DISCLAIMER: 4chan contains many images at which you should not look at if you are under 18…in fact, some of the stuff on this site I don't want to look at regardless of my age.  Visit the site at your own risk.

4chan is an addictive little site that is also incredibly useful.  Why haven't you heard about it before?  Well, chances are that you have, but you just did not know it.  4chan is the original source for some of the Internet's best memes, including Rick Rolling, so i herd u like mudkips, and LOLCats.  Yes, those highly time-wasting Internet phenomena all started from the same source.

4chan was created by a 15-year-old boy in his New York bedroom, simply to begin a website to post images and musings on Japanese anime.  This site was to be the mirror site to the Futaba Channel boards of Japan, commonly called "2chan".

Similar to another simplistic website, craigslist, 4chan slowly grew to a website that encouraged creativity in image posting, as well as other kinds of media files.  To participate is ridiculously easy, so much so that the free, anonymous posting ability has led to some raunchier images on the site.  The site contains some amusing, if not honest, ‘rules' that govern what you can do with the site.  Obviously, these have very little legal clout, but they are interesting nonetheless.  Below is a sampling:

  1. Do not upload, post, discuss, request, or link to, anything that violates local or United States law. This will be severely punished and strictly enforced.
  2. If you are under the age of 18, or it is illegal for you to view the materials contained on this website, discontinue browsing immediately.
  3. Do not post the following outside of /b/: Trolls, flames, racism, off-topic replies, uncalled for catchphrases, macro image replies, indecipherable text (example: "lol u tk him 2da bar|?"), anthropomorphic ("furry"), grotesque ("guro"), or loli/shota pornography.
  4. The posting of personal information or calls to invasion is prohibited. Advertising (all forms) is also not welcome-this includes any type of referral linking.
  5. All boards that default to the Burichan (blue) theme are to be considered "work safe". Violators may be temporarily banned and their posts removed.

One can only wonder how seriously these rules are enforced, considering the overwhelming anonymity of the site.

Less than a month ago, the site has gained more attention than ever before as the now-20 Christopher Poole revealed his real identity (he went by the short nickname of ‘moot' while on the site).  This led to a lot of folks checking out the originatal website for the first time.

In a recent article, Jonathan Durden discusses advertisement in terms of websites like 4chan.  He describes 4chan rather well as "similar to YouTube, but less polished and more randomly edgy in its content and style."  Durden discusses how these mega communities of Internet users have not been able to cash in on their vast audiences because monetization challenges the very reason that people come to the sites.  Poole himself admits that his sole employee, a programmer, makes more than he does, which is still very little.  In an article in the The Wall Street Journal, Pools claims, "[his] biggest time spent has been convincing companies in marketing potential in 4chan but no one sees eye to eye."

Unlike many other sites of this variety, 4chan is still a modest operation which subsists mainly on the occasional donation drive directly through the website.  Before it can become more than modest, Poole has to get some investors to see his point about the site's advertising appeal, even though somehow the products of the site are more well known than the actual site itself.  I've seen LOLCats for months, but I never knew until recently that it began as ‘Caturdays' on 4chan.