Reddit's Big, Dumb Meme War Ends in Tears

By Bryan Menegus on at

An imagined war between dozens of meme communities on Reddit has been called off following the hacking of a chat server and the posting of a moderator’s personal information online. From start to finish, the entire conflict took less than a week.

Early skirmishes of the Meme World War, as it came to be known, started with moderators of the Star Wars-centric r/prequelmemes noticing an uptick in their users brigading—the term for users maliciously mass voting on content of communities they generally do not belong to—competing meme page r/sequelmemes. The war itself wasn’t codified beyond simple rule-breaking until approximately five days ago.

The exact timeline of who joined, switched allegiance, or surrendered when is difficult to discern, but with sequelmemes and prequelmemes as the de facto superpowers, belligerent meme communities picked sides: dubbed Axis and Allies, all committed to out-shitposting their newfound “enemies.” Discord chat servers were spun up, and enemy combatants would join the opposing servers to spy on their operations.

Memes were made. Meme connoisseurs declared them “very forced.” It had a whiff of a simpler time online, even if it was pretty damn dumb.

Image: MemeWorldWar

The Meme World War was never a fair fight, really—an estimated 104 communities against just 35—but the whole thing was meant to be a bit of harmless fun for those involved, and at worst, a distraction to non-participating redditors. Late last night, however, both sequelmemes and prequelmemes announced an armistice, the latter writing in a stickied post, “War is over. All war material is being deleted. It went about 12 steps too far. This isn’t about brigading or anything of the sort. We cannot go into further detail at this time.”

An explanation was posted to r/MemeWorldWar a few hours later:

One of the mods of /r/PrequelMemes got doxxed as a result of this.

Currently the future of the sub is being debated. We’d like to continue it, but if stuff like this happens we’ll probably archive the sub. We’d just like to remind you that this is a meme war. I was starting second thoughts when the Allies server got hacked and compromised (yes that actually happened). But this isn’t okay. Releasing someone’s personal info over a joke on the internet isn’t good.

The text of the aforementioned r/MemeWorldWar post has since been deleted and another post asking users not to start a rumour mill is making the rounds. Seems like a keen idea, considering another post is calling for “evidence” for a “tribunal” against the alleged—and unknown—doxer. However, a portion of that post suggests the reasons for calling off the “meme war” may not have been doxing at all (emphasis ours):

Witch hunting is dangerous. Witch hunting when you made up a witch is even worse. I will double down on my only request. Please be patient as the situation is dealt with. Taking this into your own hands only hurts everyone involved.

It wouldn’t be the first time a community activity on Reddit was nearly ruined by arseholes—take last year’s group colour-along project Reddit Place. Diligent users were able to turn the defacements of utter morons into whatever the opposite of a swastika is. But there’s really no undo function for getting doxed. Nice job, dickhead.


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