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Denton says that the primary purpose of the Big Board is to encourage competition among his writers.

Through Gawker, Denton wages war on self-regard—or presumed self-regard, as his cast of mind is both abstract and deeply tribal, inclining him to sort nearly all people into one or another category that could be judged full of itself.

There is a well-travelled image of Denton on the Web, in which he is wearing a tuxedo and tilting a wineglass to his lips.

Also, it could be interpreted as an attempt at a whitewash, which is something that Denton scorns in others with the ferocity of Mencken and Winchell.

On his Twitter feed, Denton identifies himself as a “gossip merchant.”Like all gossip merchants, Denton fancies himself a truth-teller who relishes flouting the conventions of good taste and privilege.

Early contributors tell stories about bounced checks, and receiving payment straight from the A. (Scarcely a week passes without one or more of Denton’s nine sites receiving a cease-and-desist letter.) It also helped bolster Denton’s image as a kind of digital-sweatshop operator—he initially paid his bloggers twenty-four thousand dollars a year—and cultivated a helpful sense among contributors that they were the crew of a rogue “pirate ship,” as Gawker people sometimes say, initiating stealth attacks on the ocean liners in midtown.

Nonetheless, two years ago Denton, who is forty-four, set up a permanent base for the operation in a large loft in Nolita, which he increasingly shows off, as if to demonstrate that his bloggers do not wear pajamas all day long.

He looks perpetually unshaven, with gray stubble complementing his close-cropped, receding hair, which he teases casually forward.

He is someone who likes and knows how to have fun—“Nick has a fairly strong hedonic streak,” his friend Matt Wells, of the BBC, says—but who doesn’t wish to be seen enjoying himself overly.

You might say that it marked a peculiar moment in the evolution of Gawker, which was once described to Denton at a dinner party as the place where losers talk about winners—a venue for punching upward, with hive-mind tendencies of its own.

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