Shakesville, originally Shakespeare's Sister, is a long-running feminist blog started by Melissa McEwan. It began to go off the rails during 2008, when McEwan, who was volunteering for John Edwards' presidential campaign, was stalked by right-wingers. Melissa's commenting policy and moderation became increasingly arbitrary and abusive in the name of preserving a "safe space". Finally, in 2009, her co-mods put up the infamously culty "All In" post, basically demanding that commenters sign an oath to police their language nigh unto death. Since then, language restrictions have become ever tighter, commenters have been screamed at for saying perfectly innocuous things, and Melissa and the mods insist that all their comments be viewed in a good faith they are unwilling to extend to others.
Various critiques from former SV commenters and co-bloggers, and from some who had long disliked the place, after the "All In" Rubicon was crossed:
- Cogitamus Blog
- Apostate (now defunct)
- Antiplath 1
- Antiplath 2
- Guys from Area 51
- Jennifer Slevin
- Napthtail's Wings
- Quirky Tizzy
Melissa also frequently begs for money for sitting at home, having her co-bloggers do most of the work, and occasionally posting a cat video or grabbing links to other people's posts for "blogarounds." Doing all this, you see, is "a feminist act". Infamously, co-blogger Paul the Spud once encouraged a woman who was down to her last $5 in child support to contribute that money to Shakesville, saying, "No amount is too small."
There have been several Tumblrs that allow frustrated SV commenters and lurkers to vent and call out the blog on its fails. STFU Shakesville and Shakesfail posted updates on Shakesville until summer 2013, when they closed. Drink the Shaker Kool-Aid took their place and lasted until October 2014. However, before it closed it posted the Circle Time thread, in which dozens of people described how McEwan had bullied them and driven them from the Shakesville community.
Gentlefailers have mocked what is known on the meme as "Shakes'n'Cries Ville" countless times. Examples:
- Jan. 17, 2011: In the f_fa thread "Paging fellow Melissa McEwan grudge anons," a nonny quotes SV mod SKM saying, "And yes, arguing with the mods is classed as disrespect here," and adds, "Of course. It's not a blog, it's an online daycare center for emotional basket cases, with the intellectual fare thoroughly puréed."
- May 8, 2011: A post about iguanas that features a trigger warning, plus someone using gender-neutral pronouns in comments to refer to the iguana, leads to this f_fa thread.
- Jul. 19, 2011: Shakesville agrees with Sady Doyle that Harry Potter is remarkably sexist because "There's no prophecy assuring [Hermione's] importance." Also, per a SV commenter, "The series' attitude towards women is best summed up by the scene in which Molly Weasley calls Bellatrix Lestrange a BITCH in all caps, and then challenges her to a Good Woman vs. Bad Woman fight to the death. Baaarrrf." Gentlefailer discussion.
- Aug. 4, 2011: A nonny reports that according to this SV thread, it is no longer permissible to joke about someone leaving their baby at your house or to make macros about pet adoption. "I was going to peruse the comments, then I saw the first one licking the blog's collective ass for helping the commenter 'learn how to be a better human being.'"
- Aug. 9, 2011: Melissa posts about the UK riots. A guest commenter says they had been surprised Shakesville hadn't posted about the riots yet. Melissa says, "'Shakesville' doesn't post things. The individual human people who contribute to Shakesville do." The subsequent apology isn't good enough for her. Gentlefailer discussion.
- Aug. 11, 2011: A Shakesville commenter expresses concern over people criticizing U.S. vice-presidential candidate Rick Perry for being a C student. This sparks a massive classism wank on f_fa.
- Oct. 17, 2011: Per Melissa, criticizing Guy Fieri's food "inevitably leads to body policing and fat hatred." With the perennial "noting a problem in the OP' = 'assuming bad faith in the OP." Gentlefailer discussion.
- Nov. 21, 2011: A nonny says,
- I think my breaking point ... was an old Shakesville post where someone quoted a lyric from Porgy and Bess — "If your daddy is rich and your mama's good looking / hush, little baby, don't you cry" — with a trigger warning for "classism and objectification of women." At some point you just need to admit that it's not about protecting other people from being hurt by offensive material, it's about scoring cookies for yourself.
- Dec. 6, 2011: This general discussion of SV quickly mentions the "All in" post and then focuses on it exclusively.
- Mar. 15, 2012: Gentlefailers discuss the Shakesville callout post on sf_drama.
- Mar. 26, 2012: Relatively short, general SV complaint thread.
- Mar. 27, 2012: Another short gripe thread.
- Jun. 4, 2012: Melissa posts, "Content Note: Eating." Gentlefailers boggle.
- Jun. 25, 2012: Melissa claims the Pixar movie Brave oppresses the Scottish people. This sparks a very long f_fa thread, and then another started by a furious Scottish nonny who challenged Melissa and was deleted and banned. (Bonus lulz: Melissa calls her blog "an advanced feminist space.")
- Aug. 4, 2012: Melissa posts one of her "Community Notes." A nonny describes it thusly:
- In which Melissa once again insists that her job is the hardest in the world and that she and Shakesville are not the same entity, even though the slightest disagreement with Melissa will get you banned from Shakesville. For those who don't want to read, the TL;DR is: "Sometimes, people get mad that Shakesville is not covering something or do not credit me instead of Shakesville in general. This dehumanizes me and is a terrible evil."
- Also, a commenter who tries to express support of Melissa is attacked: "Jokes about "elves" aren't funny. They're fucking dehumanizing."
- Apr. 12, 2013: F_FA thread about Melissa giving Margaret Thatcher a posthumous tonguebath.
- Oct. 21, 2013: "Eye of Sauron Melissa McEwen never misses a chance to passive aggressive garbage nightmare of a human." Typically Shakesvillian drama over a commenter jokingly asking people not to mention cherry-tree leaves because she has to rake them up. Drink the Shaker Kool-Aid is all over this one. Nonny notes that Melissa enabled downvoting in Disqus. ":D :D How long will it last? Will she survive all the downvotes? Cackles in glee."
- Dec. 19, 2013: "Shakesville solicits donations to keep running while simultaneous planning to shutdown the site." SV kicks off their annual fundraising drive without mentioning that Melissa and some other SV mods had started a new blog, Cuppa Gumption. According to Drink the Shakesville Kool-Aid, they made it private after an SV commenter found it (that comment was flushed down the memory hole). (Google Cache of Gumption pre-lockdown.) One of DTSVKA's correspondents thinks the point of Gumption is to switch from Disqus, which permits downvoting, to Wordpress comments, which don't.
- July 25, 2015: A nonny lamented, "Oh, no, don't recommend SHAKESVILLE ffs," after having seen the community recommended on DailyKos. There is a person at dK named Lysis who used to be a contributing writer there, although she was not the person making the rec in this instance.
- Jan. 9-10, 2016: After one nonnie discovered Shakesville for the first time and boggled at its absurdities, nonnies shared their favorite/most hated ridiculous moments from Shakesville's history, including the elf wank, cherry tree wank, and McEwan lying about her medical and financial issues.