In creating this place I wanted to strike while the iron was hot what with the strained tensions on Oppo at the time, but immediately after I created this place, I had to practically abandon it because college and work both demanded my undivided attention and managing this place kind of fell through the cracks for me. Pat Bateman, Jcarr, and Diesel have done an excellent job of keeping this place up and running in my absence, but because I have been absent I will always wonder what I could have done had I not been away.
Yamahog has left Oppo, Crazedclay has been temporarily banned from there and by the tone of his last posts probably won't return, lots of people are angry, and everybody's feelings have been hurt. The saddest part about what happened is that I specifically designed this place to prevent what happened from happening. I can't help but think that if I had spent more time here and on Oppo that I could have somehow prevented all of that. I know objectively that I shouldn't blame myself as the people directly involved have to take the blame for their own actions, but that doesn't stop me from wondering "what if".
Despite the fact that Jalopnik is married at the hip to places like Gawker, Jezebel, and sometimes Kotaku, Gizmodo, and even io9, I like that place because it's not some brand bashing circle jerk. You know what kinds of places I'm talking about. Places where everybody sits around and pats each other on the back by talking about how their make/model of car is better than everyone else's make/model and new guys are yelled at for NOT SEARCHING THE FORUMS FIRST YOU DIMWITTED FUCK! I'M TIRED OF RESPONDING TO THESE FUCKING POSTS! OUR CAR FORUM IS SRS BZNS! WARBLGARBLWARBLGARBL!!!!!1!!!1! Jalopnik is about enjoying cars for their own sake, not about making yourself feel superior because you like raw American muscle or refined European sports cars or clever Japanese imports. All are welcome to join in the celebration.
Of course there are places like The Truth About Cars, but places like that don't have what Jalopnik has: Kinja. The code looks like it was hammered together by 1,000 capuchin monkeys high on mushrooms, but the concept is sound. I know we make fun of Kinja, and deservedly so, but where else could we do what we're doing now? Jalopnik's ability and willingness to interact with its readership sets it apart from all other car blogs.
Opposite Lock is the place where we, the readers, get to set the tone and the pace.
What other car blog or web site will take a well written post in its user forum and throw it on the front page? Because the reader base gets to set the topic, sometimes it drifts away from cars, but it has always been explicitly understood that discussion of politics and other Gawker blogs needed to be handled with kid gloves. For most of Oppo's existence these rules were generally followed.
The thing about cars is that it is virtually impossible to separate the testosterone and adrenaline that they invoke in us enthusiasts while maintaining the passion that we share for them. This means that, unlike most of the rest of the Gawkerverse, Jalopnik's reader base is predominately male and probably more than likely to harbor political opinions and world views that are diametrically to the rest of the Gawkerverse. Honestly, I've always wondered why Nick Denton created a car blog. He's never struck me as the "car guy" type.
People have derided me for creating a "boy's club," but really all I did was create a boy's club inside a boy's club inside a boy's club. No matter how some people may wish for the fact that Jalopnik has always been a bit of a boy's club to go away, it will always be impossible to separate one from the other. This doesn't mean that we can't have people like Stef and $kaycog in our midsts, but what those two ladies understand is that they can't join a club and expect the whole club to change to suit their needs. The traits that make the club what it is are part of the baggage that you have accept when you join. $kaycog not only accepts this fact, but relishes in it. I really miss the "comment of the day" if for no other reason than here awards for earning one. Stef races sports cars which is about the boysiest boy club there is this side of Seal Team 6. She's unabashedly feminine with her army of stuffed animals, but it takes real balls (or "Thatchers", if you will) to race a car with a puffalump as a mascot. May these two ladies never change.
I hang out on io9 quite a bit, in fact I learned about Jalopnik through io9. Over the years I've learned that the writers range from somewhat left leaning to very left leaning and that the commenters range from very left leaning to extremely left leaning. That's just the type of club they are. I can't change that and I'm not going to try. I know that even if an article is fairly balanced and well written, if the subject touches on politics or religion the comments are largely going to lean a certain way. If I'm not in the mood to deal with that, then I don't read past the end of the article. Still, what io9 offers is important enough to me to accept the baggage that comes along with it. San Diego ComiCon might not welcome me doing a smokey burnout in the parking lot, but if I did it in a Bumblebee Camaro or in Matt Farah's DeLorean then it might be acceptable.
Unfortunately, as of late there have been some tensions that have spoiled our happy little world. Kotaku and Jezebel have been in the headlines lately both in and out of the Gawkerverse. Despite everyone's best efforts, the conflict has begun to spread through the greater Kinjasphere like ISIS through the Middle East. While many people just stick to Jalopnik and Oppo, a number of us venture to other Kinjasphere blogs where the conflict is raging hard. It's difficult to leave stuff behind when you go from one blog to the next. Going from the emotionally charged war of words in a Gawker comment section to the relative serenity of Oppo in a matter of a few seconds can be so jarring that many people forget to holster their guns, myself included.
I freely admit that I fucked up. I helped bring about the end of the peace in Oppo. On more than one occasion I published a politically charged post, sometimes directed at Jezebel. While I haven't been the only one by a long shot, I added fuel to the fire and I shouldn't have. Once I realized my mistake, I made this place to try and fix it. My hope was that by creating this pressure relief valve we would have a place that wasn't Oppo where we could get the non-car related things that have been bugging us off of our chest. My fear was that it either wouldn't have the desired effect, or it would have no effect at all. My fears, it seems, have come true.
Controversies have swept through the Gawkerverse before. Hell, controversy is Gawker's primary business model. Yet I just can't shake the notion that this is somehow different. The lines have been drawn, people have begun to pick sides, and the cracks have begun to emerge. This will abate for a very brief period of time, but it will still be resting there just underneath the surface. People are ultimately responsible for their own actions, but Oppo is bigger than any one of us. The actions of a few people have larger consequences. I tried to make things better but all I've managed to do is put one of those small round band-aids on a sucking chest wound.