Kaycee Nicole hoax documentary research January 31, 2020 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Heya, folks! We recently heard from a documentary producer, Celia Aniskovich, who is working on a project related to the Kaycee Nicole hoax that played out during the earliest couple years of MetaFilter's existence. She's spoken with a few key folks already, including mathowie, but is interested to hear from anyone else in the MeFi community who has specific memories of or records from that whole saga.

Celia has an account here as documentarydevelopment, and you're welcome to contact her at her email address listed in her profile or via mefimail. Little details or big ones, basically anything is of interest it sounds like tied back to that period. Linkrot 20 years on is a big issue so archives of old blog post stuff etc is helpful too.

There's a tension between this incident as a landmark bit of early MeFi history and a notable bit of internet history, and the sense of not wanting to push into discussion of people's lives twenty years later, and for MeFi I think that means we should keep any focus in this thread here specifically on that c. 2001 stuff itself and just where and how stuff played out on the site and for folks personally here at the time.

Beyond that, I'll let Celia answer any other questions etc. in here.
posted by cortex to MetaFilter-Related at 11:21 AM (16 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

I think that means we should keep any focus in this thread here specifically on that c. 2001 stuff itself and just where and how stuff played out on the site and for folks personally here at the time.

For some reason this sentence confuses me. We ought to limit discussion to the 2001 Kayce Nicole/Debbie Swenson stuff and how Mefites here reacted, rather than talk about... what exactly?
posted by floam at 1:30 PM on January 31


Versus people who read about it after the fact, I imagine.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:37 PM on January 31


Sorry, I may not have put that very clearly. Mostly I'd rather not people try to tie 2001 era events and memories and documents to e.g. 2020 identity stuff. What happened then is a better focus than us digging into any where are they now stuff, which feels more ethically complicated and probably a better domain for careful documentary research than in-thread chatter.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:46 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Exactly, in history thesis course, course material was drawn from an era, mine for example, 1937-1953. Had to use primary source from archives. Gather the data and form an original thesis, sorry to state the obvious but historians have one task other disciplines don't, keeping track of everything. (Debatable, but not here)

So I posit this.
1# I first heard of it after I got back from Tennessee from a mefi, and as we were walking I misunderstood and thought someone made a comment about my dog, Kaycee. (Remember that Barney:)

#2 I keep a journal, and mentioned that incident, something about how the criminal didnt cover tracks...future privacy and "hive mind" sleuthing is real....which frustrates me now, because that journal is down 40 stairs, not doing it now, bad knee.

While ancillary, even these two small bits must have some bearing, then.

So Cortex, in this thread, recollections are fine to share, here, or just general discussion on the topic sicut est.
posted by clavdivs at 2:31 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Recollections are totally fine to share here. I mostly wanted to be clear that it's also fine to contact Celia directly if there's anything someone didn't want to include explicitly in the thread here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:58 PM on January 31


Gently, I wonder if there is a way to make this documentary at all that wouldn’t encourage others to do that contemporary identity digging. That’s more a question for Celia, I’m guessing? I get there may be public interest, but this isn’t research I would do without the consent of the subject. I’m guessing Kaycee was probably very unwell when the events on the site occurred, and I want any person to be able to recover and change over time. Would such a documentary impact her employment chances and stuff now? Apologies for contradicting, and thanks.
posted by The Last Sockpuppet at 3:43 AM on February 1 [2 favorites]


documentarydevelopment might clarify but cortex does say the project is "related to" the hoax and not directly about it.

Incidentally, the whole thing was how I found out about MetaFilter and what set me lurking and waiting for signups to open up so I could get an account.
posted by ODiV at 8:24 AM on February 1 [4 favorites]


Recollections are totally fine to share here.

All I remember is reading the thread and backing away slowly. It looked like the kind of Internet Drama I don't want to get on my Win98 box.
posted by thelonius at 1:07 PM on February 1 [8 favorites]


Thanks to vibratory manner of working, the Kaycee Yahoo! Group was archived.
posted by Fukiyama at 6:54 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


A little OT, although it might A) Speak to how prominent and well known the Kaycee hoax was (it's how I found MeFi), and B) Add to the discussion of how smart, well-meaning people get caught up.

A) I was taken in by a minor net hoax 2002-3, and afterward in researching the topic saw info re: MeFi, the first I'd heard of this site.

B) My case: On an athlete's fan board, someone claimed to be a cancer patient, and multiple relatives. I didn't listen to my inner voice re: discrepancies. I went so far as to send a tape of the athlete to them.

IIRC the board's admin first posted it might be a hoax. With more limited 2003 Net, I investigated, thought I'd identified the perpetrator, and that they worked in a hospital. I shared with the board admin, but wasn't sure we had enough to go to LE or even the hospital. [And let's face it, there's a a certain shame in having been duped.)

I still have notes somewhere. I might research where that person is now.

posted by NorthernLite at 10:20 AM on February 2


I’ll pass this link along to Danelope.
posted by mwhybark at 9:55 PM on February 3


Wow.. ok, that's just so long ago. I remember it, but wouldn't totally trust my memory of the sequence of events. I remember just doing my daily routine of having the Blue up, and seeing this thread about Kaycee being a hoax, and saw that it was 'blowing up'so to say.

The time period was interesting, from the perspective of the relative 'newness' still for many of the internet and the skill that some of us had, from being online since before text browsing, in being able to research and find information and digital clues.

I don't believe I did much at all in regards to that.. it was already well in progress when I started reading the thread and each time I reached the end, the thread grew with more clues and information.

It was a good abject lesson in the digital footprint, and the breadcrumbs we all leave, though.
posted by rich at 9:21 AM on February 6


If you are wondering what people are talking about - here's a good summary thread. It all started here, with an announcement about Kaycee, an 18 year old with cancer. User bwg had set up hosting for Kaycee to blog about her illness. Promptly, and a little predictably mefi immediately gets rowdy in the comments. Then came the obit thread. This is all long before the "." And just look at the folks posting - a who's who of bloggers and some of my fav mefites. And then, just a few days later, the thread where the mystery unravels. A follow up thread was created because the old one was SLOW.

It mainly serves to remind me how different everything felt online before 9/11. It was like people couldn't believe someone would do this, or that it would have real world repercussions. And reloading that follow up post irritated that I wasn't included in the cool kid cabal.
posted by zenon at 2:32 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


here's a good summary thread.

Thanks for this, I had a nice walk down memory lane just now. The hand wringing over the deleted MetaTalk comment in that thread is kinda wild in retrospect.

(The sanctity of the grey has been violated!)
(ok, ok, people weren't quite that dramatic)

Kinda disappointed this thread is so quiet. Was maybe hoping for the initiator to come in and say something about the project or the history or whatever, but I suppose they're not doing this for my personal interest and are busy actually working on it, so I can't really complain.
posted by ODiV at 3:09 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


(ok, ok, people weren't quite that dramatic)

I read even more of the thread and I retract this retraction.
posted by ODiV at 3:14 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Kaycee Lives
posted by pee tape at 8:14 AM on February 11


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