Interviewing Icons - DrClef

rating: +140+x

This is the second interview of my four-part series to celebrate the 13th anniversary of the SCP Foundation Wiki on Wikidot. These 4 people were very influential in our early success with this new platform. These interviews will be released every Sunday of July until we reach July 25th, the first day that other people were able to access the site we know and love today. To kick off this second week, I interviewed one of our most well-known and prolific authors, as well as one of our longest-standing staff members on the site. I hope you all enjoy my interview with DrClef! ~ WhiteGuardWhiteGuard

Who is DrClefDrClef?

The user DrClef became a member of this site on the 1st of October, 2008, and his top 3 most popular pages on the site by rating are SCP-2317: A Door to Another World at +2053, SCP-231: Special Personnel Requirements at +2044, and Dr Clef's Proposal at +1786. As an author, DrClef has written a total of 29 SCP articles, 83 Tales, 0 GoI Formats, and 30 other pages for a grand total of 142 pages contributed. Along with being a prominent and established author in our site's history, Clef's author avatar also remains one of the most famous characters in the entire fandom. The following interview will consist of 20 questions from myself with his responses.

The bold text represents the questions whereas the text within the boxes are DrClef's responses.

Interview Questions:

Hello, Clef! Thanks again for agreeing to do this interview with me and for being part of my special anniversary series of interviews. We already discussed it in our preliminary interview, but would you please share how you came across the SCP project? What were your first impressions?

I first came across the SCP creepypastas through 4chan's /x/ board. The board has sadly devolved since then, but back then it was probably one of the better places for short-form horror fiction out there. And one of the better ones was "SCP-173," The Statue. The first draft was awkward, but in the way that creepypasta does, it was edited and reworked until it became more streamlined and punchy and stuck in your head.

The early SCPs all had the same structure: someone would find a creepy picture, come up with a number and containment procedure, and write it up in about 1000 characters or so. It had to be short because of the post length limitations on 4chan: modern SCP articles, with their extensive experiment logs and supplemental documents, would not have worked back then.

(Also, in those days, nobody acknowledged that these articles were fiction. You knew these things were fake, but there was no editing process, no board of people to review your work. You just put them up on 4chan, and if someone liked it, they'd save it and repost it later when the subject of SCP came up again. The whole thing had this air of mystery behind it.)

So you can imagine how much it confused young Clef when, after just discovering SCP Foundation through 4chan and spending a late night blearily browsing through file after file of creepypastas from a purported government agency in a sleep-deprived haze, he went back to the EditThis website the next afternoon, and… it was gone.

All of it.

None of the articles he had been reading the night before were there. It was… just gone.

As if the shadow agency who ran it had found the people who had dared to leak this information and expunged the data from the internet… forever.

Was SCP… real?

… no, it was not. I just had the misfortune of not being informed that SCP Foundation was moving from the EditThis website to Wikidot. But for a moment there, I had a sinking feeling I'd ended up in the Twilight Zone.

When you first started reading SCP articles, were there any in particular that really jumped out to you? What compelled you to try your hand at writing for the Wiki? Did you ever do any writing on your own before the site?

I've always enjoyed writing. Somewhere in my boxes of old crap is a 3.5-inch floppy disk with a horribly written fantasy epic I wrote when I was fifteen. If I ever find that floppy disk, it's 50/50 whether I read the thing and laugh at my cringy work, or burn the thing as an offering to the Elder Gods.

There were three articles that really jumped out at me when I first came across SCP. The first one was "Tree-Like Horns," an article based on "The Walkers," a piece of artwork by Justin Cherry. The article has since been removed, but part of it lives on in my mind's image of the Scarlet King and his Seven Brides.

The second one was SCP-682, "Hard to Destroy Reptile." It was a damned good big scary monster, and the growing descriptions of the Foundation's inability to destroy the thing stuck in my mind.

The third was SCP-076. Good ol' Able. Enough said about him.

I guess I was compelled to try writing for the wiki because I wanted to become a part of this cool thing I was seeing. Being a creator is in some ways a narcissistic pursuit. Before SCP, I'd done some fanfiction and other small projects. I guess I wanted to see if there were people out there on the internet who would like the things I would write.

Also, I was a conspiracy theory nut at the time, and I wanted to express that love of the weird and paranormal to other people who might appreciate it. So a combination of wanting to write something people would read and like, and this new "SCP" thing being based on conspiracy literature, led me to try writing for the Foundation.

by corrupted_waifu

On October 2nd of 2008, less than three months into the existence of the SCP Wiki on Wikidot, you posted a number of articles of which at least 4 have survived. In order of posting, they are SCP-233: 23-Sided Polyhedron, SCP-668: 13" Chef's Knife, SCP-953: Polymorphic Humanoid, and SCP-447: Ball of Green Slime. These are your oldest surviving articles on the site as far as I can tell. I assume you didn't think of and write all of these in one day's time, so how did you come about posting the 4 of these? Do you remember how the first article you attempted to submit to the site performed?

Actually, I kind of did come up with and write these articles in a day (lol). Or, at least, one day at a time. I don't think it took longer than 24 hours for me to go from concept to execution in those days.

Look, I have horrible writing discipline: I respect Stephen King for his ability to write without thinking about what's going on, but my actual writing process is probably more like George R. R. Martin: witness the horrific delays on crap like "Resurrection," and the number of projects I started but never finished. The downside is that if I lose my rhythm, I often can't regain it. But the upside is that when I'm inspired, I write in a fucking frenzy of word count.

If I recall correctly, my first article was SCP-223, which was based on this esoteric kind of weird conspiracy theory about the number 23 showing up again and again in nature that was popular at the time. It didn't do so well. It wasn't deleted or downvoted or anything, but it was too cerebral. It didn't have any real emotional impact.

SCP-668 was inspired (I think) by a concept floating around the tabletop RPG community about using objects from real-life crimes in the modern fantasy setting. It did okay, but I don't think it has aged well.

SCP-953, I feel, is the article that really got me into the community: I posted it up, inspired by Korean folklore and the comic book "Sandman," and the first response I got was that the article was Yet Another Godlike Being, and there were too many of those goddamn things, and who the fuck did this no-name think he was, writing another one of those. So I went back and rewrote the thing to make the folklore connection more solid. I think my ability to take criticism is what endeared me to the early users.

SCP-447… I'll talk about that one later.

Anyway, I wrote those first four articles in a frenzy of creativity. One draft, no beta readers, cold-posted to sink or swim.

It was a different time.

We won't spend too much time on this since you have done extensive work on concepts that you originated; however, you have done some rewrites of some major articles. These include SCP-076: "Able" by Kain Pathos CrowKain Pathos Crow, SCP-105: "Iris" by Dantensen (this particular one was co-rewritten by thedeadlymoosethedeadlymoose), the original SCP-166 before your rewrite was rewritten by CerastesCerastes, and finally the recently rewritten SCP-031: What is Love?. Why do you think the process of rewriting articles is important and how do you personally go about doing so with some of the very popular articles you have reworked in the past?

I don't think you can do a rewrite of an article without loving the original. People that try invariably end up creating something new instead. Too often, I see people doing "rewrites" who basically start off from what they don't like about the article and trying to fix it. But if an article is up for rewriting, there has to be something to it that's good, or else it would have been deleted long ago. So why start from a mindset of, "This is what's wrong," instead of, "Despite everything that's wrong about it, what about it is good and should be kept?" If you can't see that, you are the wrong person to be doing the rewrite.

So the first step to doing a rewrite should be to go back to the original article. Read and reread it and reread it again until you can recognize what it is about the article that resonates with people. If there's a fandom around it, look at the fanart and the fanfiction and the discussions of the article off-wiki. Find out why people love the article, then hold onto as much of that as possible when you do the rewrite.

This is not always possible. Sometimes, there are outside forces that prevent you from doing what you want to with a rewritten article (the wishes of the original author, etc.) I feel like I only have a fifty percent hit ratio at most with my rewrites. So it goes.

Before we dive into some of your most popular works on the site, why don't we take a moment to talk about some of your favorite works as a reader. What articles or canons happen to be your favorites? What about them makes them a favorite of yours?

Confession: I don't read much SCP Foundation stuff these days. Not on the wiki. The time when I could keep up with every single work added to the wiki is way past me now. The site moves too quickly for my brain to keep up with it, and there's a lot more going on in my life these days.

I don't want to bring up a list of "greatest hits" (people already like SCP-682), and I'm not narcissistic enough to bring up stuff I've been involved with. So instead, I'll bring up a Tale that I think deserves more love: SCUTTLE, by pxdnbluesoul, deserves more attention, and there should be more stories like it. My favorite genre of SCP Foundation stuff is when someone takes something as mundane as doing a server update on the Foundation's computers and thinks about what that looks like in-universe.

I want more stuff like that in this setting.

Also: The entire Broken Masquerade hub. Bellerverse. lolFoundation.

And I'll bring up one that I was involved with: "Ship in a Bottle" is fucking hilarious, and if you don't like it, I understand why. But the idea of a single stupid event spiraling throughout the Foundation and turning into this whole workplace meme, I find incredibly charming.

SCP-231 and SCP-2317
by (from left to right) SunnyClockwork, Seyph, and again by SunnyClockwork

So, what I normally do in these interviews is list out an author's three most highly rated works on the site and dedicate a question to each of them. With that being said, you specifically requested that we discuss your two top works, SCP-2317: A Door to Another World and SCP-231: Special Personnel Requirements, together as they directly relate. Would you mind going into some detail about them and how they relate? Also, please take us through why you as a writer decided to follow up SCP-231 with SCP-2317.

Back in the day, when I thought I could be a professional writer, I took a few writing classes. I had a teacher in one class who told me, "You are always looking to shock your reader, aren't you?"

I guess I was. And 231 was the end result of that drive. I wrote it to be as deliberately shocking and disturbing to the reader as possible. The early edits to it follow that up: I followed the discussion on the site forums and edited it to match. Someone expressed relief that "at least X thing isn't true," and I'd edit the article to imply that X thing could be true. Someone wondered about how Y thing was implied and that was horrifying, and even though I'd never thought about Y thing before, I added some stuff to reinforce the idea that Y thing could be true. When people got used to the article itself, I started including hidden text: people using site readers, or different websites that interpreted the HTML differently, got a rude shock and started up more discussion around the article.

So yeah, SCP-231 was intended to shock and disturb you. If you decide to go in and read it, be aware of this. I won't discuss the actual content of that article any further here, except to say that I overshot my mark at one point: the controversy over the content was overshadowing the core concept. The way the article is right now is… probably as good as it will ever get.

I know there are people out there who wish it didn't exist. I can't blame them, it is horrifying. It was meant to be.

Now, when younger Clef wrote 231, he thought the most horrifying thing in the world would be if the people protecting the world were forced to do horrible things to keep it safe. The Clef who wrote 2317, on the other hand, had a darker point of view. If you could save the world by doing horrible things… doesn't that mean you're still saving the world? If the world can be saved, how horrifying can things be?

Here is the truth as 2317 sees it: that nothing you can do matters. The world will end, the Big Crunch will happen, everything dies. And the Foundation would rather let you believe that the things you do matter because the only alternative is despair. Like morphine given to a dying patient, the Foundation would rather let you feel like you're accomplishing something useful before the Scarlet King awakens from under its seven-pillared prison and reality itself dies.

So 231 Clef believed the most horrifying thing in the world was if horrible things had to be done to save it. 2317 Clef believed that it would be even more horrifying if there was nothing that could be done to save the world from a horrible fate. Current Clef has a different opinion, so there may end up being a third installment of what I've come to think of as the "231-7-110" concept in the future.

The Gate Guardian
by (from left to right) Drdobermann, SunnyClockwork, Floofy Dwagon, daveyoufool, Amai-Ixchel, stephlynch, and niram

Your 001 proposal, Dr Clef's Proposal: The Gate Guardian, is still the most popular proposal on the site. Often within the fandom, when someone mentions SCP-001, you will see people say, "Oh, are you talking about Gate Guardian or one of the others?" Needless to say, it is popular for a multitude of reasons. At the time you posted it, there were only 4 other proposals posted. The others were Eberstrom's Proposal - Site 19 by EberstromEberstrom which did not survive, Jonathan Ball's Proposal - Sheaf of Papers which is now the oldest surviving proposal on the site, Dr Gears' Proposal - The Prototype by Dr GearsDr Gears, and The Fishmonger's Proposal - The Game by Fishmonger who later had it removed. At the time of posting, it was unsure whether one proposal would be chosen as the only 001 proposal or if another option would be taken. Fortunately, for the sake of all of the good proposals that came after, the latter route was taken.

This leads me to the actual question. Did you like your proposal the most at the time? I know from your comments that you preferred the idea of not having one set proposal, but I am curious if it would have been your pick had one been chosen. You also made a comment about the proposal where you said, "I just wrote what scares me personally." What about your proposal plays on your own fears of it? What exactly did you mean by the comment?

I grew up in a conservative church. One of my first memories of Sunday School is the teacher taking a felt board and explaining to us children that Jesus was going to come back and send the sinners to hell, and I had better be good or I won't get to go to heaven with him and will get left behind.

There are some people out there who find this idea appealing. I am not one of them.

I had vivid, recurring dreams/nightmares about the Rapture. Jesus would come back, and I would be floating up to join him in heaven. And I would look back and see the people I loved left behind to face torment and damnation. I would try to reach for them, to take them up with me, but God would drag me away from them, even though I screamed and begged.

I couldn't talk about those fears to anyone I knew. Doing so would mean that I didn't have enough faith in my own salvation… and why would I have doubts about my own salvation? Was there something I was hiding? Why would I have dreams about my family members going to Hell… did I know something about them that I wasn't telling them? Better to keep all those fears bottled up, go to Sunday School and sing Jesus Loves Me, lie through my teeth during Confirmation, sing as loud as I can at Choir and talk about how much I love Jesus when in reality, I'm saying that because I'm afraid of his Dad, the abusive father with the brimstone switch who'll send you to time out in a lake of fire.

The Gate Guardian was basically all those childhood fears written down. Everything you learned in Sunday School is real. Jesus might love you, but his Dad is a vengeful God. Everything John of Patmos saw in his fever-dream of the Apocalypse is coming true. And the Foundation knows it and is taking steps to survive the millennium of trial that comes after the Rapture.

At the time it went up, there were a lot of people who thought it should be the official 001 article. I strongly opposed that idea, and I think I said I'd rather delete it or move it to another number than accept any request for it to become the official 001. Because, in my opinion, 001 proposals are like the thesis statement for your view of the Foundation. Jonathan Ball had his idea of what the Foundation was. Gears, Fishmonger, and Eberstrom had their ideas too. The Gate Guardian was my thesis statement. But it was MY thesis statement, not yours. Doesn't your thesis statement deserve to be heard too? Wouldn't it be too limiting to creativity to make a definitive statement about the nature of God? Locking in SCP-001 to any one thing this early would have been a mistake.

Time, I think, has proven me right. There are many SCP-001 articles now, and I think a lot of them are better written than the Gate Guardian. If we had made the Gate Guardian the official SCP-001, all those possibilities would have been lost. But in terms of what scares me personally: the Gate Guardian is it. Activated Surgeon Crabs and all. :)

Transcript of Dr. Clef's seminar, "Reality Benders and You: How to Survive When Existence Doesn't."
by Moyhconan

Your orientation tale Transcript of Dr. Clef's seminar, "Reality Benders and You: How to Survive When Existence Doesn't." is one of your most popular works on the site. It is a short and funny read as well as something that really sells people on the character of Dr. Clef. Why do you think orientation tales became as popular as they back in the day? Concerning your article in particular, would you say the concept of reality benders is one of your favorites on the site?

The tale was written as a follow-up to the Clef Kondraki War of the Doctors deal. I'll talk more about that in a later question. Suffice to say, I established that Clef could kill reality benders in order to make him a threat to the Witch Child. I came up with some ground rules for how the hell he could manage that. And then I imagined Clef giving a seminar to a bunch of people on how they, too, could kill a god if they really needed to.

Two things: I imagine a pink box of donuts and a big carafe of coffee in the back of the room. And I like to imagine one of the attendees who didn't eat or drink anything from the snack table just watching Clef wave his arms and go boogy boogy boogy while his stoned colleagues scream and freak out under the influence of hallucinogens.

Anyway, I think Orientation Tales are fun because they're a universal experience. We've all sat through some fucking boring meeting or assembly or seminar or training session and wished we were somewhere else. The core concept of SCP Foundation really boils down to, "Saving the world takes a lot of paperwork," and seminars and training sessions are an outgrowth of that. Also, they're a great way for authors to information dump and keep the story interesting and fun.

I don't know if I'd say the concept of Reality Benders is my favorite thing on the site. But they exist, and the Foundation must have some way of dealing with them. I think the fun of Reality Benders as SCP Foundation sees them is that you're looking at something that can alter and warp reality to its will, and the Foundation knows how to deal with it. Imagining how that's possible… that's the fun part.

I guess that's my take on Reality Benders and the Foundation in general. Anything can fit into the universe if you imagine how the Foundation would handle them, and then imagine the mountains of mundane paperwork and shit that would need to be done to take care of it.

SCP-048 - The Cursed SCP Number
by SunnyClockwork

So, it is my understanding that the title to your SCP-048: The Cursed SCP Number has a very real-world and humourous meaning to it. For those unaware, would you please enlighten everyone on your inspiration for this short little article?

Oh man. SCP-048. You could do this sort of thing back in the day when the userbase was small enough that you could know everybody on the site, and the number of new articles was small enough that everyone could read and comment on everything. These days, I don't think that's possible, so don't even try, guys.

SCP-048 in a nutshell: Someone wrote an article in that slot and it sucked. It got deleted. So then someone put in another entry there, which I think was a supersoldier who could see the future: that one sucked too. I think there were one or two others, all of which were deleted. Finally, some new user put up an article there which I think was a cruise ship filled with vampires who could phase through walls and solid objects.

This was all in the course of, like, a week. And it was getting tiring.

I declared SCP-048 a cursed number, wrote up the article declaring it so, and posted it. My version did not burn down, fall over, and sink into the swamp (Monty Python Reference!) so it stayed.

That's another thing you can't really do so much of these days: metajokes on the main list. I think at one point there was an article (by Fishmonger or Bright, maybe?) that was a literal pile of horseshit where they would list all of the deleted articles that they thought were absolute garbage so that the creators of this horseshit would be memorialized for all eternity. That's the sort of crap you don't get away with these days, as it would literally and rightfully be considered bullying.

Like I said before, most of us came from 4chan back then.

In retrospect, I think the problem with -048 was that it was a fairly low number on the list which had a tendency to reopen up a lot because it kept getting deleted, so new users creating their first SCP would naturally try to create their article there, which led to a larger than normal number of bad coldpost articles getting entered into that slot. These days, the site has more robust drafting, feedback, and critique community, as well as more established procedures for getting started, so the number of starry-eyed newbs putting their bad articles into the first open number they see is limited.

Maybe someday, we'll be able to uncurse that number. Or maybe it should remain cursed as a monument to those old days.

SCP-835 - Expunged Data Released
by SunnyClockwork

SCP-835: Expunged Data Released was a collaborative work between yourself and Dr GearsDr Gears where you both decided that you were going to make everyone feel very uncomfortable. You took a layered approach to reveal things which makes the entire experience very unique. Please clue us in on how you and Gears went about trying to make the "grossest article of all time".

If I recall, this article started off as a conversation between Gears and me that went something like this:

One of us: "We've never collabed on an article before, and we're both really good writers. We should totally collab."

The other one: "You're right. We totally should. And since we're both known for coming up with total fucking nightmare fuel, we should try to make the most nightmare fuelish fucking thing around."

We agreed that I would come up with a prompt for Gears. Gears would expand it into a concept, then we would split the work on the final article. I would do the exploration log, and Gears would write up the SCP article itself.

At that time, a certain internet sex column writer had just come up with a way to express disdain for a certain politician. That politician's last name was therefore defined as "the frothy mixture of fecal matter, seminal fluid, and lubricant which is often a byproduct of anal intercourse." This was considered a "righteous pwnage" in my friend group, so of course, I had to put that into the prompt.

Secondly: Cronenberg's "The Fly." Carpenter's "The Thing." Enough said.

Thirdly: I have a long-standing fear I've had of being trapped and drowned in an enclosed space. It's why I will never, ever go cave-diving.

So I send a message over to Gears that reads something like, "Santorum, Body Horror, Thalassophobia. Go." Gears says something like, "You monster. Give me some time to think about this." And then he comes back the next day with a description of a horrible undersea polyp thing that's at the bottom of the ocean writhing in slow agony and assimilating sea life around it with an invasive sort of sperm cell that burrows into and rewrites the DNA of any life it comes across, and how like a lot of other echinoderms, its reproductive and digestive systems are all mixed up and crossed with each other.

And just as I start to gag, he hits me with something like: "What the Foundation doesn't tell its staff is that the thing is human. There are human bodies incorporated into it. They are alive. Their faces and heads are trapped inside the gut of this creature, and they are screaming in torment, swimming in a slurry of every disgusting bodily fluid ever, gargling that stuff for all eternity."

Gears is the nicest guy in the world but cut him loose and he'll write some fucking horrorshow shit. In both senses of that word.

The rest of the article went from there. I wrote up the exploration log largely inspired by the Zeta-Niner "Mole Rats" Mobile Task Force. There may have also been a bit of influence from bad 90s hentai flicks and the sci-fi horror-gorn-porn B-movies "Species" and "Species II." The idea of creating an expunged version of the article, then the uncut version, was based on my own writing style: I always like to try and figure out what's under those black bars, and it seemed like a real shame to let it stay hidden in this case, so we posted both versions.

These days, someone would probably do some HTML wizardry to let you switch between versions on the same page, with a mouse click. Back then, it was a real concern that one of the three pages would get deleted, and the other two would be left without context. It worked out in the end.

SCP-342 - A Ticket to Ride
by SunnyClockwork

SCP-342: A Ticket to Ride actually happens to be a personal favorite of mine when it comes to your articles. It is my understanding that it was originally written by an early writer who went by namename. It was very long at the time and several days after its posting, you took a shot at reworking it. To you, what was wrong with it when it was first posted, and what about it convinced you to try your hand at reworking it?

Ah yes. name. I wish I had his exuberance. He was deeply invested in SCP Foundation, and he had this boundless kind of enthusiasm and creativity and energy. What he didn't have was restraint. His articles were these long, winding, rambling things that would jump back and forth between subjects and ideas. The original SCP-342 was another example of this. If you take a look at Revision 18 in the page history, you see the last version that name created, and although the concept is good, the page is full of rambling run-on paragraphs: huge blocks of text that make it nearly impossible to read.

IIRC, I'd been giving name advice on how to improve their article a few times, but with this one, I was so in love with the core concept that I went in and edited it myself rather than let it be deleted. It took me hours to arrange everything together. I don't recall if I asked permission first, or just went ahead and did it: I hope I did the former, but the tone back then was such that I wouldn't be surprised if I just went ahead and edited the article and asked name for forgiveness later. In any case, I can't take full credit for it: most of what was really creepy about the article was there in name's original unedited version. I just cut away the fat so that the creepiness could be more visible.

The one thing that I did add is the bit at the end with the death of Dr. Gunsther. At the time, Rights was deeply into "Repo: The Genetic Opera," so I decided that would be the show that Clef, Gunsther, Rights, and Kondraki could go out to see. The reference does date that story a bit.

In some ways, Dr. Gunsther was inspired by Dr. Louis Slotin, the second man to be killed by the infamous "Demon Core" at Los Alamos National Laboratory. If you don't know the story, Dr. Slotin was performing a criticality experiment on a plutonium core when he fucked up and the thing went prompt critical right in his face. No explosion, but an immense amount of lethal radiation. He died nine days later: the others in the room were partially shielded by his body and survived at least 19 years.

The part of the story that sticks with me, though, is that after the accident, Slotin immediately shouted for the rightfully panicked people in the room to freeze, walk back to where they were when the accident occurred, and mark their space with a piece of chalk before seeking medical attention. This means that investigators knew exactly where everyone was standing when the incident occurred and was able to estimate the amount of radiation the other scientists received.

Getting back to the article, I had this image of Dr. Gunsther taking SCP-342 out of its storage envelope, talking about it with Clef in a blase manner, then suddenly realizing at the door of the theatre that he'd fucked up big time. Realizing that there are a lot of people in danger, he calmly heads back to retrieve the item, seal it in an envelope, and return to the theatre so that nobody else knows anything is wrong.

After all, if his friends know that he's doomed, they might try to save him. And we all know what 342 does to people who get between it and its prey.

by marbletetrapod

As previously mentioned, SCP-447: Ball of Green Slime is one of your original works on the site, and of them is one of your most popular ones. It even has a collaborative testing log called Experiment Log 447 A! Looking back, what are your thoughts on this one? You don't have to reveal the mystery if you don't want to, but did you have your own headcanon of what happens when it interacts with dead bodies whenever you wrote the article?

There is an in-joke between me and some of my IRL friends about a certain item from Dungeons and Dragons. It should never be used to lubricate dead bodies.

That's it. It's a stupid D&D joke. I never expected it to last as long as it did, and the fact that it has baffles me.

I have no idea what SCP-447 does to dead bodies. But it should never come into contact with them. Ever.

This logo for the Global Occult Coalition was created by Aelanna in January of 2014.

Some of your most prolific writing on the site is based on the Group of Interest, The Global Occult Coalition. Despite the idea of the group being developed by Kain Pathos CrowKain Pathos Crow, you were one of the first writers to take up the idea and run with it. You are the author of the Global Occult Coalition canon hub and in total, you are the author of 39 GOC-related articles on the site. This makes you the most prolific GOC writer on the site. Why did you like the GOC group so much to base such a large portion of your writing on them? If you were to pick one side's methods over the other for the preservation of humanity, where would you hedge your bets?

There is a pen and paper RPG book called "GURPS Black Ops" that has the tagline: "The Greys. Vampires. Evil Psis. Better Bring a Spare Clip."

I think that sums up the GOC's attitude in a nutshell.

At the time that Kain was coming up with the GOC, the main focus of SCP Foundation was on the containment sites and the staff that work there. These days, a lot of the focus is on the Mobile Task Forces and such: take a look at the fan videos about the Foundation, and a lot of them feature men in tactical gear fighting and capturing monsters. But that sort of thing wasn't really present in SCP Foundation at the time: stories and stuff were kind of expected to revolve around the containment procedures documents. More "orange jumpsuit" than "black vest."

Anyway, I like writing fight scenes, and the Foundation at the time didn't have much use for them. Kain's GOC seemed like the perfect organization for facilitating cool fight scenes and the like. I got his permission to create a secondary website based on the GOC, but there was never enough interest, and I turned out to be a shitty top admin for a wiki, so I eventually folded it into the GOC Canon at the main SCP Foundation wiki.

If there were influences behind the GOC, most of them were based on the Technocracy from the World of Darkness, the Delta Green pen and paper RPG (plus the aforementioned GURPS Black Ops), various conspiracy theories, and the film Hotel Rwanda (of all things): the image of the blue-helmeted UN peacekeepers being powerless to respond to the horrors happening right in front of their eyes was a powerful one. Also the writings of John Ringo, a writer whom I liked at the time who I can best describe as "Tom Clancy's kinkier, nerdier cousin who watches too much Fox News." You can pretty much draw a straight line between the GOC's UHECs and the powered-armor infantry from his Posleen War series.

As for which side is better for preserving humanity, I feel like that's the wrong question. The question is, whose vision of humanity do you side with? The way I see it, the Serpent's Hand sees the human and anomalous worlds as the same thing: humanity is one part of the anomalous world and needs to learn its place in it. The Foundation sees the anomalous world as something that can be controlled and ruled over: it's all about keeping the anomalies locked away and safe. Whereas the Coalition sees the anomalous world as being antithetical to humanity: aside from the few that can be controlled, exploited, and used, everything else is a threat at worst, a pest at best, and we'd be better off if they were gone.

I mean: in canon, the GOC uses mages as part of its arsenal. But they call them "Type Blues" and their techniques as "Applied Thaumatology." It may be true that magic exists in the world and they are using it, but they'd prefer to believe that this is simply an advanced technology that they haven't figured out yet, Arthur C. Clarke style. When you fully understand the anomalous, they will cease to be anomalous. They will just be science.

Yes, this makes them hypocrites, and that's what makes them interesting.

Incident 239-B - Clef-Kondraki
by GhostN

You and Dr KondrakiDr Kondraki's Incident 239-B - Clef-Kondraki is one of the hallmark tales on the site when it comes to fleshing out many of the now popular author avatars such as Dr. Kondraki, Dr. Gears, your Dr. Clef, as well as a few others. Despite its popularity on the site and among the fandom, a project like this would likely not be nearly as successful today. How did you guys come up with the idea for this? It seems you wanted other authors to contribute to it from the very beginning. Why was that?

If I recall, it went something like this.

Me: "Why the fuck is the Foundation keeping this dangerous little girl around? They should kill her."

Kondraki: "If you get close to this cute little Witch Girl and try to kill her, I will STOMP YOU TO DEATH WITH MY HOOVES."

Me: "Wait, how do you know about a joke John Mulaney made in 2016? That's eight years in the future."

Kondraki: "Doesn't matter. You stay the fuck away from Sigurros."

Me: "Hey, you know what would be cool? If our author avatars got into a fight over this in-universe like we're arguing about this in real life."

Kondraki: "Sounds fucking awesome, I'm in."

Gears and Kain Pathos Crow: "WE HAVE OPINIONS ON THIS MATTER TOO!"

Me: "Fine! Let's fucking do this."

And that was it.

The story went off the rails from the beginning. To use a chess metaphor, I began by advancing my pawn two spaces, then Kondraki whipped off the tablecloth and revealed four Rhinos full of Space Marines with bolters and started rolling fucktons of dice against my chess set. Clef's entire background as a badass started here, simply so that he could put up a fight against Kondraki and his goddamn camera of death.

You're right that there's no way a project like this would work today. SCP Foundation's too big for that. Basically, when it comes to this Tale, you're looking at a freeform RP between about a half dozen friends on the internet, polished up and written out in prose. Letting a work linger unfinished on the wiki itself is discouraged these days. Use the sandbox.

Dr. Clef is one of the wildest characters in the SCP Universe and is one of the most popular characters in the entire fandom. What were your original thoughts on who Clef the character was when you first introduced him? Who is Dr. Clef the character to you?

Back in the day, Clef was just an assumed name (based on a convoluted pun which I won't explain here) I used while writing my articles. Then the War of the Doctors happened, and suddenly he had… backstory. And a personality. And over the years, he got more and more backstory and became a distinct character apart from me.

Now look at the ugly bastard. He's out of fucking control.

I think of Dr. Clef as a human Rorschach Test. How you view Clef says more about who you are than who he is. The Russian fandom seems to love him a lot, and at one point saw him as the final competent man in an organization falling apart at the seams. Other people see him as a Dad figure and imagine him getting into shenanigans with fellow dads Gears and Kondraki. Speaking of Kondraki, there are those who like to see Clef as a guy who likes to have a peepee placed up his butt. And then there are those who would like to have Clef's peepee placed into one of their orifices. There are those who love Clef and want to see him be happy. There are those who love Clef and want to see him suffer. There are those who hate Clef and wish he didn't exist.

At this point, I'm happy to let that fuckhead go off and be his own thing without me. If there's anything I know about Clef, it's that if I try to constrain him to one definition of himself, he'll kick my goddamn ass and I'll deserve it.

There are things he and I share in common. We both love a good steak and a good glass of whisky. But I don't think we'd get along if we were forced to hang out. I'd think of him as an asshole, and he'd consider me a whiny bitch.

Clef Eats Ass: The Musical
by Oboebandgeek99

Going along with the previous question, your Dr. Clef character is very famous among the SCP community. How does it make you feel to see so many in the fandom write stories including him, produce artwork displaying him, or even create a humorous "musical" about him such as Oboebandgeek99Oboebandgeek99's Clef Eats Ass: The Musical?

Man, at this point, I don't know what the hell is going on with the Clef fandom. Like I said in the last question, shit has gotten wild.

I mean… people draw fan art of a character I created. There are tens of thousands of words of fiction about this fuckhead. Someone brainstormed a fucking musical based on him, including clips of actual original songs. People have cosplayed the hat-wearing fuckwad at geek conventions. There is a non-zero possibility that someone has cosplayed the hat-wearing fuckwad in the bedroom with their lover. People from all over the world know about this shithead.

How the hell does this happen? It baffles me, and at this point, all I can do is accept it. What the hell, man.

You have been a staff member for over a decade now. You have had some breaks here and there and even now you are still only listed as a Reserve staff. You have seen a lot of things happen as a staffer for the SCP Wiki and presided over many of them as an administrator. What would you say the most trying times were for you personally? How about the most rewarding ones as a staff member? Overall, do you look back on your experience on staff fondly or has it been a challenge to keep going with it?

I'm not going to mince words: the only reason SCP Foundation still exists as a centralized site is because there are people out there who love it enough to see it keep going and put in the time and effort to make that happen. It's a thankless job that only gets attention when shit goes wrong.

I'm not strong enough to do it anymore. Honestly, I don't think I was ever very well suited to the job. I'm too hotheaded, too likely to fly off the handle. Sometimes, that's necessary, but these days, with the site as big as it is, it's better for cooler heads to prevail.

Rewarding? Seeing the site grow and the fandom grow even bigger has to be its own reward. Watching creative and dedicated people come to the site and share in the universe it created. Hearing from people in industries as varied as video games, novels, and movies cite this silly little amateur horror site as an inspiration. Running into people out there who know about this SCP thing and are sharing in this fun world of make-believe we've created. Seeing a story or idea that you created get out there, spread, inspire other people to create as well. That's the rewarding part.

You help out with running the site because you want to see that stuff happen. Nothing else can keep you dedicated long enough to put up with the long hours and batshit insane crap that you see as a site admin or moderator.

These days I think I'm better off being the old man in the corner who gives advice to the young people but has no real say in what they decide to do. The current generation of mods and admins are way more dedicated and organized than we ever were in the old days.

Dr Bright & Clef & Kondraki & Gears and Researcher Iceberg
by Drdobermann

With you being one of the site's longest-standing members, do you ever reminisce about the days when Gears, Bright, Kain, far2, Masipag, and many of the other original members were all active and working to help the site survive alongside yourself? Did you ever think that you would still be participating on this site almost 13 years later?

If I recall, the word "nostalgia" has its roots in a greek phrase meaning, "The pain of coming home to a familiar place."

I feel a lot of nostalgia about the old days. I miss hearing from the old faces, and I'm always glad when they pop up again. I'm glad to hear when they're doing well, and I'm willing to chip in what I can when they're doing badly. But I don't want to go back to those old days. Those old days sucked in a lot of respects. SCP Foundation provided a refuge from the suck, but I'm glad those bad times are over.

Honestly? The fact that I'm still around 13 years later doesn't surprise me in retrospect. I mean, there had to be something from the things I was doing in the 2008 era that would stick around, right? There are fandoms I was passionate about back then that I haven't thought of in years, people I thought I loved whom I fell out with, friends I knew back then that are gone now. We grow and change, but some things stay the same.

SCP Foundation just happens to be that thing, for me, that didn't change.

Who is the person behind the name "Dr. Clef"?

Anyone who knew me through SCP Foundation then gets to know me in real life invariably tells me that I'm nothing like what they pictured. At least one person thought I was British (I'm not). Another person wished me a Happy Father's Day and was surprised to find out I don't have any kids (yet). I'm not even married (yet). So people have this image of me in their heads, and that person isn't who I am. Or isn't who I am anymore.

Look, the Clef who worked on a lot of early SCP stuff was an angry young man who came from a religion that taught him to hate himself, a family who taught him that he was never good enough, and an educational system that burned out any love of learning he might have had. He found solace in the internet and found himself drawn to the ocean of piss that was 4chan. And there he found a lot of people who fed that same sort of self-loathing, self-hating attitude that he had and told him that it was okay that he felt this way, that there were other people who felt the same way, and that the best thing to do would be to continue to love nothing and hate everything. That he should seek to offend and shock others so that he himself could never be hurt.

Through that site, he found SCP Foundation, and for a time, he continued his attitude of loathing and self-hatred and spread it around to others around him as well. I have a deep regret that younger Clef was such an asshole to a lot of people who didn't deserve it. But he grew up. He changed. He gained a sense of respect for himself, and his personal life improved. He learned to stop hating himself and learned to care about others.

Clef today is a happier person than Clef from ten, thirteen years ago. Which is funny, because his life is not actually all that different. But as in the parable of the vinegar tasters, the same jar can taste bitter, sour, or sweet depending on how you approach it.

I'm sorry. I'm rambling. But I hope this makes sense.

It was requested that I ask you about that time on /tg/ when you were drinking and experimenting with FATAL. Care to explain?

I have a bit of a bile fascination with horrible pen and paper RPGs. FATAL was memetic at the time and we used to read passages from it and laugh.

Someone who will remain nameless dared me to roll up a character in it.

I did.

I chronicled it in /tg/.

It was horrible.

The person who dared me to roll up the character apologized to me afterward. They didn't know it would be that bad.

Bonus: In a couple of weeks, it will be the SCP Wiki's 13th anniversary on Wikidot. We have lasted this long largely thanks to your leadership as an administrator as well as your contributions to the site itself. Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of this interview?

I keep running into people who are fans of the SCP Foundation, and they always tell me they have ideas they want to create. I keep telling them they should write them up and create them, and they always tell me, "I can't do it, I suck, I'm not a good at all! Not like you, you're so good…"

Bullshit. I'm a fucking shitty writer.

If I look at my work in SCP Foundation and elsewhere, I'd say a good portion, even a majority of them, were flops. They were either never published, rejected, didn't go anywhere, or exist in the mid-to-low range. The main reason why I have articles that did become popular is because I wrote enough of them that I was able to stumble upon a few core ideas and executions that resonated with people, and even those got polish with the help of other people, either beta readers and editors, or just the people who commented in the page discussion about what worked and what didn't work.

A wise stretchy dog once said, "Sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something." So go create some shit. Write that shitty SCP article, cringe at it, then delete it and try again. Draw that crappy artwork, scream internally, then turn the page in your sketchbook and try again. Share your crap with your friends, make it less crap, and trim off the shittiest bits until you keep the good bits that got crapped out with the rest of the refuse. Let the haters rip your shit apart, then pick through their fucked-up ramblings and see if there's a core to their argument where they have a point, and apply that. If they don't have a point, then fuck 'em.

If enough people do that… that's how things like the SCP Foundation get made.

So go out there. Create some shit. Own your failures proudly. And be ready to jump on the good ideas when they finally come out.

This concludes the second of four interviews to be released this month in celebration of 13 years of the SCP Wiki being on Wikidot. I hope you enjoyed it! I would like to thank DrClef for being incredibly helpful and supportive of this project. The SCP Wiki truly would have been incredibly different without Clef's influence with his writing and staff work.

Thank you for reading!

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