4chan is a guilty pleasure of mine. It's tough to describe what 4chan is without actually experiencing it yourself. And I'm not recommending you do, because when I say it is a guilty pleasure, I put particular emphasis on the "guilty" part. It really is a terrible, terrible place, and you will feel horrible and hate yourself for enjoying it. On the other hand, it is the source of great genious, creativity, and humor - an accurate portrayal of both the good and bad of complete chaos and anonymity.

My coblogger Scott turned me on to screenwriter Todd Alcott's blog recently, and in a post about making Garfield funny by removing Garfield's thought bubbles, the commenters do a pretty good job of describing what 4chan is to the uninitiated. I especially liked this comment from leechan:

The beauty of 4chan (and also the fatal flaw) is that everything is completely anonymous. No handle, no email, no name attached to your posts. This allows for a complete flow of ideas and images with no consequence. It's beautiful and horrible.

4chan is made of many boards, some of which are safe for any viewer like Photography, Animals and Nature, Anime, Video Games, and Technology. You post images to start threads, and then anyone can reply with more images or text. Then there are adult boards like Sexy Women, Hentai, and Yaoi. Then there's /b/ (Random).

/b/ has a complete mind of it's own and many people refer to it as if it is a living breathing thing. I would argue that it is. The interesting thing is, /b/ kind of developed it's own language, it's own way of speaking, and it's own mythology. Much like the Japanese Futaba. You might be familiar with the term "lolcats". That "lolcat speak" is sort of what goes on in /b/.

Really, from a pop culture or visual studies or media studies point of view, it's very fascinating, though not as funny as it used to be. I would suggest just lurking some Friday or Saturday night (away from the eyes of small children) and see if you can't keep up with the language, memes, and images.

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Epic get! Nice work Micha.

Epic get!

Nice work Micha.

4chan, macrochan, YTMND--fads, memes, etc move so fast to stay with it you need to spend a decent amount of time there to stay current. Fortunately I have a good friend that's a 4chan regular and sends me a lot of best-of screenshots everytime I send him a list of new YTMNDs. After being exposed to 4chan (and macrochan) and then being exposed to lolcats, I couldn't understand the appeal of the latter. It's 4chan for cat ladies?

YTMND is where it's at, though. And their wiki allows anyone to get up to speed with past fads.

You Too Micha!?

You too?! This is like finding out your friend shares your taste in bizzaro sexual fetishes. There's that pleasure of recognition, but still I've lost some respect for you:)
I haven't been keeping up lately with /b/ and the meme-train has largely passed me by. It's surprising how little sense the whole thing makes after you've been away for only a short while.
YTMD sucks.
Ben Darrington

I agree, but how do you feel

I agree, YTMD does suck, but how do you feel about YTMND? A friend and I have the 2nd highest rated rejected Megaman villain:


The both of you two and Brian Peppers make me sick!

Understand?!   But at least I can forgive Peppers given his handicaps.  Your perversion is obviously due to free will.

I did a paper for my

I did a paper for my economic anthropology class on 4chan's /b/ in regard to peer created entertainment content and it's effects on audience participation, celebrity culture, incentives for contribution, and other interesting developments you can see in their nascent stages in this, the asshole of the internet.

Is it possible to get to read

Is it possible to get to read your paper on 4chan anywhere?