4chan

http://www.technologyreview.com/web/25997/

4chan, an online community where people are free to be wrong…created the website 4chan, an online community that now has nearly 11 million monthly users and is, in some respects, as unruly as any metropolis. The site is what’s known as an image board, a type of online message forum that encourages users to post both images and text, and its users now contribute more than a million messages a day, their content tending in the aggregate toward a unique mix of humor, pornography, offensiveness, and, at times, borderline legality…4chan is loosely organized by topics of interest–music, games, TV, animation…4chan stands out not only for the content its users generate but for the way they generate it: with a degree of anonymity almost unheard-of in the online world. Though Poole himself is known to the site’s users by the cryptic pseudonym “moot,” on 4chan even using a pseudonym is rare. The site has no log-in function, so each message can be posted under whatever name its author chooses, but users are strongly encouraged to post with no identifying name at all. Roughly 90 percent of all messages on 4chan are posted under the site’s default identity, “Anonymous.” And those messages are not only anonymous but ephemeral, because 4chan has no long-term archives: old message threads are automatically deleted when new ones need the room…

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