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4chan: Beyond one billion (4chan.org)
305 points by dmarinoc on Aug 7, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 124 comments

While I no longer visit 4chan regularly, I love its extensive influence on human society.

* lolcats

* rage comics

* anonymous

* a lot of the 1% movement

* getting random people in jail because they think animal cruelty is funny

* making Moot TIME's person of the year and getting him a TED talk -> http://www.ted.com/talks/christopher_m00t_poole_the_case_for...

While most of what goes on there hinges somewhere between vile and horrible. 4chan has a lot of good in it, plenty of times there can be surprisingly good and high quality debates.

And come on, it's where all the memes are born. That's profound. What other startup can claim to be such a big influence on western society?

PS: 4chan has also invented a clever sorting algorithm - http://dis.4chan.org/read/prog/1295544154

PPS: sometimes they even manage to count to 10. I think the record was 100.

edit: when I say meme, I mean "A meme ( /ˈmiːm/; meem)[1] is "an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."[2] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena." ... I don't mean, "funny picture".

A lot of responders misunderstood this, I think.

I think you (and probably many others) are conflating 4chan with its /b/ board. There are several communities with their own "ecosystem" within 4chan, even if there's some overlap of course.

Also, it wouldn't be fair to attribute all the things you've cited to 4chan only. Something Aweful contributed to the birth of many "early" memes for instance. And I think the rage comics were infamously made popular by reddit (4chan had "MS paint comics" and such).

Something Awful and Newgrounds were a good place to spawn memes back in the early-ish days of the web. When memes were still flash videos and such.

And even before that (or possibly not before that), I remember going to emule to download what were essentially memes. A lot of them spreading partially via email.

But I think in the least 8 years, 4chan has really become the main birthplace of memes.

4chan was arguably born out of a combination of the FYAD (fuck you and die) and the ADTRW (anime death tentacle rape whorehouse) subforums at something awful.

ADTRW was just the anime forum. The admins called it that to annoy the anime kids. They would all hang out on 2chan, the japanese precursor to 4chan.

FYAD was the forum with no rules. It was (is?) basically /b/ but this is back in the day so it was much smaller, everyone knew everyone else. It was basically a little clique that would sit there making injokes.

I never really went in there, but the notable thing about it was that the mods would constantly abuse the css and js on the forum theme to the extent that it would often crash some browsers. It was pretty funny. Oh, and there was always one mod who was elected from the userbase every month, the "idiot king" who would rule with an iron fist. In short, like online gaming, it would be great in theory except for the fact that everyone else there is an antisocial teenage nerd.

Rage comics are just "MS paint comics" with recurring characters and a set format- which makes sense given that reddit is a less chaotic alternative to 4chan. Of course, the chaotic nature of 4chan is not a bad thing.

Also, the memes that originate elsewhere are still made popular due to 4chan's influence. e.g. "trollface" apparently comes from deviantart but is commonly used in rage comics (I think).

The trollface is from a 4chan comic. The creator posted it to DeviantART too, but it's not really "from" there. http://whynne.deviantart.com/art/Comic-Trolls-98357844

There are a few similar comic artists. Notably 3-Angled-Blue, who drew some amazing MS Paint comics that are slowly being made into rage comic templates.

Thanks. I had done a quick search beforehand to see its origin because I knew it was used in rage comics. Upvoted.

They were made infamous by reddit, due to them starting to beat that dead horse a year after 4chan got bored of it.

When was that? I created f7u12 three years ago.

Yes, that's when.

You can't do the math yourself? Rage comics were a thing in 2008. It was dead and buried by the time redditards decided to fornicate with its corpse in 2009.

How do you figure that?

Figure what? What date it is? I usually use a calendar.

Influence on Western Culture? Why don't you go read the news, the Patterson break-up has had more of an effect on Western culture then 4Chan could ever hope to succeed.

Some people spend way too much time on the internet; I can guarantee you that 99% of America, has no clue what 4Chan, Rage Comics, lolcats is. Anonymous and the 1% movement (but you may have to say Occupy Wall Street to the 3 million remaining people) may be the exceptions because of the media coverage.

And meme's are far from profound, humor, yes you could argue to be considered profound, but meme's? A silly time-waster at best but generally worse then a joke told among friends. You can't find a meme and share it with friends with the same impact (whether online or in person) as:

One day little girl comes home from school, "Mom, today some boy showed me his penis." Mother exclaims "What?!" Little girl says "Yea, and it sort of reminded me of a peanut." Trying not to laugh, mother asks "Is that because it was so small?" Little girl laughs says "No. Because it tasted so salty."

I can't believe I'm saying this but it's almost offensive to me that you're comparing 4chan to celebrity news. 4chan is friggin' high art compared to that shit. Celebrity news is the lowest of the low; nothing but easy-to-read brain candy for bored, boring housewives.

And I think 4chan has a huge influence. It is a very powerful site in tech culture, which is pretty large I think. Tech culture might be smaller by numbers than the so-called mainstream but it's plenty large enough to be self-sustaining and have its own sense of identity.

The argument isn't that 4chan doesn't have its own identity, its refuting this:

And come on, it's where all the memes are born. That's profound. What other startup can claim to be such a big influence on western society?

I think 4chan definitely has a huge influence on the tech sector, but in terms of straight-up 'influence' vastly more people follow celebrity gossip than memes. That might change (it probably won't -- we're prone to hero-worship, whether or not its movie stars or tech icons).

Celebrity news is the lowest of the low; nothing but easy-to-read brain candy for bored, boring housewives.

I don't really read celebrity news, but I have read rage comics and memes back when Reddit had them frontpaged, and if you think they're more than easy-to-read brain candy, I think you're mistaken.

There is a chain. There is the World Wide Web, which is a mass indiscriminate content creator. Then you have 4chan, which functions as both an individual content creator on the WWW, and as a giant aggregator. 4chan users aggregate funny pictures they recontextualize from bad advertising, screenshots of incomprehensible dialog in TV shows, the best webcomics, etc. 4chan is a mostly a massive dumping ground filled with garbage, but because of the ephemeral nature of threads, result in only content that frequently gets reposted has a chance to survive the churn. Most people cannot stand this, and stay away. But 4chan is populated by content-addicted denizens, who process, filter and promote good memes. And then turn right around and push this content back out onto the more "respectable" and filtered, less-chaotic sites like Reddit and CheezeBurger Network, Facebook, which are meme-propagating machines in their own right. But they primarily get access to the content that was subjected to the vicious selection process of 4chan to begin with.

I think the process by which 4chan operates in media is far more sophisticated, less centralized, less commercial and (perhaps surprisingly) less cynical than celebrity gossip that is created en-masse for money by large national media corporations for top-down consumption. By the time a meme makes it to facebook it's been largely stripped of its participatory power and becomes a one-way medium, but that's just at the periphery of the meme-propogation, the people that just consume it with their electronic feed tubes. But the process of creating this content before it gets to the edge web is a chaotic, churning process of evolutionary competition, mutation, selection.

This is worthy of study. It is participatory culture in the making, what the creative commons and the free culture movement always wanted. There may not be a lot _fundamentally_ new here, except in the context of the 'net in which it is being created. And the medium shapes the message. The web is a "new place." and there are people in it that are, right now, creating the native language of a place that has never existed before. These are exciting times. I think that the messageboard one day will be recognized for it importannce in the history of the WWW, and the Internet in general.

My comment is a bad one in its merit.

But I wish I had more than one upvote to give.

I'm sure more people read celebrity news than read Shakespeare, but which has a bigger influence on culture?

That's a pretty brash claim. Shakespeare's been around for centuries, and has most likely been read or seen by more people in the sum of that time than celebrity news.

You forget, more people have lived since the end of the second world war, than lived between then and Shakespeare's time. If you also take into account the rise in global literacy, far more people will have read celebrity news than Shakespeare.

My guess is that anyone who is literate has read Shakespeare at least once. I have to imagine my public schooling is not that different from the norm, and I read at least 3 works as required (Hamlet, Macbeth, and Romeo & Juliet) and some other others as my choice for assignments.

At least, in the western world. I don't know how popular Shakespeare is outside of that. On the other hand, I don't know how popular celebrity news is either.

My guess is that anyone who is literate has read Shakespeare at least once.

That is one hell of an assumption. For one thing, most people who are literate, are not literate in English.

Monty Python was a silly joke, something friends would communicate amongst each other. It was a meme inside the UK, eventually sort of going global.

40 years since The Holy Grail was filmed, it is still often selected as the funniest film of all times.

There is an impact. But it is a young people's thing, give it some time and it will become part of the cultural heritage of the early 2000's and 2010's.

The thing is though, basically everyone worldwide who has been to university in the last few years has seen them and knows about them, and has laughed at them.

When those people grow up, and achieve control over the popular media, suddenly we'll start seeing references to this period of culture in the new media of the day. It'll be seen as much more important than it is now as well, as the educated middle classes exert their control over cultural memory.

Also at some point the children of todays students will likely decide that memes and early internet culture in general is retro, and it'll all be vogue again, and we can complain that it's not as good when its holographic or something.

This can be seen in music. Jazz used to be a scary sound that would cause your daughters to start having sex with black people, now it's the height of sophistication. At some point in the last 15 years hip-hop became an art form in the eyes of the media elite. The current resurgence in commercial rave music is partly to do with the veterans of the 90s scene being in a position to start large businesses. At some point in the future the extreme, venetian snares end of electronica will likely be looked upon as jazz/classical is now.

>suddenly we'll start seeing references to this period of culture in the new media of the day It is already starting, just look at this job offer (it's German, but you'll understand the reference to rage comics at once):


While I get your point, I think much more than 1% of America is aware of the entity that is rage comics/lolcats/image macros. Pretty much every kid on the Internet these days knows what those things are or has seen them and is thus aware of them. The number will only increase.

Assuming, like you, that by "the 1% movement" we're talking about Occupy, then it should be pointed out that it was birthed by Adbusters. 4Chan had nothing to do with it, except in a very peripheral sense that could also be claimed by hundreds of other sites/groups/organizations.

I can guarantee you that 99% of America, has no clue what 4Chan, Rage Comics, lolcats is

I'm a high school teacher. I can guarantee you that 99% of kids 13-18 know what Rage Comics & lolcats are. The youth of today are the first Internet generation. They have spent their entire lives immersed in Internet culture. The true impact of this generation will start to be felt in 10-15 years.

Who's Patterson? The personal lives of celebrities tend to not make it into history. 4chan is at the very least the other guy who invented the telephone (or am I thinking light bulb) but got beat to the patent office.

"loving LOLcats or rickrolling as outputs is like loving a tasty hamburger; visiting 4chan is like visiting the meat factory. At some point, it’d probably help to visit the meat factory, but that might make you go vegetarian."

-- Danah Boyd (retelling her friend's saying)


> getting him a TED talk

That was actually me. I suggested it to Chris Anderson originally.

(Also, the memes=funny pictures thing drives me nuts. But then again I started memepool.com in 1998 or so...)

For some reason, your nickname strikes me as hilarious. I hereby present: "joshu investigates"


A surfing editor named Anderson asked the moot the URL to his imageboard, a place popularly supposed to give insight into humanity's character. The old moot said, "Go straight to /b/." After he typed several characters, the moot said to himself, 'He also is a common b-tard.'

This incident was told to joshu who said, 'Wait until I investigate.' The next day he went and asked moot the same question, and moot gave the same reply.

joshu remarked, 'I have investigated that moot.'

You are literally the first person to get my username.

The underlying joke is that those who have met me realize that I am in no way a zen monk. I am more of an anti-Buddhist, seeking to achieve a state of complete Worry.

Always been meaning to ask you, does a dog have Buddha-nature?

Not my dog.

I <3 you Joshua!!!

Hi Chris!

This whole "4chan is vile and horrible" thing is getting old. 4chan is not /b/, and vice versa. There are a lot of boards on 4chan that are perfectly normal, with no gore threads/porn/etc.

Aren't most of those boards invaded pretty regularly?

Also, some of the boards are full of people who can be described as insane- despite not having porn/gore/etc. For example, /g/. I don't agree that it's inaccurate to say 4chan is vile in general, and I certainly agree with the sentiment that 4chan is the best and worst of the internet- or at least the social part of the internet.


/g/ isn't insane, you're taking everything that people say on 4chan seriously. Which is a mistake.

Aren't most of those boards invaded pretty regularly?

Huh? No.

The hell you say. If I had a penny for "XX decides what board we invade and with what" post on /b/...

And I say this as a regular visitor of /x/. The mods seem downright useless some days.

>implying /b/ actually goes through with all those raids

/x/ is the only board that actually does get raided. it's probably the worst board on 4chan (i'm a pixie AMA).

>implying /b/, /mlp/, or /v/ aren't actually the worst boards on 4chan

There is some genuinely interesting stuff on /x/ once you filter out the fakers and the roleplayers.

/x/ (paranormal) is pretty bad lately. The problem with /x/ is inconsistency. It seems to happen in bursts. A rare really good thread tends to inspire more good threads for a while, you get few days to a week of good content.

I realize mods on 4chan is a touchy subject, but /x/ could use a good mod that deleted excessively repetitive threads. there are some boards where that's not such a big deal, and some boards that thrive on repetitive and troll threads (I'm thinking of 4chan's pressure release valve, /pol/). But /x/ would be better served by having a mod conscientious of, not so much curating good content or killing trolls, but deleting the EXTREMELY repetitive threads that inevitably go nowhere.

Also, it is a matter of opinion if the roleplayers are a problem. I would argue that the lazy, bad roleplayers are the problem. I think they add color when they're good. Part of the excitement of /x/ is that it exists on the fuzzy periphery between fact and fiction.

definitely not implying that, those boards are horrible.

i do like x's archived threads, where people dump youtube videos and wiki links

But why would I go out of my way to visit a place that has that stuff on it in the first place? So I can be associated with sociopaths? I'll pass and get my content elsewhere.

What do you mean by "place"? And why would you be associated with people on the boards you don't visit? (Also basically everyone on those boards are anonymous so you won't have an identity to "associate".)

Try not to think so hard.

I think your definition of place is very odd.

You've never heard a website referred to as a place? You need to get out more.

Sure, but I still don't understand your reason. Do you avoid using Google because there's disturbing content on it? or Wikipedia because sociopaths also visit it? or Netflix because it's hosted on the same platform as a bunch of malware? or bittorrent because it's used for copyright infringement?

Why are you avoiding parts of 4chan because you don't like other parts?

I don't think you're catching my drift so I'll just come out and say it - I don't want to be tracked by my government going to a site that is a known gathering spot for criminals and juveniles just so I can see some silly pictures, thereby associating myself with criminals and juveniles. Now we can split hairs about whether that's true but perception is reality. So let's just end it here - I won't visit 4chan and it's not a big deal.

You can access 4chan through Tor, now. It used to be blocked, but now only blocks posting.

Additionally, there is an HTTPSEverywhere definition (you have to specially get it from their website) that forces all the 4chan content through SSL to prevent snooping by exit nodes.

Rather than just talking about it, here's how to actually do it without you having to search around for specific instructions:

4chan ruleset is here: https://gitweb.torproject.org/https-everywhere.git/blob_plai...

Download and place the file in the HTTPSEverywhereUserRules/ subdirectory in your Firefox profile directory. In Tor Browser bundle, the location for your profile is: {wherever you installed tbb}/Data/profile

When you're in TBB, navigate to http://4chan.org. If it doesn't switch to https automatically, then click the HTTPSEverywhere icon up in the corner, and make sure the 4chan.org rule is checked. Page should refresh, you should see that it is now https.

Alright I didn't realize you were worried about the government tracking you.

[citation needed] on 4chan producing memes that are more than comics and cat pictures. Anonymous, sure. 1% movement? Ehh I need some proof.

"And come on, it's where all the memes are born." It is not where all of the memes are born, much less the useful ones. If you claim otherwise, please tell me what I am missing.

The RickRoll'D Youtube video has over 63 million views, an incredible feat for an artist whose career all but died in the late 80s.

"Had," unfortunately--it got DMCA'd a while ago.


Hmm, it's still working here. Not only that, but it appears that Apple is RickRolling developers: http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-apple-ri...

A 4chan meme making its way into Apple goes to show how influential that site can be.

Ok, sorry, I have to admit I knew it was still up. Claiming it was taken down is a classic tactic for getting people to click through. You've been RickRoll'd. (I'm not proud of it.)

Speaking of influential, check out the extensive Wikipedia page on the meme. The RickRoll has showed up in the Macy's Thanksgiving parade (with Rick Astley in person), a video from Nancy Pelosi, and a tweet from the White House Twitter feed. It is fully part of the pop culture.

You yourself admitted that they produced more than comics and cat pictures.

Don't forget the Anonymous cracking outfit.

One prominent non-cat/comic meme isn't quite on the influence level of what Swizec was trying to make 4chan out to be.

My point is that he is vastly overstating its influence. The millions of 4chan users have produced _maybe_ as much influence as a single pop music star.

"[citation needed] on 4chan producing memes that are more than comics and cat pictures."

"The millions of 4chan users have produced _maybe_ as much influence as a single pop music star"

You answered your own question.

4chan doesn't create stuff any more, maybe back in ~2004 when it was the "primary" location to find "internet culture" that was true, but nowadays it's spread out all across the internet. Even the majority of things credited to 4chan didn't "start" at 4chan.

> edit: when I say meme, I mean "A meme ( /ˈmiːm/; meem)[1] is "an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."[2] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena." ... I don't mean, "funny picture"

Don't you see? The fact that meme now connotes a "funny picture" is itself a meme.

I like your post so this is a real question, not a sarcastic remark: Can you elaborate about why you consider memes profound?

Memes are profound because they are our culture. It is what the "young people of today" do. In the 50's they had rock-and-roll, in the 60's it was hippies and so on.

Right now, it's the internet. In just a few more years all of us will become "the old guys" and our younger brothers and sisters will come up with something new - my sister already thinks I'm lame for liking the internet so much and sharing silly pictures and stuff. And she doesn't understand why cats are so cool. She's only 7 years younger.

The thing is, you have to look at memes in a broader sense than just "picture of X with something written on top and on bottom in big bold text". Yes, that's what some people call a "meme" these days, but I mean them more in the sense of a cultural parcel that is distributed between people in a common-ish medium.

I remember in primary school one of the memes (called fads back then) was that everyone suddenly started using yo-yos. Anyone who was between 10 and 14 had a yoyo and you could instantly connect with them, there was instantly something to talk about. Etc.

But here's the real kicker, the memes of today are the first in history that are trully global. And without delay. It took almost 10 years for hippies to arrive in my neck of the woods and they were never pretty big. Punk was a big quicker, it had a delay of only a few years.

Modern culture, mostly the memes, has zero delay. And that's amazing.

Young people of today do, or young computer geeks do today? I don't think internet memes is the same as the rock and roll or hippie movement.

For the past 5 years at least, all young people are computer people. Only some are geeks, but they are all immersed in computerized communications every day.

It's probably not the same, but it's the closest thing we've got.

It's the closest we've got because culture at large is much more heterogeneous than it was 50 years ago. In the 60's, you had 3 channels on TV and had to go to a physical record store to buy music.

Even Justin Bieber is probably bigger and more known than internet memes.

That's not the same generation of consumers though. About a decade or so apart in age I reckon.

I bet hippies weren't too big or popular with the 12 year old crowd either when they were at their peak.

And BTW, Justin Bieber IS an internet meme. He was made famous through a youtube video clip that got him the attention of big producers, a contract and eventually "real" fame.

I don't think memes are profound, but I do think that having this crucible in which new memes are created, with the best spreading from there to the rest of the internet via Tumblr, Facebook, etc. is pretty awe inspiring.

I agree with some of what you said, but rage comics are a cancer on the internet and I wish I had a universal rage blocker.

I HATE them.

I share your sentiment, although I did not dislike them originally. In their native version they were simple four paneled MS paint comics. Since you had three panes to preamble the rage they called in for a lot of innovation and unexpected humor. Today, they have become pagelong mundane personal stories -uninteresting incidents and people being stupid/perverted- told entirely with stock images.

> PS: 4chan has also invented a clever sorting algorithm

Isn't this just relying on the scheduler which is probably a minheap?

/prog/ is pretty funny


The thing that strikes me is how... Ubiquitous as it is, and at the same time, unknown to so many more. "Browsing 4chan" truly is the "reading Rolling Stone magazine" of its day. And somehow, it retains that while being huge.

I say this as someone fired for visiting it[1], and finding it impossible to get a job in the news industry a year later. Now, the news industry is hardly considered cutting edge, but people hear "now, the site has pornography, but-" and that's it. (Especially in this employer's market!)

Conversely, I applied to two tech companies over the past year, and being forthcoming as I am, I share this with them. Both were mystified at my being fired for visiting 4chan. ("What? Where do you LIVE?")

[1] I found out about the site from news coverage years ago (the NFL thing; "Don't mess with football!".) As Anonymous rose, it became interesting from a news standpoint. And yes, I casually just visited as well. I understand many consider this fire-able, and don't argue. That's kind of my point though, that divide.

Did you get fired for browsing it at work, or because they found out you browse it at home?

At work. Sorry if that was unclear; I didn't mean to be.

I would be surprised if there wasn't an overlap between HN and 4chan (same as with SA). Being run in diametrically opposed way it fills its role rather well, I think. There is no reputation system, no limits, no censorship, etc.. This means it produces many utterly vile posts - but all of them are true expressions of people as they are, not as they pretend to be. I think people often don't appreciate this. It's not just people being dicks on the Internet, it's people saying what they think with no regard to social acceptance or basic politeness. And since there are no credentials, your posts are just that - some text and images conveying ideas. The only authority comes from the content.

Here's to another billion.

"This means it produces many utterly vile posts - but all of them are true expressions of people as they are, not as they pretend to be."

A vast majority of the vile posts are people playing a game/acting out a character/aping (along with) the community. It's willfully not-in-earnest. It's crazy that people think 4chan is 'true expression'.

That's not to say that there's not truth in 4chan, it's just that it's not on the surface, it's 'another layer down'.

For example, take /fit/, the fitness board. It's full of great advice and discussion... as long as you know enough to read past the obvious bad advice that's willfully posted to fuck with people.

I'd disagree that it's just roleplaying and not-in-earnest.

Tell me, as sociopathic as channers may be--how closely do they compare with the bankers and financial quants, politicians who drop bombs, or the data mining folks intent on converting our social media signals into ad revenue?

"but all of them are true expressions of people as they are"

I don't think you can say that. Humans are fundamentally social creatures with behaviours that are also context driven. So to characterize the dialog on 4chan as free expression is simply inaccurate. This is just a facet of behaviour in the same way that people behave in mobs or in war-time - to cite some more extreme examples.

Think of 4chan as a healthy antidote to excessive political-correctness and other wanton busybodyness.

"This means it produces many utterly vile posts - but all of them are true expressions of people as they are, not as they pretend to be."

I'm not sure that that really makes sense. I can be very charming or utterly vile. Are you implying that I'm only truly me when I'm vile (for example)? Aren't we all pretending all the time?

EDIT: Reading over this, it came out a bit more windy than intended, but hopefully is still useful.

  "Aren't we all pretending all the time?"
That's one of the great things about having reasonably anonymous message boards--there exists the very good opportunity to perform communication without the overhead associated with being polite, reasonable, or even civilized.

On Hacker News, I expect that my posts will (for better or worse) someday come back to haunt me. Indeed, if you apply to YC, I believe one of the application questions asks for your HN username. This being the case, there are certain arguments and jokes that I have had to refrain from making. I've even had to apologize OOB every so often to people here for being hot-headed (I believe I once said some nasty things to one of the senior Apache folks...awkward).

On 4chan, these "vile posts" are honest expressions of either the poster or of the facade the poster wishes to maintain--and in a completely anonymous setting, it's easier not to pose at all. An interesting research question would be to compare the normal posters to the non-anonymous "tripfags" and "namefags" (users who post under the same username and signature--terminology is as found on the chan), but I honestly have no idea how that might be done in any useful sense.

The entire mindset of interacting with complete strangers, and especially knowing that you may well never share a thread with them again, is hugely liberating. You can make and laugh at jokes that otherwise would be in poor taste. You can discuss trivial things very seriously, and serious things very lightly, and be assured that you won't be tagged/branded permanently as a fool or a fetishist--consider what we've done to losethos here, and how at this point even if he started posting coherently he'd still downvoted into oblivion.

  "Are you implying that I'm only truly me when I'm vile 
  (for example)?"
As explained above, I imagine that the proper insinuation here is that you're only truly you (publicly) when you have no incentive to put on a ruse/pleasantries--and that if you do so anyways, that is part of the true self.

My experience, for example, is that I am just as much the humble helpful hacker given debugging help and useful links on the /pr/ programming board as I am the mean-spirited hateful troll on /adv/--and on any given day, I may do the opposite. Seeing my behavior when held to no external standard has been enlightening, and proven to be a useful data point in self-discovery and self-betterment. I try to help more and troll less now. :)

Not all posts there are vile or inane (but many are and I don't think you dispute that). I'm just saying you get to see the full gamut (like you say people have many aspects to them), rather than just the polite, self-censored (for good reason) conversation we get on HN (this isn't a complaint about HN, I'd hate it if it was any other way). So you do get the usual hate speech, but you also get inside stories because people feel free to say things there that would probably get shut down even on a reddit AMA.

> all of them are true expressions of people as they are, not as they pretend to be.

/b/ and 4chan in general is vile because it is supposed to be vile. They are supposed to rip into everything, that's their schtick. It's a series of one-upmanship attempts all for teh lulz. It basically is just people being dicks on the internet. Every once and a while a discussion breaks out.

The 'truth' about 4chan comes out in their hatred of animal cruelty, how much of a fanbase MLP found there, the beginning of the Chantology group and basically the acts of social conscience that burst from there. These things are diametrically opposed to the vileness of 4chan, yet they started there. The horribleness of 4chan is the majority pretending.

I read somewhere that sociologists are fascinated by 4chan.

... and monkeys flinging poo.

Sorry, voted you down on accident and can't undo it.

Moot really deserves praise for sticking around for 8 years and keeping the site running. I can imagine a lot of people giving up after a couple of years.

I don't know what I'd do without it. It's been a fun ride since the very beginning (although I can do without the summer invasions).

Used to say the same thing about summers on Usenet. :)

I personally like that 4 chan has done so well. I didn't expect that it did as well as it has. Also, I like moot's position on anonymous identify.

Considering the somewhat objective nature of a lot of 4chan's content I am surprised it is where it is now. Very interesting article, I really enjoyed reading the history behind 4chan, will be interesting to see where the site heads next.

BLOCKED! (At work.) Not that I expected any differently, of course, heheh.


My employer's content filter blocks Phoronix, but still lets 4chan through.

I have no words.

Anyone able to paste the text? I'd rather not visit the 4chan domain while at work.

Wow, nice.

Many years ago I rewrote the 4chan wikipedia article, and got it to featured level. It appeared on the Main Page a few years later, but by then I had lost interest. It's nice to see it's still in good shape, though not as popular as the site itself - http://stats.grok.se/en/latest90/4chan

As I was reading that post, I was screaming "moot, make a questions board!". And then he actually revealed he was making /q/. Heh.


4Chan is known for this: it has the best and the worst of the Internet.

After some time lurking, your brain acquires the skill of filtering threads that it thinks are worthless, without even polling your consciousness. As you develop this ability, you learn to appreciate the best in 4Chan, and it's really good.

I don't know anyone else from there but as far as I'm concerned, I am a normal person in everyday life and I never mention it. I just want to have a good time when I am bored, like many users there.

So it's important to try to filter the content. This site is rather unique for letting users do almost whatever they want without consequences. Some people abuse it but they won't waste it for me: the dogs bark and the caravan goes on.

I'm sure the guy regularly used Google too...

Congratulations to 4chan, I find their facebook campaign helps pretty well for making their community bigger.

Anyone know 4chans main revenue streams? How's he paying for all that hosting? Donations?

I'm pretty sure it all comes from advertising.

Quote from the article:

Yet somehow we made it into 2009, and things began to look up. Long plagued by an inability to attract mainstream advertising, I partnered with an individual who took over representing 4chan's ad inventory, and for the first time in years the site began to break even.

Much of it Adult, too, since it is, well, 4chan.

4chan is not only /b/ and porn, there are surprisingly good SFW boards too. Well, maybe "SFW" is pushing it a bit, since the tone is still 4-chaney, but then look around the technology, cooking, or traditionnal games boards: you'll be surprised.

Oh, I'm well aware of that. /b/ is (arguably) the worst part of 4chan. 4chan has much more than porn, but it also has a lot of porn.

The world wide web has much more than porn, but it also has a lot of porn.

This was also true of Usenet.

/sp/ is honestly one of the funniest places on the internet.

i would say government at a guess

The site owner recently revealed he pushes 3500000 GB per month. My lowball estimate puts that at roughly $77,000 per month, just under a million dollars per year to keep the site running. There are no ads on /b/, which is the main board, representing I'd guess 95% of the entire site's traffic.

That, combined with the plausibility of the following, leads me to believe he receives massive government subsidies:


According to http://content.4chan.org/tmp/extensions.html they did 1.65 only petabytes for the month of June 2012, so where are you getting your 3.5 PB number from?

Additionally, https://www.cloudflare.com/plans seem to suggest the bulk of that costs an unbelievably low $3k/month.

I think $77k might be overshooting the mark a bit.

I once ran a site that pushed about 40TB a month (about 1% of 4chan) and it cost me $100/month to run. If you extrapolate that figure out (ignoring the fact that bandwidth gets cheaper the more you use), 4chan could cost as little as $10k a month to run.

If the allegations in the screenshot you posted are true (tl;dr: since 2008, the /b/ board is run by law enforcement as a sting operation), several prosecutions would have already run their course in the four years since the alleged start of the sting operation. Court decisions being open and including the details of the sting, we would have heard about it, wouldn't we? I think the press would have had a field day with that.


inb4 this is hacker news not 4chan inb4 be polite

Ahahah so much hate, def rustled some jimmies.

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