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[dupe] Cicada 3301 (wikipedia.org)
95 points by jc123 on July 1, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments

A good summary from the point of view of one participant:


At the end:

> "On this web portal, there was a chat system, a forum system and a bunch of things set up so we could all communicate," Tekk said. "I guess their goal for us was to have this elite programmer society where we would make encrypted or anonymous services that would serve everybody."

> "Once we succeeded, once we were part of this thing, once we were working with them, we kind of lost interest," he said.

> There was a 112-digit prime number to factor, a computing task so laborious it required renting a special server to run for seven hours.

Well, that seems kind of trivial :-). Surely they meant "a 112-digit number to prime factor"

I struggle with that article; the "leaked" email it links to is so incredibly poorly-written, I can't see any way to take the rest of it seriously:


The fun thing is: even if it was an elaborate secret-service recruitment drive, I'd feel a bit let down that it wasn't something "more."

Like the header says, it had been paraphrased/had structure modified to remove watermarking elements unique to each individual it was sent to.

Like the header says, it had been paraphrased/had structure modified to remove watermarking elements unique to each individual it was sent to.

Yeah, that's kind of what I mean as well.

If it'd been written to only a few people, there are an incredible number of ways to watermark the content.

E.g. did all of the emails even include a questionnaire? Were some emails 5 words long, and others 5 paragraphs?

I guess the easy/lazy way would be to tailor the questions to each unique email.

Basically, I think the sanitation excuse is a bit too convenient, and an attempt to buy into the super-secret mythology.

I like that a group that claims to go without a name signs their emails with "3301".

It is terribly written - maybe as a form of disguise?

Does anyone else find it odd that an organisation looking for "highly intelligent individuals" started at 4chan's /b/, of all places.

Where else would be a good place to start?

Going to individual academic institutions may be one way, but this would also be quite localized, and hard to scale. It also misses intelligent people who are unable to afford to attend such an institution, especially in a place like the United States where the cost can be prohibitive for many, even with scholarships and other aide.

Reddit probably isn't a good place. There's more snobbery and faux intellectualism there than there is actual intelligence, and that's even when focusing on the more intelligent subreddits. It's similar for those who regularly contribute to Wikipedia. It's more about politics there than it is about intelligence.

Digg is pretty much dead. Slashdot is nearly dead. HN has a rather limited audience. A lot of intelligent people voluntarily choose not to use Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or other social networks due to privacy concerns.

So 4chan does look like a reasonable alternative. There's a large audience, its members are probably smarter on average than you'd find elsewhere, and it avoids many of the problems with the other websites or social networks that put a lot of focus on identity.

More than that, 4chan is a source upstream of other communities you mentioned. Content gets filtered and sifted, and some gets passed on. For example, Rickrolling became a major phenomenon that way.

I'm going to go way out on a limb here but also I would think that 4chan would be more likely to contain the type of smart person willing to put in many hours into a problem with very little real expectation of an end goal/reward. At least more so than the other communities.


With correct targeting you can get some very smart people.

Sturgeon's Law (90% of everything is shit) applies, and since /b/ is so rapid there is a lot of stuff in that 90%.

When /r9k/ started (I remember it when the Robot image was up) it was interesting. There are a couple of smart people in /g/ (especially if you're interested in Plan9 or FDE under Linux to protect Loli)

There is a bit of a problem with semi-smart people thinking they are smarter than they are. (And because of the volume of people you tend to meet a lot of them).

I do. I've spent a grand total of about five minutes on 4chan, so maybe I've missed the good bits, but it strikes me as utter garbage. I expect they're looking for highly intelligent individuals of a certain kind.

4chan : intelligent individuals :: Mos Eisley : Han Solo & Chewbacca

Well put.

Speaking as someone with minimal 4chan experience, /b/ is probably not "the good bits," but is only a subset of the rest of the site. There is often good discussion on music and movies, for instance.

Dissemination I suppose. 4chan may be a cesspool of sorts, but that cesspool happens to be the fertilizer for a large part of the internet. 4chan is where memes are made.

The Wikipedia article does a bad job on giving any larger perspective, that is, the fact that this is a drop in the ocean of hacking and cryptography wargames. [1]

[1]: http://www.wechall.net

I'd not come across this before. It's just like something out of a Neal Stephenson or William Gibson novel.

This also happened a lot back in the old usenet days. Cat and Mouse puzzle games based on bouncing around various boards.

Wasn't this posted a few months ago?

Yes [1].

    Cicada 3301 (wikipedia.org)
    56 points by imb 215 days ago | flag | cached | share | comments
[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6812668

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