The first time I visited 4chan, I had no idea what I was doing. The home page claims that “4chan is a simple image-based bulletin board where anyone can post comments and share images.” Sounds easy enough, I guess. It even comes with a set of rules and FAQs to familiarise yourself with how to post, what to post, content etc. Unfortunately, I’m not one to look at the instructions (hence why nothing I have ever attempted to build has been successful). It took a lot of getting used to, but now I can safely say that I know how to 4chan (totally just used it as a verb)! I’m no expert, of course, but I thought I’d write a little piece about what it is, its presence in the online community, and why it’s so popular. So, without further ado, I give you my guide to 4chan!
What is 4chan?
4chan is an imageboard website. Basically, users post pictures to category-based boards, other users respond to them (forming a ‘thread’), and eventually the thread disappears, or “dies”. Users typically prefer to remain anonymous when posting, which has brought upon the emergence of internet trolling. More on this later!
So how can you get involved? How do you submit your own photos/comments? There’s a difference between starting your own thread and posting in somebody else’s. When you select your board of choice, you’re greeted with this:
Confusing, right? Even I don’t properly understand it. Ignore the ‘E-mail’ and ‘Password’ fields, and if anybody knows what the Japanese stuff at the bottom is, let me know. All you really need to do is type whatever you want to say into the ‘Comment’ field, the Captcha in the ‘Verification’ field, and upload a picture using ‘Choose File’ (you need to submit a photo if you want to start a thread). Click ‘Submit’ next to the ‘E-mail’ field, and hey presto! Pretty simple when you get rid of the bullcrap. It can be hard work finding your thread once you’ve posted it, but just have a look around – you’ll find it eventually!
Posting in somebody else’s thread is essentially the same. When you get to the board, you’ll see threads like this:
Simply click ‘Reply’ (top right), and fill in the appropriate fields, as mentioned above. Once you have submitted your comment (you don’t need a picture), you’ll be redirected to the front page of the board. Click the back button of your browser and refresh the page to see the thread with your comment included. Continue to refresh it every once in a while to see if others have posted, too.
It all sounds a bit laborious, doesn’t it? Well, once you get the hang of it, it’s quick and easy. Trust me!
4chan is split into different boards:
The site was originally an imageboard for the discussion of manga and anime, but later expanded due to its popularity. The most popular board by far is /b/, or Random. It generates 30% of the site traffic, and is essentially the board that has caused most controversy. /b/ has a no-rules policy – anything goes. It is awash with sexism, gore, pornography and racism. The only thing that can’t be posted is child pornography, but even those boundaries are pushed. Essentially, it’s not a very nice place to be. It requires a certain sense of humour (or psychopathy), but you do get the odd gem, such as the ever-popular “You Laugh, You Lose” threads, and the circulation of memes (if you don’t know what a meme is, check out my last blog).
What is most associated with /b/ is the hacktivist group ‘Anonymous’ which is characterised by the iconic Guy Fawkes masks that members wear to protect their identity.
The group are known for rallying against acts such as the closing down of The Pirate Bay, the emergence of the SOPA bill and the Kony 2012 campaign. You can find out more about Anonymous here.
What 4chan, and particularly /b/, is most famous for is internet trolling.
A troll is a user who posts confrontational, inflammatory or provocative messages or pictures in order to get an emotional reaction (usually anger) out of other users. Basically, trolling is the act of being a dick on the internet. Check out this video of a total douchebag trolling people:
What I have learned from being on 4chan, and the internet as a whole, is DON’T TRUST ANYBODY EVER.
And, there you have it. Now you know the basics behind using 4chan. I think it’s worth everybody visiting the site just once, even if only to see a picture of a prolapsed anus, vomit on the screen, cry yourself to sleep and vow never to use the internet again. Go on… Give it a go!
I have only touched upon the surface of what’s to offer from 4chan. If you’d like to know more about it, feel free to ask any questions in the comments, or, you know, stop being lazy and look it up.
…You should still comment, though.
Until next time, friends!