I remember when I first visited 4chan sometime in 2006. It was totally unlike anything I had seen before. I remember feeling as though I had found an entirely new universe to explore and exist in. Back then, when you refreshed b, no matter how frequently, there was essentially no recycling of threads. The volume back then was so high that browsing b was like swimming in a vibrant ocean of the future — a relentless torrent of human thought and memes. Back then, memes were exclusive to 4chan. Nobody knew what a meme was and you could only find them on 4chan. I remember when memes starting appearing on clothing and mainstream places it felt very weird. B is now a shell of what it used to be. In life, every once in a while you get to experience something like early b. I hope I get to do it one more time before I die.
I dunno, a lot of 4chan’s image as right leaning is just a product of the time. The left has the cultural prominence to be uptight hall monitors of society, so the anything goes platform will attract and outwardly appear right.
When I was much younger the left were the cool rebels to the right’s status quo. If the timeline was slightly different 4chan could have just as easily been a lefty hangout with a conservative founder.
fark and somethingawful had them in, idk, 2002 or so.
A person of a certain age might think 4chan is the beginning sure, but SA was basically where 4chan came from. At least how I remember. Again, less extreme maybe.
Not that my memories of those days is that great, I guess.
On 4chan, it started with image macros, reaction images/gifs, demotivational posters, etc. and at some point, all of those just became what 'meme' has come to mean, and if you say the word meme without context people just assume image macros, a la meme generators.
I suppose there's nothing wrong with this, since all of those things do indeed tend to be memetic, but it made so much more sense early on than it does now.
The original meaning:
The word meme was “coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976) as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catchphrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.”
Edit: Formatting and typo
I was aging out of SA before 4chan even really got going (not maturing out, since I'm not that mature; just being done with college, moving on to professional school; not spending as much time on forums/etc). I never spent any real time looking at 4chan.
I of course know what image memes are, but if you just said meme to me with no context then I still think of it as the Dawkins 'Selfish Gene' idea.
It pushed thr chans/SA deeper and darker. Honestly I'm surprised it isn't more recognized as an inflection point.
SA had a paywall. It had an elitist community that was unwelcoming towards new users, with strict etiquettes shaped by moderators and users alike, and users that were predisposed to forming cliques, along with strictly enforced rules that made it easy to get banned and forced to pay money. One ban was enough for most people to not return, even if they were able to pay. All of these combined to form a significant barrier for new users.
4chan dealt with all of these issues. It was free. It was anonymous, so no one could tell if you were a new user or not, and cliques weren't an issue. There was almost no moderation outside of illegal stuff. The SA community was also very anti-anime, which meant you weren't welcome to be a weeb anywhere other than the dedicated subforum (ADTRW).
So then 4chan gets huge. It's overwhelming for the average person. There's just too much content to sift through. Some of that content is too shocking for the average person. Posting/contributing can be harder for some people who don't want to risk being insulted when they think they are following the informal rules.
Early-mid Reddit ends up being a sort of middle-ground between SA and 4chan. It's free. It's somewhat moderated. It's curated by users through the upvote/downvote system. You need to register an account to post, but you can make new accounts whenever you want (old Reddit didn't require an e-mail), so you can basically be anonymous if you want to. You can further curate and filter content with subreddits. The shocking content is still there for those who want it.
Then Imgur ends up becoming Reddit for people who primarily use mobile devices and don't like Reddit's UI. But the communities exist alongside each other.
A bunch of old SA posters go to Twitter, because it turns out the average Western internet user finds SA posting and humor funny, and the biggest motivation for FYAD shitposting was always attention and building up your "brand". They inadvertently start what becomes known as "weird twitter". SA-style shitposting has now become the standard posting style for people who "get" Twitter.
Between Reddit, Twitter, and Imgur, there's now enough ease of access for your average internet-savvy person to be exposed to a unified Western internet culture, with the flow being 4chan -> Reddit/Imgur -> Twitter, and then Twitter leading to exposure through media like TV, online "journalism", etc..
After all, that’s how I co-created the 2g1c website.
It must have been extraordinary to watch sociopathy being mainstreamed in real time. And surprising that the hammer has not yet been brought down on its origin.
And Pokemon Go seems to be still going strong, unlike spinners or furbies.
Looking back, it was pretty cool how that went down - but entirely pissed me off at the time.
That's more in the line of waiting in line for days for Return of the Jedi to come out than the early days of 4chan.
Chris Poole's LinkedIn says he's a PM in Google Maps: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopher-poole/
I've read on /g/ that he's been working on Google Plus. In the thread I read that, people were joking that he is going to get fired now that the project is sun-setting, but there was no real evidence to back that up.
Whatever he worked on while there is anyone's guess, could have been a dozen things, but mostly I'd guess he was probably working on getting the general program off the ground and self sufficient.
Then he worked on Hangouts Chat (replacement for Hangouts) for a REALLY short time (7mo it says) before moving to Geo. I wouldn't read too much into the brevity of his time in chat because the move to the Maps team also moved him to Tokyo. If you really want to live somewhere in particular it's not uncommon to decide what office you want to work in and find a team there to move to. My understanding is is that Poole really likes Japan, so this doesn't seem crazy.
Altogether his career progress looks... normal. Perhaps a bit of trouble finding a niche, but that happens. Just another guy trying to figure out where he fits in, what he wants to do. So, no real story here; nothing of particular note.
I think that is true. I heard he started some kind of message board like a decade and a half ago. Some kind of place for people interested in anime to talk with one another. :^)
I just assume every keystroke I make and everything I do is being logged and reviewed by someone while at work. I don't even log into any of my accounts at work because I don't want my employer stealing my passwords and covertly monitoring my email and social media communication. To say nothing of actual camera surveillance.
It's similar to how every employee understands that their manager has the capability of getting their corporate chat logs. It's one thing to have the capability and another to act on it. If a manager acts on it, it will almost always destroy any trust between the manager and his/her team. Within the organization, they will almost certainly be branded "that psychopath manager that reads chat logs" unless there was an exceptionally good reason to justify it (e.g. a legal reason).
Firstly that all conversations are flat and always chronological. This might not sound very interesting but it reduces the cognitive load of moving through a thread, everyting is very predictable.
Second is that any post, from any thread, on any board, can be referenced by any other post. The ease at which narrative can be strung together by reference is probably one of 4chan (and other image boards) best features. The fact that you can just hover over a link like >>45646435645 and it shows you what the post said negates the need for nested conversations and produces a narrative of conversation that is both simpler than nested forums because of the 0 nesting, but also more complex because of the expressiveness of referencing anything.
I'm not sure if the second feature requires the first to work as a mental model, or it would get very messy.
And since my post would have direct citations of the posts I'm referring to, you could then better structure your comment.
The hover over feature killed the duckroll though.
This is a very recent, far post-decline feature, though. Not that it wasn't an improvement for imageboards to start implementing it, but it didn't have any role in their rise or peak.
If anything it seems to support the idea that anonymous environments bring out the worst kind of discourse. I get the draw of a place where people can be unfiltered without having to worry about their reputation, but in practice it doesn't seem to create a great environment for any interesting discussion.
I know this is a massive generalization, but that's been my impression being on digg, reddit, Twitter and 4chan for 10 years now.
The problem is that a lot of the original 4chan users either moved on or just grew up and at the same time 4chan got over taken by alt-light type folks. I still think the basic idea of 4chan has a lot to offer that maybe could be replicated on an other platform, with a fresh set of people.
This is relatable. I was a pretty notable figure on /mu/ for a few years, and my tripfriends WERE my social circle when high school couldn't do that for me. Then I went to college and realized how much toxicity it had instilled in me, and moved on.
It's interesting to reflect on that bit of my teenage years!
Only Biotroll and CLT get to claim this status :P
Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, and even Facebook are now massive generators of original content and memes.
The alt-lite type folk were always on 4chan. Just only "recently" has the political atmosphere shifted in such a way that we have a word to describe that sort of ideology and behavior.
4chan was completely unpredictable and unorganized; no tension was trying to make something out of it except for the people there. Something there made me like that. I never really used it except for a few readings once a year.. and I always like this raw side. Somehow.. it's so raw it feels honest and trustable.
Anything more substantive than that... quite rarely.
I have no idea what this is and im sure its ridiculous. But wtf happened to wikipedias neutral tone and point of view style? Ive read articles about all sorts of ridiculous conspiracy theories, cults, political parties, etc, and never seen this kind of language. Using quotes like this isnt an excuse.
Bad actors would do bad shit there due to the very nature of the site. Probably, the misfits could have found some other, healthier, place to congregate. But they didn't, and so 4chan was important, to many people.
It's a shame it got weaponized by bad actors. There was once a day when such attempts would be met with "4chan is not your personal army." Unfortunately, the bad actors got smart enough to figure out how to turn them into an army anyway.
Beyond that, I believe it's important for social / cultural / political structures I disagree with to exist in small "gardens," left to their own devices - both as a living example of "yup, x or y doesn't work, go to 4chan to see what it results in," but also because sometimes it does work, and it's important to keep those traditions alive.
The unabashed use of racial and LGBT slurs is disgusting. So is the gore raids, the frequent suggestions to self harm (regardless of the presence of "white Knights"), general misogyny, frequent jailbait content (moreso in the old days), shit like that.
Not everything there is disgusting. Not everyone is disgusting. But, compared to, say, imgur or something, you are far more likely to come out of 4chan with a terrible taste in your mouth I would say.
A merit of 4chan is that you get exposed to content you don't like.
Chaos is a ladder, as they say in GOT, and some of the best content out there has come from 4chan.
The lack of identity and point system also brings out some of the most interesting conversation. I recommend checking out /mu or /lit (/b, /pol/, and /r9k are all containment boards). If you contrast the conversation on /mu and /lit with similar reddit boards (r/music - or even spin offs like r/hiphopheads - and r/books) you will find much more interesting and original content. I find the point system on reddit lends itself much closer to a 'hivemind' where everyone ends up conforming to the same opinion, which makes things boring
But perhaps most pathetically, even the moderators are brainwashed by it, as if the positivity trends of some mob are the smartest ruler to obey.
So, what if I disagree with the mob, and what if I’m right?
Well, the eigenstate of schroedinger’s cat tells us that there’s some degree of probablity that excuses us from ever taking that bet, so you can eat this hellban and lap up the antikarma like it’s the secretions of your wildest fantasy.
Enjoy the vacuum of the echochamber. In space, no one can hear you scream.
But I dare the mob to be self-critical of some popularly held belief without the pretext of this meta commentary. HN can be very one sided, and it shows in lots of discussions, from ads to piracy to language choices.
Points systems amplify the perception of groupthink, and getting karma stomped into a ban happens a lot.
Getting banned for a greyed out comment is kind of lame, and I think a certain sort of darwinism, of letting vitriolic people express their contempt has utility.
In other words, more people should develop a thick skin, and fewer people should be silenced. In theory, that sounds good, but obviously it can also go wrong, to let people bloviate too much.
I think the solution is to permit the full stream but classify and sort the responses, but in most cases, NLP just isn’t good enough to automate grouped selections of comments, so we get stuck with a one dimensional mechanical turk voting rank. Yay versus boo!
I don’t enjoy the idea of AI submerging buried comments deepet, but trusting people to vote according to quality of discussion is a dubious gambit, and you really only get an edge detection doppler return revealing the joints of political fault lines, which gets old when holy wars guide many an opinion.
If everyone agrees with a comment it probably adds no value. If everyone disagrees it probably adds no value. Maybe interesting discussions should be sorted by controversial, but I don’t think that would be a “safe space”.
Saying offensive things doesn't lift the level of discourse, no matter how much people who would love not to be downvoted complain about the "hive mind".
lobste.rs shows points (and moderation logs and who invited who).
It still feels much "safer" than HN, but I guess the real reason is because they are much stricter about what topics are accepted.
Which means HN is more interesting to me but I also like lobste.rs a lot.
"She's a pleb with a mental illness."
"hello Jamal" (replying to someone who said they enjoy R&B)
"women are conformist by nature, is it really all that surprising?"
Let's move to post 2: "Describe hell to me"
"Imagine a place that is really really really really really really really really really really gay."
"dying to meet Hitler"
"A fat girl sits on your face and farts on you for the rest of eternity"
Is this the place we should be romanticizing? This was all within about 90 seconds of opening the site. I spent a lot of time on 4chan when I was younger, specifically /mu/ and /lit/ and I think it was really bad for me and my mental health at the time. These communities are extremely toxic, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, and more than anything, downright cruel.
I think 4chan is an incredible, fascinating experiment, and I don't think all of it is trash or worthless, and it's true that not all boards are /b/. But it is undeniable that the overall culture is one of hostility, aggression, and cruelty, especially towards marginalized groups (not to mention the creepy sex stuff, which also pervades all boards). It's not a model for a healthy internet community by any means.
Edit: OP was edited, want to add a bit:
My overall assessment of 4chan is totally different: it is a cautionary tale of what free as in freedom on the internet actually looks like: a place where a few cynical teenage/early 20s white dudes may have a good time, while creating a culture totally devoid of empathy or inclusion for anyone else. A hotbed for lawlessness where violence and extreme ideologies fester and have real world consequences, the worst of the mid-2000s web.
While I don't think 4chan is a model for a healthy internet community, I believe the internet is healthier if 4chan exists than if it did not. Some say it is the last bastion of free speech on the internet and I would agree. I can't name any other place I would go to see what I see on the chan.
This is simply not how the brain works. "Taking offense" comes out of a mix of low-level mental responses and emotions, bubbling up into the conscious mind from below, rather than being the outcome of a top-down rational thought process which one could "choose" to switch off.
The word meme itself was a sterile almost scientific term.
I'm not sure how old are you, but if you were around at the time this happened (early to mid 00s) and active on imageboards you would surely have noticed just how different the experience was.
I've only ever been on 4chan a handful of times, and yes, the boards that people expect to be a clusterfuck are indeed a clusterfuck, but if you pay attention it's hard to discount the influence 4chan had on internet culture in benign ways as well.
For one, I think /a/ - 4chan’s anime board is still the largest, English speaking, Japanese culture board out there. There have been animators, authors and directors on /a/, albeit answering questions in broken English. And /a/, unlike /b/, or /pol/, tends to not put up shock crap and humor. Many of the smaller boards are also like this (with the exception of probably /tv/ and more recently /fit/)
The format itself, when not overrun edgy teenagers, is like nothing else. Every post is given equal representation. It's designed to be ephemeral and there's tends to be a lot less community politics. I won't argue that the format lends itself to a bastion of quality - it's a lot of wading through waste to find something good. It's the double edge sword of not having a "karma" system. But when its good - it's good, and when it's weird it _weird_.
I think the problem with 4chan has had recently was moderation. moot made all the rules and was the final arbiter in all things 4chan. What that meant was only moot could really ban a discussion topic without it being overreach by mods. moot coming out and saying “naruto is allowed on /a/“ or “gamer gate doesn’t belong on /v/“ was the only real mediating force that could transform the community. If an anonymous mod did it, it would always be met with a meme mocking mods (“he does it for free”)
When moot was more active, defending everything you said with “free speech” wasn’t really a thing either. Mods could ban you whenever they wanted for mostly whatever they wanted and bans tended to be more public. This mod power had a special hidden power - it was harder to take over the community around some singular meme. Eventually a mod would ban because he was tired of seeing X, and that was the end of that (similar to what happened to gamer gate - even during gamer gate people of people complained that games journalism didn’t belong on 8 of the 10 threads on /v/)
I secretly wish for moot to come back and roll heads just to make things interesting. Currently I think a lot of threads get derailed because bait-politics gets injected into almost everything. Threads get derailed because of "someone who is tangentially related to the subject being discussed is a woman and/or minority and if you support X that means you hate America" type of posts. And I also just wish he'd pop by and tell us how he's doing. I hope he's happy now.
I feel like 4chan has shown just how needed an anonymous forum is to experimentation and community.
Not everyone gets online to peruse HN or even learn anything at all and there isn't anything wrong with that.
It’s the same as when you spend an hour trafing memes with your friends — its utterly worthless, but that doesn’t mean all of your conversation looks like that. But anyone else who wanders in blindly might only see the meme trading and think that’s all you do. In the context of 4chan, its just wandering into the wrong board (eg /b/), or the wrong thread, and thinking that was the only thing that happened round these parts. Like the whole hacker and gore thing came out of a single subcommunity, but became the public face of 4chan; but none of the other boards cared about it (although bots would randomly start getting through captcha and spam gore/loli porn, which most users simply hid or ignored. Some people praised the bots for keeping out the riffraff (those unwilling or unable to ignore things they dislike), but otherwise, they were far more an idea people had about 4chan and its users than the userbase actually did or supported
So if I wanted to see this on 4chan, which board would you recommend I visit?
Let’s not split hairs here. There is a reason we have a saying: “X is like porn; you know it when you see it.”
Can we hold off on considering this a positive until we see how exactly this generation of kids that think Google is a benevolent babysitter/genie grow up?
Parents have been parenting for millennia without handing off their kids's attention to a glorified advertising network.
Not all people are seeking strictly financial rewards.
4chan is perfect as is.
A bold claim, I know, but definitely appears that way.
Very impressed to see it’s still at featured article status (the highest an article can go)! I got tired of WP not too long after writing that, so if any anyone reading this has helped maintain/improve it since - thanks, anon.
The confusion is that the latter meaning of "meme" has started drifting from "an image macro that spreads" to "an image macro".
The later misuse of the word meme to refer only to image macros is also a separate shift.
4chan isn't small potatoes. It's reasonably big potatoes. But intuitively it isn't reddit scale potatoes.
What we do now is based on SA, 4chan then. Reddit is the influence of those sites, it didn't eclipse them, it amplified them. The part of reddit that isn't SA and 4chan is pretty much Digg, which is why censorship of even the most horrific speech represents an existential threat to the company.
why am I even trying
It's just that by contrast 4chan was this wildly weird often terrible thing. It was a cornerstone of the weird internet for some time. Google is not even remotely weird, if anything Google is responsible for making the internet _less_ weird.
> Though Poole did not immediately make special note of this, he would come to adopt a similar philosophy as the years went on, which included principles of anonymity that would also come to define 4chan. Poole believed that such anonymity would allow users to feel comfortable posting things that they might otherwise not, which in turn would foster creativity.
Sounds to me like he matured into a belief that allowing people to use the internet anonymously was very important.
>There is a prototypical technology postulated that can read auditory cortex and translate to synthetic speech,
there is another tech that involves stimulating otic organs with a laserbeam or phononbeam:
so if every thing that every other person thought was available to be heard by any other person in a mutually anonymous manner, what would we have?
would it be like 4chan? is there something inherent about human nature, or about the medium itself that promotes the degradation of a hivemind situation to something so negatively primal as 4chan/b/ ?
we could conduct this experiment in reality very soon.
would the physical consequences be any different, in the 4chan scenario there is a disconnect, victims are given some respite by simply logging off. How would this "evil_skullnet" differ when it is in place 24/7/364.25/ ?
So, if in your hypothetical everyone was linked to this network and there was no way to leave I imagine it would be fine, generally reflecting how people usually talk to each other, but with maybe double the harassment because there would be no punishment for harassment i.e. there would still be Stormfront posters and high schoolers.
He copied 2ch to make 4chan and also raised some donation money to buy a bigger server when it grew in popularity.
He got lucky with 4chan but never turned any profit with it, which is kinda okay, I think.
But even after he got known for being a owner of a big site, all the opportunity that comes with he turned into basically nothing... it's like he didn't learn anything from creating 4chan... so much wasted potential
It's not perfect, but it is a fun read.
The Old Internet remembers.
[2003-10-14 02:51] <rizzou> hey moot - there's this cool website at http://www.4chan.net/ you should check it out. it's really looking like the next big thing, you know?