4chan is an English-language imageboard modeled on the Japanese site 2chan. Users do not have to register an account in order to post on 4chan, as users are permitted to post anonymously. The site is divided into multiple "boards", each dedicated to a specific topic or interest. Founded on October 1, 2003 by Christopher Poole, or 'Moot', it was initially dedicated to the discussion of Japanese anime and manga, but, since the site's inception, its scope has broadened significantly, adding boards dedicated to topics as diverse as photography, weaponry, cooking, and video games. 4chan is known for its links to internet activism, most notably Project Chanology and what would eventually become GamerGate.
Role in GamerGate
Before September 2014
Beginning on August 16, 4chan played a central role in the Zoe Quinn Scandal and the prelude to GamerGate, being one of the first - and then only places - on the internet where the scandal was discussed. A huge number of users from other sites came and wanted to know why there was censorship almost everywhere else, and the anons of 4chan (primarily on /pol/, and then /v/) dug and sought to find explanations on why almost all other major forums were being silenced. The connections found hinted at a vastly larger network of corruption than could reasonably be explained by a sex scandal, and a number of the connections would be vindicated by the Gamers are Dead posts from multiple (ostensibly) competing game journalism sites.
The "general" threads were first titled "Quinnspiracy" and "Quinnspiracy Theory" until sometime August 28, on August 29 they were titled "World War /v/", and then after Adam Baldwin's christening the same day, became "#GamerGate". The population of posters in /v/ jumped from about ~130,000 to ~165,000 people for the duration of GamerGate's presence on 4chan. Relative to the before and after states, this increased /v/'s active population by ~27%. The threads on average, would max the board's thread limit of 850 posts each every ~60min (1.18 posts/5s) in the dead of night and every ~30min (2.36 posts/5s) during peak hours. Extrapolating this rate puts the average posts per day at ~27,000. One anon has called 4chan /v/'s GamerGate threads "the single largest coherent two-way communication ever observed".
The first major "operation", Operation Disrespectful Nod, was started and maintained on 4chan.
On September 16, all threads related to GamerGate began being pruned and deleted on all boards. This marked a dramatic and unannounced departure from existing policy, which stated that one active GamerGate thread was permitted to avoid flooding the board. There were no general announcements. A few anons who attempted to ask questions in the 4chan IRC got bannned.
The other event of September 16 was a post on Cracked written under Zoe Quinn titled "5 Things I Learned as the Internet's Most Hated Person". Its linked was spammed as both new threads and posts on /v/, which in turn led many anons to report such posts as violations of the "Advertising" rule. One mod would make a post saying
- >DO NOT LINK REAL ARTICLE IN THE THREAD. REPORT ANYONE THAT DOES.
- Stop reporting shit that doesn't break rules. I'm going to start banning people in these threads that spam the report system.
This post would go to much wider circulation in an edited version.
During this time, GamerGate focused on:
- Distracting the Mods: Tactics ranged from spamming threads to spamming reports. Anons would evade bans to continue. These efforts led to a refuge being found on /pol/ later in The Silencing
- Regrouping: As GamerGate scattered to different chans, at least one attempt was made to regroup to 4chon.net, which initially was warm to the idea of welcoming 4chan refugees. They quickly changed their decision.
- Contacting m00t: MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT
- Investigating m00t: An article popped up on BuzzFeed about a convention called "XOXO", including figures familiar to GamerGate such as Leigh Alexander and Anita Sarkeesian. It was noticed that the opening picture was from Instagram, tied to an account called "the_real_moot", with a visage recognizable as Christopher Poole. Some research determined that this was indeed the real m00t, and the implications were dire: among other things, he had been in a close personal relationship with Mallory Blair, cofounder of the PR firm SmallGirls, a promotional arm for Gawker; and with Scott Kidder, VP operations at Gawker. During this time a series of old posts was found from a supposed former 4chan moderator, which claimed that Poole had fired the majority of the old moderation team earlier in 2014. A minority of anons held out hope for an official statement.
It is important to note that at this time aside from GamerGate getting removed from even /b/ for being "Off-topic", /a/ would get bans for posting about waifus /pol/ would get bans for saying "nigger", and /tv/ would get bans for baneposting.
On September 18 at ~10:00UTC, at least partially in response to reading the refuge GamerGate threads that appeared there, /sp/ with their hate for mod power abuse started a shitposting storm that would succeed in holding >90% of their board. /v/ would start their own coup shortly after, achieving less on the much more popular board, but still a respectable >50%. Mods would proceed to nuke both boards at least once to 2 pages and 6 pages, respectively.
This has been said to have never happened in the histories of either board.
The same day at 14:05 UTC Poole released a statement, publicly confirming for the first time the mods' decision to globally ban all talk involving GamerGate.
Many have pointed out this statement contradicted many things, including both history (Chanology was always allowed on /b/) and Poole's own words. However it was the site administrator's words, and after holding out for two days the message was clear. People who sought to continue discussing GamerGate left the site, along with an unknown number of anons site-wide in protest after this incident, using 8chan and the existing /burgers/ board (later renamed to /gg/) to continue GamerGate discussion, and creating other boards as replacements for their now-lost homes.
- /v/ Statistics: Population
- #BehindGamerGate - The people of #GamerGate - Who is a /v/anguard?
- 4chan IRC Chat IMG1
- 4chan IRC Chat IMG2
- 4chan chat log (Gamergate/Quinnspiracy wiki)-
- /v/ thread : "##GG + NYS" : Sep 16 2014, 6AM
- Operation Mods Autosage/Banning
- moot's personal relationships
- /d/ mod testimony 1
- /d/ mod testimony 2
- The Silencing: /a/ gets banned for posting about waifus
- The Silencing: /pol/ gets banned for saying "nigger"
- The Silencing: /tv/ gets banned for baneposting
- The Silencing: /sp/ gets nuked 1
- The Silencing: /sp/ gets nuked 2
- The Silencing: /v/ gets nuked
- TED Talks : "Christopher "moot" Poole: The case for anonymity online"