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4Chan user survey results. Not many surprises. (spreadsheets.google.com)
120 points by steveklabnik on Dec 26, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 84 comments

65 people "discovered 4chan" in 2011... why was that even a choice, and what makes people think that a group of people who take nothing seriously would take a survey seriously?

Sometimes test questions in surveys are included purely as a measure of faking/lying.

I'm more skeptical of the fact that 10% claimed to have discovered 4chan in 2003.

Since it was founded in Oct 2003, it would be interesting to offer 2002, 2001, 2000 as options - you could probably safely discard those results.

That said, it'd be more interesting to see correlations between these measurements.

or that 365 people spend 24+ hours a day on 4chan

Anon has a time machine. They don't talk about it, though.

I don't think 4chan users would be anymore likely to give wrong answers than subjects of any other survey. - Very interesting stuff and probably one of the best representations of the youth in the 21st century.

Care to elaborate? How is this any representation of the youth of the 21st century?


lolwut? newfag...

I monitored in live a similar poll that ran in /b/ around two years ago, maybe earlier.

There were several questions about mental health (medically diagnosed pathologies, suspected pathologies, ...).

The sex ratio was around 10 to 1.

All girls reported moderate to severe mental issues, whereas only 1 dude in 10 did.


This is self-reported, yes? Culturally speaking, I imagine women would tend to report much higher numbers than men -- even in a scenario where it was a 1:1 split.

I'd take that poll with a grain of salt, and I sincerely doubt that 'femanons' are 10x more likely to be suffering from moderate to severe mental illness.

It was self-reported, of course, how would you want to conduct this kind of poll...

The methodology is of course deeply flawed. Even though the anonymity of the poll allows people to report such issues without guilt (or even with pride), it also encourages trolling.

I didn't start that poll, I just happened to pass by while it was being held. I read around 150 answers. My memory isn't perfect, but here is what I remember. None of the 15 females reported a normal mental health or even mild troubles. Around the same number of males reported serious mental issues (things like bipolar disorder, borderline personality, multiple phobias, panic attacks, major depression, schizophrenia, hospitalization in mental health institutes for whatever reason).

I'm not sure why girls would be culturally more inclined to report severe mental illness (even though, from my clinical experience, I wouldn't be surprised if they had a tendency to report mild mental troubles more easily). Is this bias documented somewhere? Also, even if such a bias exists, it wouldn't explain such a wide difference.

Assuming that the poll was not massively rigged by trolls, and with only 66% of females with mental issues, the P-value of Fisher's exact test is under 0.001.

    120  15 | 135
      5  10 |  15
    125  25 | 150

The probability of getting a sample with 66% of the females in good mental health (keeping the rate in males identical) when there is no gender difference regarding mental health in the population is around 0.03.

Being "bipolar", "depressed" or "ocd" is still considered fashionable in some circles. I would assume fairly significant overreporting.

That's true, but why would women over-report disproportionately more than men?

It might not even be simple over-reporting; women have more diagnoses than men. Women go to the doctor more.

This isn't to say it isn't still bullshit. I know two women with OCD diagnoses, but neither present typical symptoms. One is the most foul-smelling slob I know, the complete opposite of your typical OCD person. The other seems relatively normal.

Women are typically more communicative than men when it comes to psychological and/or physical ailments -- that's just the nature of things. Have you ever known a woman before?

I suppose one never does know oneself.

I'd take any poll that 4chan members vote with a grain of salt. That said, I'd expect the proportion of "mentally ill" women in 4chan to be far higher than men, just as I'd expect for a strip club or porn film set.

It's interesting that even a community as off-topic, perverse and thematically unstructured as 4chan thinks that growth of its community is a bad thing.

Not really, it's been a huge, longstanding issue for a very, very long time. Spome light reading: http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Newfag

Heh. The graphic for the question: "What boards do you most typically lurk?" is broken. Attempting to open it in a new tab results with the following error message:

  Bad Request
    Your client has issued a malformed or illegal request.
       The parameter 'chs=345x1000' specifies a chart with
       345000 pixels, which exceeds the maximum size of
       300000 pixels.
Is this a bug in the doc? Or a bug in Google Docs? It would seem to be a bug in Google Docs if the size of the chart was auto-generated based on the data, but exceeded the limits of Google Docs chart generation. Especially since on the resultant page it just looks like a broken image with no feedback to the user.

Looks like the list is far too long for the automatic Google Charts URL to work since it goes over the API's limits. Bug in that Google Docs template, I guess. Try this:


EDIT: Actually, that chart is incomplete since the sheer number of items renders off of the image area. Awesome.

Would you let your kids visit 4Chan? 61% said no.

Man, that makes me feel all warm and nostalgic. Of course everyone's young, learning about the freedom of the internet and using their creativity for the first time. In my day it was LUE on the GameFAQs forum, though I was more of a Forumite at the time...

I think the most surprising info in there is the fact that there seems to be a rather normal amount of homo- and bisexuals. You'd think the often hateful language towards such would mean there'd be fewer than normal.

It's just a thin veneer, actually. For instance, there are quite often threads with dudes dressed as women, and they receive a lot of attention and praise. There's also a decent number of gay threads, too. Even the furries have Fridays...

The culture isn't genuinely hateful, they're just trying to get a rise out of people. Besides, 'fag' is an affectionate term to a /b/tard...

>Besides, 'fag' is an affectionate term to a /b/tard...

Case in point: at the bottom of the page the survey author says to contact him at "resultsfag@yahoo.com" :-)

Don't forget that this is cross-4chan, not just /b/

Everybody's gay for Bridget. And Linetrap.

Seven upvotes?!

Methinks we need an HN survey to see what the 4chan readership rate is...

Maybe it's just me, but the link doesn't seem to work. Just shows "Summary"

Maybe its some kind of joke - all 4chan users are anonymous :D

Yeah, it's spinning. I got it to load once, then tried again after I read your comment and it seems to have fallen over. There is actually data there.

It was working for me, but doesn't now. Looks like I clicked it just a few seconds before it went down, judging by the timestamp of your post.

Not just you, I get that too. Using Chromium.

Now I'm getting a server error.

I bet 4chan, Reddit, and HN all hitting a Google Doc at once probably wasn't expected.

Considering this is probably stretching the design limits of docs in both dataset size and number of people accessing it, here's a dropbox-hosted copy:


I can't believe people are taking this crap seriously.

3% of the people who completed the survey don't speak English. Just a friendly reminder to take this and any survey with a grain of salt.

They may read it but not speak it.

Or, 3% did not answer the optional questions.

However, given the propensity of 4channers to troll, I'm sure the confidence levels on all these answers must necessarily be very low.

With all due respect, how is this HN worthy? I don't see this as deeply interesting. There is nothing meaningful about it, there is no underlying pattern.

4chan is a cesspool, and it is not representative of youth or any interesting demographic.

> Please don't submit comments complaining that a submission is inappropriate for the site. If you think something is spam or offtopic, flag it by going to its page and clicking on the "flag" link. (Not all users will see this; there is a karma threshold.) If you flag something, please don't also comment that you did.


>50% keeping a porn collection

I can only imaging what a teenager is able to amass these days with TB hard drives and what others might think when they go through it. From a security perspective if [they] suspect that [you] have a porn collection would it be prudent to keep a small and neutral porn collection somewhere easily found on their system? With the percentage being so high they (parents) might keep looking until they find something.

But why? If you're not a politician it's not such a problem?

What if you occasionally like some of the more unusual things, off the top of my head "women with goats" I think we can agree you don't want even your most open minded best friend finding this. So you make a more obvious easier to find folder with more acceptable videos as a decoy.

I wouldn't mind. If they snoop around my PC and are shocked by what they find (although I highly doubt that they would) then they should deal with it.

If your friends are very religious or something I can understand why you'd want to spend extra effort to hide stuff. But even then if they don't want to know they shouldn't be opening a folder called "porn".

What is the advantage for those who want to watch erotic materials in storing pornography? Streaming it is easy, safe, and is harder to catch from the individual computer, and the supply of different porn materials is essentially unlimited? I never really understood this.

My guess is that porn downloaders, like may other media downloaders (warez, music, videos, etc.), have a hoarding/pack-rat mentality. All too often I see people amassing various collections of digital media so huge, they'd never in a lifetime be able to consume it all.

The same issue as with most services: you can't be certain it'll be accessible tomorrow. Maintaining a local archive of your data is always a good idea.

Most porn is quite distasteful, and streaming sites' tags are generally a mess (if they are even implemented).

4% report themselves as gay/lesbian while 19% as bisexual. I don't believe any of this. Is claiming to be bisexual a new fashion trend or something? Assuming it is a fashion trend, I don't understand where the trend came from; most 4chan users are male, men tend to be homophobic and if a man is bisexual then he also sleeps with other men. This doesn't make sense.

Looking at the age , it's quite normal that some of them feel like interested in experimenting. I have some friends that in our college years had bisexual relations and later decided for one side or the other, but if you ask them they tell you that in that time they felt bisex and only later took one side. I don't think it's strange, a lot of them are young people trying to find themselves.

In one of OK Cupids fascinating data reports, they showed that the vast majority of people who labelled themselves bi-sexual only contacted one gender.

Must be some weird form of fear of commitment.


There's 10% of criminals on 4chan. Boy I feel some people had fun with the survey...

3.1% of Americans are either in prison or on parole. When you realize that kids and the elderly are going to be underrepresented in prisons, and that prisons are like 90% male, it's not surprising that a group like 4chan would have a lot of people who had been convicted of crimes there.

And then you have self-identifiers. Between filesharing, underage drinking, speeding, and pot, you're going to have a hard time finding anyone between 18 and 30 who hasn't committed at least one crime, even if unconvicted.

The reported number does sound pretty low since a not insignificant part of 4chan is dedicated to anime and there's got to be quite a few people who grab fansubs and read manga scanlations, both of which are clearly illegal.

I'm also wondering what the Drug User questions looks for. People who are taking illegal substances or people who are taking prescribed medication. It sure is interesting to compare that percentage to the criminal question.

Copyright infringement is normally a civil matter, not a criminal one. Just because it is illegal does not make it criminal.


There are criminal penalties for copyright infringement. You'd have to really piss off the judge and prosecutor to get charged with it for private piracy, but it's technically a criminal issue.

The NET Act criminalized many instances of copyright infringement, but they are not normally pursued in that manner.

Also, criminal and civil are not mutually exclusive. They can be both.

Of people who actually answered that particular question, 24% identified as "criminal or partaking in criminal activities".

So seventy-something percent are lying or don't know enough laws.

I doubt anyone outside of copyright lobbyists consider reading translated manga a crime.

That may be true (tough 3.1% seems awefully high, I tought the number closest to 0.1%) but the thing is people rarely think of themselves as criminal. I certainly wouldn't because consider myself a criminal because of illegally downloaded files.

I may have been mislead by the fact that in my language (French) there's a very fine distinction between a crime (un crime) and an offence ("un délit"), in that the former carries a sense of gravity, while the later is just an infraction.

It's a silly question. The only honest answers are "yes" and "I don't know." In order to answer "no," at least in the US, you would have to read all federal, state, and municipal laws that apply to you. Also be familiar with case law in all areas of your life, since that has the weight of law as well. I'll go out on a limb and say no person on earth is so qualified.

Anyway, save yourself the trouble, since the answer is "yes." Everyone in the US is a criminal. Have you ever gone over the speed limit? Did you report every internet purchase on your taxes last year? Everyone breaks the law every day.

Location data surprised me some... within US: CA, AL, TN, TX? AL has 408, while CA only had 648? [Disclaimer: I live in AL; not a 4chan user].

Alabama would have been the first (and default) option in the list.

Finland & Sweden surprised me in the previous question (country). Both have more than France, Spain, Brazil or Poland.

Argentina also stands out.

What is a "raid" in the context of 4chan?

The classic example is when a bunch of them go to Habbo Hotel, dress as black men in suits with afros, and block the ladders into a pool while yelling 'THE POOL IS CLOSED DUE TO AIDS'. Anything where a bunch of them get together to cause mayhem and/or destruction would be a raid.

I think the questions are more revealing than the answers. Interesting stuff whichever way you look at it.

How was this survey conducted? Surveymonkey, or manually collecting responses via threads?

Since it's a Google document, I'd assume a Google Form.

that website hosts a crowd of interesting (in a way) people O_O

Definitely, but it's not unique. Almost every website will be the same, I wouldn't be surprised if even hacker news had similar varying results in person, even when the "type" of person here will match the others.

I don't think 28% of us would say we're into child porn, however.

gee exactly 420 transexuals

channers cannot resist gaming these online surveys/contests, even if its their own.

I'm sure every result needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but there isn't anything obvious of foul-play besides a couple that are most likely coincidences. I'd expect there to be more blatant gaming in the poll if there was any at all.

Remember the demographic, which is mostly 14-23 year olds. Definitions of things aren't necessarily always correct in that area. I'd expect a lot of the self-identifying transsexuals to be more bi-sexual[1] than legally defined transsexuals.

[1] Specifically, confused individuals who are unsure of what it actually means to be gay or bisexual that do have feelings that aren't aligned with the straight public. Just because a guy likes other guys, for example, doesn't mean he's actually feminine, despite feeling feminine.

For the genres/fetishes, it would've been interesting to see how those differ between male/female survey participants.

You mean between male and male-pretending-to-be-female participants?

And what about the female-pretending-to-be-male participants?

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