4chan

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Any community that gets its laughs by pretending to be idiots will eventually be flooded by actual idiots who mistakenly believe they are in good company.
—Channers in a nutshell[notes 1]
You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
—Obi-Wan Kenobi
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4chan is an imageboard website founded in 2003 by a 15-year-old from New York named Christopher Poole,Wikipedia's W.svg known online as "moot". The site was modeled off of the popular Japanese imageboard Futaba Channel (2chan)Wikipedia's W.svg and was initially intended for anime discussion, but within a few years, owing to its anonymous, ephemeral nature, became a chaotic and influential hub of Internet culture, spawning memes, raids, and controversy left, right, and center. It was also responsible for spawning the "idea" (for lack of a better word) of Anonymous, which mutated into a vague term constantly adopted by a mixture of "culture-jamming hacktivists" or whatever the cool kids are saying these days. More recently, it has gained note as the birthplace of the shitfest commonly known as "Gamergate".

After over 11 years of tenure, moot stepped down as site admin in January 2015.[1] A senior team of volunteers assumed control of the website for an interim reign until September 2015, when Hiroyuki Nishimura, the founder of 2channel, became the new owner of 4chan.[2] In October 2016, Hiroyuki reported that 4chan was facing ongoing financial difficulties, given that its advertising revenue was unable to offset the significant costs of operating the website.[3]

Imageboards of note[edit]

Protester with a 4chan-icon bag on her head at a 2008 Anonymous "raid"

4chan hosts dozens of imageboards covering a number of topics, ranging from the original anime board (/a/), sports (/sp/) and even DIY (/diy/). Each board is given a directory designation ranging from one to four characters in length. Users of particular boards are often referred to with board-specific demonyms, often self-deprecating. For instance, readers of the /co/ — Comics and Cartoons board are called /co/mrades while posters in the /fa/ — Fashion board are known as /fa/ggots.

The background color of the boards themselves serves as a method of showing if adult content is permissible to post. Boards with a blue background are meant to be work-safe, although things slip by depending on the attentiveness and tolerance of the mods on duty ("Mods are asleep, post X!" is a common joke). Boards with a beige background allow for the posting of explicit content, as long as it stays on theme to the board's subject matter. Most often these are the boards meant for sharing erotica, but there are exceptions.

For the scope of this article and this wiki, a few boards stand out:

/b/ — Random[edit]

The board most people think of when they hear "4chan", /b/ is by far the most active board of the whole site. The board is infamous for having a policy of "anything goes", provided that the posted content is not illegal and does not violate any of the site's universal rules. While child pornography is the biggest no-no, cartoon depictions of sex with children are still common. Tasteless content (i.e. racism, misogyny, extreme gore, Goatse, extreme porn, animal abuse, and -phobic hate of virtually every prefix under the sun) is the order of the day and is not for the easily offended. Most of the memes and activities that 4chan became known for in its first decade originated in /b/. Readers of the board refer to each other as "/b/tards" or "fags".

/v/ — Video games[edit]

4chan's first and largest board dedicated to video games, where posters are known as "/v/irgins". For a time it was the largest, fastest moving board. This got so bad that some threads would reach the post limit in just a few minutes. This lead to /v/ birthing several child boards including /vg/ for video game generals, /vp/ pokemon, and /vr/ for retro games. Several users actually came together and produced a surprisingly tasteful visual novelWikipedia's W.svg named Katawa Shoujo in 2012, which was based on a one-page concept image from a doujinshiWikipedia's W.svg manga.[4] /v/ is actually disliked by many 4channers due to it generally acting very insipid, as well as the fact that many threads can get derailed rather easily, if on topic at all. Additionally, it is infamous for being one of the three spawning grounds of GamerGate, one of the others being…

/pol/ — Politically incorrect[edit]

Perhaps "politically incorrect" is an understatement.
Frogs and swastikas
Alt-right
link=:category:
Hitler wannabes
Rebuilding racism
Buzzwords

A cesspool of hate, this board was born out of /b/ and the earlier (and now-deleted, but recently resurrected) /news/ (formerly /new/) imageboard, which were both over-saturated with conspiracy nuts and white nationalists. Everybody got tired of their shit and set up /pol/ as a new containment board. (Sound familiar?) That and people had had their fill of anus pictures being side by side with news posts. /pol/ is 4chan's political board, filled with white supremacists (some of them overt, some feigning irony for recruitment), neo-Nazis, neoreactionaries, alt-righters, and trolls who just pretend to be white supremacists — though it can be quite difficult to tell the difference. It's so extremist that it honestly makes Metapedia look progressive. Along with Gamergate, "/pol/acks" have also started various redpilling campaigns on Twitter. The general thrust of the movement is promoting a hysterical "war on masculinity", buying ad space to post messages urging transgender people to commit suicide,[5] or just trying to make feminists and other activists look foolish (most notably the #EndFathersDay false flag campaign).[6] The Gamergate hashtag "#NotYourShield", meant to show that Gamergate was not just made up of angry white kids, was also concocted on /pol/.

The consensus among /pol/ is that the establishment is anti-white, feminist/anti-male, Jewish-controlled (Judeo-capitalism-communism), globalist, and Marxist. They'll rally behind anyone who opposes the "degenerate" (a term they borrowed from the Nazis) modern world — without acknowledging that the concept itself was ironically popularized by the Jewish Max Nordau. And since the debate and "red pills" are usually about images and blatant propaganda, anti-rationalism is actively encouraged by the use of nonsensical "memes". That's why if you browse any political thread on 4chan, most lionize people like Julius Evola, "Can't Stump The" Trump,[7] Hitler, Mussolini, or any other far-right/alt-right idols. They're really predictable if you keep in mind that they're mostly white nationalists (not necessarily "white" by their own Hitlerian standards) with a hate boner for equality.[8]

The relationship between /pol/ and the rest of 4chan is tense. Though the site is generally right-leaning sprinkled with lots of racist and far-right memes, anything partisan, pro-Trump, or otherwise wingnut material gets a hostile reaction outside of /pol/. The only other board where /pol/ has any allies at all is the intellectually disabled /b/ and /x/, which /pol/ sometimes manipulates /b/ into fighting its battles. The other boards only begrudgingly tolerate the existence of /pol/ as a "containment board"—a sort of quarantine environment in which /pol/tards are free to shitpost their toxic discourse. (/mlp/ is another such containment board, to spare the rest of the website from bronies). Despite this, /pol/tards regularly continue to shit up the rest of the site. Its role as a containment board is, however, strong enough to repel the many and repeated calls for /pol/s outright deletion.

When moot cracked down on Gamergate, many of the diehards started flocking to 8chan, which has an identical board that is possibly, somehow, even worse.

/r9k/ — ROBOT9001[edit]

Added in 2008 as a response to a proposal by xkcd for a board where users couldn't make any posts that were identical in content to previous ones in order to encourage in-depth discussion. In practice, it was incredibly easy to trick the auto-moderation software by simply typing random gibberish at the end of a post or making tiny changes to images, thus leading to the requirement eventually being removed in 2014. However, the originality filter was re-enabled in late 2015, when 4chan was under new ownership, and a majority of users said yes when the owner asked if the "robot" should be brought back. Over time, the board's culture developed into a support group where users bonded over mutual social anxieties and ranted about "normies" and women. /r9k/ was also one of the central communities in making Pepe the Frog associated with the alt-right.

/r9k/ is probably most infamous for being the board where it was alleged that the shooter in the Umpqua Community College massacre had posted and was encouraged to act by other posters.[9]

/x/ — Paranormal[edit]

Paranormal woo, and lots of it. Discussions about creepypasta are frequently brought up. Arguably has the dumbest posts on the platform.

/tg/ — Tabletop Games[edit]

The fa/tg/uys. This board encompasses traditional pen and paper games like Dungeons & Dragons, collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering, war games like Warhammer 40k, good old board games, and other related paraphernalia. Also elves being raped gently cuddled. It's famous within the community for actually completing a lot of creative projects it comes up with. /tg/ gets shit done. [10] Also has a wiki spin-off named 1d4chan. Some of the material is worthwhile, some isn't. Oh, and like Encyclopedia Dramatica, adblock is advised. They have a pretty good page on /pol/, detailing both it's views and early history [11]

/k/ — Weapons[edit]

All things related to guns, body armor, military tactics, military strategy, blades, explosives, vehicles, sci-fi-related weapon ideas, experimental technology, or martial combat, inclusive. This board's users are referred to as /k/ommandos. Recurring themes include /k/ in an alternative universe or timeline (such as "Meanwhile in WH40/k/), OP doing something incredibly awesome/stupid/hilarious, "what if we [insert idea that likely will end in failure]", and something along the lines of "my gun is better than your gun". Interestingly, a fair amount of anons on /k/ are opposed to /pol/ (reinforced by the fact that posting /pol/ related material is asking for a ban).

/d/ — Porn/Alternative[edit]

Technically subtitled "Hentai/Alternative". But this is misleading as both Western and Eastern content was allowed until a restructuring after moot stepped down. All porn flies here so long as it at least reaches the kinkiness of BDSM but isn't as legally problematic as bestiality or pedophilia. Hosts some very strange porn with dedicated objectophilia threads and fetishes that don't even have names yet. If you ask for normal porn, then you may get B& hammer. /d/'s users are generally referred to as /d/eviants.

/sp/ — Sports[edit]

The obligatory board for all things sports. Due to 4chan's predominantly American userbase, /sp/ is split regarding the many differences between American and European sports. Its members are called /sp/artans.

/mu/ — Music[edit]

Another surprisingly good board lurking on this site. Indulge your inner hipster. See what happens when you post Neutral Milk Hotel. Members of this board are called /mu/tants.

/wsg/ — Worksafe GIF[edit]

Probably the easiest boards for normies to enjoy. It is here you will find the repository for all the reaction images, GIFs, and WebMs used by the rest of the site. /wsg/ is somewhat unique among the various 4chan boards, as its threads are almost entirely entertainment oriented rather than discussion centered. The name itself is now pretty out of date, with the advent of WebMs having mostly replaced GIF posting. Some of the more popular topics include YLYL humor, music, dancing, moving art, gaming, feels (GIFs or webMs that evoke intense emotions of all kinds), cheese/beefcake, and memes. Has a tendency to not only use in-house memes but also repost other boards memes as well. May or may not be a Gateway drug into the rest of 4chan.

Notable events[edit]

Throughout its history, 4chan has attracted controversy and media attention. Some of the more notable events in its history include:

  • Starting in late 2005 and lasting well into July 2006, readers of /b/ began performing "raids" on the online game Habbo HotelWikipedia's W.svg in an attempt to disrupt and annoy other users. Participants of the raids would join the game, create a player avatar depicting a black man with a large afro and wearing a gray suit (a design which would become known as the "nigra"), and then would proceed to block in-game entrances to various features (such as swimming pools, which were "closed due to AIDS"), crowd rooms, and even arrange themselves in swastika formations. Any raiders who were banned would then accuse the game's moderation team of banning them due to their avatar's race.[12] These raids would set the tone for future activities.
  • In October 2006, Jake Brahm posted numerous bomb threats against the NFL on 4chan, provoking tightened security at games. Brahm then came forward, stating he did not intend for the posts to be taken seriously. He was taken into custody and was sentenced to six months in prison followed by six months under house arrest and a $26,000 restitution payment in 2008.[13]
  • From December 2006 to January 2007, 4chan organized DDoS attacks and prank calls on Hal Turner's radio show, causing him to owe his internet providers thousands of dollars. Turner then unsuccessfully sued 4chan.[14] It is interesting to note how 4chan users at this time were organizing against white supremacists.
  • Los Angeles Fox affiliate KTTV ran an infamous story on 4chan in July 2007, delivered in a typical sensationalist fashion. It was complete with non-sequitur footage of a van exploding.[15]
  • In September 2007, a high school student posted photographs of himself with alleged pipe bombs to 4chan, claiming he would blow up his school. 4chan users tracked him down and contacted the police; he was arrested and it was discovered the bombs were in fact toys.[16]
  • In December 2007, a man was arrested after making posts on 4chan claiming he was planning a killing spree. He died before proceedings took place.[17]
  • 4chan posters were among those associated with the "Project Chanology" campaign against the Church of Scientology. (Main article: Church of Scientology#The Internets v. Scientology)
  • In late 2008, a /b/ user hacked Sarah Palin's private email account following criticism of her alleged use of private email accounts to conduct government work. The hacker posted her password on /b/ and sent screenshots of emails to WikiLeaks. After too many people logged into her account, it was automatically suspended by Yahoo!; the FBI and Secret Service then conducted a brief investigation into the hacking.[18]
  • In February 2009, a 4chan poster threatened to shoot up a school in Sweden. The school was evacuated and 4chan posters helped police track the threatener down. He would later claim the post was a joke and he was not charged due to a lack of evidence.[19]
  • In November 2010, a man was arrested for posting child pornography and death threats on 4chan.[20]
  • In January 2011, a man was sentenced to 45 days in prison for cyberbullying people on 4chan.[21]
  • In February 2011, a Marine was arrested for downloading child pornography from 4chan.[22]
  • Another man was arrested for downloading child pornography from 4chan in April 2011.[23]
  • In May 2011, a man was arrested for selling counterfeit coupons through 4chan.[24]
  • In June 2011, a teenaged boy who had posted child pornography on 4chan was arrested.[25]
  • In February 2012, a man was arrested for making Facebook posts claiming to possess child pornography. He told police he had downloaded the pornography from /b/.[26]
  • In August 2012, 4chan users flooded a poll for the name of the new Mountain Dew flavor, submitting names such as "Granny Gushers" and "Hitler Did Nothing Wrong".[27]
  • In November 2013, a student at the University of Guelph calling himself "Steven" posted on /b/ his intent to commit suicide and invited readers to watch him perform the act on a live-stream as a way to "give back to the community." He was rescued by emergency workers after setting his dorm room on fire as part of the attempt. He would later plead guilty to arson charges. [28]
  • In January 2014, Facebook posts made by a man threatening to blow up his old school were posted to 4chan. 4chan posters tracked the man down and contacted police, who had already arrested him.[29]
  • In August 2014, a security compromise at iCloud resulted in the release of a large amount of nude images of female celebrities. These images were initially posted to 4chan. This prompted a change of policy, allowing copyright owners of images to request their removal from 4chan and the banning of the users who had posted them.[30]
  • Also in August 2014, the Gamergate controversy began on boards such as /b/, /r9k/, and /v/. For more information, see the relevant article.
  • In November 2014, a man in Washington strangled a woman to death and posted images of her body to 4chan. He surrendered to police the same day.[31]
  • In January 2015, moot stepped down as administrator, with Hiroyuki Nishimura taking his place.
  • In 2015 and 2016, 4chan, as well as 8chan posters, became known for their support of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, presumably due to their shared far-right politics and appreciation of juvenile, incendiary behavior. Both boards have organized numerous cyberbullying attacks on Trump's opponents and their supporters, mostly through Twitter. Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Southern Poverty Law Center have acknowledged the existence of these pro-Trump trolls, and bizarrely labelled the Pepe meme (which started out just like any other meme, but was ultimately hijacked by Trump supporters) as a hate symbol. This event was acknowledged by more mainstream Trump supporters, many of whom adopted the Pepe meme themselves. The SPLC, for their part, have redacted their statements, and are working with the cartoonist who invented Pepe to create more positive depictions of him.[32] This acknowledgement by the political mainstream seems to have gotten to many 4chan posters' heads, with many believing they are directly responsible for Trump's success with "meme magic", and that they are in turn being directed by the ancient Egyptian god Kek.[33]
  • In October 2016, Nishimura announced that financial difficulties may result in 4chan shutting down in the near future.[34][35] Oh no, now where will I shitpost and waste my time? If 4chan is lost, how much of value will be lost?

Stopped clock moment[edit]

Despite /pol/ being generally wildly supportive of Trump during his election campaign, 4chan has come out firmly against rolling back net neutrality regulations. The rollbacks are being pushed by Trump's nominee, Ajit Pai, who is the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.[36]

See also[edit]

  • Poe's Law: Oh, ha ha ha. It's just those crazy kids having fun with all their KKK This, and Heil Hilter that. How can you call that racist? You're just not getting the joke.
  • Donald Trump: Shitposter-in-chief. Where Neo looks at the world and sees only lines of code, Trump sees only memes.
  • Kiwi Farms: If /pol/ became its own site.
  • Milo Yiannopoulos: A conservative blogger and MRA who has co-opted chan culture into his alt-right crusade against equality for women and minorities.
  • 8chan - Where people too extreme even for 4chan go. Little more than a collection for political opinions of teenage bigots and pornography (quite a bit of which is illegal).
  • Reddit - Not as toxic, but prone to the same armchair politics. ("This Redditor has a revolutionary idea for ending poverty!" "Liberals hate him!" "Checkmate statists with this one weird trick!")

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Old internet maxim, attributed to Rene McPherson

References[edit]

  1. http://www.4chan.org/news?all#118
  2. http://www.4chan.org/news?all#120
  3. http://www.news.com.au/technology/online/social/4chan-could-soon-be-shutdown-as-the-internets-most-notorious-community-goes-broke/news-story/17786695919e39682a2de307b152cfb2
  4. http://www.katawa-shoujo.com/staff.php
  5. http://mic.com/articles/118862/trolls-are-paying-twitter-to-promote-hate-speech-and-there-s-nothing-stopping-them
  6. http://www.dailydot.com/lifestyle/4chan-end-fathers-day/
  7. It helps that Trump and Paul have the Pepe and Wojack-type reactions you expect from /pol/ comics.
  8. No surprise, then, that 4chan's favorite slur "cuckservative" (virgins obsessed with the threat of another man's vital essence polluting their women) has neo-Victorian origins.
  9. Nick Statt, "4chan thread under federal investigation after Oregon college shooting", The Verge
  10. http://1d4chan.org/wiki//tg/_gets_shit_done
  11. https://1d4chan.org/wiki//pol/
  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriotic_Nigras#Habbo_Hotel
  13. http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/3639301
  14. https://dockets.justia.com/docket/new-jersey/njdce/2:2007cv00306/198438
  15. https://web.archive.org/web/20080522123812/http://www.myfoxla.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail?contentId=3894628&version=7&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=1.1.1&sflg=1
  16. https://web.archive.org/web/20071011204907/http://kxan.com/Global/story.asp?S=7058267
  17. http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/12/08/australian-police-arrest-man-who-threatened-to-attack-los-angeles-mall.html
  18. http://theridiculant.metro.co.uk/2008/09/sarah-palins-em.html
  19. http://www.vg.no/nyheter/utenriks/sverige/svensk-skole-evakueres-etter-trusler/a/557871/
  20. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/internet/another-4chan-user-gets-busted-fbi
  21. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/buster/4chan/face-behind-name-meet-matthew-riskin-bean-convicted-4chan-cyberstalker
  22. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/buster/child-pornography/4chan-fan-sentenced-648293
  23. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/buster/child-pornography/4chan-child-porn-bust-657210
  24. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/internet/fbi-busts-4chan-man-extreme-couponing-098561
  25. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/internet/feds-raid-boys-home-over-4chan-child-porn-post
  26. https://ia902706.us.archive.org/29/items/gov.uscourts.mied.267305/gov.uscourts.mied.267305.1.0.pdf
  27. http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/08/14/mountain-dews-dub-the-dew-online-poll-goes-horribly-wrong/
  28. https://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/guelph-webcam-suicide-attempt-student-pleads-guilty-to-arson-1.2142098
  29. http://www.wsaz.com/home/headlines/Teen-Arrested-for-Threatening-to-Blow-Up-School-241452621.html
  30. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29061358
  31. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/4chan-murder-suspect-david-kalac-surrenders-oregon-n241806
  32. http://fantagraphics.com/flog/truthaboutpepe/
  33. https://pepethefrogfaith.wordpress.com/
  34. 4chan is facing collapse, but not for the reasons you think. Washington Post, 4 October 2016.
  35. 4chan, a popular hub for offensive posts, shows signs of distress. money.cnn.com, 5 October 2016.
  36. Even 4chan is opposing the Republican plan for net neutrality by Brian Fung (July 12, 2017 at 2:07 PM) The Washington Post.