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Shock tactics

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Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 09:39 UK time, Tuesday, 5 June 2007

A graphic of the BBC News websiteSome of you who spend a lot of time online will have spotted a minor slip-up on the site yesterday when we ran a gallery of readers’ suggestions for alternative designs to the new London Olympics logo. Turned out that one of them was a thinly disguised parody of a notorious internet shock website.

No offence intended – we simply didn’t spot it and as soon as we did we took it down.


I'm more offended that you felt you had to take it down because of some perceived similarity to a so-called "shock site".

  • 2.
  • At 10:32 AM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • John R wrote:

Offended? No, I was deeply amused - it was a good in-joke that was unlikely to shock anyone who didn't already know the reference.

Frankly I'm more offended by the real Olympic logo.

  • 3.
  • At 10:43 AM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Daniel wrote:

To be honest, I can't even see why it was necessary to take it down. The only people that would recognise it are people who've seen the shock site already (unfortunately I'm in that category myself), and it was actually a better design than some of the other "alternatives" that people took 5 minutes to knock up in paint or photoshop.

  • 4.
  • At 11:08 AM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

A more apposite question will be whether the LOCOG will find it necessary to 'Take Down' their new logo due to its similarity to other animated logos which are now appearing in tribute to it on sites like Theo Spark...

  • 5.
  • At 11:09 AM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Jonathan wrote:

Yeah, I agree. It was a great parody. I've not quite been the same after trying to burn my eyeballs since first seeing said "shock site" 6 years ago, but this gave me a laugh. As previous comments said, you're only going to "get it" if you know already!

  • 6.
  • At 11:11 AM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Pete N wrote:

So which lucky person in the office had to be shown this particular internet phenomenon before they realised?

I too was sad it was taken down, but at least it got some good airtime on news 24 before it did!

  • 7.
  • At 11:14 AM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Charlene wrote:

Not only was it better than some of the other alternatives, it was better than the official logo!

  • 8.
  • At 11:26 AM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • SImon wrote:

Would much prefer that to the chosen design. Would show that the people of Britain of got a sense of humour, rather than awful taste.

  • 9.
  • At 11:38 AM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

What, why on earth did you take it down?

  • 10.
  • At 11:40 AM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Colm wrote:

funny stuff, and most people who saw it would never suspect. :)

Better to laugh than cry...what was it, £400,000 for the official offering? *sigh*

  • 11.
  • At 12:05 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Rich C wrote:

Of course they had to take it down. How on earth do you explain it in polite company to people who have no idea what the image is based on?

  • 12.
  • At 12:07 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Ewan Mac Mahon wrote:

There was no real need to take it down; everyone who got the reference thought it was funny, and anyone who didn't wouldn't have found it offensive.

Did you actually get any complaints, or just amused comments?

I was unfortunate enough to miss it yesterday, so am utterly intrigued now. I have a feeling that the local firewall won't allow the required search for it, however.

We were only saying last night, how we pity the poor geek in your office who first noticed this - and had the job of explaining that one to the bosses. Let's hope they didn't resort to visual aids...

The tone of this blog post, especially the huffy first line implying we're all a lot of saddoes with nothing better to do, is almost more amusing than the joke itself.

But not quite.

  • 15.
  • At 12:40 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • M wrote:

What humourless over-PC prat made the decision to remove it?

  • 16.
  • At 01:04 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Ewan Mac Mahon wrote:

Rich @11 - You don't explain it. That's rather the point of an in-joke.

  • 17.
  • At 01:06 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • miriam wrote:

oh, for goodness sakes, it was funny. Some people are far too stuffy.

  • 18.
  • At 01:14 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Alicia wrote:

I'm also more offended that you felt you had to take it down. From what I've heard and read and seen on television the allusion in the design perfectly reflects the manner in which the taxpayer is beginning to feel about The Olympics. We're becoming a censored nation as it is.

  • 19.
  • At 01:24 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • alicia wrote:

Of course anyone who didn't know about the site will do now, thanks to your apology. Heh.

  • 20.
  • At 01:50 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • V wrote:

I thought it was hilarious and a real disappointment when it was taken down. The author is very proud of his 15 minutes of fame and notoriety and is making the most of it on the website we both frequent

How is that logo in and of itself offensive?

The real logo looks like it has been made out of a Swastika? You going to take it down too in-case you offend someone who ALSO thinks it looks a bit like a swastika.

What utter poppycock! If you have a web content approver/editor who doesn't know about "the other site", then frankly they need to be fired. It's about as ingrained in internet culture as any one picture can be.

Next thing, someone will put "stfu" in a blog and that will only be censored in hindsight too.

unfortunately, given that the BBC news website is riddled with errors as it is, taking down this image seems a little unnescessary, or at least far from the top of any list of priorities. any attempt at face-saving is pointless as screengrabs and videos of the bbc's error are already all over the internet including the goatse wikipedia entry, let alone the self-referential blogpost above. the explanation for the image made no reference to 'the photograph in question', one wonders if the image had been put up sincerely whether or not it would still have been taken down by overzealous bbc moderators.

  • 23.
  • At 02:38 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • David Moore wrote:


Well done BBC you have posted a link to the actual picture on the wikipedia web site, that is more offensive (if a little funny) than the joke picture that was so obscure that your QC department allowed it to go on the internet and into the main stream news on BBC 24.

I don't see what the big deal is. The actual Olympic logo is a load of rubbish, and everyone likes a bit of humour to brighten up their day. You'd either get the reference to Goatse, or you wouldn't. It was still a good logo.

Why remove it? people who don't understand clearly are not offended, but by linking to a site that defines Goatse you have hereby doomed them to knowing..

So BBC...


  • 26.
  • At 02:58 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Marcus wrote:

I thought it was a hilarious in joke that drew a good amount of attention to just how hideous the actual logo is for the British 2012 Olympics. It seems to me to be one of those things that they have spent so much money on they feel they cant change...

I can honestly say as a taxpaying Brit that I find the "real" £400,000 logo to be far more offensive on many levels than the parody in question, which made me laugh.

And it isn't like people are not seeing offensive imagery in the real logo either, is it?

  • 28.
  • At 07:31 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Phil Tomlinson wrote:

Even though those who would be offended by it are unlikely to recognise it, it still isn't appropriate for a major corporation to keep it once they know what it is. The longer it was kept up, the more we'd be laughing at the BBC; if they knew what it was and kept it up, they'd basically be saying they like to show goatse. It was a good laugh, but it's gone for a reason.

  • 29.
  • At 07:36 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Poek wrote:

I am not sure whether I am here at the right website to complain about the 2012 logo. I am not an epileptic but do suffer sometimes from migraine and it was enough to give me a fresh attack. The 12-year old boy on BBC Breakfast this morning who made a beautiful logo in a couple of minutes did a much much better job, and presumably cost a lot less.

Excuse me for being a foreigner and interfering, but I just happen to be addicted to England. Wish I was there.

  • 30.
  • At 07:53 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Gerry Walter wrote:

I thought it was funny, cheeky, better than most of them, and also created by a fine upstanding young man! Why censor something that is a pardoy and not obscene in itself?

I know (not personally) who made the image, and completely respect him for doing so, and am annoyed it was taken down. However, not surprised.

  • 32.
  • At 08:59 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Justin wrote:

it would be so cool if we used this logo

I thought it was so funny that I blogged about it.

Was the most amusement I'd had all day. Just shows how easily people can get caught out. Quite Frankly I think Sean Stayte deserves £400,000 just for managing to dupe the BBC.

You know what? As an East Londoner, I don't actually know anyone round here who actually wants the olympics, let alone the poxy logo.

  • 34.
  • At 10:30 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Sion Bonett wrote:

I saw the picture on the BBC site yesterday, but I didn't make the connection to 'that' picture until someone just pointed it out on an internet forum.
Although the only reason I can see it was removed is to spare the BBCs reputation, lets face it the vast majority of people out there would have had no idea what the picture was referencing. It just looked like something that was hastily thrown together in paint by a 15 year old, as I thought it was!

Part of enjoying a joke is knowing when it's wearing off. As if Steve didn't know that pulling the pic would probably add to its ultimate availability on the web.

Meanwhile, none of the commenters noticed how Steve lays his trap with "Some of you who spend a lot of time online", and they stepped right into it...

Keep up the good work, Steve.

  • 36.
  • At 12:43 AM on 06 Jun 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

Like everyone else that commented here, I think you were daft for taking it down.

And the tone of your blog post is hilarious - the only people you are apologising to in such a shocked manner are those who already know what goatse is, and they aren't going to be upset by this logo.

Go on, put it back up!

  • 37.
  • At 11:43 AM on 06 Jun 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

Maybe you didn't intend any offence, but I'm actually very offended that you removed it from your site. I generally find censorship offensive, and I certainly do when your censorship is as gratuitous as this.

Are you suggesting that we'd be offended by something which would mean nothing to those who haven't seen the 'shock site' but that is funny to those who have?

Oh, the outrage!

Me and my boyfriend spent ages staring at the alternative logo, trying to figure out why it was so offensive. only after extensive internet research have I managed to find the answer - to all those who have yet to find out why, look up 'goatse' on wikipedia! Don't worry, no offensive images will appear.

  • 40.
  • At 04:26 PM on 06 Jun 2007,
  • James wrote:

I agree with the majority on this, censoring an image like this only disappoints the people who understand the joke.

However I had a bit of a laugh showing my colleagues the goatse image for the first time!

  • 41.
  • At 07:28 PM on 06 Jun 2007,
  • Alastair wrote:

Bring it back. It was far less offensive than the 'official' version. (What do you mean you can't see what's rude about the current one?)

  • 42.
  • At 07:48 PM on 06 Jun 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

Sadly it was a lot better than the actual logo.

Plus the added advantage of the fact it would have been an inside joke to those in the know - I'm sure my grand mother wouldn't know what it was haha.

  • 43.
  • At 09:01 PM on 06 Jun 2007,
  • Jason wrote:

Add me to the set of people who think the goatse logo is better than the official logo.

Please restore the image. Not only is it the funniest thing I've seen in months, it's also better than the Olympics logo is anyway

  • 45.
  • At 08:58 AM on 07 Jun 2007,
  • James Pappas wrote:

Of course you had to take it down, but still, even seeing it on youtube was enough to give me paroxysms of laughter for a good few minutes.

Nice when the mainstream news can make you laugh until you forget what's on the mainstream news.

It was actually a rather nice design, I thought, after I'd caught my breath. I've given the author kudos, and a tip of the hat here to you for taking a jibe gracefully.

Jay Pappas,
Boston, USA.

  • 46.
  • At 11:17 AM on 07 Jun 2007,
  • Nick R wrote:

I did abit of research on Goatse. I actually find the logo amusing when I knew what Goatse was!

  • 47.
  • At 11:02 AM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Jamie D wrote:

When I saw the parody I laughed myself silly! Loved it. Wonderful and well deserved parody.

Whoever decided to take it down has no sense of humour (please look up "parody" in the dictionary). Why on earth such money has been wasted on an olympic logo when there is the timeless five rings I don't know.

  • 48.
  • At 09:56 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • JonMayer wrote:

Goodness me - of course the BBC had to take it down.

It was funny - I agree - but they were made to look a little silly at the expense of the certain humorous website that first published it. As Phil wrote in an earlier post, a respected website such as the BBC would clearly get rid of the picture as soon as they realised the situation.

It is really very silly to cry "censorship". If the BBC were censoring news from Iraq, or an important political story, then I'd make as much noise as anyone. But this isn't such a story, and they are quite right to remove it. If you want to see the picture, Google will show you the way, I'm sure.

Credit to the uploader for his 15 minutes of fame though!

  • 49.
  • At 04:37 PM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • MRW wrote:

To all those people who are appalled at the Goatse logo's removal... Come off it! The Goatse original is in very bad taste (and proud!) and it's a long-standing kind of game to try and get similar images included in all kinds of respectable publications. I believe it once made it on to the cover of Times Magazine. Snopes agrees with me. Once the joke is over, these things do tend to be removed for the Good of the People.

  • 50.
  • At 02:05 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • jjsbali wrote:

Well i feel that this logo is not up to the mark. For country like Britain this is an special event. So it should come up with proper presentation. A logo should give the feeling of unity,equality and sportsmanship. These things are missing in the logo.

  • 51.
  • At 09:06 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • AJ Caira wrote:

Note that the original Goatse image is occasionally added to the Wikipedia article, and is a heck of a lot more disturbing than any of the logos (and definitely not something you want to be caught browsing at work) . To be safe, set your browser not to display images by default or use this link to a work-safe version of the article.

  • 52.
  • At 10:22 AM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • Ryan wrote:

The irony is of course that the Goatse picture is much less blood-curdling to look at than the Olympic logo...

  • 53.
  • At 10:22 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Stephen Guenthner wrote:

I'm glad they took it down, because it would become reconizable further more by people who know the site. They would tell others about what it looks like, etc. etc. etc.

Funny that it happend though, glad it's removed.

  • 54.
  • At 02:43 PM on 02 Jul 2007,
  • AJS wrote:

This reminds me of the time my local radio station broadcast a caller saying something in Welsh (I didn't catch all of it, but I recognised one or two choice words) ..... he said "Don't worry, nobody will ring in and complain. The English won't understand it and the Welsh will agree with it!"

  • 55.
  • At 10:49 PM on 30 Jul 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

It was so funny. Didn't notice it at first.

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