There's a viral in-your-face campaign going on right now; a triumph of charitable trolling; a symphony of schadenfreude. The story goes like this. About a year ago, the humor aggregator website Funnyjunk was attacked by webcomic The Oatmeal for ripping off Oatmeal owner Matthew Inman's material, reposting it and monetizing it without permission. Inman, in a scathing post, pointed out what he saw as Funnyjunk's bullshit which garnered an apparently misconstrued response from the owner of Funnyjunk asking that its members contact Oatmeal and bitch mightily. The tussle ended up being an embarrassment for Funnyjunk due to the Streisand Effect: essentially, the brouhaha garnered enough attention to land Oatmeal near the top of the Google results for "funnyjunk" and the bad publicity went haywire.
That all simmered down pretty quickly though; much of the offending material was removed (for the time being) and no legal action was pursued. However, earlier today a new blog post showed up on The Oatmeal's website. In brief, Funnyjunk has hired a crack litigator to go after The Oatmeal for libel, demanding $20,000 in damages for "grossly misrepresenting the current state of affairs." As the "current state of affairs" stands at something north of a hundred Oatmeal comics re-hosted on Funnyjunk, Inman was suitably incensed. In response he has stated that he's starting a fundraising drive to raise $20,000, take a picture of the money, draw a nicely insulting comic, and send the picture and comic to the owner of Funnyjunk while splitting the money equally between the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation.
What strikes me as really cool about this approach is not only does it take advantage of the grassroots power of the Internet for getting a good one in on some major douchebag, but it also manages to redirect that public outrage to two very good causes. The combination of schadenfreude earned by watching the scumbags at Funnyjunk squirm under the (now immensely increased) public scrutiny with the glee of donating to good causes make me positively giddy. It also gives me some measure of hope; where the good can be known, and a plan to promote it spread virally, mountains can be moved.
Oh, and for those interested the donations can be made here. The $20,000 mark was hit in 64 minutes, according to an update at the site. As of this writing (approximately eight or so hours after the launch), the total is just north of $71,000.
Update 1, 12:20 AM EST (9 minutes after publication): total now just north of $72,000.
Update 2, 12:38 AM EST: $73,000 now. Will be marking the time of each thousand-dollar interval until such time as I go to bed.
Update 3, 12:50 AM EST: $74,000
Update 4, 1:00 AM: $75,000! Cool!
Update 5, 1:21 AM: $76,000