9GAG: Humor gone viral

Apa M. Agbayani
9GAG presents a move away from administrator-oriented humor blogs and towards user-oriented production of content. Its power lies in creating a community around the site, composed of both contributors and fans alike.

MANILA, Philippines – It’s on your Facebook homepage; it’s on your Twitter feed; it’s on your Tumblr dashboard. You may have never even gone on the site, but you’ve encountered a 9GAG photo one way or another. You may even count yourselves among those who’ve unwittingly wasted hours on the site.

9GAG was founded in 2008 by a Hong Kong-based team of five with 500 Startups, an accelerator for small companies. Since then, the site has blown up with over 3 million Facebook likes, 600,000 Twitter followers, and roughly 2 billion page views a month.

Crowdsourcing laughter

9GAG presents a move away from administrator-oriented humor blogs and towards user-oriented production of content. Its power lies in creating a community around the site, composed of both contributors and fans alike.

HUMOR. Attention-grabber and fun-ny. Courtesy of 9GAG.com

Humor ranges from the most inane and ridiculous, memes edited with basic programs, to surprisingly informative and attractive pieces, to impressive and unconventional art. All the key elements of Internet humor are present, from photos of cute animals to popular memes to jokes about pop culture.

Similar user-oriented online humor sites includes sites such as Reddit and Digg. However, neither gets the same traffic as 9GAG. A certain subculture is growing in sites like these, where peculiar terms such as ninja level and signs like the meme faces of Mr. Me Gusta and the Forever Alone guy are only understood by the initiated.

MR ME GUSTA. Courtesy of 9GAG.com

A winning combination

9GAG is by no means revolutionary in nature. It takes cues from a number of older sites.

4chan, one of 9GAG’s predecessors, so to speak, is an image-based forum credited as the origin of meme culture. Users may post anything in the forums. These lean towards extremely vapid and silly posts. Since the forums are open to all posts, it’s not unusual to find pornography on the site as well.

Another precursor, Fail Blog, functions on a submission basis. Users can send in “fail” photos, which, if they’re up to standards, are edited and posted by site moderators.

Tumblr, on the other hand, is a blogging site that is primarily image-based, where users post original or found photos, art, music and blogs.

There are Tumblr blogs solely dedicated to fandoms of celebrities, films, TV series, and artists. Meme culture has penetrated it as well.

9GAG seems to marry the concepts of these 3 sites. Like 4chan, it allows for immediate posting and sharing. Like Fail Blog, it’s made for entertainment. Like Tumblr, it has a simple, user-friendly and ad-free layout.

9GAG impact is further strengthened by the ease with which photos on the site are shared on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

ART ONLINE. Courtesy of 9GAG.com

Spotlight

In addition, 9GAG has actually served as a venue for other websites to get more traffic. An example would be the Incredibox, a music production application and game, which became a hit on the site. In fact, the Incredibox site crashed from all the traffic it got from 9GAG users.

In many ways, 9GAG is changing the way we consume humor and is a testament to how both information and humor can spread worldwide through social media. – Rappler.com