostilities settled down a bit, Brutus confessed that he found the whole expedition amusing. "The whole group was fine but it would have been more interesting had you actually contributed to the forum instead of talking jibber jabber. The shock of 6 or 8 people all 'randomly' signing up and posting at the same time is enough to get some attention, you don't need to act so much." 

We all agreed to some extent - part of the game is to see how long we can last at a forum before getting mass-ejected. To succeed at this, we need to quickly get an intuitive sense of the social norms and protocols of the forum. While we shouldn't violate these standards, we should also try to generate an amusing sort of surprise. As I said, few forum moderators are prepared for a cadre of pith-helmet wearing explorers to land on their forum and begin spagging around. We just need to do this in a somewhat nondestructive, nonobtrustive way.

And THAT is the story of our first Exotic Internet Safari!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

History of the Exotic Internet Safari


I'm Fresh Heir, one of the original safari guides. In this post, I'll talk a bit about the safari and its exotic origins. If you've never been on an internet safari, but would like to join in, this is a good place to start.

Our home base is an internet forum which will (for the moment) remain nameless. A lot of "internet trolls" hang out there - creative folks who like causing a bit of chaos and discord on the internet. We've gone on countless fun trollish adventures... we've amped up the paranoia of reptillian conspiracy theorists, we've posted reams of bad poetry on goth forums, we've suggested inedible recepies on the Martha Stewart forums, and we've wrestled with pagans to accept the Unicron (a transformer) into their pantheon.

Trolling is good old fashioned fun. It's as old as the internet, and remains one of the few ways to really engage someone through this anonymous medium. Often, trolling is done purely for the amusement of the trolls, but we've definitely done our share of prosocial trolling. We've bombed pro-eating disorder websites, and we've poked fingers in the eyes of rabid fanatics of all colors - right wing, left wing, christians, atheists, you name a type of screetching idiot, we've probably trolled it.

But it takes a lot of energy and organization to cause disorder. At some point we decided we wanted to engage in a more lighthearted romp through the interweb. Something silly and fun. Play some games, maybe make some friends.

Also, we knew that there was a lot of unexplored territory on the internet. Personally, I'm fascinated by subcultures. I am a subcultural voyeur, always exploring different social communities to see what makes them tick. The Safari was conceived (in part) as a way of touring different communities and seeing what they're all about. And so it began...

Here was the snowball that started the avalanche: 

"We assemble team of people to go explore the internet. Every few days, pick another forum. We come in with over-the-top characters and generally hang around for a day or two, then skip town. If we're feeling adventurous, we could pick a new theme for each expedition.

Like on one forum we could all be members of the Fellowship of the Ring, and we're stopping at that forum on the trail of the ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL

Or on another forum we'll beam in as a Star Trek away team. On day two a red shirt gets killed, and we retreat back into outer space

We can make serious conversation or just be silly

if we get chased out with torches and pitchforks that's okay too

The point is to meet as many people as possible and hopefully some cool ones. Or possibly just make a mess of the internet. Some of the expeditions will be lame, some will be hot damn awesome. Maybe we'll snag some new blood for our forum. Maybe we'll gather a lynch mob of people following us from board to board trying to thwart us

on each forum, at the end, we'll link to the next forum we're visiting. So future explorers can follow our trail across the intarblag

And so it began... We headed over to a forum, set up base camp, and got out of the boat as our over-the-top english explorer characters. We were in search of Dr. Livingstoned - maybe you've seen him?

At first, our explorers only conversed at base camp, a sort of "introduction thread" for the explorers. Then we began to chart the territory - finding good posts or images elsewhere on the board, and posting links in basecamp. Once a link was posted in basecamp, all the explorers would pop into that thread, offering commentary or ridiculous antics.

It wasn't too long before we were banned, but I feel that a good time was had by all. And that's another story, and shall be told another time.

Recently, there has been clamour for another series of safari tours. The internet is such a big, weird place, and it's exciting to explore back channels and forgotten URLs. The locals are always  unprepared for the appearance of a troupe of pith-hat wearing explorers poking about their forum as if it's an african jungle. Sometimes the reactions are good, sometimes they're bad, but WE always have a good time. And now that you've found us (or we've found you) you're welcome to tag along for the fun.

The INTJ Forum

We set up our first Base Camp at a forum that looked most promising, the INTJ Forum. Here we explored quite thoroughly and even developed a nice repartee with some of the locals, but unfortunately it seems we tread a bit heavily for the liking of the local chieftains, who evicted us later that evening.

Here are the photographic plates from our Base Camp:
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 5, post-eviction

Before we were tossed out on our bums, I discovered that one of my posts had been eaten by the local fauna, but luckily I made notes before the unfortunate incident: Deleted post

And here is but one example of our studious and scholarly exploration of the other threads in the region: "The Disappearing Male"