Something I encountered from a bygone era of forum culture: the idea of an "epic thread".

I feel like it's something that died somehow in modern social media culture, with how screenshots from other communities are shared, rather than links directly to the original discussion, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

"Epic threads" would go viral just by being linked onto other forums by posters on the originating forum, and they'd quickly devolve into a discussion of the presumed epicness of the thread, with new members joining to say where they came from and to laud/make fun of the OP.

(The usual causes of an "epic thread", IME, were either someone doing something perceived as incredibly awesome, or something so incredibly poorly thought out that the "entire internet" needed to make fun of them.)

What reminded me of all of this was a link to a thread on a motorcycle forum, in which the OP, in an attempt to make their engine run more smoothly, dumped two bottles of an octane booster into their fuel tank (which wouldn't fix that problem, and would've been nearly 10 times the appropriate dose anyway).

...except it wasn't octane booster. It was an energy drink (which had the same brand name as the octane booster).

The "entire internet" proceeded to pile onto this guy.

This thread goes on for 162 pages - it's currently at 3232 posts, some of which are made many years after the original event (the most recent in 2017, eight years later), as people bump the thread to the top to immortalize the event.

Reading the thread, I went six pages in - by that point the "epic thread" pattern was firmly established, and any actual useful discussion of how to resolve the OP's problems had happened pages ago.

This is not, objectively, a good thread.

There's much better examples of epic threads out there - two that come to mind are the "P-P-P-Powerbook!" thread from Something Awful, in which a scammer tries to buy someone's laptop using a fraudulent escrow service (a common scam in the early 2000s) and the "victim" decides to scam the scammer back with a fake laptop, and "the Picolax thread" from Singletrack World, in which a couple of people share graphic detail of experiences with a prescription laxative (so, quite literally, shitposting).

So, there's some hugely negative elements to this culture.

In the energy drink thread, it was encouraged to pile onto the OP, a premonition of the current pile-on culture that exists in modern social media. (Note that "epic threads" were a staple of more... bro-ish... forums, in my experience.)

The P-P-P-Powerbook! thread included, if I recall correctly (I haven't read it in many years), some elements of modern "internet sleuth" culture - which means doxxing, basically.

However, there's some interesting dynamics here.

So, large membership influxes into social networks nowadays tend to happen as a result of something bad happening. For example, new Fediverse users often come from them either becoming disillusioned with another social network, or being banned from that social network.

Back then, though? People would, as I said, join forums just to post in an "epic thread". And, those forums were often wholly independent, and dedicated to specific subcultures.

Joining a new forum was seen as something you just did for fun, not a harrowing ordeal that meant throwing away your existing social network and starting over.

You might find out that you like this new forum and build another social network (and maybe pick up a new hobby), or you might just be satisfied with having been there in That Thread that will be talked about for years.

I think we have lost something there.

And, for good measure, here's links to the threads in question.

Bike won't start after using NOS fuel additive:

This guy is trying to rip me off on ebay. How should I respond to his email:

The Picolax Thread Returns:
(Note that this thread was considered so "epic" that, after a server crash, the admins felt the need to reconstruct the thread and post it to their blog.)

@bhtooefr this is very familiar. Message boards still exist!

@bhtooefr A few months ago I encountered an "epic thread" on Mastodon. It had like thirty usernames at the top of each toot, and its participants proudly boasted that instance operators lived in fear of the load the thread would add to their servers.

@bhtooefr oh, i know this as a "legendary thread" rather than epic

the thing where sometimes people just say "posting in a legendary thread" when they reply. sometimes that'd be the first reply.

@gatewave Good point. In my experience, I remember "legendary" being used about as often as "epic", now that you point that out.

@bhtooefr I thought people used screenshots of stuff today, instead of links to it, because of the rise of apps and smartphones. It's very hard to get a "link" to something that's visible only in an app, even if a person knows how to copy/paste on their phone.

@mdm There are usually share buttons in a lot of places, but unless your phone has a "share to clipboard" option, it'll only work in apps that support being shared to, yeah...

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