Do you consider yourself a gaymer? A gay gamer? Or maybe just a gamer? Quite awhile ago, Chris Vizzini over at gaymer.org decided to trademark the word “gaymer” with respect to its usage for online communities. Our own Fruit Brute weighed in on this at the time in his post, “Gaymer” Trademarked? There are some interesting comments and back story. None of us were quite sure what to make of it at the time. We wondered if we needed to feel threatened that Mr. Vizzini was trying to own the widely used term for his own exclusive benefit or reassured that he was simply protecting the wider community from abuse as he claimed.
However, in September, 2012, about five years after the trademark registration was initially filed, Mr. Vizzini sent a cease and desist letter to Reddit in an apparent attempt to validate his trademark claim. It seems that his trademark wasn’t about the greater community at all, but about his personal gaymer.org community. This is in spite of the fact that online usage references dating back as early as 1991 can be found. I’m not sure what he was thinking, but rather than promoting a broader sense of gaymer community spanning numerous social networks, we instead discovered Mr. Vizzini wanted to shut them down.
Things seem to have backfired. Like many sites can attest, including this one, when there is a viral interest in something happening on your domain, many server configurations cannot handle the traffic. Throw in a few angry hacker types, and gaymer.org was down for days. (Was it weeks?) Now it turns out that one Redditor member of /r/gaymers has spearheaded a project to fight back. He’s even brought in the heavy guns with the EFF joining the dispute. See the legal filing here.
Persoanlly, I have nothing against Mr. Vizzini, but I do think he’s made some public relations blunders. I know there are many gaymer.org users who have found community on his site, and I think that is outstanding. I’d like to see them all stick around because just like people go bar hopping, people also go social network hopping. The more the merrier. But to say that you’re the only one allowed to have a site for “gaymers” is absurd.