Now in Paper-Vision: The 4chan Guy

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This week’s Time has my profile of moot, the 20-year-old founder of 4chan. I first became aware of 4chan when I failed to credit them as the creators of lolcats, and they got in touch en masse to point that out. Now I see their influence everywhere — 4chan is like a black hole, invisible to the naked eye, but its gravity field is enormous. It’s also like a black hole in that it’s kind of scary.

Towards the end of the piece I mention moot’s real name: Christopher Poole. I figure there’s about a 5% chance that Christopher Poole is in fact not moot’s real name but some incredibly filthy 4chan inside joke. I took the chance because in person moot/Poole comes across as a really nice guy, and if he was playing me he was doing a hell of a good job. But it turns out the Wall Street Journal has the same story — had it shortly before we did, I think — so if we’re going down, at least we’re all going down together.


Anyway my real achievement in this piece was to persuade Time’s copy editors not to capitalize ‘moot.’ So my work is done.

I’ll post a couple of quotes that I didn’t have room for in hard-copy real-world Time. The first came when I asked moot when he realized that the whole 4chan phenomenon was getting out of control:

I guess when the GETs stopped having meaning. Every million posts is a ‘GET’. So people will try to attain that post number, to ‘get’ the GET, as it were. One million GET and two million GET were these big deals. People would camp out and wait around—they would make a note in their head, OK, I think the GET’s going to go down tomorrow. But that’s when the post rate was maybe 10,000 posts per day. Now the post rate is something like 150 to 200,000 posts on the /b/ random board alone. And so GETs happen every few weeks. They’ve lost their meaning. Nobody even remembers. Usually they would spawn a meme, just because they were that post number.

I also asked him if anybody ever recognized him. The answer was: once.

Once I was crossing the street and somebody yelled “moot! Do a barrel roll!” So I did a barrel roll. That’s the only time I’ve ever been recognized in person. Internet celebrity doesn’t always translate into the real world.

It does now.

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