The 4chan Chronicle presents the history of the 4chan community and includes a summary of the website's history and culture from its foundation on October 1, 2003. This wikibook is in the process of consolidating the work of two separate but related efforts:
- 4chan Ethnographic and Historic Summary - Ed. 1.4.3, maintained by a collaborator. It is the primary source for the 4chan Chronicle (link mirrored);
- 4chan Chronicle, the original effort by "Bibliotheca Anonoma" to create a comprehensive history of 4chan.
This work is certainly fraught with the paucity and bias of its sources, but improvements and wholesale revision are welcome.
About the 4chan Chronicle
- History - the history of the 4chan community.
- Design - how to write pages for this wikibook.
- Styling - how to do some advanced styling and templates.
The 4chan Timeline is a finished project meant to merge the multiple 4chan timelines that have existed thorough the years. Now it's maintained in order to keep it up to date with current events.
Original sources of the timeline where:
- Complete history of 4chan - this timeline at Tanasinn.info is the collective effort of thousands of anons over the span of a decade, transferred from wiki to wiki.
- Board Addition Timeline - this timeline at BibAnon documents the dates when boards were started and when they were closed.
- GET Encyclopedia - an encyclopedia containing every major GET experienced on 4chan.
The 4chan Board Timeline is a project meant to provide information on the addition dates of all 4chan boards and textboards. It is maintained but information on it is very hard to come by.
Sources for the timeline:
- Johnny Digital's Dates - ex-4chan staff member gives some important information on 4chan events.
A related side project:
- 4chan Fuuka Archiver Listing - a side project at the Archive Team Wiki to document all known Fuuka archivers, past and present.
- Forerunners (Summary) - 4chan's unique infrastructure and cultural elements were conceived before its birth, through parent cultures that stemmed from East and West.
- The East - In Japan, lax data protection laws and mistrust of the account-based forum encouraged geeks to adopt anonymous communication. Eventually, the idea of anonymous textboards became a cultural staple of the Japanese Internet, valued for its ability to freely depict a person's 本音, (true feelings), rather than their 建前 (public facade).
- Ayashii World - The Ayashii collective was the mother of Japanese Internet culture, it all began with Mr. Shiba creating Ayashii World, the first major Japanese anonymous textboard.
- 2channel - A Japanese general-purpose textboard which is the current largest forum in the world.
- Futaba Channel - A unique variant of 2ch with an added image posting function. Its strange images and memes were popular among ADTRW users and were inherited by early 4chan.
- The West - On the English-language internet, account-based forums dominated, with all its username vanity. Hostility and trolling where seen as pivotal elements of the Internet in the West, the scene was populated by a handful of "giants" with massive communities, who often engaged each other in skirmishes and raids. Then a few pioneering individuals... decided to try something different.
- Something Awful's ADTRW subforum - Subcommunity of ADTRW that provided the bulk of 4chan's userbase during its foundation.
- world2ch - The first English-language anonymous textboard and one of the few places where Japanese and English-speakers mingled alike.
- #raspberryheaven - IRC centered on maintaining the DC++ Hub Raspberry Heaven, itself an offshoot of SA's SADCHUB hub. It was centered on anime and Moot was a regular member.
Foundation (Oct. 1, 2003 - June 20, 2004)
4chan.net is announced by Moot at #raspberryheaven, bringing the unique experience of anonymous imageboards to the English language world. It instantly finds interest from users of Something Awful's ADTRW board, lightly amused at the prospect of a Futaba Channel of their own. 4chan would thus inherit its traditions and initial memes from both Futaba Channel and Something Awful.
Moot constantly struggles to find a hosting provider that can accept 4chan traffic and controversial content, barely survives shutdowns, and ends up adopting the modern 4chan.org domain.
- Foundation (Oct. 1 2003 - Jun. 20 2004) - How it all came to be, as discovered in early world2ch posts and primary sources from JonnyDigital, 0037, Shii, and of course, Moot.
- The Fourth Shutdown (Jun. 20 2004) - On June 20, 2004, after his hosting gets suspended for the fourth time, and his PayPal account with all donations was frozen, Moot shuts 4chan down.
Halcyon Days (Aug 2004 - Aug 2006)
4chan cultivates a powerful online subculture that stood out from the crowd. It slowly eclipsed its predecessors, especially as push came to shove at Something Awful. One of the keys to 4chan's success was that it recreated a captivating ephemeral tradition built on reposting the best and forgetting the worst. In later interviews, Moot states that these days, only /s4s/ preserves some of this old whimsical, creative spirit.
Moot notes that this era waned as /b/ disproportionately grew in size and become uncontrollable.
- Halcyon Days (Aug. 2004 - Sep. 2005) - On August 7, Moot does the impossible, and restores 4chan. And this time, he's backed by Team4chan, a task force of janitors and moderators including personalities like W. T. Snacks and Shii. It's a timely return in an era where Lowtax launched a crusade against the trend of ever-younger anime girls and made mentioning "4chan" a bannable offense. Not surprisingly, an ever growing segment of users made 4chan their home, wherever they came from. It is regarded by many 4channers new and old as the best period of 4chan. 4chan culture starts to become increasingly influential on the Internet and its content begins to be exported off site. Many cultural tenets of old 4chan are formed during this period.
- The Golden Age of /b/ (Oct. 2005 - Aug. 21 2006) - The near exponential popularity of 4chan's /b/ begins to take a toll on the site. While 4chan is still in its golden age, /b/ quickly went from first among equals to the centerpiece of 4chan culture. This extreme centralization leads to several growing pains, as /b/'s culture beings to settle in hostility and transgression. On October 30, Moot and Snacks have a long fight on the IRC, where Moot blames Snacks for being a "lazy coder". The next day, Moot takes server access privileges away from W. T. Snacks.
- Raid Culture - The onset of 2006 saw the notion of /b/ being a hub for raids cemented on 4chan. On July 2006, in one of /b/'s fabled moments, anons come together to invade Habbo Hotel, dressing up as men in black with afros, and forming Swastikas to block entry to the pool. "Pool's Closed. Due to AIDS." The popularity of raid culture would bring forth raids on Hal Turner, Tom Green, Harry Potter fans and even Gamestop. The situation reaches its pivot when FOX News creates the legendary special report on Anonymous, coining some of /b/'s most iconic names such as "Hackers on Steroids" and "Internet Hate Machine".
- The Boiling Point - 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 furfaggotry, 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.
/b/-day (Aug. 22, 2006)
- /b/-day (Aug. 22, 2006)- Moot creates a sticky thread that imposes much tighter rules on the free-wheeling anons of /b/, banning much cherished traditions of jailbait and raids. This resulted in /b/-day, a mass riot by anons against the new rules. Even a few moderators joined the cause by deleting the thread, which kept being remade and constantly stickied and unstickied. Eventually, /b/tards begin to leave 4chan for dead and abandon en masse, as a declaration of independence written by exemplar /b/tard Captain_Cornflake establishes Anonymous as a separate group with its home anywhere but 4chan.
Internet Hate Machine (Aug. 22, 2006 - 2007)
Immediately following the /b/-day, a new atmosphere of pure chaos sets over 4chan. /b/tards are at their highest, anything can happen and it's going to be epic. On the other side, having to deal with not one but many iterations of /b/, the Internet’s population began to consider 4chan as one of worst places of its realm.
- The Internet Hate Machine (Sep. 2006 - Jun. 2007) - Ironically, the 4chan diaspora spread its addictive memes far and wide, attracting new users back to the home site. 4chan became the focal point of internet culture, but at what cost? The site grew exponentially to an uncontrollable extent.
- Other Boards (On the other hand, 4chan's other boards begin to grow in population and develop their own unique subcultures in this era. Their histories begin to diverge, especially /a/ and /v/.)
- Frustration - Frustration is the magnun opus of 3 Angled Blue, /v/ drawfag who immortalized the /b/ ROW ROW FIGHT THE POWAR invasion, where /b/tards, prompted by moot embedding Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagan's main theme on /b/, began a mass interboard raid. One of the biggest casualties was /tv/ and /v/, albeit /v/ resisted the efforts. Frustration set the standard form for /v/'s persona and is regarded as one 4chan's greatest OCs to have been made.
Endless Summer (Summer 2007)
- Endless Summer (Summer 2007) - Prompted by the site's reputation, 4chan growth takes a tremendous hike and is thrown off balance. Many traditions become meaningless as the mere size of /b/ can purge threads in mere minutes. Unable to take in the amount of newbies, /b/tards turn on each other failing to make /b/ good. Many things are lost and simply forgotten, while the board reaches new heights of influence on the Internet.
Intensification (2007 - 2009)
This age was an era where 4chan became the focal point of the Internet, and even popular culture in the same manner as 2channel in Japan.
However, 4chan paid huge costs, culturally and financially, due to severe overpopulation. /b/ became incomprehensible, admins fell into disarray, and even Moot would grow to hate the site that put him in debt.
- Project Chanology (2008) - With near-unanimous support /b/tards and /i/nsurgents began a massive raid on the Church of Scientology. The raid is successful beyond measure and 4chan and Anonymous become once again the target of the news outlets. This leads to an unprecedented barrage of activists looking to help what they perceive was an activist cause, and conflict ensues as it's impossible to accommodate the new population inside chan culture.
- The Boxxy Civil War (Jan. 2009) - On January 7, 2009, a year-old video by a teenage girl named Boxxy came to the full attention of /b/. Within a day, traffic rises significantly, the site is flooded with posts about Boxxy, and pro-Boxxy and anti-Boxxy groups duke it out in a crippling civil war across the internet. Normal users, tired of both sides, took down the entire site in a major DDoS and mods began to ban all Boxxy-related posts. Not long after a group of namefags calling themselves the "Center for Boxxy Control and Restriction" (CBCR) hacked into Boxxy's account and held her IRL information hostage. In response 4chan is brought to its knees by a severe DDoS. Ultimately the group broke down due to their radical tendencies and drama. For the better part of 2009 and 2010, the word boxxy became autoban on /b/ and discussion of her was banned as it almost always led to flamewars. Boxxy, with assistance of her mother, managed to monetize her popularity by making a chan of her own and became an internet celebrity.
- The Hangover (2009) - 2009 marked a cultural change within 4chan. After /b/ hit rock bottom, all expectations and pressure on the board slowly diminished as people simply gave up on /b/. A major shift of presence began to become apparent, as people renounced /b/ and the hobby boards began to become more differentiated, sporting their own culture.
The /i/nsurgency (2006 - Late 2009)
- The /i/nsurgency (2006 - Late 2009) - Refugees from /b/ create a community of competing anonymous imageboards (7chan, 420chan, 888chan, 711chan) dedicated to raids, all day every day. Lulznet, Raidchan, The Partyvan Network and its /i/nsurgency Wiki becomes prominent. The Encyclopedia Dramatica also functions as a rallying point, as well as a massive living record of their achievements.
- Taimapedia - Complete History of 420Chan - A good source for this murky time in history, from the last surviving derivative *chan from /b/-day: 420Chan.
- Subeta Raids - In one of the last great raids of this era, /i/nsurgents return to /b/ to recruit anons to take down a lame avatar community that attempted to sell a Longcat item.
By 2009, many of these /i/nsurgents had lost their fervor, met their undoing, or folded back into 4chan. But their legacy of impressive raids would become an inspirational creation myth for the next incarnations of Anonymous.
Homecoming (2009 - Jun. 2011)
A period of relative peace when many cultural changes happened to 4chan. Anonymous becomes a completely separate entity, the hobby boards evolve and begin the process of overtaking /b/ in importance, and the Internet as a whole enters new growing pains.
- Homecoming (2009 - Jun. 2011) - 4chan's drama calms down and /b/ enters a halcyon state. While there's still the occasional storm and memorable event, 4chan as a whole develops and moves forward.
- Hacktivism (Sep. 2009 - Apr. 2010) - The media attention Chanology got separated Anonymous' identity from the chanverse that spawned it. Anonymous came to be led by groups of activist hackers who often came to the chans to recruit people for their cause. And all raids, now called Operations, were about ensuring freedom and righting perceived wrongs.
- Time’s Most Influential Person of the Year raid - Where hackers and /b/tards not only made moot the most voted name, but also arranged the runner ups to spell “Marblecake also the game”, a shootout to the Youtube Porn day. moot attended to the event, spawning even more memes.
- The Bronies (Jun. 2011 - Late 2011) - It was inconceivable that any earthly force could possibly faze or hinder /b/. And yet, 4chan was brought to its knees by the most unexpected group of all.
The Reactionary Era (Feb. 2012 - Jan. 2014)
With the Internet in the mainstream, 4chan saw its population shift insular topic discussion and in house content rather than stepping in the toes of other websites. Users became increasingly reactionary and hostile towards outsiders and generally intolerant of things they didn't like.
- Politicization (2011) - One of the primary causes of the reactionary age. The growing pains of the Internet culminate in an Age of Outrage where public shaming, abuses of authority and bullying run amok.
- Restructuring (Feb. 2012 - 2013) - For reasons that are now known as moot deciding to pave the way for his departure, moot becomes noticeably involved with the site during February 2012, his first announcements being a solution for the pony invasion. the creation of /q/ and several updates and changes to the site's coding.
- New Powers (2012 - 2013) - /b/'s role on 4chan got reduced to what is essentially a porn board, an influence vacuum is generated that is quickly feeling by two competing powers: /sp/, a board that has recently plunged in quality - and taken leaps in influence and /pol/, whose mere existence incites flamewars. The unexpected introduction of a third player would have a tremendous impact on the entire Internet.
One of the greatest legacies of this age is the sheer amount of content and projects created by 4channers. Fuuka archived and 4chan's inline archive greatly increases access to information and communication on 4chan.
The Breaking Point (2014)
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 its own anons.
- The Australian Hack - bibanon link (Apr 21 2014) - An Australian hacker obsessed with a French tripfag called FWG hacks into 4chan and impersonates moot
- The Fappening - bibanon link (Aug 30 2014 - Sep 2014) - A celebrity nude trader decides to dump his whole stash on /b/ after being scammed for the last time. The entire hacker complex behind it declares the industry dead and one of the biggest storms to ever brace 4chan ensues.
- GamerGate - (Aug 20. 2014 - Oct 2014) - A massive protest twitter movement takes form in /v/ when Zoe Quinn and her friends randomly put blame of their harassment on the board
- Mark Alexander Harding - An /int/ poster who called himself Sheikh Suleiman al-Britani claimed to be a convert to ISIS, and made thousands of posts cheering them on and making threats. On October 3, /int/ anons undertook an operation to dox and report the funposting tripfag to Jersey Police. The Jersey family home of Mark Alexander Harding was raided by armed police in October 2014. Harding was charged with terrorism offences and sentenced to probation in 2015. This excerpt from the Jersey court summary states clearly that Harding was not a terrorist or extremistː
The Crown accepts that this case is very different. It is clear from the report of the psychologist that you suffer from Autistic Spectrum Disorder (formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome) and what you did on this occasion was a form of acting out your anger and frustration. The Crown accepts that you have not been radicalised and you do not personally hold the extremist views that you expressed through your character on the internet. It was therefore a form of role play. So in other words, as your Advocate has said, this is not, in reality, a case about terrorism. It is a case about a 21 year old, of good character, with many good qualities and level of intelligence, with a very supportive family, who has an autistic disorder which commonly leads to obsessional behaviour as in this case. The very detailed psychological report we have received and the probation report all recommend treatment. The Crown agrees with that recommendation and that that is the appropriate course; and you have, of course, already served the equivalent of 7 months’ imprisonment by way of custodial remand.
The Moot Point (Jan 21 2015 - Sep 21 2015)
- The Moot Point - On the 21st of January, after a 2014 filled with stress and a major leak of the #janiteam IRC, moot announced his retirement as admin of 4chan, and handed over administration to three Senior Moderators. Moot made a farewell livestream (partial transcript here), and opened a /qa/ board for anons to ask him questions or pay him homage. Moot had been in charge of 4chan for eleven and a half years
- Interregnum (2015)- Not much happened to the administrator while 4chan was busy looking for his successor. What became apparent was that many boards have consolidated as major players in the culture game.
Full Circle (Sep 21 2015 - Present)
On September 21, 2015, Hiroyuki Nishimura was announced by moot as 4chan's next admin.
A Q&A session on 4chan's /qa/ was hosted on September 22, 2015 at 8:00PM EST. This caused some drama over his controversial legacy on 2channel. In his Q&A, Hiroyuki revealed himself not to be the profit-squeezing, nefarious figure that the 2ch users warned 4chan about, but a meek guy, overwhelmed by the volume of posts, who agreed to any suggestion and didn't even know how to upload an image, let alone set a new monetization strategy. However, Hiroyuki did testify to his legacy in the quote on the right. At the very least, after so many people have spoken in his place, Hiroyuki was finally able to speak for himself.
Hiroyuki's new administration can be summed up as "Governing Under the Influence". Historians may have been unable to address the effect of alcohol upon leadership decisions but it is clear that 4chan may face a rough ride. During the first few days of operating 4chan:
sys.4chan.orgcrashed for 6 hours, which made posting impossible.
- This may have been an unrelated attack by a mysterious Imgur worm that was also used to DDoS 8chan.
- Hiroyuki caused controversy by banning a user for posting legal content on 4chan's /a/.
- He later wrote an apology on /a/ explaining that he had gotten wasted the previous night. When a user asked Hiroyuki about updating the rules of /a/, Hiroyuki could only meekly ask, "Where is the rules?"
- The scandal was defused as (lovably cute) incompetence, and the userbase created a mascot to represent Hiroyuki: an adorable little boy bunny, about as plucky, inebriated, and bewildered as Tewi Inaba.
While most 4chan users remain anonymous there are a few known individuals that have defined its history.
The admins, moderators, and janitors that make the website possible. They have been lauded and lambasted over the years but as Moot said, "Look in the mirror, guys. The mods and janitors are you. And yes, they do it for free."
- Hiroyuki Nishimura - Current owner and administrator.
- Moot - Founder, administrator for almost twelve years.
- W.T. Snacks - Helped code several major features during 2005. Iconic personality
- Shii - A bridge between the English-language anonymous textboards of the past and the anonymous imageboards of the future. Shii is a major primary source for 4chan's history thanks to his personal wiki, Everything Shii Knows, and was an admin for a while. Now he moderates Wikipedia articles.
- Mr. VacBob - Main Coder, developer, server administrator
- RapeApe - Janitor Manager
- Mr. Spooky - Ex-mod originally assigned to /c/, spawned the catchphrases "I've never seen so many ingrates" and "You'll receive nothing from me." after a rant regarding donations.
Critical players in 4chan's long history.
- Soviet Russia - Old tripfag and idiot king of /z/
- Xenon - Iconic 4chan flash artist
- Anonymous-SAn - Early adopter of anonymity as an ideology
- 0037 - Another veteran of the English-language anonymous textboards, who runs the World2ch.org Historical Society.
- JonnyDigital - One of the first 4chan users who witnessed its creation. A critical primary source for the Complete History Timeline on Tanasinn.info.
- Captain Cornflake - Wrote the Declaration of Independence during /b/-day, and was a key figure in the battles of Project Chanology.
- SaveTheInternet - The erratic, unpredictable, and hot-headed founder of 4chon.
- Hotwheels - Owner of 8chan, one of the biggest alternative english chans
- Kimmo Alm - Founder of AnonTalk. Was mentally and a notorious spambot user. The source code of AnonTalk gave life to the minichan imageboard system that still lives to this day
People who have been the object of fascination... or disgust, of the users of 4chan.
Other 4chan users of interest.
- Jon Rafman - A true artist whose works mock the absurdity of the modern condition. His art brings us the true horror of a digital cyberpunk hell that many people experience but one where hardly anyone understands its true nightmarish scale.
- Nuzlocke Comics - The Nuzlock Challenge was born from /v/, through these drama-loaded comics.
- 3 Angled Blue - Artist who created the classic Frustration and the modern /v/-tan design everyone uses
These are descendant websites of 4chan that have played an important role in its evolution.
- AnonTalk was a compact anonymous image board run by Kimmo Alm who consistently advertised it on 4chan threads for years. AnonTalk was a difficult place with summary bannings, constant drama, conspiracy theories, and poorly formulated arguments. Moot eventually spoke against Kimmo's behaviour.
- Eventually, Kimmo Alm persuaded AT&T to block 4chan's entire IP range; this was the last straw for anons, and they proceeded to attack AnonTalk with the aim of closing it down.
- 4chon was the birthplace of the culture and memes of /pol/, and kept /r9k/'s culture alive long enough for its later reintegration. SaveTheInternet (STI) created 4chon.net to hold the /r9k/ and /new/ (news) boards after they were deleted by Moot in early 2011. The site had a fairly strong following of almost 20,000 posters at its prime and several million posts in its heyday, and STI's Tinyboard script was the basis of 8chan's code.
- However, STI was noted for strange money-making schemes, disinterest in 4chon, extreme right-wing beliefs, and obsessive harassment campaigns against others for seemingly petty reasons, all of which led to 4chon's demise. Once Moot restored /r9k/ and created /pol/, anons began migrating back to 4chan. By 2013, 4chon had dwindled to a few stalwarts but the website was shut down in December 2014. STI's Tinyboard imageboard script was later used to create 8chan, and the surviving community congregates at the /4chon/ board there.