Goatse.cx (also known as Goatse) was a shock site that prominently featured an image titled "Hello.jpg" depicting a man stretching his anus using both hands, revealing his anal cavity. This image became the first to be used in bait-and-switch pranks due to its shock value, where a user would bait another user into clicking a link. The website used the .cx domain because of its phonetic similarity to the word "sex", but the Christmas Island authorities eventually shut down the website. The image used on the site, originally named "gap3.jpg", was sourced from the Gap.zip file, which contained several shock images of a man named Kirk Johnson "using dildos and butt plugs to stretch his anus". It is unclear whether Johnson posted Gap.zip himself, or if it originated from emails, FTP servers, or other sources.
In addition to "Hello.jpg" under the "The Receiver" section, the full website also featured "The Giver" section, which showed a man with a large penis reaching up to his chest, suggesting the "giver" was about to insert it into another man's anus. The website contained dead links to sites like urinalpoop.org and dolphinsex.org, and older links led to biganal.com. Kirk Johnson was also featured on other shock sites, including Detroithardcore.com, Bottle Guy, and Goatsee.com.
History and background
The Goatse image first emerged in 1997 as a part of a collection of 40 images of a man named Kirk Johnson, which were shared among the internet's gay porn community through email, FTP, and message boards like Usenet. However, when a hacker group called the "Hick crew" consisting mainly of teenage hackers and internet trolls, acquired the collection, they used one of the images, Johnson's stretched anus, to prank each other and their "enemies", including Christian chat forums, spamming the image until all other users left the chatroom. The image was stored in an unlabeled directory owned by one of the Hick crew members, but a hacker and Hick associate named Merl1n saw a better way to distribute it and registered the domain Goatse.cx in 1999. The website became incredibly popular as a prank, with users sending unsuspecting individuals an apparently innocent link, only to shock them with the image.
In 1999, the original Goatse website featured the text "What are you doing here?" in the center, and after 10 seconds, it would redirect to index2.html. Later, two links to feedback.html and contrib.html were added, along with links to other websites supposedly created by the original owner, such as urinalpoop.org and dolphinsex.org. In 2003, the website owner addressed merchandising attempts for goatse.cx and announced that official merchandise was coming soon. However, on January 14, 2004, Christmas Island suspended Goatse.cx for violating their Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) following a complaint from its residents. The domain remained in suspension until January 2007 when it was placed back in the available domain pool.
On April 30, 2007, the goatse.cx domain name was sold at an auction to an unknown bidder. However, the first auction was plagued by fake bids, prompting a reactivation of the auction. The second auction was similarly affected, leading to Seobidding.com's announcement that the website would be sold for $500,000 and that legal action would be taken against the fake bidders. As of November 25, 2007, the website was still for sale, with a minimum asking price of $50,200. In 2008, a new owner purchased the website for 8,000 euros, and it is now being developed as a subdomain service for hosting websites. While plans for a cryptocurrency called Goatse Coin were previously announced, no progress has been made.
After the Christmas Island Internet Administration put the domain goatse.cx back into the available domain pool in January 2007, a typosquatting-like website about financing was found on the domain. On January 16, the domain was registered through domain registrar Variomedia, and the registrant attempted to auction the right to use the domain. The first attempt to sell the domain by SEOBidding had a reserve of $120 which was not met. On July 4, 2008, the website was relaunched with a parody of the original site, replacing the "Hello.jpg" image with an image of Bill O'Reilly, while the file name and alt text remained the same as before. In December, the image was changed again to showcase a stylized representation of hello.jpg, featuring a pair of silver robotic hands 'stretching' a metallic, circular wall aperture in what appears to be a futuristic factory setting, with a photoshopped image of the character Gumby next to it. The image had a link to a site called imagechan.com. The website still contained text above the image mentioning that it was still for sale.
On October 21, 2009, the Rick Latona "Daily Domains" newsletter advertised the goatse.cx domain for sale at $15,000, highlighting it as a "famous site" with numerous backlinks. The site was updated in April 2010 to announce the upcoming beta release of an emailing service called "Goatse Stinger 2.0" and included a Yahoo! mailing list and a parody sketch of the infamous "Hello.jpg" image. However, the email service was never launched beyond this point, and by June 2011, the "www." version of the website redirected to a web-hosting company's site. In October 2012, the goatse.cx domain was acquired by a new owner who planned to offer a webmail service with goatse.cx email addresses. The domain redirected to signup.goatse.cx, with a launch planned for early December 2012. The website launched an Indiegogo campaign in 2013 to fund the email service. In January 2014, the site announced the development of its own cryptocurrency, "Goatse Coin". In December of that year, the website began offering subdomains. The latest version of the site offers users the opportunity to purchase pixels for advertising purposes using the Ethereum blockchain. As of 2018, the owner has sold 6,000 pixels, earning $624 at .001 ETH (worth $104) per pixel, according to Vice. Although plans for the site's email system, Goatse Mail, were previously announced, it has yet to be launched.
In popular culture
Goatse has become an Internet meme due to many users being tricked into viewing the site or a mirror of it. The infamous images were posted on the official Oprah Winfrey Message Boards in 2000, causing the board to be retired shortly afterwards. Slashdot also altered its threaded discussion forum display software to prevent users from tricking unsuspecting readers into visiting the site. The use of goatse.cx as a "fake" link to shock friends became popular and was later adapted as a technique for common shock sites such as Tubgirl. Website authors have used the goatse.cx image to deter hot-linking to their site by replacing the hot-linked image with an embarrassing one. This sends a clear message to the offending website's operators visible to anyone who views the web page in question. For instance, in 2007, WIRED hot-linked to another site in an article about the "sexiest geeks of 2007" and the site replaced the hot-linked image with one from goatse.cx. The site's images, including hello.jpg and others, have also become subjects of parodies, mirrors, and tributes. Additionally, the Goatse image has been used for various parodies, such as in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley in August 2004 when a photograph purporting to show "the hands of God" in the cloud formations circulated via email. Similarly, discs containing a leaked Mac OS X build, OSx86, were distributed in 2005 on BitTorrent filesharing networks, but instead of the expected Mac OS, the discs reportedly displayed the Goatse image when booted. GNAA also did the same thing for the supposedly leaked Mac OS X Tiger release for Intel x86 processors.
Chris Anderson, in his book The Long Tail (2008), noted that goatse.cx is a well-known reference only among a small subculture of Internet users who use it as a shared context joke or secret membership code. Anderson cited an example of a photo of Anil Dash wearing a T-shirt with the word "Goatse" and stylized hands accompanying an article about Google in The New York Times. In 2007, a sketch featuring two hands stretching the "0" wide in "2012" appeared on the BBC News 24 broadcast and website as an alternative to the official logo for the 2012 Summer Olympics, leading to its subsequent removal from the website. In June 2010, computer experts known as Goatse Security exposed a security flaw in AT&T's system that revealed the email addresses of iPad users. The group uses a stylized cartoon of the cropped goatse.cx image as its logo with the motto "Gaping Holes Exposed." Pranksters also displayed the image on a digital billboard in Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia, in May 2015.
In Doom 3's expansion pack Resurrection of Evil, an arcade game called "Hellanoid" (a parody of arcade video game Breakout) is seen in Erebus Labs, after beating 1-2 levels to display a similar image of Goatse in level 3. However, three arcade games include (Sarge's Big Game Hunt, Hellanoid, and Martian Buddy Blaster) are replaced with redundant copies of "Super Turbo Turkey Puncher 3" in the BFG Edition.
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- Goatse.cx. Archived from the original on 24 March 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2023.
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- "Goatse.cx." Internet Archive, archived from the original on 21 Oct. 2012, https://web.archive.org/web/20121021141400/http://signup.goatse.cx/.
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- Haddon, Heather. "Atlanta Drivers Stunned by Lewd Image on Digital Billboard." USA Today, 12 May 2015, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/05/12/lewd-image-digital-billboard-atlanta/27163101/.
- The original; now a safe for work blockchain site:
- The entire image collection: web.archive.org/web/20010531175234/goatse.cx/contrib/gap.zip
- Mirror: goatse.info/contrib/gap.zip
- LOLShock mirror: web.archive.org/web/20120113141646/http://www.goatse.bz/
- Shockchan mirror: web.archive.org/web/20180309165631/shockchan.com/goatse
- YTMND mirror: hello.ytmnd.com
- A site with a similar image of Kirk Johnson stretching out his anus: web.archive.org/web/20110719010616/stretch.ragingfist.net