I've browsed 4chan every now and then during the last year I will totally disagree with you.
If anything, the post quality is deceiving, not immediately apparent. I couldn't understand at first, but then it became obvious.
99% of the posts are striped from any real content, they are irrelevant single words, offenses, f*ked up puctures, funny pictures, etc. But then, in 1% of the comments lies the real value of 4chan.
I've seen very insightful comments in there. Many topics that would be taboos on pretty much any other place on the internet are discussed there openly and with innovative views.
I'm not sure about the purpose of the huge amount of useless fluff, but if you want to get the real content you need acknowledge that crazy people will post tons of stupid things while serious discussions take place.
If you have a totally new way of looking at a subject, if you expose it to a place where your identity is valued, you will for sure get it damaged. So everybody refrains from posting potentially controversial opinions. Going the opposite direction and totally remove identity ties, will attract trolls, but you get the real stuff, what people really think, no bullshit, no political correctness.
That's the part that scares me the most. In a world where everything you say is directly associated with you and indexabke forever in a search engine, people will have every reason to fear stepping out of mainstream opinions. The majority will become more beige. The minority will become more extreme. There will be less in between.
I prefer my world more interesting.
I couldn't agree more. I've long since lost the ability to get offended by pretty much anything 4chan could throw at me, so I must be pretty biased at this point. My view, however, is that the trolling and gore are in essence just a filter for potential audiences. In the early days, not rarely would there be threads up posting gore with the explicit goal of getting rid of newbies. (The actual vocabulary associated with these subjects on 4chan is rather more crude and graphic, and I will not denigrate this discussion with voicing it aloud.)
By getting past the filter, ie. being able to scan boards and threads for relevant content and not getting too offended on the way, you will have proven to the collective consciousness your ability to partake in discussions of taboo matters and doing so with a certain degree of objectivity and an open mind. That's the point after which actual discussion can happen. Combined with anonymity and volatility of content, this quality makes /b/ not only a cesspool of humanity but a place where entirely new kinds of conversations can take place and new ideas be entertained.
To understand the essence of moot's argument of prismatic identity, I find a certain underlying understanding of the scene where he's coming from is also necessary. It's not often that I see this point discussed, but I think it's important. Thank you for bringing it up.