Crazy, Funny, Geek, General, News, Sites, Strange, Trends

Fimoculous Interview with Founder of 4Chan

4Chan, above all else, is the most notorious and inexplicable website with an audience, and Fimoculous interviewed its maker. Read an excerpt of the interview here then click over to Fimoculous for the rest.

Like many successful internet phenomena, 4chan is a shockingly simple idea: an online bulletin board where anyone can post pictures.

This simplicity is deceptive.

4chan is actually one of the most robust, complex, annoying, disgusting, illuminating, perverse, fascinating online communities ever created. It is the direct or indirect source for many of the strangest internet memes: RickRolling, LOLcats, Sarah Palin’s email hack, Anonymous, Chocolate Rain, and many other minor and major feats of esoterica (i.e., fucked up weird porn). Most of these viral specimens arose from the site’s most popular image board, /b/, which can be the source of considerable hand-wringing and fist-clenching for anyone who has dared navigate its murky, anonymous waters.

Scariest moment?

“Probably the first time I was contacted by law enforcement. At the time I was 16 and I was living with my mother. That was shocking.”

4chan’s founder is a 21-year-old New Yorker named Christopher Poole. Known as “moot” to the site’s devotees, Poole is disarmingly well-spoken and pragmatic about what he has created. “It’s my belief that the community should dictate its norms, standards, and rules,” he says. “I’ve left /b/ to its own devices, with very little intervention.”

Of all the memes spawned from 4chan, is there one you feel most attached to?

At the last ROFLcon [in Cambridge last April], someone asked “Do you like RickRolling?” I said something to the effect of “Screw RickRolling!” Everyone gasped because that was the cool thing at the time.

But now they’d probably agree.

Yeah, once Nancy Pelosi does a RickRolling video with her cat on YouTube, you know it’s done.

But then I remembered that my favorite was something called Weegee, and only two people in the crowd were like “Yeah, Weegee!” That’s a good sign — that no one knows what it is.

What is it?

weegee Weegee is just a vectored photo of Luigi from Mario Brothers placed in completely random situations.

Sounds harmless. Does it bother you that most people think of 4chan as only being the most controversial board, /b/?

We have 44 image boards at this point, so in that sense it’s a small part of the site. But /b/ accounts for 30 percent of our traffic. That’s where the attention is, that’s where the headlines are coming from. That’s also where a lot of the rowdiness and lawlessness goes on.

What do you think of that lawlessness?

Some of it can be healthy, as long as it remains within certain boundaries.

What boundaries?

Like that we don’t actually break that law.

Because of the lack of rules, 4chan has fostered an environment where there’s a lot of creativity and good things coming out of it. But at the same time, when people go out and do crazy things…

Which kinds of things?

The best example is when Jake Brahm was arrested for posting a bomb hoax. [In October 2006, Brahm was arrested for threatening to blow up multiple NFL stadiums. He was sentenced to six months in prison.]

And after that we saw a lot of copycat stuff. People were getting arrested for saying they were going to do the same thing. Law enforcement was coming every week and asking for our help.

Read the rest of the interview at Fimoculous.