- "The Slacktiverse is a comfortable environment for nobody. Everyone posts in terror of being perceived as offensive, which leads to a relentless mob-shaming and a blackballing within half an hour at most. It's honestly one of the most repressive environments I've seen online, and I've been to Stormfront."
— DashRendar1128, to MMY, on the current Slacktivist blog
"The Slacktiverse" is the nickname for the community that rose around Fred Clark's original Slacktivist blog, best known for its deconstructions of the Dominionist Christian Left Behind novels. (Clark has since moved to the religious blog community Patheos.) This community shut down on October 15, 2012 (see below for more details), though a few of its members continue to gather on various blogs.
The people who remained on the old Typepad site practiced some of the most restrictive, and ridiculous, SJ language policing on the internet (discussed here). Any comments considered to have the vaguest change in hell of triggering someone were ROT13'd.
In one f_fa thread, titled "Slactiverse reaches Shakesvillian heights," a nonny links to this OP, which warns people, "Warning: Most stories that are legally available online were written at a time when racist and sexist attitudes/words were common." Another member of the Slacktiverse once complained that the phrase "Pay attention!" is "ableist" against people with ADHD (discussion here). In this thread, Gentlefailers talk about the longstanding Slacktiverse trigger warning for "transhumanism."
Gentlefailers have also snarked Slacktiverse regular Ana Mardoll, who has mused on her own blog whether expressions like "the pot calling the kettle black" are racist (f_fa thread) and who once posted an overwrought "community note" about how she expects her discussions of phenomena like the Twilight books to be "activist discussions" (f_fa thread).
The Slacktiverse was run by a group called The Board Administration Team, or TBAT. This group consisted of three SJW moderators: Hapax, Mmy, and British fantasy novelist Kit Whitfield. Whitfield's "long academic diatribe about the concept of 'death of the author'" on the Slacktiverse has been dissected on f_fa.
Kit Whitfield Is Smarter Than You AreEdit
A particularly nasty Slacktiverse wank happened in December 2011, when Whitfield wrote about contacting the BBC over diversity issues with a children's TV show. Commenters raised the topic of TVTropes, which Whitfield hates. She argued that because she is a published novelist with an MFA, she is probably a better writer, and therefore more knowledgeable about such things as television tropes, than anyone else on the Slacktiverse:
- ...You might be an unconsciously incompetent writer. In fact, statistically speaking, that is the likeliest scenario. But it's considered very bad manners for a writer to point out that most people are unconsciously incompetent writers. So what can I do with what you're saying?
Commenter MaryKaye suggested adopting a rule from the old newsgroup rec.arts.sf.composition forbidding people from telling one another, "Your approach to writing is objectively wrong." Whitfield flipped her shit over this: "Mary Kaye: did you just say you'd be willing to drive me away so everyone can discuss the craft without objections from people who see it as an art?" After Mmy defended Whitfield, MaryKaye politely announced that she was leaving the Slacktiverse for good.
Commenter Laiima noted that she didn't think this thread would be a safe place for her to explore some of her ideas on the main subject. This earned her a great deal of opprobrium from Whitfield, who accused her in turn of making the space unsafe and added, "I don't think it's your place to decide when and how I should apologise to third parties [who have left the blog]."
MaryKaye spoke up again to say that she knew the mods had her email address, but she didn't want to be contacted because "I have done more crying over [this drama] already than I can possibly afford." Mmy chose to take offense at MaryKaye's supposed implication that the mods would have to be "warned off" from contacting her. Hapax defended Mmy's comment, saying that MaryKaye "jolly well should" know that the mods would never use MaryKaye's information in a way she wouldn't appreciate.
The Slacktiverse controversy with the most offsite repercussions was a January 2012 post by Froborr that was seen by many as anti-atheist. In that post, Froborr, who identifies as an atheist, called the beliefs of prominent atheist blogger Greta Christina "evil in one of its purest forms." The controversy spilled over from that thread into several others, especially after it was picked up by Greta Christina's fellow atheist bloggers PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson. After almost a month, Slacktiverse mods finally forbade further comment on the issue, but it was too late. The site also began to be hit by trolls at that time.
In a February 2012 argument over fanfiction, Whitfield said she didn't want to talk about it because she knew she'd get flamed (the mods at Slacktiverse are generally anti-fanfic and the community pro-fanfic). MercuryBlue referenced Whitfield's novel in the ensuing discussion; Whitfield asserted that by doing so, MercuryBlue was demonstrating that she had "no respect for [Whitfield's humanity."] Mmy also argued vehemently that fanfiction is illegal and therefore wrong, although she provided no citations to back her opinion up.
In a June 2012 post about not blaming the poor, which turned into a discussion of having or not having children, Whitfield decided to unload on the dreadful childfree folks:
- "But the word 'Childfree' is, for many parents, associated with vicious hate speech and harassment online... I do not accept for one damn minute that people who choose not to have children have the worse end of the deal, and I will not apologise for pointing out that some of them are absolutely vicious to parents. You want the label? Fine. Then you are choosing to keep company with those vicious people."
More Religion WankEdit
What would turn out to be the last blogpost written by anyone that wasn't a member of TBAT was a post by Literata on being refused the right to perform marriages because she's a member of a pagan faith. On page 2 of the comments, a commenter named "Miss Ed" showed up to compare paganism to parody religions such as the Flying Spaghetti Monster (note: Miss Ed's comments were ROT13'd by the mods for being offensive). The discussion quickly degenerated, with Whitfield showing up on page 3 to claim that she was putting herself on the line by running the blog: "Which is probably why [trolls] go after people like you, and me and others here too for that matter, who actually put our necks on the line and say who we are and what we care about."
Finally, on Nu-Slacktivist in July 2012, a few snide comments by Slacktiverse regular MadGastronomer, who is known for "nuking" (writing hateful screeds to) those she disagrees with, prompted Nathaniel to say, "This place does not need to become the slacktiverse." Another commenter wrote, "I just glanced at the Slacktiverse out of curiosity. The first few posts included trigger warnings for Ableism Language in Text, Ethics of Mind-Reading, Bad Friendships, and Food Poisoning. Never change." The Slacktiverse decided to stop linking to Fred's site, since it had become, as they saw it, a place to hate on the Slacktiverse.
Gentlefailer discussion here:
- "The entire thing is pure gold. The link to the Slacktivist is taken off the top bar. There are entire conversations about people not having the spoons, things being (honest to god, word for word quote) "costly in terms of spoons," people sympathetically understanding other people not having the spoons, somebody who makes a point of conserving their spoons, etc. There's drama that you've gotta hear in the voice of a pallid Victorian sprawled over a fainting couch."
Note also this comment about how flaming by Slacktiverse regulars, such as Izzy, was deemed okay, but even mild dissent from outsiders was quashed.
Due to all these controversies, as well as a sharp decline in actual content (nothing new had been submitted in nearly two full months), the TBAT decided to shut the Slacktiverse down as of October 15, 2012 and put it into archive mode. Ana Mardoll created a new Blogspot blog for the Slacktiverse, which was eventually ported over to Wordpress. Some regulars from the old Typepad site agreed to make the switch; notably, TBAT as a group announced they would not, but rather that they would leave the Slacktiverse community entirely. At this writing, more than three years later, participation on the current Wordpress blog is nowhere near what it was back on Typepad. Many of the community, including Mardoll, have begun their own 'deconstructions' in the style of Fred Clark's, but participation at those blogs is also far below that of Clark's new blog, or of the Slacktivist in its heyday.
In February 2013, one nonny suggested the following game, called "Slacktivizer":
- Pick a random word or phrase and tell us why it is TOTALLY OFFENSIVE TO A MARGINALIZED GROUP (by the way, rich people, children, and dogs all count if you can't think of how it affects someone who is actually marginalized in your society).
On July 24, 2013, a nonny started a thread called "Froborr's Postmodern Pony Essays -- Now With Kickstarter!" Here's the link to Froborr's essay site; here's the link to his Kickstarter.