b3ta

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b3ta
File:Optimized image 99838597.png
URL http://b3ta.com/
Commercial? No
Type of site Digital Arts Community, Message board
Registration Optional, Required to post
Owner Rob Manuel, Cal Henderson, Denise Wilton
Created by Communal
Launched 2001

B3ta (pronounced /ˈbiːtə/) is a high-profile[1] British website, described as a "puerile digital arts community" by The Guardian.[2] It was founded in 2001 by Rob Manuel, Denise Wilton and Cal Henderson.

B3ta's main feature is a newsletter featuring the latest work of the B3ta community and other interesting, humorous or perverse things found on the Web. The newsletter is published weekly and has about 100,000 readers.[3] A message board allows members to post digital images and short animations they have created, the ones considered the best appearing on the front page, along with various announcements. Previously there was a B3ta radio show on the London station Resonance FM.[3] To inspire creative works, B3ta poses a weekly image challenge, such as "if cats ruled the world", and a "question of the week", for example asking "what's your most embarrassing injury?"

Many popular Internet phenomena were created by B3ta members (also called "B3tards"). These include the Macromedia Flash cartoons created by Joel Veitch and Jonti Picking and the quizzes by Rob Manuel.

In March 2006, it was announced that The Friday Project would be publishing a B3ta book entitled The Bumper B3ta Book of Sick Jokes. The book was published and made available from both online and real world bookshops on the 20th October 2006. The book consists of a series of "sick jokes" that were submitted and illustrated by B3ta contributors. A public wiki site (Sickipedia) was established to collect and edit joke material for the project.

Contents

Newsletter

The weekly newsletter is published on Friday afternoons, to a group of about 100,000 subscribers. It features the best work by members of the B3ta community. Famous examples include Rob Manuel's Female or Shemale, Jonti Picking's Badger Badger Badger, and Joel Veitch's Punk Rock Kittens. Generally, the newsletter consists of the following sections:

  • "Newsletter Title" – These are usually humorous or offensive (or both), and often can relate to a news item. Recently Rob has invited suggestions for the title on the main board.
  • "What B3ta people have been making this week" – websites, animations and photos created by people who either post on the messageboard, or email their work to the site directly.
  • "Sites in brief: Stuff we like that wasn't made by our mates" – although in theory similar to the first section, it increasingly features oddities from around the Internet in general. This frequently includes items not intended to be humorous but that are from their context, such as a watch with inbuilt Geiger counter.
  • "Things that make you go aaah" – usually linking to photographs of baby animals. The newsletter itself describes it as its "great voyage to catalogue the cutest things in the world".
  • "B3ta image challenge" – the results from the previous week's image challenge, and up until recently, the announcement of the next week's challenge. The image challenge is currently announced on Wednesdays.
  • "Question of the week" entries which caught the editors' eyes.
  • "Video Schmideo" – links to online videos, often hosted on YouTube.
  • "What happened next?" – follow-ups on stories previously featured.
  • "Star in next week's issue" – a plea for content for further newsletters. This is very tongue-in-cheek, but occasionally one of the less ridiculous suggestions will get made.
  • "Top tip" – a domestic tip provided by one of the board members. More recently this has been replaced by a random joke from Sickipedia.
  • Some older newsletters also contained a "B3ta radio" section – a summary of the content of the up-coming radio show, and listening details.

Message board

On the message board, images and animated GIFs are posted by the members. The B3ta message board has a strong code of "netiquette" – a new thread should generally not be started unless it contains an image or link. Spamming (promoting a website purely for financial gain) or posting something which is deemed to be cliché is not tolerated. These cliché links are often referred to being "glasscock", named after the famous image of a female golfer kissing a glass trophy, which appeared to be a phallic shape due to the camera angle.

Newly registered users cannot post on the board until the Tuesday after they register, known as "Newbie Tuesday". This gives an opportunity to discover site etiquette before getting involved.

Front-paging (FP)

This is an honour granted to the best images of the day, where they are displayed on the front page of the site hence reaching many more people. The Board members vote by clicking a button labelled "I like this!", then the site moderators pick their favourites.

The gay shift

The gay shift was the B3tan name for any period of time shortly after 12:00 a.m. GMT. This was usually used as an excuse to post anti-homosexual jokes, pictures of users' genitalia and altered images of lesbians. The name arose as a rhyming companion to the time period before midnight, the "day shift", and the unusually high proportion of gay men that appeared to be present around that time. Occasionally an effort was made to call it by the more politically correct name "super happy fun time".

Bandwagons and bandwagoning

Bandwagoning is the act of posting images related to a certain theme, or of a similar nature to a group of previously posted images. Bandwagon posts are generally unwelcome, unless they are particularly clever or inventive. Some bandwagons are started based on various cultural references such as advertisements, news items, etc; which may explain why they cease to be amusing very quickly. The B3ta FAQ explicitly prohibits, or at the very least strongly discourages the use of bandwagons, yet they are still common. The difference between a bandwagon and a meme seems to be based on the joke's longevity; a meme is a bandwagon that never gets old (or at least takes much longer to become so). Pictures which have inspired bandwagons and memes include the ambulance [4] and the shark attacking a helicopter.[5] A recent bandwagon example is Flap. After posting many crude drawings of birds in new threads, Sir Sand Goblin [6] posted a picture apology, involving "Flap" wanting a "Happy Internets".[7] When Mr McBadger replied with an animated Flap, many others joined in the bandwagon. More recently films and their associated advertising materials have become bandwagon fodder (images used by members of the forum in a bandwagon) these include 'Attack of the 50 ft bandwagon' - based on the poster for the film 'Attack of the 50 ft Woman' and 'HandWagonCock' based on the promotional images for the upcoming film 'Hancock'.

Talk board

The [8] is identical to the main message board except for the fact that it is not possible to post images. It was created in response to the arrival of 4rthur, a (now defunct) talk based offshoot of b3ta which drew a couple of hundred members away, and, more recently, cliqr, Dynafoo (both also defunct now) and c4mbodia. Also, the site owners wanted a place where people could banter without worrying about creating images.

Like the many message boards, the b3ta talk board has developed a clique-like atmosphere, with many users having met one another at so called "B3ta bashes". Oxford in particular has become known amongst members as a bash hotspot, and has developed from a few B3tards getting together for a drink to a genuine spectacle. On 31 May 2008, the biggest "bash" so far took place in Earls Court, London. Although this was mainly a messageboard event.

Image Challenge

This is a weekly competition, where images are posted along a certain theme – examples include New Software Products, or The World If It Was Run By Kittens. The entries are posted as normal threads on the message board, but are marked with a "C" icon to differentiate from normal posts. All the entries also accumulate in a central repository that can be browsed anytime, with the highest voted images displayed first. The three 'special mentions' are chosen by the site mods, and are posted along with the theme of the new challenge in the Friday newsletter. See also Photoshop contest.

The challenge topics are alternately chosen by board members, and the "Challenge Dictator" (basically a site moderator) on a two week cycle.

Question of the Week (QOTW)

Recognizing that "not everyone wants to muck around with Photoshop", the site asks a question each week hoping to provoke amusing anecdotes. It was originally used as material for the radio show and the newsletter, but realising the popularity of the content, the site owners decided to continue the questions after the close of the show. A new topic is begun every Thursday (at which point it becomes impossible to reply to the previous QOTW) and, as with the other areas of the site, Question of the Week attracts regulars known for their characteristic posts.

The first question was "Worst Record Ever?" posed by Rob Manuel in 2003;[9] examples of questions since include "Why should you be fired from your job?", "Mad Stuff You've Done To Get Someone To Sleep With You" and "Expensive mistakes?"

QOTW Off Topic

QOTW Off Topic was invented for those users of QOTW who found they had things in common and liked to talk to each other using the reply system. Over several weeks it became clear that more and more people were preferring to chat to each other through the replies instead of the /talk board which was already set up, so Off Topic was created.

"I like this!"

Answers to questions and Image Challenge suggestions appear to be generally listed in order of posting, with the newest responses first. However, whilst a question is open, other users can click "I like this!" which gives a score of one point to that answer. Answers are actually listed by the number of users who have clicked the "I like this!" on that answer; however, as many answers are submitted each week, most are never clicked on and so are sorted by the time they were posted.

B3ta Radio

From August 2003 until July 2004, B3ta had its own radio show, which was broadcast from Resonance FM (104.4 FM in London, also available via streaming broadcast from the Resonance FM website) between 4PM and 5PM. The show was presented by Rob Manuel, a co-owner of the site, and his accomplice, David Stevenson. There were often special guests – sometimes contributors to the site, sometimes semi-famous people, such as the drummer from Blur, Miles Hunt of The Wonder Stuff and "a chap who once played a Dalek in Doctor Who".

Memes

Internet memes are the lifeblood of B3ta messageboard. Meme is a name given to a clichéd image that is frequently used in images as a cheap gag. Although many older board members may resent the lack of originality shown by using these clichés, some, such as Teh Quo or The Fear, crop up regularly. A brief-lived spate of postings featuring a new meme is known as a bandwagon, in the sense that everybody is jumping on it.

Some prominent B3ta memes include:

Teh Quo [sic]

The band, Status Quo, are represented by an image of the two principal members of the band laughing, and has proved to be one of the most long lived memes. This image is usually hidden in another, often one portraying a scene of havoc or a disaster - the implication being that "Teh Quo" have caused the disaster. These hidden images can range from the blindingly obvious to the extremely subtle, sometimes only involving their outline rather than the band members themselves.

It is not known if either Rick Parfitt or Francis Rossi have seen these images or learned of their infamous reputation.

The Glass Cock

An image[10] of golfer Cristie Kerr kissing the trophy she received for winning the LPGA Longs Drugs Challenge at the Twelve Bridges Golf Club in Lincoln, California, April 21 2002. As the name implies, the camera angle makes it look as though it is a vitreous phallus. The image was passed around via e-mail so much that the term "Glasscock" came to be known as a synonym for a cliché. A link which many people have seen before is hence derided as "glasscock" or "GC". The Glass Cock Index (see link below) was set up to list all links posted recently to B3ta, to prevent any duplicate links in a short period of time. The Glass Cock Index also sports said image as its logo.

The Fear

A heavily photoshopped image of a peculiar creature with two heads.[11] It was originally made by user Spacefish, but the name was given to it by Joel Veitch, who claimed that

"That creature's purpose is to be waiting, staring at your face, as soon as you wake up, and then to sneak up and stare at you until you turn slightly and see it and leap with shock. All day, every day."

The standard response given to an image containing The Fear is "Argh! The Fear! The Fear!", with "The Fear!" repeated ad nauseam and often in capitals.

I Love Horses

Links to shock sites are generally looked down on at b3ta, so quite often people post links that lead to the site[12] of I Love Horses Magazine, as it used to automatically load the girly theme song, often leading to embarrassment for the reader if they have the volume turned up and other people are in the vicinity.

Controversy

Virgin asked B3ta to run an image competition in which board members could win PlayStation Portables and an Xbox 360 for creating something on the theme "What would happen if you said Yes to everything?". However, Virgin cancelled the challenge early because they didn't like some of the images being created, including Richard Branson urinating on Rob Manuel, dressed in baby clothes.[13]

On 4 June 2007, a b3ta member Sean Stayte posted an "alternate logo" for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, which referenced an image from the former shock site, goatse. The BBC then posted this logo on its website and ran it on its BBC News 24 channel as part of a viewer-submitted contest.[14][15].

References

  1. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/01/the_planet_houston_data_center_fire/
  2. Green, Dave (2003-08-21), "Web watch", The Guardian, http://technology.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,1022657,00.html 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "2003 BBC interview with Rob Manuel". Bbc.co.uk. 2003-08. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blackcountry/features/2003/08/rob_manuel/rob_manuel.shtml. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  4. "Programmes | Click | Photo competition winners". BBC News. 2006-05-12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/4946120.stm. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  5. "Shark Attacks Helicopter! - Urban Legends". Urbanlegends.about.com. 2002-08-08. http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blsharkattack.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  6. "user Sir Sand Goblin". B3ta.com. http://www.b3ta.com/board/profile.php?id=6686. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  7. ""Flap" wanting a "Happy Internets"". B3ta.com. http://www.b3ta.com/board/7551074. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  8. "talk board". B3ta.com. http://www.b3ta.com/talk/. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  9. "qotw". B3TA. http://b3ta.com/questions/worstrecordever/. Retrieved 2009-03-22. 
  10. Posted by: R.J. on March 10, 2004 05:19 AM (2004-03-10). "LGPA trophy really needs a redesign!". vsbabu.org. http://vsbabu.org/mt/archives/2002/05/22/lgpa_trophy_really_needs_a_redesign.html. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  11. "board". B3ta.com. 2002-04-26. http://b3ta.com/board/68689. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  12. [1][dead link]
  13. "Virgin pulls competition on b3ta website". vnunet.com. http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2167581/virgin-pulls-compo-website. 
  14. "UPDATED: B3ta hacks the BBC with Olympic goatse". Guardian Unlimited. http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/archives/2007/06/08/updated_b3ta_hacks_the_bbc_with_olympic_goatse.html. 
  15. Herrmann, Steve. "Shock tactics." BBC. June 5, 2007. Retrieved on February 23, 2009.

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