Remember the folktale of the Tar baby? There are many variations, but
they all involve something or someone who turns out to be much more than meets the
eye. The Tar baby is sticky and once you make the mistake of touching it,
you're stuck, literally. This writeup is a Tar baby for sure.
I was working my copyright beat for E2, when I got an innocuous-looking request
for a CST Review from one of my best customers:
2006.07.16 at 13:39 jessicapierce says p_i's The Stile Project -
contains a long-standing E2 joke (last line) but it's not really in
I took a quick look, and it was pretty obvious that the estimable Ms. Pierce had a point,
but I didn't really understand the context or authorship of writeup in question, which was posted by Pseudo_Intellectual, but contained a grumpy rant by a fled noder named Stile. In the
process of unraveling the details, I found a vignette of early E2 culture that
I think is fascinating and I hope you will too. My goal here is to entertain
you a bit and, in the process, pull a biscuit from the fire before
it gets burned.
A Noder's Journey
The story, in brief, is as follows. Way back in October 2000, a young
man named Jay Stiles stumbled onto Everything2.com, stirred up some dust
and then left us forever. Hardly a unique tale but, given the benefit of time I
think we can extract some useful meaning, if not exactly deep wisdom. Oh,
yeah, to add a little spice to the tale, Jay has gone on to become a rich and
famous purveyor of online pornography and founded a vast adult-oriented media
The details of Jay's E2 discovery have been lost in the mists of time, but
since he was a SlashDot fan, we can surmise that he clicked on that unassuming
little Slashdot link that has lured so many of us down the rabbit
Jay poked around a bit, struggled to make sense of the E2 carnival and was
intrigued enough to create an E2 account for his own
In light of Jay's short and controversial trajectory through the E2 orbit, I
think it's worth reprinting the details of the Stile Homenode:
User since: Sat Oct 7 2000 at 17:32:23 (5.8 years ago )
Last seen: Sun Oct 22 2000 at 13:10:10 (5.7 years ago )
Level: 1 (Initiate)
Mission drive: within everything: to learn
Specialties: interaction with others
School/company: stile project
Motto: we're all doomed
my name is jay stile.
i run the website www.stileproject.com
i am a human.
i am looking for something.
do you have what i am looking for?
information wants to be free.
i have lost my will to live.
Not a bad start really. A little irony, some forthright personal
information and an almost endearing youthful naivety in his stated desires to
learn from E2 and interact with its denizens. Us.
After spending a week
exploring E2 and, presumably, reading the FAQ's, Jay posted his first writeup,
a concise description of the project closest to his heart.
www.stileproject.com (thing) by stile,
created 2000-10-14 02:32:23
What is the Stile Project?
Who the hell knows.
You may be asking yourself what this website is about:
Everything ... Nothing. Whatever is on my mind. Whatever I deem to be interesting or cool at any given time. It is one big ongoing thought process that I dump on the web, and try to update as much as possible.
This website has been around since October 7th, 1999. I started it a few months before that on my 5mb webspace that my ISP gave me, and it just grew from there. I registered this domain, started writing about everything that I found interesting, and gradually more and more people started to read what I had to say.
I decided to make this website because I was spending so much fucking time on the Internet that I thought to myself that I might as well share what I find interesting with others.
I never want to censor anything. Life isn't always pretty, and neither is the Internet. I believe in balancing all aspects of humanity and presenting it to my audience in a coherent fashion. I want my readers to feel something, whether it is love or hate.
Personally, I find the Internet to be boring. Let's face it, it is a commercial wasteland. Everyone wants you to buy their current lifesaving product or breakthrough technology. Everyone wants you to sign up to "get paid to surf!". Fuck it, and fuck them.
If you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to ask someone else first.
I must warn you though, Stile Project has some pretty fucked up stuff on it. From Japscat (Japanese shit eating) videos, to real and fake snuff films, extremely hardcore pornography and fetishes.
There is another side to it, but you will have to find it yourself.
The People's Pornographer
Our newest noder's pet web project was started on a
shoestring as an arguably noble protest against the increasing
commercialization of the Internet. That's cool enough, but things get
interesting when you realize that in the fullness of
time, The Stile Project has
become one of the most visited destinations on the Web. Google the Stile
Project and you'll be presented with several million search results reflecting
its large audience of both fans and detractors. Since Jay visited us back
in 2000, The Stile Project has become a veritable Internet institution and
successful media empire.
The interests that Jay expressed to us have narrowed and hardened into
extremely hard core pornography and over the top weirdness. I'm a grizzled
veteran of shocking Internet content, but I only lasted a half hour
exploring stileproject.com and a few of its numerous offshoots. I'm not
going to bother trying to titillate you with the lurid details, those who are
interested can find their own way down the back alleys. What I did find
interesting though is the glaring, unavoidable, overwhelming success of Jay's
enterprise. The Stile Project is a runaway hit.
The original Stile Project was started back in 1999 and it was pretty much as
Jay described it, a proto-blog of whatever caught his interest at the time, with
a healthy dose of fetish-oriented porn and an exuberant Shock Jock
style that mimics Howard Stern.
The Stile Project gained wide exposure and notoriety in 1999 when Stile faked
his own suicide, live on a webcam. This event caught the attention of the
mainstream media, including Wired and Playboy magazines, and boosted the site's
visibility around the world. Over time, The Stile Project has spun off a
small ecosystem of adult-oriented websites and forums including the Cam Whores
webcam portal. In 2000, the Stile Project won the Webby and People's Voice
awards for the "Best Weird Site."
E2 vs. Stile
The 'other side' of the Stile Project that Jay referred to in his E2 writeup
consisted of Jay's rants and monologues on current events, with links to other
websites that interested him. This aspect of the Stile Project deserves
credit as one of the first, and most successful blog sites on the Net. When Jay
started the Stile Project, he was fresh out of high school, still living with
his mother and eager to share his excitement with all that the newly evolving
Internet had to offer. His blog entries ranged widely, but were anchored
by a steady stream of oddball sexuality. The overall theme of the Stile
Project was simply to document his wide ranging Net travels.
Jay apparently stumbled onto Everything2.com in early October 2000 and was
intrigued enough to create an account and learn the system. His first
writeup, www.stileproject.com was followed up by almost a dozen other writeups
that met with varying degrees of success. The content ranges from superfluous
to substantial, reflecting Jay's youth and inexperience. Most
of them, would be considered Daylog fodder under the current standards, but they
all have a sense of honesty and openness that is refreshing. Jay's
writeups were basically the same type of blog postings of the type that would
eventually lead him to fame and fortune. Here's an excerpt:
2000-10-14 02:29:08 various crap (idea)
...I hate the fact that I'm too scared to tell a woman that I love her and want to spend the rest of my life with her. I hate the fact that I am too scared to get a life.
... No, I'm not some repressed teenager trying to take out his angst on the world through the Internet. I really don't know what compels me to write my thoughts here anymore. I'm fucking trapped in my mind and this is the only way I feel I can lift some of the burden of living, by expressing myself to the invisible masses. It's always easier to talk to a stranger.
I'm tired. My soul is empty.
Angsty teen spew, but not entirely valueless. It sometimes really is
'easier to talk to a stranger,' and perhaps that's a small part of the appeal of
online communities like E2.
When Jay put his mind to it, he demonstrated that he really could write and
was at least marginally well read. His E2 career hit a high point with
Kilgore Trout, a writeup that was rewarded with 28 upvotes, a very credible
rep, then and now:
2000-10-14 02:29:08 Kilgore Trout (idea)
Numerous fragments of Kilgore Trout's stories appear throughout many of Vonnegut's books. The themes of these fragments are often very similar to the themes of the novels Kurt Vonnegut wrote (Love vs. War, Machines vs. People etc.) Reading Kilgore Trout's stories (or parts of his stories as they appear in the novels) is almost as interesting as actual books by Kurt Vonnegut: full of wit, irony and satire.
Jay was clearly trying to fit in, poking and probing E2 for a comfort zone
where he could make a home. Unfortunately, it just wasn't a good
fit. One by one, his writeups were nuked and there's a sense of rising frustration on both sides. Among those responsible for removing Jay's
writeups are some legendary E2 figures, including dem bones, Gritchka, dannye
and even Nate himself. An unanticipated consequence of Stile's time on E2 was a horde of his followers who also created E2 accounts and began clogging up the works with weirdness. At one point over a hundred Stile-related accounts were removed by the E2 Admins over a 48 hour period. No record remains of Jay's conversations
with the Gods, but we can infer increasing rancor leading to Jay's
swansong, Everything Sucks.
everything sucks (idea) by stile, created 2000-10-15 08:30:10
This website, Everything / Everything2 is a big fucking sham.
All the elitist pigs who spend their lives writing and gaining experience here are just mentally masturbating themselves to try and prove how culturally cutting edge they are.
Take your Everything University and stuff it. Write your own rules and build your own path.
You might as well swallow a cyanide capsule now, because the more experience points you get on this site the more you just prove to the world what a big fucking anti-social reject loser you
Pretty much a definitive exit interview. This cheery goodbye was
followed by a blog entry on StileProject.com a few days later.
WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? (8:08PM EST) by:
I think I have hands-down found the most fascist website
on the entire Internet.
It's called Everything2.
It's a project by some of the Open-Source communists that run Slashdot.
Now don't get me wrong here, I love Slashdot,
but I can't say the same thing about Everything2.
At first glance it is hard to discern exactly what the hell this page
is about. After signing up under the name "Stile" and having a
few hundred people scream at me going "YOU'RE NOT THE REAL
STILE!!!" I decided to participate in this modern version of Nazi
On a side note I find it really amusing that people always accuse me of
not being myself on my travels across the Internet. Do they actually think
I have anything better to do?
Basically the gist of Everything2 is that you are supposed to write
things called "nodes." Each node is a representation of a
person, place, idea or thing. So I wrote some shit on whatever popped into
my head first. Now they encourage you to link as many other nodes within
your node, this is called "nodeshare" and if you don't do it you
Sounds fun, doesn't it? What's the point you may ask? Beats the fuck
out of me. Now here's where it gets interesting... They have a moderation
and experience system in effect where other members can vote your new node
on a point system depending on how good or relevant they think it is.
Unfortunately they voted me down to -44134 which means that I am no
longer allowed to even visit the website. Talk about elitism!
The idea of Everything2
is interesting, but it doesn't seem to have much of a point. Then again,
maybe that's the point?
Notice that Jay's style here is more balanced and confident. Jay's got the home
turf advantage here and some of the stridency drops away. He didn't have a very
good time during his stay at E2, not everyone does and that's okay. His conclusions aren't entirely
out to lunch
either. E2 is an interesting idea. The quirky and idiosyncratic
dynamics of the place have captivated all of us at one time or another.
But it's also clear that there isn't one all
encompassing Point here at E2. There are many reasons people come
and stay. Perhaps as many as there are
those of us who spend our time here. And, maybe that really is the point
So, that's the story of E2's brief brush with a world class purveyor of hard
core porn. We knew the rich and famous Stile when he was just a punk kid
fresh from high school, exploring the Internet and trying, albeit briefly, to
fit into our little community. It's not a big story, but I thought it was
Notes and references
I have pieced this story together from a thin trail of bread crumbs along the
forest floor. If I've gotten it wrong, or if you can add pieces to the
puzzle, please let me know.
1 The Stile Project:
www.stileproject.com --Beware the evil that lurks
2 Wikipedia Stile Project
3 The E2 database archives: Sorry,
E2 Admins only, contact me if you have specific questions.
Copyright Info: The quotes above are used in the context of fair use per E2 copyright policy. CST Approved
Comments from those who were there...
2006-07-21 Lometa says re E2 Scratch Pad: I'm so glad you are rescuing this. I was here when he arrived and caused a huge commotion in the cat box. Of course there was P_I, Wharfinger, dannye and a few others who tried to keep him in line. The majority of people who responded to him were clear about not wanting him here. When he finally gave his swan song P_I posted his write up. It was an interesting time.
2006-07-21 mkb says re The Stile Project: I'm pretty sure most people on the site at the time knew who stile was. he was almost certainly trolling. (i read stile regularly back then, before it was entirely overtaken by ads). If i remember correctly, E2 people asked and didn't all believe when he replied that he was THE stile. He was never any good as a writer. He was just sarcastic as all hell and posted lots of hot chicks and fucked up shit. In 2000 he already had his own ad server network and he was hosting sexy losers at the time. He was internet famous already and yes, you may include these comments. I am not proud of reading stile, but i won't lie about it either, because everyone in #e was reading it and space moose too
2006-07-21 Jet-Poop says BTW, here's my limited remembrance of the Stile stuff. He came over, noded some stuff, looked like your standard clueless newbie noder. Some of his stuff got deleted -- not being used to a forum that he couldn't control, he flipped out. Possibly adding to his freakout, some people didn't believe he was THE Stile, so his ego got bruised from that, too. Anyway, he posts his screed on his website, then we had about a week's worth of more-or-less nonstop troll attacks. When they got bored, they went away.
2006-07-22 Gorgonzola says re. The Stile Project: A footnote: "JayStile" was one of the trolls the then-gods decided to pretend to be for the infamous but now nearly-forgotten April Trolls' Day. I still havent figured out who that was.
And the last word goes to: 2006.07.22 Pseudo_Intellectual says re. The Stile Project: Looks pretty thorough, though I'd urge you to include his parting line: "It's coolerer than eating shit, but not as cool as munching pussy."