Thứ Bảy, 27 tháng 6, 2015

Inside The Very Strange, Very Heated, Kanye West Forum Wars

No one fan should have all that power.

Getty / Michelle Riall / BuzzFeed

On a typical Friday afternoon, visitors to Kanye To The — the self-proclaimed largest Kanye West fan forum on the Web, with about 10,000 registered members — might find a thread dedicated to pics of Kanye off-roading with the fam for Father's Day or guessing the name of Kanye's soon-to-be-born son, or a heated discussion about how Kanye might release his next album. But at 1 p.m. on the afternoon of Friday May 22, they found something else entirely. An error message in block text at the top of the page declaring the website "503 Not Available."

Kanye To The had been hacked, and a tiny, insular, sometimes very obsessive corner of the internet erupted.

Rumors began swirling on forums and Twitter that Yeezy Talk — a newer, smaller Kanye forum — had initiated a DDoS attack to bring its larger, more established counterpart down. Conspiracy theories were floated. Threats were made. Someone set up a GoFundMe page to attempt to raise funds for airfare to go confront the founder of Yeezy Talk in person and "beat his ass."

What Kanye To The usually looks like.

Kanye To The

The communities that congregate on Kanye West forums are essentially (more) diverse, rap-obsessed, fashion-conscious Reddits, and their audiences are big enough to warrant banner ads, and any money that comes with it. (Kanye To The wouldn't reveal any revenue numbers, however). Discussions on the forums are ostensibly about Kanye's music, but they quickly come to encompass the entire hip-hop landscape, which today means dedicated threads to Drake, Kid Cudi, and Lil Wayne, among others. Like Kanye himself, they often make a detour into clothing: WDYWT, an abbreviation for What Did You Wear Today, is a popular thread on which teens post selfies of their outfits for the rest of the community to critique. Eventually, like all forums, they devolve into the inane, the opinionated, and the self-referential.

The forums usually come to be in succession, rather than an ecosystem; different forums eclipse each other every few years. They are far from friendly with each other, often competing to absorb any rap fans willing to pour time and effort — it's not uncommon to see users with upward of 50,000 posts on Kanye To The — into each community. And now, it seemed, that competition has escalated to hacking each other.

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