By: Dina • Essay • 2,090 Words • July 27, 2010 • 1,013 Views
4chan was started in 2003 in the bedroom of a then 15-year-old student from New York City who used and uses the pseudonym "moot". He intended the site to be a place to discuss Japanese comics and television shows, an American counterpart to the popular Japanese Futaba Channel ("2chan") imageboard. Moot purchased the server space for 4chan using his mother's credit card, with her approval. Prior to starting 4chan, moot had been a regular participant on the Something Awful forums.
The activity of 4chan takes place on message boards and imageboards. The website is split into six categories: Japanese culture, Interests, Creative, Adult (18+), Other, and Misc (18+). These provide for on-topic boards to discuss anime, manga, technology, sport, photography, music, hentai, torrents, travel, physical fitness, as well as a random board. 4chan originally hosted discussion boards on a separate domain called "world4ch", but these were later moved to the dis.4chan.org subdomain. The site has one employee, a programmer whom moot met via on-line Tetris. All other moderators are volunteers.
4chan is provided to its users free of charge and consumes a large amount of bandwidth and as a result its financing often becomes problematic. Moot acknowledges that donations alone can not keep the site online, so he has turned to advertising to help make ends meet. However, the explicit content hosted on 4chan has deterred businesses who do not want to be associated with the site's content from advertising. 4chan's Alexa rank is generally around 1000, though it has been as high as number 56 at times. 4chan is one of the Internet's most trafficked imageboards, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Unlike most web forums, 4chan does not have a registration system, allowing users to post anonymously. Any nickname may be used when posting, even one that has been previously adopted, such as "Anonymous" or "moot". In place of registration, 4chan has provided tripcodes as an optional form of authenticating a poster's identity. As making a post without filling in the "Name" field causes posts to be attributed to "Anonymous", general understanding on 4chan holds that Anonymous is not a single person but a collective (hive) of users. This understanding has led to a running gag referring to Anonymous as some kind of Übermensch. Moderators generally post without a name even when performing sysops actions. A "capcode" may be used to attribute the post to "Anonymous ## Mod", although moderators often post without the capcode. 4chan also has a junior moderation team, called "janitors", who may delete posts or images and suggest that the normal moderation team ban a user, but who can not post with a capcode—revealing oneself as a janitor is grounds for dismissal.
Links to Anonymous and Project Chanology
See also: Anonymous (group) and Project Chanology
4chan has been labeled as the starting point of the Anonymous meme by The Baltimore City Paper, due to the norm of posts signed with the "Anonymous" moniker. The National Post's David George-Cosh said it has been "widely reported" that Anonymous is associated with 4chan and 711chan, as well as numerous Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels.
Through its association with Anonymous, 4chan has become associated with Project Chanology, a worldwide protest against the Church of Scientology held by members of Anonymous. On January 15, 2008, a 4chan user posted to /b/, suggesting participants "do something big" against the Church of Scientology's website. This message resulted in the Church receiving, by its own reports, more than 6,000 threatening phone calls. It quickly grew into a large real-world protest. Unlike previous Anonymous attacks, this action was characterized by 4chan inside jokes, including rickrolls and Guy Fawkes masks. The raid drew criticism from some 4chan users who felt it would bring the site unnecessary attention.
The "random" board, /b/, follows the design of Futaba Channel's Nijiura board. It is by far 4chan's most popular board. Gawker.com's Nick Douglas summarizes /b/ as a board where "people try to shock, entertain, and coax free porn from each other". Certain post numbers are sought after with a large amount of posting taking place to "GET" them. A "GET" occurs when a post's number ends in a special number, such as 12345678, 22222222, or every millionth post. A sign of 4chan's scaling, according to moot, was when GETs lost meaning due to the high