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  • Confic Magazine

"Horse Milk +1"

Updated: Jan 17

Community & Culture

by Lack of Lepers

Pictured: Milk I won't cry over if spilled.

The initial post of SCP-042 on 4chan's /x/ in January 2008 had an O5's daughter as the horse's caretaker, and the anonymous author introduced the SCP with the statement "There, now theres a loli running around.” (source)

Now that I have your attention, SCP-042 will be returning in our story shortly. First, let's go through a wormhole and talk about milk.

For those who are lactose ignorant, “____ +1” is the format taken by a type of comment you'll frequently see on the SCP Wiki these days. Just fill in the blank: “milk +1” is common, but there is also “jesus +1”, “milk jesus +1”, "horse +1", "horse jesus +1", “cat +1”, "cat milk +1", and non-milk & non-animal variants, like “lol +1”, “nice +1”, "nose +1", "gluten +1", or even just plain, old “+1”. But "milk +1" takes the cake (no pun), because of the passionate, grassroots, hard-fought, ceaseless & memetic campaign on the SCP Wiki to establish “milk” (or “lactose”) as an official tag. (Lt Flops for MVP there with her dairy-ing and eggcellent Moonsphere series, part of the Broken Masquerade canon. Seriously, it’s good.) Many know that the “milk” tag was actually added in late 2021 by SCP Wiki technical staff, then immediately deleted, in order to solve an issue. The campaign continues.

But an assessment of what "milk +1" means — what it really is — is not as sealed off to us, with one of those quality-assurance, tamper-proof tabs on bottled products, on milk jugs and condiments, that at times you have to cut through with a damn knife because the part innocuously instructing you to simply "pull here" didn't do its job right, and is laughing at you, now indignant and wounded, putting a band-aid on your sliced finger.

First, it is important to be convinced of the sheer frequency of this type of comment these days. On the Containment Fiction Wiki article I just wrote about freaking upvoted milk, there are over 25 instances of "___ +1" identified. There are closer to 70 there if you relax the formula to include comments that mindlessly repeat the subject matter of the article in few words, that offer one-word adjudications my 2 year old could give (e.g. “good”), and/or that use emojis... something my 2 year old can't do just quite yet. But she's getting there.

I mean, I haven't even done an exhaustive sweep to find more; these are just the ones that I've passively noticed since being incredulous enough to start a list.

All of them have been since around 2018. A vast majority are found in Series VI & VII articles. What is up with that?

A "____ +1" style comment on SCP-579 as 2018 nears, the first of its kind in that article's 15 year history of comments.

The point to notice here is that comments like “milk +1” are content-deficient, non-contributory, and worst of all, increasing in frequency. It is a style of comment that either mentions or directly parrots buzzwords, phrases, or objects that marketing-savvy authors engineer & install in articles as deliberate memetic triggers — like cookie fragrances at an open house might trigger your limbic system.

Even the almighty bees — this a tale, not an SCP proper, written in 2011, and certainly ahead of its time memetically — doesn’t feature as crude responses, and nowhere as frequently. Only a handful of the 275 current comments, most before 2018, come close to placing as “milk +1” adjacent. One comment that uses primarily bee emojis (🐝) — posted in late 2017, mind you — is immediately followed up by a comment from the same individual that ranks, surely, as one of the longest comments in site history (click “Show more”, “Show revision”, bottom one). Oddly enough, this absurdly long comment, that takes up more scroll bar real estate than the remainder of the entire comment page, was snipped by site staff with the note: “Removed for tired, disruptive meme reasons.”

The tolerance, normalization, and frequency of "milk +1" can be used to argue that the approval standards of the SCP Wiki have depreciated, and that the site’s demographic is drifting — and in the worst cases, is being outright gamed — away from the standards for article approval that recognize literary-based merit. As upvote totals rise, and the egos too that will list themselves in the top 100 authors at the SCP Wiki in their Twitter bios because of those totals, a larger and larger percent of that accolade is made up of standards of approval that resemble the literary sophistication of a toddler drooling at the TV.

As a friend stated, it‘s not any easier to pull off per se, but has less and less to do with writing well, and is more a game of fishing, 95% of it the skill of readying a meme; the crux a catchy, teeny-bop bubblegum pop chorus that immediately and bluntly fastens itself into your head like the hook it is. Which, to be clear, I want to give some credit to still; it isn’t as easy as it looks… it takes skill and know-how to make a convincing buttery cookie fragrance to spray everywhere, or write a catchy Mickey Mouse chorus that kids, my kids God help me, will hum for days after. I certainly can’t create these things successfully.

Let me show you exactly what I mean. Let’s take a stroll:

  • SCP-6238‘s memetic trigger is the proper name “Scronkle”, also its title, which is given in-universe to a non-anomalous human. SCP-6238’s discussion at the time of writing features 39 replies, 28 of which include the memetic trigger, several alongside an upvote statement. In the comments, someone writes "i dont get it, i dont get the joke", to which another replies "Scronkle".

  • SCP-7320, "Serendipity", features two memetic triggers, “Sticky Jesus” and “Let it rip”. Both are memetically parrotted in the comments by readers, one cited as an “upvote moment”.

  • SCP-SQYD-J‘s comment section features numerous variants of the memetic trigger, a kaomoji “くコ:彡” (also the article’s only content), often with the addition of “+1”.

  • Fishish’s Proposal (-J)‘s comment section is largely the repetition of the memetic trigger theme, “nose” (in variations), classically accompanied by “+1”.

  • SCP-6121‘s comment section is commonly a repetition of the article’s memetic device, an owl who says “HOOT HOOT MOTHER FUCKER.” I'm going to not look and guess the title is that exact phrase.

The list goes on.

To understand that this is a definitive change in culture, and not just me being an old man yelling at some milky clouds, let's take a trip back to October 2013. We just exited the wormhole; SCP-042 is back.

SCP-042 is a really interesting article, historically speaking. It was one of two early /x/ SCPs that invoked the discussion of legitimate gender philosophy, the other the initial version of SCP-113 (“The Gender Bender”). Shockingly, neither featured bigoted or discriminatory commentary from 4channers when or after they were posted (that came while on WikiDot). The first version of SCP-042 mentions, “042 cannot tell the difference between a woman and a man of nontraditional gender roll” (source). Not bad for 2008. On 4chan. SCP-042 was rewritten many times, and quickly excluded the O5's daughter as the anomaly's caretaker, in order to abide by later-established O5 lore.

A major rewrite by WikiDot user and SCP author Skali Sharpnose happened in 2009, and this is more-or-less the version we know today. Three years later, Skali would be involved in a humorous argument in SCP-042's comment section that necessitated stop orders from the SCP Wiki staff.

It goes something like this:

While the above comment was addressed by the SCP Wiki staff on 05 Command, they would also address the original post:

We see several then-staff members noting the lack of contributory content in the offending post. While this doesn't merit any mention on 05 Command, this seems to be a point of strong philosophical conviction; the site's standards would have you actually contribute to the discussion, please.

Fast forward to today. "milk +1" comments are indistinguishable from bots. Maybe this indicates something about the current writing and approval standards of the modern SCP Wiki. Once reviled, content-less commentary like "milk +1" is now tolerated. Loved, even. The standards, encouragement, and enforcement against non-contributory comments like the old "LOL EVUL FOUNAYSHUN" have seemingly ceased to exist. There is no gatekeeping or supporting cast from staff members, who are charged with upholding the site's behavioral floor (and for God's sake, we know are capable of keeping more obtuse things firmly within their self-assigned purview). The context of the two comments are vastly different, but there is something reminiscent, something shared, between them just the same.

Fringe cases arise ("there isn't any useful feedback in the post") when a comment is content-less and criticizes an article, rather than praises it:

In 2019, the task seems to have been relegated to the long-neglected and now dissolved on-site "Crit Team".

This is maybe not surprising; the main difference between the above examples and “milk +1” lies in their differing contexts. The negative component to the above comment and the "LOL EVUL FOUNAYSHUN" one on SCP-042 was what inspired staff to give such admonitions to begin with. The reproach isn’t applicable in the case of praise, as similarly mono-neuronal as it might be. There is a polarity in the chemistry here.

We can conclude then that it is not primarily the non-contribution of a comment that is unacceptable to the current ethos, but a comment’s negativity as it non-contributes. In other words, content-less praise is not considered non-contributing or an offense to the standards at the SCP Wiki, while content-less criticism is. And so, "milk +1".

Reading into this deeper, this means there is a de facto but not-really-obvious double-standard on the SCP Wiki and in the staff's enforcement of comment standards, one that — unintentionally, but still — disproportionately caters to SCP Wiki authors at the expense of the site's allowance for critique. This observation shouldn't be surprising or controversial, as it is far from new. Content-less praise is rampant, in no coincidence concomitant with the site's continually-ascending popularity, while content-less criticism is disallowed by force of official reproach.

Shouldn't content-less commentary, both criticism and praise, be equally discouraged? Perhaps the asymmetrical norms and the modern popularity of content-less, bot-level praise is what so conditions today's authors to react to criticism of their articles with much more hostility than in the past. You get modern, headlining authors who equate article criticism to personal attacks, this ironically a negation of the obverse side of Rule Zero, which intended to introduce a stop gap between article and author to prevent such an equation from ever occurring. When the equivocation is approached from the other side though, in the name of defending egos and upholding a culture of collective flattery, the impasse seems to gladly vanish.

And in its place?

A teat.

Merry Milk +1 everyone.

Ⓒ Lack of Lepers

Ⓒ Confic Magazine


If you enjoyed this analysis, read a similar post on Lack of Lepers' blog.

The Containment Fiction Wiki can be viewed here:

See the article for /x/ and Thread #448755 for more historical walkthroughs & trivia.

See Lack of Lepers' linktree here.

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