4chan The Golden Age
Regarded by many as the best years of 4chan – Something that may be easily debatable – it was the cradle of everything that shaped 4chan for the years to come. It’s most iconic memes, the basis for the board’s culture, who was who in the hierarchy of anonymous and its friends and enemies. The people who browsed the site during these years would later form the archetype of a 4chan oldfag. It can be divided in two stages - The Golden Age of 4chan proper, when 4chan's stood on equal terms, and the Golden Age of /b/, when /b/ surpassed the other boards in terms of population, overshadowing them.
The Golden Age of 4chan
(Aug 2004 – Sept 2005)
On August 7, moot gathers a group of friends and contributors and starts 4chan again. Though not excellent, there was an increased efficiency when it came to moderation and scripting, commandeered by Team4chan. In a reactionary move towards the rise of 4chan, Lowtax makes mentioning the site a bannable offense, whilst simultaneously engaging in a crusade towards anything resembling pedophilia, such as anime girls. The increasing oppression coming from the moderators creates a constant flow of banned users fleeing to 4chan. It’s free and anonymous posting, lenient moderation, and SA-influenced culture proves to be an appealing alternative to users upset with the admin's meltdown, like Colonial America for disinherited Englishmen. Once Moot grows up to legally visit his own site, (he is 16 at this point), he slowly opens up to the 4chan community. There’s a noticeable rise in popularity and new users who posted without being aware of the fads and inside jokes, which thanks to SA’s inherited FYAD culture, was responded with shouts of “lurk more” or newfag .
4chan's culture begins to stabilize at this point, as a world of hatred, anonymity, truth in opinion, and trolling. According to a poll, which some claimed was fake, the age median drops from colleague age, to high-school freshman, this did not mean, however, that the presence of underage anons was unheard of. It is an interesting counterexample to the rise of social media occurring at the same time. Some of the original users begin to thin out as they lost interest, but are just as quickly replaced by SA refugees and immigrants from sites like YTMND, Fark, and to the disgrace of many 4channers, Gaia Online. 4chan becomes a fast changing society beginning to carve out its own culture and place in the world. The stereotype of a middle class teenagers with few friends and an interest on the Internet whose daily life didn't excite them enough begins to characterize 4chan's population. Bored even from the basic Internet and its drama and gore, they flocked in looking for the obscene, the bizarre and the transgressive, the silly and absurd, the self-referencing in-jokes and crazy ramblings. The lack of registration process felt truly innovative and funny, so they began to see just how far they can go in that direction.
This could be safely considered the best period for 4chan. /b/ was not as massive as it is today and was comparable, in terms of traffic, with the rest of the site. All boards enjoyed a degree of content and an active and present moderation . Many users had decent Photoshop abilities, inherited from the highly-skilled SA goons, and most of the classic memes and events took form during this period. Anyone could make a thread, bookmark it, and come back the next day to see it was still there. Memes where created in a structured way, someone would make a simple, usually silly joke, and the /b/tards would make dozen of variant images and jokes. Discussion tended to range from civilized, concise posts (While serious debate happens all the time, actual, calm discussion of a topic is something rarely seen on modern days) to ridiculous ALL CAPS sentences.
The Golden Age of /b/
(Oct 2005 – Aug 22 2006)
4chan's momentous golden age begins to end with moot's dismissal of admin and moderators W.T. Snacks and Shii, and the rise of the underaged Allyson to mod status. This is seen by many anons as a harbinger of impending doom. And doom seemed imminent for all; with increasing immigration, /b/ had begun to experience sharp cultural changes that left long time users bewildered and newfags unassimilated. It began to take more and more spotlight from the rest of the boards, surpassing them in traffic, userbase and content until the majority of the site browsed /b/ alone. Its traffic doubled its follow up boards, a trend that would continue until the end of the decade.
During this era, the inexperienced 4chan community gets it first take at Internet warfare in the coalition attack against EbaumsWorld for its plagiarism and malicious tendencies . Although it was a fairly reactive community, the EbaumsWorld raid gave birth to a sort of organized raid culture, with raids soon becoming commonplace on /b/. Later, in the community, a /b/tard made a thread telling how he was banned from the forum Bibliocality.com, a hardcore Christian forum. Some /b/tards though it would be funny to flood the forum, and the idea took on. Soon Bibliocality was nothing but spam and insults, with infamous tripfag Soviet_Russia leading the charge. The Admin overreacted and locked down the forums, and the site eventually died. The thread was popular enough to merit the birth of a tradition that would be performed with bolder and bolder antics with each passing month. Such attacks culminated in a massive, quasi-coordinated raid to Habbo hotel, known as The Great Habbo Hotel Invasion of July 2006, giving birth to the Nigra meme, a common afro and suit attire that /b/tards and related 4channers would try to use when playing online games. School shooting plans and stadium bombings are posted thanks to the sense of anonymity, as in such a particular event, an user was arrested once his post was reported to the police, the ensuing drama and news reports gave birth to the “DON’T MESS WITH FOOTBALL” phrase.
The massive increase of threads proportionally increased the rate of thread deletion. Although the ratio of good to bad content changed little, the sheer magnitude of forgettable, rehashed content (What we now know as templates and macros) created class conflict between ex-SA “oldfags” and unskilled newfags. There was a hankering for a romanticized depiction of /b/ as an idyllic place where all content was original, funny, and fresh. While this belief could not be farther from the truth, the cynical ideal quickly became a major tenet of 4chan culture . It was during this period that 4chan and /b/ became known as the assholes of the Internet. /b/ went through major cultural changes: Though at its core it was still about silliness and black comedy, its aggressiveness began to outshine everything else. /b/ attained an attack dog mentality, seeking prey to destroy, to do whatever they thought was lulzly at the time. Persecution of amusement at the detriment of everybody they deemed wanting became the biggest hobby of /b/.
4chan's nominal anonymity begins to attract a bunch of colorful groups to 4chan , such as Touhou fans, stalkers, guro lovers, pedophiles, and worst of all, Furries . Most of these groups are given their own boards to keep them out of the other ones, but curiously, Furries have not. A persecution complex causes them to react badly to criticism, and minor distaste evolves into total hatred that threatens to destroy the boards. Being so sensible, 4chan decided to do the sane thing and banned furries since day one. Quoting moot, “furries create drama”.
/b/’s raid culture began to shine around mid-2006. The board began a series of organized raids against many sites, included but not limited to: Fandom (most notoriously ZeldaUniverse), Christian, Pro-Ana, and sites for people with disabilities. June saw the total destruction of the Zelda Guide Forums and Naruto-kun.com. Any camwhores that came to the board’s attention would be trolled to tears. On July /b/ staged the great Habbo raid of July 2006, saturating Habbo Hotel with nigras, black avatars with a two piece black suit, black shoes and an Afro, because of perceived racism on part of the mods. On august 16 Canadian Tom Green gets raided at his own talk show, which would become a sort of tradition.
With an ever increasing growth, and a series of continuous raids to different people, like the Hal Turner and Tom Green raids, 4chan ended up with a Fox News coverage (and a minor G4 one) of Anonymous. With Fox News being Fox News, it was terribly inaccurate and sensationalistic. It coined the famous terms Hackers on Steroids and Internet Hate Machine, gleefully adopted by /b/, among many other memes that sprang from it. On August 22, a splinter group of /b/tards went completely nuts and completely obliterated three sites from the face of earth, prompting anons to make threads urging /b/ to start a crusade against faggotry, and /b/ planned its Magnum Opus: A series of detailed, coordinated raids against the entirety of the furry fandom, including sites like WikiFur, Furaffinity, fchan and various forums. However, the next day proved to be somewhat different than planned.