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4chan (site domain: 4chan.org) is the most popular English-language imageboard community with over 700,000 posts per day made by roughly seven million daily visitors. The site consists of 75 topical imageboards that are sectioned into six major categories: Japanese Culture, Interests, Creative, Adult Content and Miscellaneous and Others.
[Negi-Sensei] What is the difference between 4chan and 2chan? (referring to either the Japanese textboard or the Japanese imageboard known to English-speakers as Futaba Channel)
[Lost_Technology] 4chan is twice as good.
[moot] its TWO TIMES THE CHAN MOTHERFUCK
[Lost_Technology] Did someone seriously register 4chan?
[n0] Time for 8chan. (note: unrelated to this 8chan which started in 2013)
In 4chan's first months, the imageboards consisted of: /b/ – Anime/Random (later split to /a/ – anime, with /b/ renamed to just 'Random'), alongside /h/ – Hentai, /c/ – Cute, /d/ – Hentai/Alternative, /y/ – Yaoi boards, among other boards.
In 2004, 4chan went offline, changing its top-level domain from '.net' to '.org', before adding a number of non-anime related boards including /k/ – weapons, /o/ – automobile and /v/ – video games boards later that year.
In 2006, /co/ – Comics & Cartoons, /ck/ – Food & Cooking, /mu/ – Music, and /n/ – News were added.
In 2008, /n/ – News was changed to /n/ – Transportation, while /sp/ – Sports, /fit/ – Fitness, /r9k/ – ROBOT9000 were launched, along with /jp/ – Japan/General (later renamed to Otaku Culture) being added for Japanese culture topics not suitable under the /a/ (anime/manga) board.
In 2010, /int/ – International and /new/ – News were added, the latter of which was deleted in January 2011 along with /r9k/.
In September 2011, /pol/ – Politically Incorrect is added and /r9k/ – ROBOT9001 was revived.
On April 1st, 2013, [s4s] – Shit 4chan Says was added to the list.
In 2014, /biz/ – Business and Finance was added and the /r9k/ bot was disabled.
In 2015, /qa/ – Questions and Answers, /aco/ – Adult Cartoons, /his/ – History and Humanities, /trash/ (Off-topic), /news/ – Current News, and /wsr/ – Worksafe Requests were added.
In 2016, /qst/ – Quests and /vip/ were added.
In 2017, /bant/ – International/Random was added.
On November 2018, 4channel.org was created to host safe-for-work boards.
In 2023, /vrpg/ – Video Games/RPG, /vmg/ – Video Games/Mobile, /vst/ – Video Games/Strategy, and /vm/ – Video Games/Multiplayer were added.
Chris Poole Announces Retirement
On January 21st, 2015, Poole published an update on the 4chan news blog announcing his retirement as site administrator after eleven-and-a-half years, assuring that 4chan would continue in his absence.
That foundation will now be put to the ultimate test, as today I'm retiring as 4chan's administrator. From a user's perspective, nothing should change. A few senior volunteers--including 4chan's lead developer, managing moderator, and server administrator--have stepped up to ensure a smooth transition over the coming weeks.
I'll need time away to decompress and reflect, but I look forward to one day returning to 4chan as its Admin Emeritus or just another Anonymous, and also writing more about my experience running 4chan on my personal blog.
That day, Redditor Smooch_The_Grooch submitted a screenshot of the announcement to the /r/4chan subreddit, where it gained over 4,500 votes (97% upvoted) and 740 comments within in the first three hours.
Hiroyuki Nishimura's Acquisition
On September 21st, 2015, Poole published a post to the 4chan news page announcing that Hiroyuki Nishimura, the founder of the Japanese text board community 2channel, had recently acquired the website for an undisclosed sum. In the post, Poole credited 2channel as an inspiration for 4chan and endorsed Nishimura as “one of few individuals with a deep understanding of what it means to provide a digital home for tens of millions of people for more than a decade.”
That day, The New York Times Bits blog published an article about the acquisition, which included a statement from Nishimura:
“I’ve long admired 4chan’s place on the web as a producer of anonymous and Internet culture, and look forward to continuing to grow and develop the site and support the community.”
Also on September 21st, Redditor nervyzombie submitted a screenshot of Poole’s announcement to the /r/4chan subreddit, where it reached the front page with over 3,800 votes (96% upvoted) and 400 comments in the first two hours. The news of the acquisition was met with cautionary reactions from some readers; the top-voted comment accused Nishimura of being “ousted” from 2channel in 2009 for “selling user data to marketers” and “censoring negative comments about several companies.” In the coming days, several news sites reported on the acquisition, including BuzzFeed, Gawker and The Next Web.
On October 2nd, 2016, 2016, Nishimura posted a thread announcing the site's financial troubles on the /qa/ (Question & Answer) board, revealing that the site's ad revenue was not keeping up with the cost of supporting its infrastructure (shown below).
That day, Martin Shkreli posted a tweet announcing his interest in "joining the Board of Directors of 4chan" (shown below, left). Shortly after, Nishimura tweeted that he had responded to Shkreli's direct message (shown below, right).
On October 3rd, Markus "Notch" Persson posted tweets suggesting he had an interest in purchasing 4chan as long as he did not have to do "any actual work" (shown below). He has since deleted all tweets discussing a potential purchase of the site.
On October 4th, Gizmodo published an article about 4chan's financial troubles, which included a statement from Nishimura about a potential sale to Shkreli:
"We have not received offer yet. So it’s not serious. I think."
/vip/ – Very Important Posts
Also on October 4th, the /vip/ (very important posts) board was launched for 4chan Pass users, a service that grants the ability to bypass CAPTCHA and receive reduced cooldown timers for an annual fee of $15. While anyone can view the /vip/ board, only users with an active 4chan Pass can create new posts or participate in threads.
/qb/ – Quebec
Among the most popular imageboards are /v/ (videogames), /co/ (comics), /a/ (anime & manga) and /b/ (random) boards. Users generally submit image posts anonymously and as a result, the default username "Anonymous" has become closely associated with 4chan-related activism and subcultures.
/b/ (random) board
4chan's /b/ (random) board is by far the most popular imageboard which accounts for nearly 30% of site traffic. Similar to the Japanese imageboard Futaba Channel's Nijiura board, /b/ is most notorious for its "no rule" policy with exceptions on certain illegal content such as child pornography and discussions of raids, as well as visitors of minor age. However, administrators of /b/ board may be also subject to the "no rule" policy from time to time.
4chan moderators are known for utilizing witty word-filters to censor terms or expressions that have become overused by general consensus of the imageboard community. The word-filters were mainly implemented in /b/ (random) board to curb cliches and forceful user behaviors, with the most notable example being the substitution of Duckroll for Rickroll, but they were later applied across other imageboards like /v/ (video games) and /k/ (weapons). In March 2007, all word filters were deactivated by the administrators but a few have been brought back for periods of times since then.
Each post on an imageboard is assigned a numeric sequence. Because of the high traffic volume and post rate of the site, certain post numbers became known as GET and were sought after by users as part of a forum game they played. A "GET" occurs when a post's number ends in a special number, such as 12345678, 22222222, or every millionth post.
Since its launch in October 2003, 4chan's community has grown into one of the most influential memetic hubsites in the Western hemisphere and the /b/ (random) board in particular has been frequently cited as the site of origin for some of the most well-known Internet memes that emerged in the 2000s. Some of the most notable internet memes and memeplexes that sprung from 4chan includes: Advice Animals, Rage Comics, Pedobear, Xzibit's Yo Dawg, Rickrolling, Rules of the Internet, Exploitables, My Little Pony fandom, Copypasta and Creepypasta among many others.
4chan has been also credited with discovering online personalities, most notably Chocolate Rain, Allison Harvard, Boxxy and Jessi Slaughter, as well as re-popularizing forgotten mainstream celebrities like Rick Astley and Eduard Khil. Typically, the making of an Internet star begins with a 4chan poster urging others to swarm the target destination to increase its ranking and profile.
The website has been also cited in the news media as the birthplace of Anonymous, the online collective of hackers and activists who have gained public notoriety for its cyber-attacks on a wide range of religious, corporate and governmental institutions.
Due to 4chan’s anonymous nature and "no rules" policy in /b/ board, swapping of child pornography (CP) among some users increasingly became a concern within the community at large. In countering the influx of illegal content, some 4chan members began using a cartoon mascot of a bear to signal that illegal pornographic content has been posted by another user. Originally featured in a Japanese construction safety sign, the mascot was dubbed ""Pedobear" and has since gained an iconic status across other parts of the Internet. Because of its situational usage, Pedobear has been also falsely equated to a pedophiliac bear or celebration of child pornography.
In 2005, threads featuring image macros of adorable cats known as LOLcats began to circulate on a number of 4chan imageboards. The eccentric craze around pictures of cats became a regular presence with the popularization of "Caturday," a weekly event that involves posting pictures of cats relevant to each week's theme on saturdays.
MIT Research Paper on 4chan & /b/
In May 2011, a group of scholars at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Southampton published a research paper titled "4chan and /b/: An Analysis of Anonymity and Ephemerality in a Large Online Community" analyzing various environmental factors and user behaviors of the Anonymous community, particularly in the notorious /b/ board.
Based on a dataset compiled over a span of two weeks (576,096 posts in 482,559 threads), the paper provides statistical insights on the average pace of site activities and common user habits like frequent archiving of /b/ content or practice of unicode (tri-force) as a status indicator or an "alternative credibility mechanism." It also attributes the ephemeral nature of 4chan activities as a potential motivator for repeated user participation:
"One may think users would see no point to contributing if their actions will be removed within minutes. However, if /b/ users want to keep a thread from expiring within minutes, they need to keep conversation active. This 'bump' practice, combined with a norm of quick replies, may encourage community members to contribute content. This hypothesis was derived from our observations, and will need to be tested more rigorously."
- The median life of a thread is just 3.9 minutes.The fastest thread to expire was gone in 28 seconds (i.e., a thread with no responses during a very high activity period); the longest-lived lasted 6.2 hours (i.e., a thread with frequent new posts to bump it).
- The median thread spends just 5 seconds on the first page over its entire lifetime..The fastest thread was pushed off the first page in less than one second (actually, 58 of them shared this dubious honor), and the most prominent thread spent 37 minutes on the first page cumulatively over its lifetime.
- Threads last the longest between 9am and 10am EST and expire fastest between 5pm and 7pm EST. High activity is sustained until 3 am or 4 am EST.
- The result suggests that, despite the not infrequent references to European and British users (e.g. “eurofags” and “britfags”), the demographics of /b/ are primarily North Americans that use the website after business or school hours.
On November 13th, 2011, the official 4chan Twitter account announced that the site had been taken down by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.
Site is temporarily down due to a large DDoS attack. We hope to be back soon! As always, see http://t.co/YRedl9BD for more.— 4chan (@4chan) November 13, 2011
A number of posts on the site allege that hacking group Lulzsec is responsible, but there's nothing to back that up on of the group's Twitter accounts or related news sites.
On November 15th, the Internet services company Netcraft published a blog article about the attack and moot announced on the official 4chan status page revealed that the site was still down due to a DDoS "consisting of a UDP flood on port 80."
As of 2012, 4chan ranks anywhere in the range of 300 to 600 most visited U.S. websites according to Quantcast. The boards drawing the largest amount of traffic are /b/ (Random), /v/ (Video games), /a/ (Anime and Manga), and /s/ (Explicit Images). On August 3rd, 2012, 4chan announced its new milestone of one billionth post on the site, though its content or recorded evidence still remains at large.
Search queries for 4chan have increased steadily over the years that 4chan has been operational.
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