Notorious forum 4chan has been sold to the creator of the Japanese site that helped inspire it

Christopher poole moot 4chan
4chan founder Christopher Poole. Mohamed Nanabhay/Flickr (CC)

Notorious internet imageboard 4chan has been sold to the creator of the Japanese site that helped originally inspire it.

Founded in 2003, 4chan is an anarchic melting pot of internet culture. It has given birth to a diverse array of phenomena which have since crossed into the mainstream, including “rick-rolling,” lolcats, and Anonymous. Because of the site’s hands-off approach to moderation — especially on its /b/ random board — it has also been highly controversial at times, particularly for its raids on other sites.

The site’s creator, Christopher Poole, said 4chan was based on the Futaba channel — a Japanese-language imageboard dedicated to anime and manga — which was in turn inspired by 2channel, another Japanese-language site. (4chan was originally intended for discussion of the same topics, and its culture remains heavily influenced by the mediums.) On Monday, Poole — posting under his moniker “moot” — announced that 4chan had been acquired by Hiroyuki Nishimura, the founder of 2channel.

In an interview with The New York Times, Poole characterised the sale as the site “coming full circle.” Hiroyuki is “literally the only person in the world with as much if not more experience than myself in running an anonymous, large destination community that serves tens of millions of people,” he said. “He’s the great-grandfather of all of this.”

That the site has been sold doesn’t come as a huge shock. Back in January 2015, Poole announced his retirement, and that he was passing the site on to a team of volunteers. 4chan has never had full-time employees (except for Poole), instead relying on a team of anonymous volunteers and moderators.

The terms of the sale have not been disclosed. In contrast with other internet culture hubs like Reddit, 4chan has never taken outside funding. It offers advertising, but it has struggled to attract mainstream clients due to the often wildly controversial content posted to its boards. It also sells a $US20 “4chan Pass.”

In a post on 4chan’s news blog, Poole writes that he first met Nishimura in 2011, “and we became fast friends, bonding over our shared passion for creating and managing online communities. He is one of few individuals with a deep understanding of what it means to provide a digital home for tens of millions of people for more than a decade. There is nobody more qualified than Hiroyuki to lead 4chan, and I can’t think of a person better suited for the task.”

He continues: “4chan sits on the eve of two great milestones — its 2 billionth post and 12th birthday. It has been a great privilege to serve as 4chan’s founder and steward for almost twelve years, and I can’t wait to see what lays in store under Hiroyuki’s experienced leadership.”

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