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Moot: Full House (4chan.org)
254 points by ivarious on Sept 19, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 142 comments

I saw this and said "Why the fuck is this on Hacker News?" out loud.

Hey, moot!

10% of people posting is actually exactly what you should expect in a thriving community. Several studies of web communities have confirmed the "90:9:1" ratio of Lurkers:Contributors:Creators. Lurkers just read. Contributors will respond. Creators will initiate.

See the wikipedia article at [1] but there are also (I think) several old USENET studies and corporate email list studies which confirm this that I didn't notice in the footnotes of wikipedia.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%25_rule_(Internet_culture)

Because moot runs one of the largest, most active, and longest-lived anonymous social networks and discussion boards on the 'net?

Did you notice who wrote that comment?

...oh snap, moot is on HN?!

For some reason I've placed him in this completely parallel place in my mind to the tech community. He's like a mythical creature of some secret world of my childhood with untold powers.

But now that I'm older and am making a career out of coding websites, I look at 4chan as something that I could feasibly create. I've seen the man behind the curtain o_O

A better question is why isn't he posting as anonymous.

i see wut u did thur

Well, it shouldn't be much of a surprise since he has also ventured into the startup world. Backed by AZ16, etc http://canv.as/

We've been working on DrawQuest for the past year: http://www.drawquest.com

More info, in case you're curious: http://www.theverge.com/2013/2/8/3942110/drawquest-for-ipad-...

Same company, different product.

Are you making good money with this stuff?

4chan is a big hit, but don't hear much about your commercial ideas.

I think that's a moot point.

Hah, no I did not.

Maybe moot just needs to be reminded himself?

No he didn't #LOL

I suspect there's more of a userbase overlap than you'd think.

Because you're a hacker like the rest of us. :)

Jedberg responding to a comment from Moot on Hackernews? I think we may have just hit inception levels here.

Now we just need pg to come in and post "ಠ_ಠ", and we'll have an HN shark-jumping trifecta.

Did somebody say... spiderman thread?

Quick, someone call Kevin Rose!

Why? He's an admin on a YC-backed company...

"How to grow your site from 3.2m to 22.5m users when you can't talk about your site: the rules 1 and 2 strategy"

Same, but I'm ok with it. I haven't been on 4chan in years, but I still love it and everything that it built/made in internet culture (well - maybe not EVERYTHING). It's good that the community would be sure to vote up the very most important posts IRT it, because I wouldn't find them any other way.

Well, you are a startup founder, and arguably a household name on big swaths of the internet nowadays. It certainly fits the criteria.

He should talk to those guys who wrote about advertising their food delivery service on pornsites

eat24, if I recall correctly.

Do you recommend that people go to 4chan?

Definitely. Be sure to check out /d/!

/d/ can be a pretty nice community considering the focus. I don't know if I can put into words the effect it had on me, but in retrospect it seems to have been mostly positive.

Thanks for running the site for so long, moot. It's great fun.

/u/'s always been a pretty nice community too, and is unlikely to offend anyone except social conservatives. (/y/, on the other hand, has always been fairly hostile. Don't ask me why.)

I wish I hadn't

Yeesh, sorry.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that when I'm introduced to someone and they say they know of 4chan, my immediate response is "I'm sorry."

No problem. I'm in my 50's. I didn't see my first porno until I was 19 at a drive-in. I didn't see my first super-gore picture until I was in my 30's. It seems very weird to me that kids see all this at a very young age. Now Hentai is another weird thing to me. I do know humans are adaptable, but don't know in what way kids have adapted to it. My poor father, he heard Jimmy Fallon mention 2 girls 1 cup so he looked it up. He was visibly shaken when he told me about it. I have managed to avoid that one.

If nothing else, I suspect children of the Internet generation have learned not to blindly Google things they heard about from their friends. So perhaps a bit of wisdom is trickling down :-)

That's true. The last time I made that mistake was many years ago with goatse. I also laerned to check links that might be cleverly disguised. Would that they were all as innocent as rick rolls. If I really want to be safe, I open a link up and only look at it with my peripheral vision. It works surprisingly well to classify something as bad without actually taking it all in.

There is this pretty cool research project at Stanford (it's headed by Andrew Ng of the Coursera fame) that uses NLP and machine learning to detect content that the user might prefer not to see. It's still pretty rough around the edges but this demo is pretty cool.


I actually really like that song, maybe because I came of age in the 80's. The funniest thing about it is that Rick Astley seems pissed. He should lighten up because nobody remembered anything about him before rick roll and now he's a household name.

>The funniest thing about it is that Rick Astley seems pissed.

Where'd you get that impression? He's been pretty cool about the whole thing last I heard.

This was from an interview a few years back. It could have been because he wasn't making any money from it. I haven't kept up, but glad he's embraced it.

Astley participated in a rickrolling himself, at the Macy's Thanksgiving parade a few years ago. He popped out of a float in the middle of another musical performance and started singing Never Gonna Give You Up. It was a staged stunt, with a canned background track ready to go, and the TV announcers obviously feigning surprise.


I've thought about something like applying a threshold filter to thumbnails to distort them sufficiently so they're not potentially "offensive" but have it still be apparent if they might contain bad content. It's too difficult a problem for me to actually implement though, and I suspect it could be easily hacked somehow.

I don't know if there is a service to rate images. Google seems to have the best technology. It seems like it wouldn't be that hard to programmatically upload an image using an api and get a rating back. This might be a way to curtail teen sexting, which is against the law. A parent could for example, admin a setting to change nudie selfies to a Sesame Street character on their way out. Or maybe better yet, process any photographs taken with the cell phone at the time they are taken and make all nudie images turn into Sesame Street characters ;-)

Something like that (but with humans) was discussed here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6075465

I don't know if anyone's actually doing it either. I could see Google having the power to pull it off. Though i'm not entirely sure given the current climate of paranoia I'd necessarily want Google keeping track of knowing exactly what and how much inappropriate material can be (even tangentially or erroneously) associated with me. A third party application would be nice but I think it would need to be anonymous - a concept Google seems dead set against.

That's true, then Google would have nude pictures of your teenagers.

As part of the internet generation, I believe the opposite to be true. Hence the widespread popularity of 2g1c

Have a strong suspicion that adults are more sensitive and find this stuff more disturbing than kids.

i think if your asks that in is not the more easy questioned to say... could be if your to not think so it bad but possible.

I've heard a lot of stuff about 4chan, and this sure sounds important. But this post is literally the first thing I've ever read on the site.

Should I even try to understand this?

Why not! This post is about moderating a very large and very complex forum, which can be interesting to anyone who participates in forums, or anyone interested in social software and online communities.

I'll attempt to explain some of the jargon.

The part about "proud to call ourselves /v/irgins and /k/ommandos" refers to the nicknames that people on various boards (topic-specific forums within 4chan) have invented to call themselves, as a kind of in-joke. For example, "/v/" is shorthand for the video games board (because its URL is http://boards.4chan.org/v/), so people on the board extend that and call themselves "/v/irgins" (because that's much more amusing than "/v/ideogamers").

When he says "sage is now invisible", "sage" means the feature that lets you write a comment that doesn't bump that thread to the top of the board. People use "sage" in order to write comments like "this post is terrible" without promoting that post. See http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=sage or http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/sage for more explanation.

"/q/ will be retired and replaced" - this was a board that moot had set up for talking about 4chan itself (asking him questions, providing feedback, etc).

"Post timers" prevent you from writing tons of comments in rapid sequence, which is usually spammy/abusive behavior.

Thanks. It's still not clear to me what kind of moderation system is in place (if any). But it's OK :-)

There is a list of global rules, as well as some board-specific rules [1]. Generally boards just require you to stay on-topic (unless you're on /b/, where the only off-topic thing is ponies, which is the only on-topic thing on /mlp/), refrain from spam, and not post anything that could get 4chan in legal trouble. Rule offenses result in IP bans, usually for a certain time (from a day to month to forever).

All of the boards have mods of various rankings (people who delete off-topic posts vs people who actually ban/temp-ban users) and various degrees of moderation. According to the post (and agreeing with my personal experience) moderation has generally been on the rise as of late, although apparently this is due to better moderation tools rather than an increase in moderators.

Prior to the new ban-list, most moderation (I've seen anyway) is pretty quiet, save from the infamous USER HAS BEEN BANNED FOR THIS POST that you sometimes see.

[1] https://www.4chan.org/rules

The only off-topic thing is My Little Ponies?! OMFG what has this world come to?

IIRC, "invasion threads" were off-topic (bannable offence) at one point too. I don't know if they are anymore (it's been years since I've been there).

They're not off topic they belong in /mlp/

Shhh... Mods are asleep...

Not the easiest thing in the world to define what is off-topic on a "random" board.

You're replying to the owner of 4chan right now, if you're unaware.

I was indeed aware.

The post is interesting but it's fundamentally about 4chan culture (and I'd say there have been more important changes in the past). I don't think it will make sense without being at least a little familiar with that culture - you'd be better off visiting the actual boards and getting a feel for the place first.

Then how about adjusting the cooldowns back to how they were? 4chan is still supposed to be a collection of imageboards, and the new cooldowns make image posting extremely time-consuming with large amounts of images (which can be very much on-topic and valued content). Shitposters are not suddenly going to stop shitposting just because they have to wait longer between posts, so ultimately this just seems to make life for legitimate posters worse.

I'm personally very afraid that he will include that as a "feature" for the Passes.

where are my subs Daiz?

Who knows. Underwater, maybe?

I advise you to rethink the 60 second posting rate for /a/, it's making dumping chapters impossible.

Because #4chat is the culture of them interwebs and is the foundation likes of craigslist.

Hi Chris, do you still keep up with your good friend DAVE!? :)

Things have changed around here in the last two years.

Who let you out of Higgins' trunk?

don't worry moot, it's of above-average relevance compared to recent months' activity.

Hello moot, nice to see you here :)

Hey moot!

<3 from /mu/!

I heard that trips and dubs are cancelled.

Is this true m00t?

lol internet

The ban list (http://www.4chan.org/bans) is hilarious.

A highlight (besides all the "ponies outside of /mlp/" ones):

"I cant get banned, im 17 and my birthday is tomorrow. Suck it m00t." -- Ban, 90 days, "Underage User"

From: https://www.4chan.org/bans

Board | Action | Length | Post | Reason | Time

/b/ | Ban | 3 days | View | Global 15 - Pony/Ponies Outside of /mlp/ | 34 minutes ago

Wat? I thought /b/ was pretty much anything goes. How times change.

/b/ was almost entirely ponies at one point - an odd example of too much signal and not enough noise. To solve this, moot set up /mlp/, a containment board designed to redirect the rapid influx of pony images that was spamming every board (which was disturbing many of the regular on-topic posters.) Hence the "no ponies are allowed outside of /mlp/" rule.

A valid argument against determinism in the universe.

How could the Big Bang have predetermined a pony ban on 4chan?

You're aiming way too big on this. All it proves is that there is only one thing that can defeat Internet trolls, and that thing is MLP.

Trolls were happy to post MLP once they found out it makes people upset.

Trolls trolling trolls.

> /b/ was almost entirely ponies at one point

And it was a better place, then they let the /b/tards have it back.

>/b/ >on topic Pick one.

Random arbitrary bans are not unprecedented on /b/

It's not really random or arbitrary if the rule is "no ponies."

I think he means that, of all the things to ban, particularly on /b/, ponies is (or rather "seems" - there's logic behind it) random and arbitrary.

Something like that. I've seen periods where it felt like there was relatively little moderation, and I have also seen moot and other mods banning people for very whimsical things, including for the mods own amusement. And, of course there is auto-banning to stamp out shit-posting/crapflooding/whatever you want to call it, overused memes, dubz, advertising, etc.

I haven't been on there in a while, but if moot says to keep ponies on /mlp/ then don't be surprised to see bans for posting ponies on /b/. It's not even a /b/ rule; it is a /mlp/ rule. It keeps the peace. If /b/ becomes unhappy (due to too many ponies), and /b/ doesn't have the numbers to retaliate against /mlp/ then /b/ might well go flood other boards to call attention to their discontent.

It's not a random rule at all though. Pony pictures were once 90% of what was posted to /b/. If the ban were lifted out would likely devolve into that place again.

Yes. That's the story you and I know. However, if you don't know the story it would seem arbitrary and random.

Interesting 4chan and Hacker News are going different ways. They decided to make bans more transparent. Hacker News recently made it impossible to reply to dead posts, so you can't even tell dead users they are dead any more.

>Hacker News recently made it impossible to reply to dead posts, so you can't even tell dead users they are dead any more.

I don't think this behavior changed recently (if ever). People would frequently reply elsewhere in the thread to warn people that they are dead.

Well, one site allows anonymous posting and practices open banning, while the other practices hellbanning and has the "karma" system which weights a users' posts as a function of their alignment with the norms of the community. They have completely different approaches to curating user identity and controlling conversation which I think are mutually exclusive, though both appear to be effective in their own way.

It would be interesting to see a post or an article comparing and contrasting the different methodologies between the two sites.

Which is why I worry about the government moves we are seeing against online anonymity (looks to me like the ground is slowly being prepared to make it illegal).

I don't think the HN way is effective at all. Virtually every hellbanned user I've ever seen doesn't appear to have done anything wrong. So they keep posting, having no idea they broke any rules, until they realize they were banned. Then they make a new account and continue on, not changing their behavior in any way, as they have no idea what caused the ban in the first place.

Shadow bans were created originally to deal with trolls. People deliberately posting garbage. It is counter productive to use shadow bans on contributing people who happened to break an unspoken rule like "don't criticize pg".

So they keep posting, having no idea they broke any rules, until they realize they were banned. Then they make a new account and continue on, not changing their behavior in any way, as they have no idea what caused the ban in the first place.

The problem with it is it makes one particular set of assumptions about behavior - you must be a troll, you must crave attention, and in the absence of attention, you must either get frustrated and leave or else continue trolling. Because being a troll with no possible valid input to offer or being a good user is a binary state.

But of course if you look at the comments by most of those users, you'll see a number of perfectly reasonable banned comments and maybe (if you can find it) the one infraction which may have started it all. For most of them, I wind up wondering if a simple warning from a mod might have sufficed.

And yes, as you point out, legitimate posters who just lost their head for a moment go on talking to an empty room while the actual trolls just burn another account.

Shadowbans are abused all the time in Reddit, for example. Not the sitewide sbans, but the ones done using AutoModerator, where they delete your comment with no warning, and you don't find out because you still see your own comments.

/r/Games for instance, has a policy of arbitrary banning people this way.

>The public ban log displays a sample of recent bans, which we hope will give users insight into what content is being removed, and why.

This might be interesting.

Tried it - do not recommend clicking on the links.

I mean I guess that was stuff that was banned from 4chan... I don't know what I was expecting

Something Awful has had a public banlist (the Leper's Colon [0]) and a per-user rap sheet for years. They do a good job of shaming rule-breakers and people whose posts are generally deemed to be poor in quality. But on 4chan, I imagine making the list will be some kind of badge of honor.

[0]: http://forums.somethingawful.com/banlist.php

A badge of honor many will strive for.

Related, one of the funniest bans I've ever seen.


Yeah. Sounds like a scoreboard.

Some people are already trying to get into the scoreboard.

Yep all the /b/ros are gonna see it that way

10 years, god damn. I'm always impressed that 4chan has remained essentially the same for so many years and has been able to have a huge following the whole time. I don't think any other website has ever had so much sustained success.

Arguably, SomethingAwful (founded in 1999).

I wouldn't say SA has had sustained success the whole time. They're really dropping off in recent years.


Reddit's userbase grew very quickly after Digg drastically changed, aka 'collapsed', Reddit for a while also engaged in sockpuppeting posts to generate fake traffic to create the illusion of a userbase before it really took off.

4chan, in comparison, has always been organic from day 1.

But many OPs of 4chan threads sockpuppet their own threads in order to make their thread gain traction.

It's not made by the website owner so it still counts as organic

Wasn't founded until 2005?

You could make a case for slashdot or wikipedia or google, but IMO all have changed substantially in the last decade.

Ha, well there's a URL that's never going to get through the corporate firewall...

Strangely enough, my corp allows 4chan.org requests. It seems fairly sensitive otherwise.

Flagged and logged. They'll discuss it at your next performance review ;)

The decision of making sage invisible is interesting to discuss. Like with the quote function (or greentexting), many of 4chan's basic functions have been used for more than intended function. This creates things that sometimes are not what you want to get, but should you take away the new functions from your users?

Yes, because sage isn't a new function it's one that was taken from 2chan and like the post says sage never was and never will be a downvote. It's just a way to reply without bumping the thread.

...which, based on how the boards work, is essentially a downvote.

Each thread can have x posts before new posts no longer bump it. If you sage, you are using up that thread's available space (1/x worth) without bumping. Although this doesn't "downvote" in the sense that the thread is penalized/lowered, it "downvotes" because it takes up thread space with no benefit to the thread. Not to mention, sageing is a way to express your dissatisfaction with the thread, which I think was always the point (rather than trying to actually hurt the thread).

>Each thread can have x posts before new posts no longer bump it. If you sage, you are using up that thread's available space

Few threads approach that limit. Idiots saging threads was purely a "look at me saying I don't like this thread!", nothing else.

>Not to mention, sageing is a way to express your dissatisfaction with the thread, which I think was always the point

Which is a bad thing, hence fixing it.

What's the story? 4chan.org is blocked for me.

Thank you.

Does that mean 4chan is a victim of its success ?

I'll always view 4chan as a website who refused to grow up and expand, because it is afraid to since it might lose its very special flavor by doing so.

It seems anonymity is quite hard to implement and make us of properly.

4chan lost its very special flavor about 7 years ago, when it stopped being possible to follow threads without noko'ing them.

Posting in a moot thread.

<3 from /g/

>bans list

>Global 2 - Underage User

Why not ban the shitposters and not the underage users.

Nice try, HN. You almost got me to visit 4chan while at work! You rascals ;)

Why are you on HN at work... >_>

I congratulate moot for the job. 4chan's change over the years has been minimal. The biggest change was probably the captcha - initially it was a temporary fix to flooding and spam at the time, but it stayed since there doesn't seem to be an alternative. Those that use 4chan enough for the captcha to get annoying, the $20 yearly pass was a great way to get around it and to allow us to support the site as well.

Also the introduction of some of those boards was simply to get shitposts out of other boards (e.g. /soc/ was created to cleanup /b/ and /r9k/). Worked great.

However, I have to disagree with the sage thing. While originally the term was used to not bump a thread (implying that your own post was not worthy of bumping a thread back to the front page), in the last five years (and before that, to some extent) it HAS been used as a way to 'down vote' a thread.

>it HAS been used as a way to 'down vote' a thread.

Sage as a method of downvoting a thread is insane and encourages even more shitposting. 4chan actually does have a "karma" that manifests in the way of replies to your posts/threads. So when you reply to a thread using sage as a downvote, you encourage the poster by giving him replies. Using sage is just a flag to the other guy that his post is irritating enough for you to sage it.

This used to be a huge problem when it was popular to post troll pony threads on macho boards like /v/, /sp/, or /fit/. What would happen is there would be 10 replies in the first minute, all sages, calling the OP a retard and reminding everyone to sage and report the thread. These replies would just feed him, to which he would reply to the sages and egg people on even more - to which he would receive even more replies.

The only acceptable analogue to "downvoting" on 4chan is to not reply to the thread. Nothing can dissuade a shitposter more than having put some effort into writing a good baity OP post, and not getting a single reply before the janitors delete it.

>implying /v/ is macho

Even without sage, there are other popular ways to kill threads including "this thread is now about X" posts that race to the max image limit. (Where X is usually spiderman for some reason...)

>it HAS been used as a way to 'down vote' a thread.

If you're determined enough to sage bomb the thread to image limit, especially now that there's a captcha, sorta, but not really.

Also cheers to moot. I've noticed the improvement in moderation first hand recently, even getting banned myself, whereas previously that board felt like it had zero mods.

Can someone explain how the sage thing works as a downvote? I'm aware of 4chan, its style and run a forum (with anonymous posting too) myself, but I'm not familiar with any karma/scoring 4chan might have. Keen to stay aware of options to keep my forum on track.

When you add a comment to a thread, it bumps the thread to the top of the list for that board. If you add 'sage' into the email (?) field, it will add the comment without bumping the thread. Each thread has an image post limit that will max out the thread and prevent the thread from bumping anymore (letting it slowly fall down the listing and eventually die).

So, using sage as a way to 'downvote' is just a way of adding towards the thread limit without bumping the thread. It's a round-about way to do it though (vs. direct downvoting).

"sage" originates from 2chan (aka Futaba Channel), which was the inspiration for 4chan. 'sage' is short for sageru.



iiuc sage comes from sageru which is a Japanese word meaning "lower." Its use is a polite way of saying "my comment is not important enough to bump the thread to the top of the page."

If this is true, sage can not be used to downvote at all, EXCEPT if there are enough sages to make the thread expire. However, that limit is something in the 100s. No one has the time and dedication to "sage a thread into non-existence," even though they sometimes call for it.

As was alluded to with "SAGE GOES IN EVERY FIELD," people hope to cause a snowball effect where others join in an sage the thread (by announcing loudly that they are sage-ing). In general, the idea of using sage as a downvote has been around for a while, even though it's anything but.


Ahhh, memories.

Threads rely on posts/images to get bumped to the front page. Not bumping a thread is therefore a passive downvote because other threads are being bumped while the saged thread isn't. Technically it isn't a downvote though, there is an actual way to do so (called 'hiding the thread').

When you sage your post (adding "sage" into your e-mail field), your name will turn blue. This is very visible especilly in a barebone software like Yotsuba is.

>in the last five years (and before that, to some extent) it HAS been used as a way to 'down vote' a thread.

Right, and he just fixed that problem.

kebab plz

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