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Interview: Ask Christopher "moot" Poole About 4chan and Social Media 220

Having started 4chan when he was 15, Christopher Poole, better known as "moot", is indirectly responsible for almost every meme you've ever seen. The group "Anonymous" originated on 4chan and has since engaged in a number of well-publicized publicity stunts and distributed denial-of-service attacks. Thanks to users gaming the system, moot was famously voted the world's most influential person of 2008 in an open internet poll conducted by Time magazine. He is an advocate of online anonymity and speaks on the importance of privacy online to foster creativity and open discussion. moot has agreed to answer your questions about 4chan, social media, and privacy. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
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Interview: Ask Christopher "moot" Poole About 4chan and Social Media

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  • Question 1 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pikoro ( 844299 ) <init AT init DOT sh> on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:01PM (#47807661) Homepage Journal

    Fucking magnets. How do they work?

  • by I'm New Around Here ( 1154723 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:03PM (#47807687)

    How badly do you think it sucks?

  • Fucking Magnets!!! shit I missed.
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:04PM (#47807697) Journal
    Canvas (site, not the HTML5 element) and DrawQuest were killed earlier this year. I used it briefly in its beta form and thought it was a neat idea. Any chance you could elaborate on why it was shut down? The e-mail I got was brief and vague -- were you facing copyright issues? Monetization problems? Image space issues? Care to spill your lessons learned?
  • Why does setting up a website that's basically an English version of 2ch make you on expert on what its users do with it? If I want to know how cars work, I'm not going to learn much from the guy who invented (copied, really) the wheel.

  • Moot.it C&D (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:06PM (#47807725) Journal
    We're super big fans of C&Ds here and I would like to know what happened with your C&D to Moot.it [betabeat.com]. How did it come about and what was the resolution?
  • Adblockers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:07PM (#47807731)

    What is the impact of adblockers on your website?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How much money have you made from 4chan?

  • 4chan's effect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:08PM (#47807743)

    Obviously there's a lot of discussion of unsavory things that 4chan has done. You obviously haven't shut down the site, but overall, do you think 4chan has a net positive or negative effect on the internet as a whole?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I do not speak for m00t, Anonymous, or anyone else, but I think that here it might possibly be more appropriate to phrase that as "unsavory things that some of 4chan's users have done."

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:09PM (#47807763) Journal
    You founded 4chan. Care to elaborate on any of the undoubtedly countless times shit has gotten real?

    You know, things you wouldn't tell WSJ when you were seeking solvency but are juicy crazy stories?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:09PM (#47807765)

    How many times have you given 4chan poster/visitor data to the authorities, or do you simply allow them to examine logs in real time?

  • Do you ever feel responsible or bad for all the lives 4chan have ruined?
    I mean there's a lot of anons that have a very unhealthy relationship to their favourite board and spends most of their waking time posting.

    • on the flip side how do you feel about all the good that has come from the site, There are numerous stories about /b/ros helping other /b/ros in the news, or when anon goes after pedophiles etc.
    • Do you ever feel responsible or bad for all the lives 4chan have ruined?
      I mean there's a lot of anons that have a very unhealthy relationship to their favourite board and spends most of their waking time posting.

      You're assuming the premise that these posters would have had normal, healthy lives if they didn't spend all their time on 4chan. If we know they engage in unhealthy mental behavior by spending all of their time on 4chan, then it's not a stretch to posit that they may have otherwise been involved i

    • If I provide a forum for people to speak, should I feel guilty for the content of their speech? The people responsible are those that choose to spread hate, fear and malice, not those that wish to hear unfettered thought.
  • /b/ (Score:5, Interesting)

    by XPeter ( 1429763 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:11PM (#47807781) Homepage

    How often to you get political pressure to take down /b/, and 4chan as a whole? Also, what is your favorite board?

    • Forget the political pressure.

      What about when you look at your site, and that voice in the back of your head goes "Look upon what you have wrong, and despair mortal"?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Having webm videos on 4chan, what do you think of usage of plugins like flash on websites in 2014, like / for. video?

  • PDF support is already included on some board, like the papercraft board, but I think it would be a good edition to the /diy/ board as many instructions and useful books are in PDF. Could you please enable it?
  • by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:15PM (#47807821)

    What was the first post you made on the internet?

  • Happyness (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zilog ( 932422 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:16PM (#47807839)
    Did 4chan brought you more happiness than pain/anxiety since it's beginning ? How is it going today?
  • The Fappening (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:18PM (#47807859)

    Thanks to "The Fappening" event in the last couple of days 4chan has gone mainstream in newspapers, tv, and other media.
    What are your feelings about it?

    • 4chan got mainstream attention long, long before now -- first by association with Anonymous in 2007.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What is your take on the censoring of /v/ during the Quinngate scandal? Was the deletion of threads a coordinated effort, or rather the work of one rogue mod?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It was already established by mods that they weren't deleting threads because it was a scandal or censorship, but because the threads were being spammed on /v/ and pushed all other content aside.
      One general thread about Quinndumb was allowed and only one at any time.

  • Vigilantes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    A common mode of operation seems to be this:

    1) A Bad Thing (TM) happens. Recent example: Leaking of private photos.
    2) The culprit is identified in real life by someone doing "detective work". E.g. identifying BluntMastermind as Bryan Hamade
    3) Anonymous people release a shitstorm on that person, through harassment and stalking, in real life.

    Step 2 opens the evidence to the public, which is good. However, in step 3, the actor is not the police/justice system, but vigilantes who take the punishing into their o

    • I would add a secondary question to this: If online vigilantism is valid, what are the limits? It's one thing if Person A did Some Horrible Thing and was outed on the Internet. (e.g. If John Smith killed a man and Internet Vigilantes hacked his accounts to release proof of his guilt.) It's another thing is Person A did Some Minor Thing That A Tiny Group Thinks Is Awful. (e.g. If John Smith expressed an unpopular opinion and Internet Vigilantes released detailed information about him to keep him quiet.)

  • by Xaedalus ( 1192463 ) <Xaedalys@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:27PM (#47807995)
    Even though 4Chan can rightly be considered the black hole of the internet, it can also be argued that 4Chan is one of the greatest bastions of free speech we have. If enough oppositional clout arises to seriously threaten a shutdown of 4Chan, is there a defense plan? Or a back-up plan? I would hate to see it go away without some sort of fight, or a way to resurrect it somewhere else.
    • It's funny, because every once in a while, something bad is traced to 4chan, and you see people on the news talking about it like it's some kind of horrible monstrosity with no redeeming value. But then they'll spend 15 minutes covering some stupid Internet meme that may have had its roots in 4chan, if you traced the evolution of the meme back far enough.

      I think the bizarre thing about 4chan is how pretty much no normal people know what it is, in spite of having a massive influence in our culture over the

    • Even though 4Chan can rightly be considered the black hole of the internet

      That's actually pretty generous. Usually I hear 4chan referred to in the context of it being another kind of "hole" of the internet.

  • by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:31PM (#47808053) Journal

    That NSA and GCHQ are able to monitor 4Chan and track who the "anonymous" posters are?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:39PM (#47808159)

    There's been a lot of talk about the 4chan moderation lately and a lot of users seem to feel like the moderation has been too heavy on several boards, especially regarding certain subjects. There's also been a lot of accusations of there being too many SJW and normalfag janitors who supposedly make the boards more friendly towards their ideals and their kind of people (the thought of which, for obvious reasons, easily upsets a lot of 4channers).

    What is your take on these accusations, do you agree that the moderation has taken a turn to be more inclusive and if so, is it a conscious effort? If not, what do you think about the current state of moderation and do you have any plans for the future? Heck, are you even involved in any moderating decisions?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now that CAPTCHAs have been in place for some time now, do you think you'll ever unban Tor IPs from 4chan, for true anonymity?

  • Privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sandfox ( 1004172 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:46PM (#47808241)
    You claim to be an advocate for privacy and anonymity but people seem to constantly be using 4chan to invade others privacy, doxing them and, most recently, releasing large quantities of previous private photos. While I understand you're not directly responsible for the actions of your users, does it bother you that people are using the forum you created to do things that appear to violate your core beliefs and the reasons you created it in the first place?
  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:48PM (#47808265)

    ... the cesspool of the internet?

    http://www.theverge.com/2013/1... [theverge.com]

    http://gawker.com/5693962/4cha... [gawker.com]

  • Liability (Score:4, Informative)

    by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @01:03PM (#47808433) Journal

    What exactly do you do to limit any liability you may have for the content posted on /b/? Particularly, CP.

    Also, can you finally tell us, who was phone?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    By giving it a bad name?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    when you realized your audience/community had grown into a part of popular culture, unlikely to ever go away?

  • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @01:27PM (#47808729)
    If he's such an advocate of online anonymity, then how do we know that it's really him?
  • I know this /. topic is just for controversy and "laffs" because of the Fappening so I'm just going to post links to the classic Morning Glory Comics archives because they are so offensive and hilarious. Here you go Internet:

    http://morningglory.excision-g... [excision-gaming.com]

    http://lolokaust.com/morning/a... [lolokaust.com]

  • When are you going to lift my ban?

  • I hear that, as of right now, posting one of the noodies of Jennifer Lawrence is an autoban ticket. As far as I know posting one without modifying it a little is impossible... Why? I know that you value the "organized anarchy" and self moderation of 4chan in general, and /b/ in particular, and I do understand the necessity of at least making sure that no CP is posted there (who am I kidding?) and I will not question that. But don't you think that the autoban on JLaw noodies might be the start of a trend? Wh
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What are your thoughts on the "Quinnspiracy"?

  • by alphabet26 ( 534873 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @02:38PM (#47809481)
    While 4chan may be a cesspool of filth and depravity I have found some beautiful and interesting things I would have never known existed. I know it's a matter of taste, but what do you think the ratio of garbage to worthwhile content is on the site as a whole? Which board has the highest garbage content and which has the highest worthwhile content?
    • by mlkj ( 3794193 )
      As a rule of thumb the slowest boards are the best, the fastest ones are the worst. The two fastest being /b/ and iirc /v/ respectively. If you realize that 4chan != /b/, you'll see there's much more than "a cesspool of filth and depravity".
  • 4chan has been a popular high-trafic site for a while now. I'm curious: how many buyout offers have you received from outside parties? Who were they and how much did they offer?

  • A lot of interesting and infamous material ends up on 4chan, some of which might be illegal in certain jurisdictions for reasons ranging from copyright infringement to child pornography.

    Have any of the 4chan staff/admins think they've found a real honeypot on the site created by a government or corporation with the intent to prosecute or harass 4chan users (or the site/owners itself)? If so, what actions did you take?

  • Do you see some of the things that happened on 4chan in a different light?

  • Be it fad, image, or rule 34?
  • by baka_toroi ( 1194359 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @04:37PM (#47810589) Journal
    Is /b/ screened and moderated directly by a government agency?
    Just kidding, I know you can't seriously answer this. I wish you could, though.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    How long have the FBI and/or other authorities had a back door into 4Chan? Or aren't you permitted to comment.

  • by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @05:54PM (#47811301)

    Serious question: Although I rarely troll myself, I rather do enjoy reading troll posts, and enjoy trolling if I can get the chance. That said, governments around the world are seriously considering making trolling a criminal offense; some already have. Have you thought about how this might affect 4chan? Or in the case where people post material that is illegal in their or even your hosted countr(ies) have they ever tried to make any kind of sanctions?

  • Excuse Mr. Horse, but what were your feelings about that fall?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    How would you react if 4chan had a mass emigration and moved to... let's say 7chan or such? I've heard OpenChan is becoming more popular.

  • by etwas ( 3810203 )
    Why on earth doesn't 4chan allow tor submissions if you are such an advocate for online anonymity. The bans doesn't work anyway (proxies) and illegal material is posted all the times. Why should only users with access to vpns, proxies etc. have the ability to truly post anonymously on 4chan? Is this a deal with the fbi/nsa?
  • Can you share your views and feelings on how the popular culture of b/ros have evolved since this board started?

    For instance (and I make up the following, I really don't know):

    Would you say that ...
    - at the begining people posting there were a mix of childish nerds, internet power user, and ...
    - then arround 2005-2006 a nucleus of posters got a solid 4chan centric culture, characterized by such and such
    - and after the xxx case 4chan draw enough attention to get a bunch of occasional tourist posters, con

  • Anyone who has visited the /b/ board cannot help but notice the over representation of pathological personalities. Do you feel that the 4chan /b/ board provides these folks with a form of supervised club house? Ok, they may get up to all forms of undesirable behaviour, but at least it is out in the open and there is some form of supervision (from moderators and others monitoring the board).
  • As I typed my other [slashdot.org] question, I couldn't help but wonder whether you wished there was more (positive) publicity for the other 4chan boards? For example,the folks on /diy/ are incredibly talented and creative and just once it would be nice to read an article covering the positive side of 4chan.
  • Because it sure looks like you spawned a Stand Alone Complex, and that has to feel weird.

egrep -n '^[a-z].*\(' $ | sort -t':' +2.0