Dublin Web Summit: Interview With 4chan Founder Christopher Poole
For the second time running, Christopher Poole, aka Moot the founder of imageboard 4chan, was present at the Dublin Web Summit. IBTimes UK caught up with him.
A blank canvas
"With Canvas, I have a team and I have a board of advisors. With 4chan, I have a community but no partners. It's very different. I wish I could have had a team helping me with 4chan, but unfortunately that was never possible."
"I have a team of six for Canvas, though no co-founder. Scaling is quite hard and definitely not linear. Since it's such a small team, hiring is actually a slow process. Going from two to six is a lot more crucial than going from 300 to 310."
Anonymity to a certain extent
One feature 4chan is best known for, apart from being the birthplace of a lot of internet memes, is the complete anonymity on the site between users. This has prompted over the years for a lot of NSFW (not safe for work) content to be uploaded onto the site - porn is a regular feature.
Poole describes the anonymity as not perfect, though, as while users may not be recognised on the site by other users, on the backend Poole can see everyone's IP addresses.
"Anonymity between users means a lot of the content being shared on 4chan is very raw. People can share without fear of their name being attached to what they say, there are no repercussions for posting. However, in no way should this anonymity lead to breaking the law."
Over the years, 4chan actually avoided a lot of expensive legal fees due to its lack of archiving. "If I got an email telling me to take something down, it would already be too late as the thread would have already disappeared."
Just a guy, really
Poole is currently running both 4chan and Canvas, and is on an official leave from university. While he would not reveal the name of the establishment, his major is undeclared though leaning towards anthropology; considering the nature of a site such as 4chan's, this choice does not come as a complete surprise.
When asked what it's like to be recognised, Poole, exhausted and jet-lagged having just arrived in Dublin on Thursday morning, doesn't seem too phased.
"People will come up to me, ask for a picture, maybe say something like 'you're that guy from that site' or 'I'm a fan' and then that's it. It's actually rare people have anything else to say. I wish they'd ask questions or give their opinion on the site."
Just as he finished his talk at the developer stage, Poole was stopped by a couple of people, asking to get a photograph. "I don't mind. And it really doesn't affect my day-to-day life that much."
And being "that guy from that website" does have its perks, like going to a few good conferences. "I came here last year, so when I got asked to come again, I figured why not. I also went to XOXO Conference this year. It's a lot of creative people and has a strong 'makers culture'. It was good."