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4chan Chronicle

Antonizoon edited this page Aug 30, 2015 · 5 revisions

4chan is hands-down one of the most interesting and influential websites ever created. It functions as the wellspring of modern internet culture; an unexpected production center for many of the Internet's memes. It also works as a beacon of anonymity and honest (but not to goodness) discussion in a world that is ever more socially invasive.

The site influenced generations of major Internet figures and coders, continues to give birth to memes that are staples of major websites and even common speech, and cultivated a flock of loosely organized people led only by a common goal, known as Anonymous.

This Chronicle is designed to create a serious, well sourced history book about this ephermeral community. As of now, it includes a summary of the site's history down to it's foundation in October 1, 2003.

Timelines

Timelines are essential to understanding the chronology and context of events in 4chan history.

Ages of 4chan

4chan's history can be divided into concurrent eras, like that of Japanese history. Each era was dominated by different immigrant groups from other websites, ranging from old Internet communities such as Something Awful and "sister" sites like YTMND to Net Neutrality, anti-censorship activists and casual, Internet-oblivious Facebook users.

Mind that the names of each age, while named considering the perceived posting quality of the era, is highly relative, and to some, the time period might not add up at all with the name.


  • Prehistory (1996-2003) - 4chan, in a way, was the result of Japanese Internet Culture and the Western Internet colliding. The background of the world that 4chan was started in, and was influenced by, was dominated by two closely related, extremely influencing sites on Japan and a handful of highly hostile, creative and retroactive American forums.
  • Genesis (Oct 1 2003 - Jun 20 2004) - 4chan is founded, borne out of #raspberryheaven, bringing the unique experience of anonymous imageboards to the English language world. It instantly finds supporters in Something Awful's ADTRW board. 4chan inherits its traditions, and initial memes from 2channel, Something Awful, and the rest of the Internet and creates a powerful meme-based culture that stands out from the crowd, slowly surpassing it's predecessor.
  • The Golden Age (Aug 2004 - Aug 2006) - The classic 4chan years. All the content considered foundational and classic was created during these years, 4channers had a very absurd approach towards things, which culminated in highly creative and silly content. While most of the original content has been forgotten by now, it remains the quintessence of everything 4chan. The Golden Age waned as /b/ began to grow in size disproportionately and became uncontrollable.
  • /b/ day (Aug 2006) - 4chan's growing popularity comes with massive social change caused by problematic subcultures, a new raid mentality, and romanticism for an idyllic depiction of /b/. These tensions culminate in the /b/day, a massive revolt by /b/tards cause by moot's enforcement of rules on /b/, culminating in /b/'s userbase splintering into many minor sites.
  • The Shithole of The Internet (Sept 2006 - Jul 2007) - The growing size of the imageboard populations made 4chan culture spread to every corner of the Internet. These memes are quickly assimilated by the rising giants of the Internet like Youtube and MySpace, inspiring interest in the website that started it all. Reception is mixed: 4chan becomes the focal site of the Internet, but at the cost of having it's memes monetized and mangled through cultural appropriation by outsiders. Population sharply increases, and so does the amount of interesting events from the era. This culminates in what is now known as 4chan's Eternal September: The Newfag Summer.
  • The Dark Age (Aug 2007 - Aug 2009) - The onset of the newfag summer was but the culmination of several growing pains 4chan was going through since it's foundation. It's generally regarded by 4channers to be the worst years of 4chan, specially 2008, when posting quality plummeted and moot was deep in debt. When Scientology takes down a ridiculous training video posted to Youtube, 4chan fights back in full force as Anonymous in Project Chanology. The attacks attain media attention and a new flock of users, interested in activism, arrive to the site. On an unprecedented course of action, /b/tards change tactics and turns from DDoSing and spamming into a full blown protest. What happened in Chanology would be a glimpse of the future role anonymous would have on the Internet, that of hacktivism. Some months after the protests died down, a video of a strangely tantalizing teenager appears on the web, dividing /b/'s population into two sides, one crowning her as their Queen and the other wanting nothing to be with her.
  • The Silver Age (Sept 2009 - Jun 2011) - The population of 4chan mellows out in aggressively but not in interventionism. The would devise many pranks and small hacks all around the Internet, including getting moot named as Time's Person of the Year on 2009 and raiding Jessi Slaughter and getting her to go to Good Morning America!
    • The Payback Era - Anonymous gets right back in action in Operation Payback when Aiplex Software was found to have DDoSed torrent sites under orders of the MPAA. While they succeed in destroying the company, the Wikileaks scandal greatly lengthens the operation, and the Arab Spring forces perpetual mobilization. Anonymous has become a force to be reckoned with, but it's former home 4chan, suspicious of their new face, motives, and organization, has long since disowned them.
    • At this point, Anonymous's history permanently divests itself of 4chan history, and it is treated as an independent community. It continues on The People's History of Anonymous.
  • Meme Faces (Late 2011 - Early 2012) - The Internet as a whole began to enter a new era, one where everyone is connected and constantly exposed to it. Internet culture, became exposed to the masses and became massively popular. The golden age for content agreggators, the extreme commercialization of Internet - and 4chan's - culture led to a massive loss in content quality, no longer produced only at 4chan, and a complete outrage on the eyes of 4channers. With the Internet as a whole changing structure, seeing a revitalized use by companies and the government. These where crucial years where it's changes would change the face of the Internet for all.
  • The Reactionary Era (2012 - 2014) With the Internet in the mainstream, 4chan saw its population change to a more relaxed people who preferred discussion and in house content rather than stepping in the toes of other websites. The change brought it's negative points, with people in general becoming much more sensible and incapable of ignoring things they didn't like - A completely radical attitude compared to the live and let live approach the Netizens have used since the early 90s. One of the greatest points of this age if perhaps the sheer amount of content created by 4channers.
  • The Chanpocalypse (2014 - early 2015) - A series of crippling scandals rocks 4chan, and the rest of the internet; forcing public and legal pressure against the website; from the general public, the media, legions of celebrity-funded lawyers, the FBI, even it's own anons.
    • A large segment of anons migrate to 8chan out of spite, a new community which promises "a board for every topic", whereby users are free to create an infinite amount of boards. The Gamergate board becomes the largest board, and a major rallying point for anons. Time will tell what 8chan will become, but in any case, select boards are being archived by the Fuuka-based 8archive.moe.
    • Moot notes in his farewell speech that 4chan was in danger of shutting down, from the legal fees alone. But thanks to frugal spending and a spare $30,000 of revenue from 4chan Passes, the site managed to live to another day.
    • 4chan even found spare funds to upgrade server infrastructure, allowing it withstand the website's highest viewership to date: nearly 1 billion pageviews served.
  • The Moot Point (2015 - Present) - On the 21st of January, moot announced his retirement as admin of 4chan, and handed over administration to 3 Senior Moderators. Moot made a farewell livestream, and opened a /qa/ board for anons to ask him questions or pay him homage. Farewell Moot. It's been an amazing 11 and a half years.
    • Many boards mourned the loss, some celebrated, but one thing that anons on /qa/ did was pretend to be an oldfag open up their image folders, recreate classic 4chan threads, and share the great stories people had shared over the years.

Sources

One of the BA's most precious resources. Many of the sites that talk about 4chan are close to 10 years old, most of them completely abandoned. If you want to help archiving 4chan's history, archiving these sites would be the best thing to do.

Major Sources

Wikis and sites dedicated to Internet culture and 4chan.

  • 4chan History Timeline - Passed down from generation to generation, archived and lost on countless wikis, this is the famous timeline of 4chan's evolution through the years. The last one was maintained by a Redditor on the second Wikichan, but it was lost with the site's downfall and saved out of chance.
  • 4chan - Jonathan's Reference Pages . Johnny Digital, known as JDigital, was a member of 4chan's staff for a while. Here he gives crucial data about the earliest days of 4chan.
  • Everything Shii Knows - Everything Shii Knows - Shii, also known as Menchi, was another member of the staff. He helped coding the early source of 4chan together with thatdog, specially the for the /dis/ textboards. He tried to build a personal wiki about the Internet with tongs of data about 4chan and the Japanese chanverse. He eventually forgot about the site and shut it down after a DMCA takedown request.
  • Encyclopedia Dramatica - Encyclopedia Dramatica - The shithole of the Internet’s ever present buttock. While at first glance it seems to be entirely composed of bullshit, ED has loads of information on users and performed raids, including tidbits about the Internet in general, like the first Internet raid ever done and the biggest compilation of creepypasta on the Internet. If there’s one thing they excel at, it’s at archiving drama. They seem to roam the line between life and death nowadays.
  • The LURKMOAR wiki - Lurkmore - The first chan culture wiki. It was an effort to compile and explain the crescent amounts of memes and culture 4chan was creating on 2005. Its population slowly shifted to ED, and eventually fell into obscurity and obsoletion. Nowadays it’s mainly used as a wiki for its own boards dedicated to camwhores. Still gets updated with 4chan-related information from time to time. To see: GET list , tripfag list , camwhores list and some classic memes.
  • Vyrd.net - Vyrd.net/576chan - Originally http://576chan.org/4chan/ | http://dir.vyrd.net/ - A repository of links and info of 4chan. Barely active, it’s owner makes a great effort to archive any and all 4chan information possible.
  • Tanasinn - Tanasinn – A mysterious wiki filled with Japanese textboard culture and self-referencing humour. It has an extremely useful timeline that’s still updated from time to time: http://tanasinn.info/wiki/Complete_History_of_4chan
  • Yotsuba Society - Yotsuba Society - Run by jKid, 4chan oldfag and /cgl/ stalker, it has lots of archives threads and information about 4chan. Was inactive for a time because of jKid's personal problems
  • The Insurgency Wikis - Insurg.in9 and an old archive - (Dead links: insurgen.info | partyvan.info, 2006-2011) Wikis founded during the heyday of raid culture and /i/ - Invasions boards in order to record and organize the various raids and campaigns Anonymous was carrying. They were down constantly due to unstable administration and were eventually forked and archived
  • world2ch - The world2ch Historical Society – A set of articles written by 0037, a user of world2ch and later 4chan. It contains information on its precursors: 2chan/2channel (The second original textboard, first being Ayashii Warudo, and its emergency imageboard 2chan), world2ch (first American textboard), Internet summaries, 4-ch, SA and 4chan/world4ch itself. WARNING: Very subjective.) - http://world2ch.org/dramabomb.html - Archived thread from October, 2 on world2ch. It was 4chan’s second day of life and the first Western Chan “war”.
  • Epic Win For Anonymous - A straighforward carpetbagger's point of view about the culture and workings of 4chan, by Cole Stryker.

Secondary Sources

Individual pages and archives threads about 4chan.

Overchans

Overchans where sites dedicated to compiling lists of all know *chan sites on the Internet. The first Overchan was 1chan, ran by thatdog, who created Futallaby, 4chan's first source code.

Other Sources

Special mention to Wikichan: it was by far the most popular and exhaustive compilation of 4chan information there was. However, as dedicated its userbase was, it was constantly DDoS’d, dropped by ISPs and hacked. It was known for not only compiling info on memes but also having an extensive list of 4chan user stories and creepypasta. On 2010 the admin decided to call it quits. Many attempts to restore the info on Wikichan where performed, but only partially successful.

Annexes:

Help

We've got a lot of information already, but we need hard facts and primary sources from people who actually experienced the era discussed. If you have anything to add, no matter how small, get in here and do it.

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If you've contributed and feel like getting some credit, put your name down on this page to immortalize your work, and perhaps give us a way to contact you if you want to.

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