To Chan or Not to Chan

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b5-ys9oiyaa2r6(Update 2/14/2016: This ar­ti­cle had been writ­ten when we first launched the site, and were on AdSense at the time. The orig­i­nal ver­sion of this piece had the word “fag­got” in it twice. We had got­ten an email from AdSense two days af­ter pub­li­ca­tion es­sen­tial­ly say­ing “re­move the piece or get tak­en off AdSense.” We de­cid­ed at the time to change the men­tions of “fag­got” to “bun­dle of sticks.” I had kind of for­got­ten about this ar­ti­cle since then. As we are now free from ad­ver­tis­er con­trol, men­tions of the word “fag­got” have been restored.)

(Disclaimer: The opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are the author’s own and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly rep­re­sent those of the staff and/or any con­trib­u­tors to this site.)

Have you ever want­ed to go to a web­site where only your ideas and opin­ions mat­ter? Where there’s no vot­ing sys­tem, or way to keep track of all the posts a user makes? A place where con­ver­sa­tion is judged based on the mer­it of what you say and not who you are on the site? If you an­swered yes to any of these, then you might be a prime can­di­date for a *chan. Before you start post­ing pic­tures of Lanky Kong or start call­ing every­body and every­thing a bun­dle of sticks fag­got, you have to un­der­stand the mind­set of a chan­ner — why we act they way we do and what it means to be part of the community.

It’s typ­i­cal for peo­ple to fall into the “Lol so ran­dumb” mind­set that per­me­ates the rest of the in­ter­net, and even more so when every­body is anony­mous. There are memes, im­age macros, and all sorts of in­side jokes. The site and its sub boards have their own unique per­son­al­i­ties that rise up out of forced anonymi­ty. It’s this con­cept of “Ideas > You” that ex­ists at the very heart of a chan. Your ideas sur­vive based on their mer­it, not based on who you are and how much “kar­ma” one has. That’s re­al­ly the core con­cept of the site, re­gard­less of if it was in­ten­tion­al or not. By virtue of trans­form­ing every­one into a face­less poster with no unique iden­ti­fy­ing marks, you re­duce some­body to their ideas alone. It’s this con­cept of re­mov­ing the idea from the per­son that chan boards ex­em­pli­fies and that mod­ern so­ci­ety is mak­ing so hard.

With the re­cent push for more mass sur­veil­lance and mon­i­tor­ing, every­body now ex­pects you to put your ego be­fore your ideas. This is the eas­i­est way to sti­fle a con­ver­sa­tion. The very na­ture of a chan forces con­ver­sa­tion to take place on an in­tel­lec­tu­al lev­el. It’s the face­less na­ture of the web­site that en­cour­ages peo­ple to say what they re­al­ly think. This brings us to one of the most im­por­tant rules of a chan: There is no gen­der on the in­ter­net. This is not be­cause we do not val­ue gen­dered ex­pe­ri­ences, this is sim­ply due to the fact that no­body cares about your gender.

Gender is usu­al­ly not im­por­tant to a con­ver­sa­tion un­less it’s a gen­dered is­sue. Even then, the very na­ture of a chan al­lows for peo­ple to re­move them­selves from that iden­ti­fi­er and take a look at a top­ic from both view­points. It’s the idea that the con­ver­sa­tion is big­ger then who you are. Your gen­der is a de­trac­tor from what you be­lieve and think; a des­per­ate cry out for at­ten­tion. You want peo­ple to fo­cus on you and that’s not what the cul­ture in­side a chan is. It’s an ex­change of ideas. Everybody is treat­ed as equals. Your voice is just as valid as any­one else’s. Your ideas sur­vive on their mer­it, and they are judged on that alone.

However, this does not mean that iden­ti­ty is not im­por­tant. Chans al­low for peo­ple to use a tem­po­rary form of ID if who you are is im­por­tant to the con­ver­sa­tion in the spec­i­fied thread. This brings us to a de­f­i­n­i­tion and an im­por­tant caveat about trip­codes; trip­codes are for bun­dles of sticks fag­gots. What I mean by this is not what it seems. You use a trip­code if you need to iden­ti­fy your­self, but it is not a user­name. Don’t run around with one on shit­ting the place up like your opin­ion is the best and that you must be as­so­ci­at­ed with it. It’s at­ten­tion whor­ing at it’s finest. It’s in di­rect con­flict with the core val­ues of the site. Anonymity and open com­mu­ni­ca­tion is core to chan boards. An equal ex­change of all view points. So re­mem­ber: trip­codes aren’t log-ins — they aren’t usernames.

If you’ve man­aged to make it to this point in your chan ex­pe­ri­ence and you have start­ed to en­joy the site, then you’re go­ing to have to learn how to lurk moar. Lurking is surf­ing the site with­out post­ing. It’s im­por­tant to do this so you can un­der­stand where peo­ple come from and how they com­mu­ni­cate. Boards have a per­son­al­i­ty and unique sub­text to them. There are un­writ­ten rules that are a part of the board’s iden­ti­ty. It’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand it so that you can frame your ideas in a way that will cre­ate dis­cus­sion. If you don’t present your idea in a way that is ap­proach­able, you’ll get no conversation.

Now… you’re still not ready to ex­pe­ri­ence a chan. This small look into how one works and the ideals and core val­ues of a chan would nev­er pre­pare any­body for the things that hap­pen on the site. It’s some­thing that has to be seen to be be­lieved. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll throw up and you WILL be of­fend­ed. But that’s okay, be­cause that’s the whole hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence wrapped up with a bow and cov­ered in shit.

0e3As a last note, I want to re­in­force a core idea of any *chan: We don’t hate you. We hate every­thing. There is al­ways some­one that dis­likes your opin­ion and there will al­ways be crit­i­cism. Some peo­ple will frame this as a well rea­soned ar­gu­ment. Others will post some­thing to mock, shock, or oth­er­wise ridicule you for your idea. Anonymity en­cour­ages peo­ple to be at their worst and most hon­est. With a lack of cen­sor­ship you have a true con­ver­sa­tion. Nothing is sa­cred — every­thing can and will be at­tacked. Anything will be crit­i­cized for every­thing. This is a byprod­uct of the rain­bow of view­points that comes with the draw of anonymi­ty. People will be vile, cru­el, and nasty. This is just a byprod­uct of the open com­mu­ni­ca­tion that is achieved from an anony­mous plat­form tak­en as a whole.

(Editors Note: Some lan­guage has been changed since the orig­i­nal posting.)

(Editors Note Two: Since we are off AdSense, lau­nage has been re­stored to that of the orig­i­nal posting.)

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Killer Tofu is the only ac­cept­able form of tofu out there. When not writ­ing about games and in­ter­net cul­ture he en­joys long walks on the beach with your mom. But he won’t call her afterwards.

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