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A couple of days ago, embattled indie game designer Zoe Quinn embarrassed some of her biggest critics by posting screenshots she’d collected from a 4channer IRC channel, showing an assortment of hateful and duplicitous #GamerGaters literally conspiring to wreck her reputation and create the illusion of a vast grassroots uprising against alleged corruption in the gaming business.
Her critics, put on the defensive, tried their best to dismiss her screenshots as “cherry picked,” and a few even accused her of writing the very messages she screenshotted and posted. Oh, there might be a few bad apples in the bunch, some were willing to concede, but they were in the minority.
And then they pulled out what they thought was their trump card: the full chat log from the IRC channel #burgersandfries from when the Zoe Quinn “scandal” first erupted in mid-August up until September 6th. All anyone had to do, they suggested, was to read the log, and they would soon see that Quinn was presenting a distorted picture based on out-of-context, “cherry-picked” quotes.
Of course, reading this particular log is a bit easier said than done: it’s 3756 pages, in 10-point type, of chaotic overlapping IRC conversations.
This is a classic case of what’s come to be known as “doc dumping,” which Wikipedia helpfully defines as
the act of responding to an adversary’s request for information by presenting the adversary with a large quantity of data that is transferred in a manner that indicates unfriendliness, hostility, or a legal conflict between the transmitter and the receiver of the information. The shipment of dumped documents is unsorted, or contains a large quantity of information that is extraneous to the issue under inquiry … .
It’s clear that those posting links to the log are hoping that their opponents will take one look at this enormous, messy document and simply give up.
What they didn’t count on was anyone calling their bluff – and actually taking the time to read it. Because if they actually knew what this document contained, and thought anyone would actually read the thing, they would have kept the links to themselves.
Even a quick skim through the document demonstrates that Quinn’s screenshots are hardly cherry-picked; you can flip to literally any page in this long, long document and find evidence of egregious misogyny and outright malice. Look a little deeper and you can find discussions of doxxing and spamming and all sorts of other dirty tricks.
But I’ve given the document a lot more than a quick skim. So far I’ve spent probably ten hours going through it, collecting evidence of all the things that the defenders of 4chan insist isn’t there. Even after ten hours, I’ve only begun to scratch the surface, but I would like to present you with some of my results so far.
Today, let’s look at some of what the 4chan chatters had to say about Zoe Quinn herself.
On Twitter, the standard line of the #GamerGate partisans is that what they’re doing isn’t abut Quinn herself; its a protest against corruption and nepotism in the video game world. They also insist that they’re not motivated by misogyny, and that they are more concerned about the alleged ethical lapses of game journalists than they are with just who Zoe Quinn allegedly slept with.
When it comes to the 4channers in #burgersandfries, these claims are complete and utter bullshit. The name “Zoe” appears 4778 times in the document, more than once per page; by contrast, “Nathan” – the first name of the allegedly corrupt game journalist she allegedly slept with – appears only 108 times. The words “ethics” and “ethical” appear, collectively, only 146 times.
Zoe’s name is in the official thread topic; chatters include it in their jokey nicknames. She’s the topic everyone always comes back to. She’s the reason everyone is there.
I decided to examine each occurrence of the name “Zoe” in order to see just what 4channers thought of her. After about 6 hours on this particular quest, I’ve only made it through roughly one-third of the mentions. But the results are not pretty.
The 4channers express their hatred and disgust towards her; they express their glee at the thought of ruining her career; they fantasize about her being raped and killed. They wonder if all the harassment will drive her to suicide, and only the thought of 4chan getting bad publicity convinces some of them that this isn’t something they should hope for.
They gleefully distribute nude pictures of her, posting links to online archives of them and emailing them directly both to Quinn’s supporters.
They dig up all sorts of information about her and her family and do their best to track down anyone and everyone with even the most tenuous links to her. One industrious researcher even manages to find a picture of Quinn at age 13; while acknowledging that it had no relevance whatsoever to issues of gaming ethics, she posts a link to it anyway.
And then there is the ongoing discussion of her vagina, described variously as “wide,” large enough to “fit 12 dicks at once, and “a festering cheese-filled vagina” that leaves “a trail of cunt slime” wherever she goes. Several 4channers speculate about its smell.
It’s not clear how exactly the size or shape or smell of Quinn’s vagina relates to the high-minded issues of gaming ethics that the #GamerGaters are said to be concerned with. But in the IRC log no one ever seems to call out any of those talking about Quinn in the crudest sexual terms.
Lets’ go to the logs directly. Everything that follows is cut and pasted directly from the full log, available here.
That said, IRC discussions can be chaotic and confusing, generally with more than one conversation going on at once, so in some cases, I have removed extraneous comments in order to make what is being said clearer. I’ve indicated all cuts with ellipses, and if you want to see what I’ve removed it should be trivial for you to locate the quotes in the full log by doing a search for an appropriate phrase or the relevant time and date stamp.
TRIGGER WARNING for discussion of rape, suicide and murder.
The log starts early on in the Zoe Quinn “scandal,” and numerous people in the chat talk about distributing her nude pictures to as many people as possible:
Aug 18 17.37.57 <SweetJBro> lol I’m tweeting Zoe’s nudes to some of her defenders.
A few days later, several other chatters talk about harassing Quinn by sending her own nude pictures to her:
Aug 21 23.20.35 there should be a massive campaign to tweet zoe her own nudes …
Aug 21 23.21.01 <Silver|2> They’ve been tweeted at her a lot
Here’s a chatter making clear that he’s mainly interested in seeing Quinn suffer:
Aug 18 20.10.06 i couldnt care less about vidya, i just want to see zoe receive her comeuppance
Here are some speculating about her state of mind:
Aug 19 01.34.01 if you were zoe right now what would you do
Aug 19 01.34.07 <FIVE-GUYS> get mugged
Aug 19 01.36.41 in all seriousness, i dont know
Aug 19 01.37.03 <FIVE-GUYS> ive never been in a situation like this
Aug 19 01.37.15 i’d probably kill myself tbh
Here are some others talking about the possibility of Quinn committing suicide, a possibility one chatter greets with a smiley:
Aug 19 02.28.30 okay, is zoe actually depressed?
Aug 19 02.28.35 i bet she is now
Aug 19 02.28.37 <mugg> diagnosed etc?
Aug 19 02.28.39 kek …
Aug 19 02.29.22 <Opus> I think she tried killing herself before
Aug 19 02.29.28 <kailasha> she should try that again :^)
“Kek,” by the way, is a nerdy version of “lol.”
Here one chatter suggests that focusing only on Quinn is a bad idea – because it will make 4channers look bad:
Aug 21 17.23.31 <sarahv> The problem is that making it about Zoe sleeping around amounts to a personal attack which, while funny and something she totally deserves, will hurt our chances of pushing the other point …
Aug 21 17.23.38 <rd0951> ./v should be focused on the implications of gaming journalism …
Aug 21 17.23.47 Because SJWs will cherry-pick the /b/ shit posting and say “See? It’s sexist MRAs!”
A few days later, this (relative) voice of moderation gleefully jokes about Quinn being choked to death during sex:
Aug 22 02.02.46 <CutestGAmerGorl> Okay guys, how much does Zoe like being choked
Aug 22 02.02.49 <CutestGAmerGorl> during sex? …
Aug 22 02.02.58 <sarahv> clearly not enough
Here one chatter openly fantasizes about driving Quinn to “an hero” — that is, kill — herself:
Aug 21 17.48.06 I’m debating whether or not we should just attack zoe …
Aug 21 17.48.29 <Opfag> push her… push her further….. further, until eventually she an heroes …
Aug 21 17.48.51 <OtherGentleman> … What makes you think she has the balls to kill herself?
Aug 21 17.48.57 I kind of want to just make her life irrepairably horrible …
Aug 21 17.49.16 <NASA_Agent> but what if she suicides …
Aug 21 17.49.24 <Opfag> Good.
Aug 21 17.49.29 Then we get to troll #Rememberzoe
One chatter warns that this strategy might … make 4chan look a tad misogynistic:
Aug 21 17.49.45 The more you try to attack her directly, the more she gets to play the victim card and make a bunch of friends who will support her because, since she has a vagina, any attack is misgony
Meanwhile, one of the other chatters suggests a rather creative division of labor amongst partisans of different 4chan message boards:
Aug 21 17.49.48 <rd0951> ./v should be in charge of the gaming journalism aspect of it. /pol should be in charge of the feminism aspect, and /b should be in charge of harassing her into killing herself
In the following excerpt, the IRC channel moderator asks one chatter why he is so obsessed with elaborate fantasies of Quinn dying in particularly gruesome ways:
Aug 21 18.26.37 <Cyberserker> You need a reason …
Aug 21 18.28.14 <Opfag> Well I don’t have a legitimate reason.
Aug 21 18.28.21 <Cyberserker> Nothing?
Aug 21 18.28.21 <Opfag> I just want to see her die horribly.
Aug 21 18.28.29 <Cyberserker> I’m talking about [your particular fantasies]
Aug 21 18.28.33 <Opfag> Oh.
Aug 21 18.28.39 <totality> sometimes you just want someone to get hurt
Aug 21 18.28.43 <Opfag> That, I have no idea
Aug 21 18.28.48 <totality> nothing wrong with that
Aug 21 18.28.51 all I know is I want zoe to die like that
While some fantasize about Quinn dying, others fill the chat with crude and often bizarre sexual remarks. All of the following comments came from a mere seven minutes in the chatroom:
Aug 22 02.21.54 i want to smell zoe quinn’s armpits …
Aug 22 02.25.42 you all would fuck the zoeholes
Aug 22 02.25.46 <JTG> given a chance too
Aug 22 02.25.47 <The_Remover> I am extremely aroused right now …
Aug 22 02.26.47 someone seduce zoe quinn
Aug 22 02.26.53 <vanu> follow the shekels
Aug 22 02.26.56 <The_Remover> I volunteer to take one for the team
Aug 22 02.26.57 <vanu> to her vagina …
Aug 22 02.28.51 meditate to nude pictures of zoe
Aug 22 02.28.53 <The_Remover> she gonna get raped
Of course, the 4channers are quick to profess disgust at the assorted nude pictures of Quinn they’re happily passing around to one another and the internet at large:
Aug 22 04.50.24 by the by, trigger warning on that mediafire archive. don’t download if you don’t want to see zoe naked …
Aug 22 21.17.13 <JCTheDenthog> Zoe’s mouth must be the strongest vacuum in nature to compensate for her face, body, and everything
Another suggests that his 4chan brethren download Quinn’s nudes if not for their own sexual gratification than for possible further blackmail later:
Aug 22 04.53.14 Eugh, why would you want to have her on your HDD? …
Aug 22 04.53.45 <The_Remover> because, a couple of months from now, when all this shit has died down, a raid may just be in order …
Aug 22 04.54.10 and i bet her dad doesn’t know she did porn …
Several days into the scandal, one chatter laments that there’s not much dirt left to dig on Quinn:
Aug 22 23.00.55 <Drinky_Kraw> I don’t think there’s anything left to harass Zoe over anyway. …
Aug 22 23.01.00 <Drinky_Kraw> The laundry is pretty much all aired
By the 23rd, some bored chatters compare notes on what they see as the relative sexual pros and cons of Quinn and game critic Anita Sarkeesian:
Aug 23 05.40.20 <Josh_> Zoe has a gross robotic hand, blue hair, and tats 4 days
Aug 23 05.40.29 <Josh_> if I was forced to put my dick in one of them
Aug 23 05.40.29 <Josh_> Anita
Aug 23 05.40.39 <GribFabdabgib> If I had to put my dick in them, yeah Anita
Aug 23 05.40.43 Anita is a skinny bitch whos all bones
Aug 23 05.40.48 <DarkHiero> True …
Aug 23 05.41.07 <DarkHiero> But at least it looks like she tries to take care of herself. …
Aug 23 05.41.15 <Headsmash_> From just looks alone, Id rather do Zoe than Anita. Fat bitches usually give better head anyway.
Aug 23 05.41.21 <DarkHiero> If I’m putting my dick in crazy, that matters.
Aug 23 05.42.00 <DTrig> Yeah but odds are good you get the clap/crabs from Zoe
Aug 23 05.42.14 <Headsmash_> Same could be said for Anita based on what we know
Aug 23 05.42.17 <Headsmash_> lol
Aug 23 05.42.32 * DarkHiero shrugs
Aug 23 05.42.34 Anita looks like she douches though
Aug 23 05.42.36 <DTrig> ANd cleans up
Aug 23 05.42.39 Zoe…. eh
And then it’s back to another discussion of suicide:
Aug 23 19.38.17 <Headsmash_> So does anyone think Zoe’s gonna off herself and become a catalyst for misogyny and hatred of women in video games and video game culture? …
Aug 23 19.38.47 if zoe offed herself she probably wouldn’t be anything but an ED article ..
Aug 23 19.38.55 <Araf> Headsmash_: She won’t, she has a too big ego …
Aug 23 19.39.13 <Headsmash_> I’m not too sure about that. I think she could.
Aug 23 19.39.16 <Araf> She would off herself if everyone ignored her and abandoned her, which is not the case. …
Aug 23 19.39.25 <Headsmash_> Depends on how much she gets stuck in the victimization complex. …
Aug 23 19.39.28 Really the 5guys scandal is the most famous Zoe has been …
Aug 23 19.39.43 <rd0952> yeah but she’s also been harassed night and day for a week
Other chatters indulge in sadistic fantasies:
Aug 24 12.24.22 who really wants to meet zoe quinn and be kind and comfort her in this time of crisis
Aug 24 12.24.43 <Cyberserker> Not if you comfort her with a knife-hug
Aug 24 12.24.45 <Cameralady> and slowly, through friendship and blossoming relationship, get her to repair her shitty ways and come clean and become a good person …
Aug 24 12.24.52 <Cameralady> and then
Aug 24 12.24.56 <Cameralady> once she’s reformed
Aug 24 12.24.58 <Cyberserker> knife-hug?
Aug 24 12.25.07 dump her in the most brutal, heartwrenching way possible
One chatter wants his fellow 4channers to declare victory and move on:
Aug 24 15.16.10 <PaperDinosaur> Also Zoe is no longer the target to be focused on
Aug 24 15.16.13 <Josh_> ^^
Aug 24 15.16.14 <sarahv> ^^^^^
Aug 24 15.16.18 It’s about the 5guys
Aug 24 15.16.21 <sarahv> It always has been
Aug 24 15.16.28 <Josh_> It’s more about the journos
Aug 24 15.16.33 <PaperDinosaur> She’s done, we’ve wrecked her in a professional manner. …
Aug 24 15.16.42 <sarahv> Unfortunately most of the people involved in this seem to be interested in destroying Zoe
Aug 24 15.16.46 stop digging up shit on zoe’s past
Aug 24 15.16.47 <PaperDinosaur> Now we have to wreck her shield, the people who tried to defend her
Soon afterwards the same guy who suggested that they move on from Quinn is back making jokes about her killing herself:
Aug 24 16.33.54 <PaperDinosaur> Guys, lets me fair to Zoe here
Aug 24 16.34.02 If every time I did something people sent me nues of her
Aug 24 16.34.07 <PaperDinosaur> I’d fucking kill myself
That same evening, Quinn’s ex-boyfriend – the fellow who started the whole thing going with a long series of blog entries documenting Quinn’s alleged infidelities – shows up on the channel to ask questions from the assembled mob.
Here is one of the questions he chose to answer:
Aug 25 00.02.21 <Cyberserker> Last question is from several people actually. I wanted to save it until the end due to how popular it was.
Aug 25 00.02.22 <Cyberserker> “Would you say Zoe was a “big girl” for you?” …
Aug 25 00.03.04 <Eron_G> she is heavier than people I usually date. …
Aug 25 00.03.12 <Cyberserker> Fair enough …
Aug 25 00.03.14 <ebola-chan> Did she not fly so good?
And a few that he didn’t:
Aug 25 00.04.13 What does her pusy smell like must answer …
Aug 25 00.07.11 Eron, when you went down on her, did you taste the other guys semen? If so, what did it taste like? …
Aug 25 00.10.40 Eron I don’t think you want your headphones back, it’s most likely splattered in Nathan’s semen and Robin’s Menstrual fluids. …
Aug 25 00.16.52 eron are you going to take up sucking dick now that you’ve been cucked by the 2/10 ugly jew
Later that morning the chatters are back to sharing their creepy and violent sexual fantasies:
Aug 25 00.19.28 <EronLovesZoe> I feel like I would probably fuck Zoe. But not out of a loving sense of sexual attraction. More of that “hate fuck” sense where you just want to assert your dominance as a male on her, a primal savagery. Then I’d probably have to sterilize myself to prevent the genome from spreading.
Aug 25 00.19.59 I’d slap a saddle on zoe and ride her throught the midwest
Aug 25 00.20.02 I wouldn’t even get that far EronLovesZoe, I’d just start raging and headbutting her and gnawing on her cheek …
Aug 25 00.20.10 that seabiscuit looking ass bith
And talking again about the pros and cons of trying to get Quinn to kill herself:
Aug 25 07.18.18 <Logan> Any chance we can get Zoe to commit suicide?
Aug 25 07.18.29 if we can get more daming evidence
Aug 25 07.18.29 I think the [doxxing info removed by DF] is a good shot.
Aug 25 07.18.33 <temet> like her fucking a train of lack dudes …
Aug 25 07.18.39 <PaperDinosaur> fuck off Logan
Aug 25 07.18.39 <temet> black
Aug 25 07.18.51 <Logan> Nah 21st century doing a train is so 90s. …
Aug 25 07.18.59 <PaperDinosaur> If she commits suicide we lose everything …
Aug 25 07.20.34 <PaperDinosaur> If you can’t see how driving Zoe to suicide would fuck this entire thing up then you’re a fucking idiot
Aug 25 07.20.41 Imagine the kotaku article …
Aug 25 07.20.48 <temet> PaperDinosaur is right
Aug 25 07.20.51 <temet> not the right PR play
Not. The. Right. PR. Play.
And on that note I am going to end this installment.
This is only a small fraction of the terrible stuff said about Quinn, in the small portion of the log I have managed to read through so far.
I may return with more installments. Honestly, I’m not sure how much more I can stomach.
But I will certainly write more about the 4channers’ discussions about doxxing and hacking Quinn and others; again, I have looked only at a portion of the logs so far, but there is already a great deal there.
EDIT: Just realized that WordPress ate a bunch of the names of the posters in the quotes here. (WordPress likes to eat angle brackets.) I’ll manually add the names back in when I get the chance.