SXSW Keynote: Christopher Poole

Keynote: Christopher Poole, Founder, 4chan/Canvas

Christopher “moot” Poole is the founder of, a simple image-based bulletin board, which has grown from a niche site targeting anime fans to one of the most influential communities on the ‘Net. With over 12 million unique visitors per month, many popular viral videos, Internet phenomena, and memes get their start on 4chan. In 2010 Poole was a featured speaker at the TED Conference, and he has been profiled by TIME, CNN, The Washington Post, and Technology Review. Recently he started a new project called Canvas, which is working on new and better ways for people to hang out and collaborate online. In addition to 4chan and Canvas, Chris advises Lerer Ventures, a seed stage venture capital fund, and hackNY, a non-profit dedicated to strengthening the New York student hacker scene. He is also a member of the Free Art and Technology Lab


  • Random (/b) is the most popular board – more than half of the traffic goes there
    • Famous for its exploits, such as the group Anonymous
  • Anonymous registration, lots of content – content that people like tends to stay on the board, all else falls off. Lots of rotation of the community – constantly changing who is there.
  • Interesting to see traffic patterns through the day, with the waking hours of the world.
  • Creative culture, using creative medium of images and text. Images MUST be used to start a discussion, and then people can reply with text. This format has spawned a massive creative culture.
  • What can we learn from 4Chan, and how can we improve the message board?
    • Message board format hasn’t really evolved in the last 10 years – looks pretty much the same.
  • 4 thinks learned from 4Chan
    • Idea of Fluid Identity – protecting identity, offering anonymous presence. As we’re moving to this persistent identity, there’s a loss of the innocence of youth. 4Chan is staying away from this, offerring anonymous. Poole thinks it’s WRONG to equate anonymity with a lack of authenticity, which is what Zuckerberg things. Poole thinks anonymity encourages creativity.
    • Rage Guy, Y U No Guy, Forever Alone Guy – memes spawned from 4chan
    • Re-captcha added a year ago for human verification – users hated it. People said it would be the death of 4chan. That’s sir duckworth for you – memes started from re-captcha. Captchart
    • 4Chan gave rise to, and supports iterative conversations, people pulling things down from the cloud on their Nintendo DS, iterating, and re-uploading. People posting animations from their Nintendo DS – Pictoshadows.