Website Helps Small-Town Residents Be Jerks To Each Other

The website Topix isn't that popular in big cities, but it enables folks from small towns in middle America (which its founder calls "the feud states") to bitch about each other on the Internet. According to A.G. Sulzberger of the Times,

In Hyden, Ky. (population 365), the local forum had 107 visitors at the same time one afternoon this month. They encountered posts about the school system, a new restaurant and local arrests, as well as the news articles and political questions posted by Topix.

But more typical were the unsubstantiated posts that identified by name an employee at a dentist's office as a home wrecker with herpes, accused a gas station attendant of being a drug dealer, and said a 13-year-old girl was "preggo by her mommy's man." Many allegations were followed with promises of retribution to whoever started the post.

The Times also included some examples of especially inflammatory posts, including this one:

Has anyone noticed she is shaped like a penguin. She looks like that penguin character on batman. Id hate to wake up next to that every morning. Fat slobbery cow. I feel sorry for fred.

The founder of Topix says, "We're running the Gawker for every little town in America." Ouch.

In Small Towns, Gossip Moves To The Web, And Turns Vicious [NYT]

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