Early Voat History circa 2015

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Early Voat History circa 2015

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Originally written by 8chan admin. Later deleted when their Medium acct was removed:

https://web.archive.org/web/20180913220 ... 8cf71eda45

What do we know about Voat?
Or — a complete history of WhoaVerse
Here I catalog everything I’ve thusfar gleaned about Voat’s history, administration and ownership.

Lest I be misunderstood, I’m not doing this to “dox” (or “doxx” if you can’t spell), I’m just doing this to catalog as accurately as possible the birth and growth of a community site I think will be important to the internet because already I see many people getting the details wrong.

What we know:

Owned by Atif Colo, nickname “Atko”. He wrote it while in school in at Lund University in Sweden, and currently lives in Switzerland and attends Universität Zürich due to a student exchange program.

Originally called “Whoaverse”, the renaming to Voat took place in January 2015.

Originally hosted by hosteurope.de, an arrangement which abruptly ended after a few abuse reports on June 19, 2015, with Host Europe citing political incorrectness. Likely they just wanted some excuse to not have to continue to serve them after an expensive, two day long DDoS was sent their way. 卐 lol Germany 卍

Originally funded privately by Colo, and then bydonations to the tune of $8000. Immediately after a moderator of the harassment subreddit r/ShitRedditSays “snipes” their PayPal account by informing PayPal of a break of its well-known restrictive terms of service.
Event timeline (major events in bold):

March 29, 2014: The domain whoaverse.com is registered with Namecheap.

April 11, 2014: Whoaverse’s C# code is released under the GNU GPL v3. Curiously, the Affero GPL was not chosen, though it was specifically written for web services. Even more curious is the language, as it is rare for .NET programs to be open sourced outside of educational programs due to the fact the most often used compiler is closed source.

April 28, 2014: Upboats ahoy! Colo adds scores and voting to threads.

May 14, 2014: Colo implements nested comments, explaining it as a “major breakthrough” in the Git commit log.

June 20, 2014: Reddit makes downvotes invisible to the public, Whoaverse sees “300% increase” in traffic. (Exodus #1)

June 23, 2014: Whoaverse makes it so users must have 100 karma to downvote, and adds a list of your subscribed communities.

June 24, 2014: Whoaverse gets hit with spam, Atko closes registration. It opens again the next day.

June 26, 2014: Whoaverse makes it so community owners can add moderators.

July 2, 2014: Colo posts a warning about subverse squatting, threatening “action” if a user registers too many, and refers to the /v/subverserequest community he created on June 18. He also adds a private messaging system, which three users help him test.

July 16, 2014: Whoaverse gets a PayPal donation button, and early site user mukt immediately sounds the alarm: “Please get rid of Paypal ASAP.” Colo defends PayPal and derides Bitcoin as “legally gray”. Hindsight is 20/20 I suppose.

July 24, 2014: Colo seeks a new investor, but promises not to shut down Whoaverse. The previous one pulled out and decided not to register a Florida LLC after all. (Immediately upon reading this I wondered why Florida and not Delaware, but let’s continue.) A new investor must, according to Colo, be able to cover all the expenses of incorporation in the US, have enough funds to also hire a developer (part time or otherwise) and must take care of the “business side” while Colo becomes Chief Technology Officer. There were no immediate takers, but Colo promised to continue to work on Whoaverse in his spare time when not working on his studies.

July 25, 2014: Noticing that most of his users are lurkers and just want to vote, Colo decides to allow voting of up to 10 submissions in 24 hours for new accounts that have no points. The top comment is critical of the change, but with only two points on the top comment few care.

July 26, 2014: Colo goes on a two week vacation. In the title of the submission he said he was going to the Bahamas, but in the body he admitted this was clickbait/joking and didn’t actually specify where he was going. He isn’t actually heard from in the announcements section again until August 24, 2014.

August 28, 2014: A user named Nurdoidz redesigns Whoaverse. Colo describes it as a “gift to the community” and accepts it, making it default.

September 2, 2014: “WhoaVerse is under heavy load.” Colo attributes it to a DDoS, one user attributes it to v/TheFappening.

September 15, 2014: Colo decides to accept Bitcoin, probably after being asked by more people. He also mentions his school (Lund University) had a Bitcoin ATM, though I found no reference to this online.

September 19, 2014: Colo deletes 12,853 inactive user accounts.

September 22, 2014: “According to Google Analytics, between August 22,2014 and September 21, 2014, WhoaVerse had 740,542 visits, 3,234,197 pageviews and 564,226 unique visitors. … 52% of that traffic came from reddit.com.”

September 24, 2014: Colo adds the communities /v/religion and /v/atheism to the top bar, a position which they still (June 24 2015) retain.

September 29, 2014: Sorting by “TOP” added. It seems to me like this was added pretty late for a Reddit style site, but it is what it is I suppose.

October 1, 2014: Colo writes a long post about why Whoaverse is not a Reddit clone, citing the fact it keeps every post so long as it’s legal in Switzerland, has “anonymous” communities, has a revenue-sharing model, and a “night” theme.

October 9, 2014: Colo introduces “Zook” to Whoaverse, a fellow student at his college (at this point he is already in Zurich) and Zook becomes the business partner Colo was looking for.

October 15, 2014: Subverse anonymization added, a feature not available on Reddit. It is however extremely limited — users must have accounts to avail of it, and the user’s number is retained throughout the thread as an ID. Therefore it is not even close to anonymity as I’d expect it.

October 17, 2014: Whoaverse introduces a partner program, wherein subverse owners get a share of the ad revenue generated by their subverse. This YouTube like system is quickly abandoned, and I’m not sure if it even made any payments in its short life.

October 29, 2014: Whoaverse’s partner program gets its first advertiser, Amazon.

November 16, 2014: The Whoaverse partner program ends less than one month after it was announced. Apparently Amazon doesn’t allow affiliates to be forums or classified ad sites, but Colo claims in his post that nowhere does it say that while signing up. I actually believe him, because I’ve been a member of a few forums where Amazon ads make up a significant chunk of income for their operation, so I bet what Amazon really meant is “controversial forums aren’t allowed.”

November 18, 2014: Reddit admins added some new rules to the subreddit /r/kotakuinaction (January 2015) that limit the effectiveness of that community in launching email campaigns against companies that advertise on videogaming websites. The sub mods feared being banned completely, so they created /v/KotakuInAction as a refuge in November, and first advertised it in January. /v/KotakuInAction dominates /v/all for a few days before most users cuckishly return to Reddit and swallow the cock of the new rules willingly. Getting “Subreddit of the Day” helped too. (Exodus #2)
Some new features are added and Colo wishes his users a Merry Christmas.

January 2, 2015: Whoaverse renames to Voat, old domain redirects. The domain voat.co was registered with ENOM, Inc (Namecheap) on November 17, 2014. Given the timing I think Zook recommended this as Whoaverse was really a silly name.

January 29, 2015: Chris O’Keefe comes up with a new logo for Voat, and also pitches the idea of a goat mascot. Not to go off on a tangent, but I actually think this was a good change, especially compared with “Reddit”, which sounds like “read it”, as in a site full of shit I’ve already read elsewhere. Of course, Voat is the same due to its slow moving voting format, but at least the name makes more sense. The V is a down pointing arrow and the A is an up pointing one.

February 1, 2015: Salt Lake City “pedophile daycare” drama reached the news, and as Reddit does best when something reaches the news, it quickly stifled all discussion due to perceived targeted harassment on the owners of the daycare. Discussion continued for a time on v/conspiracy and 8chan’s /baphomet/ board before fizzling out.

February 8, 2015: An infamous r/AskReddit and r/conspiracy post is made, “Meta Reddit Cancer.” The author ‘exposes’ a cabal of users who run many large reddits. I don’t know if this is true or not (and don’t have time to research it) but the user was shadowbanned for his efforts. It causes yet another flood of users over to Voat. (Exodus #3)

February 9, 2015: Zook and Colo hold an AMA, the top question is whether they will ever become “SJWs” (proponents of ‘social justice’ ideology above other forms of justice), they say they won’t.

March 1, 2015: Colo reminds users that despite being open for a year, Voat remains in alpha. (I think this is inspired by Google.)

April 3, 2015: Voat introduces a public moderation log, much like 8ch’s log.php. Reddit has nothing similar to this, and users seem to like it. One person even tries to use it to get r/KotakuInAction to return, but they are too busy not sending emails as Reddit no longer lets them to respond.

May 5, 2015: Voat introduces its API via PuttItOut. PuttItOut later becomes the #4 contributor to the Voat FOSS project, though none even come close to Colo’s large number of commits.

May 15, 2015: Voat pitches the idea of ditching (the idea of) ads, deciding to instead go for a subscription model, reminscient of Reddit Gold.

June 11, 2015: Colo exclaims “Holy shit!” as Reddit’s new administration bans two well known subreddits, r/fatpeoplehate and r/neofags, accusing them of being harassment subreddits. Actually the morbidly obese CEO and some employees of Imgur were mocked on r/fatpeoplehate, with “even their dog is fat!”, while r/neofags probably did break the Reddit rules in truth. Since Reddit and Imgur are close associates, Reddit pulled the plug on FPH, prompting a disorderly exodus to Voat. When Voat went down, 8ch was for a short time targeted by Redditors, but the site’s users did not take kindly to that, causing some minor drama. FPH.io was also named as a possible gathering place, a Reddit style site, but it is currently (June 24 2015) inaccessible, with v/FatPeopleHate seeming to have taken over with its 11000+ subscribers. (Exodus #4 — Largest)

June 12, 2015: With Voat down for 24 hours, PuttItOut, the author of the API and sysadmin, becomes part of Voat and helps Colo get things back up and running. Probably due to a combination of migration woes and having to requisition more servers and Microsoft Windows licenses, the site is between very slow and up and down for a week.

June 17, 2015: PuttItOut, the interim sysadmin, tells users he loves them (no homo). Users say “We love you too.”

June 19, 2015: After PuttItOut and Colo get things up and running somewhat well on Host Europe, Host Europe unceremoniously pulls the plug without even a warning. I can’t believe this is acceptable in Germany, but the host writes that it’s due to disagreeing politics between the site owner and the server owner. Colo doesn’t mention whether or not he received a refund, but from my experience in the industry I highly doubt it. It is assumed they moved to Microsoft Azure Cloud, as Colo mentioned it in the past, but due to them now using CloudFlare it’s impossible to be sure, and Colo doesn’t say either way.

June 23, 2015: r/SRS moderator reports Voat to PayPal, their account gets “limited” (PayPal’s version of a ban.) It is unclear if the $8000 reported on the 19th is a combination of the money received via Bitcoin and PayPal or if it was just PayPal. However, if we figure the money donated via Bitcoin only to try to determine how much was lost, between June 24 2015 and June 19 2015 Voat received 8.14518BTC, the USD value of which was $257 on June 19, so a value of about $2,093. This means between $5,907 and the full $8,000 is being held by PayPal, and PayPal can hold it for a maximum of 180 days, after which time they can choose to either give it back to donors or give it to Colo. It’s worth nothing that PayPal’s only value is in decrementing values on one side and incrementing them on the other, a preschool exercise it nonetheless somehow routinely fails to carry out. 180 days to do some adding and subtracting is asinine.

June 24, 2015: Voat bans four communities, /v/truejailbait, /v/jailbait, /v/doxbin and /v/thefappening. Colo explained…“Because Voat is being used by so many people, the two of us simply cannot review everything that is being posted. For this reason, as a temporary measure, we have decided to ban any subverses which we discover or which are reported to us, where links to illegal content is being shared. We can’t judge if the content is illegal or not, but we have no choice but to take precautions in order to protect Voat’s future at this very fragile stage.” Colo also references the recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights which said that website owners are responsible for the comments on their sites, and attacks in the media which make him apprehensive. (Caitlin Dewey must have been thrilled only to need to copy and paste the article she wrote about 8ch, that saves a lot of time writing.) Subverse moderators of /v/jailbait immediately accused Colo of going back on his principles, claims which he did not respond to. This could hurt future exodus chances, as the time between Reddit’s founding and the banning of r/jailbait was an impressive 6 years, but the time between the founding of v/jailbait (June 20, 2014) and its closure was only a little over a year.

Present day, present time. I’ll try to remember to keep this updated since it fascinates me how much the history of this site mirrors my own, 8ch. If it seems like I’m being overly critical of Voat, it’s not intentional. If it seems like I’m being overly critical of Reddit/KiA, it’s intentional.

If you have corrections or additions please email them to admin8chan.co. I am especially interested in events of large interest on subverses, and what subversese are most used because I doubt the top bar accurately reflects that given the large number of dead communities on it.
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