Imageboards

Ones I Know

4chan
A pile of crap. There is no reason go there, but this list would feel woe­fully in­com­plete without it.
8chan
Prob­ably the biggest still-living 4chan al­tern­at­ive. Has a red­dit-­like model where anyone can create their own board. The av­erage board quality tends to be quite low.
lain­chan
Pretty good. I am an ad­min. kalyx (pre­vious owner) was un­stable and prob­ably the worst thing about lain­chan, other than the politics board. Site was in a per­petual state of “about to be sold”, but this has yet to ac­tu­ally happen and it ac­tu­ally happened, Ap­ple­man1234 bought the site from kalyx! See also ir­c.lain­chan.org.
nullchan
lain­chan’s “rivals”, they were be­hind a lot of DDoSes and black­mail back in the day. But now they don’t ex­ist, sucks to be them.
sushichan
Slow. Very cosy. Used to be sushi­girl.­tokyo, but the old owner went into the moun­tains and van­ished (he’s con­firmed still alive). Now run by a guy called Seisatsu. See #sushi­girl on freen­ode. /kaitensushi/ best board.
uboachan
Also run by Seisatsu. I don’t know any­thing else about it.
(secret)
Totally avoids all the neg­ative as­pects of im­age­board cul­ture. Ul­ti­mate in cosy. Only open during cer­tain hours.

Cul­ture

Im­age­board cul­ture is a strange beast. The only con­stant is “lurk more”. If in doubt, try to gauge the cul­ture of a board be­fore posting in it.

I’ve heard it said that VA-11 HALL-A is to im­age­board cul­ture what Un­der­tale is to tumblr cul­ture. Given that I en­joyed the former and was bored by the lat­ter, that might be the case.

Anime

Im­age­board cul­ture has a lot of overlap with anime cul­ture. There’s a crowd who dis­pute this, but they are wrong. Most im­age­boards will have a ded­ic­ated anime board, and those which don’t will still have fre­quent anime dis­cus­sion (un­less it’s banned out­right, but I haven’t seen that any­where).

Anime, manga, and doujinshi is a common source for post im­ages.

Iden­ti­fic­a­tion

Providing any identi­fying in­form­a­tion about your­self is a big no-no un­less clearly rel­evant to the dis­cus­sion.

A user may in­clude a name with their post, but to do so is al­most uni­ver­sally frowned upon and seen as at­ten­tion-seeking at best (see namefag and tripfag). A user may also in­clude an email ad­dress with their post, but to ac­tu­ally use that is so rare that the field has been re­pur­posed to com­mu­nicate tex­tual metadata (see noko and sage).

The gen­eral philo­sophy is that posts should stand or fall on their in­di­vidual mer­its, and who the poster ac­tu­ally is doesn’t mat­ter. It’s even a little con­ten­tious that staff can tie mul­tiple posts to the same user, and may be in­flu­enced by this when making de­cisions.

Politics

Those who talk about politics tend to be on the ex­tremes, and the ex­tremes on im­age­boards are more ex­treme than what you might be used to. If you feel un­com­fort­able with dis­cus­sion about how lib­er­als/muslim­s/jews (quite a pop­ular bo­gey­man)/gays/etc are ru­ining the world, stay out of polit­ical boards. They are a cesspit.

Mod­er­ating polit­ical dis­cus­sion on an im­age­board is one of the least pleasant tasks you can do on­line. As soon as you take some vis­ible ac­tion, people ac­cuse you of bias and kick up a shit­storm.

Mod­er­a­tion

Im­age­boards tra­di­tion­ally have four very coarse-­grained levels of staff:

Ad­min­is­trators
They can do everything. Tra­di­tion­ally, there is only one, but this is not ne­ces­sarily the case. Some ex­amples of ad­min-only powers are: cre­ating and de­leting users, cre­ating and de­leting boards, modi­fying user per­mis­sions. The cap­code is tra­di­tion­ally “## Ad­min”.
Global Mod­er­ators
Like mod­er­at­ors, but with power over every board. The cap­code is tra­di­tion­ally “## Mod”.
Mod­er­ators
The bulk of your typ­ical im­age­board’s staff. On their boards, they can do ba­sic­ally any­thing: de­lete, move, and edit posts and im­ages; ban users; spoiler and un­spoiler im­ages; bumplock threads; sticky threads; and so on. The cap­code is tra­di­tion­ally “## Mod”.
Jan­itors
They can de­lete posts. The idea of the po­s­i­tion is that re­lying on users to re­port bad posts is un­re­li­able, and so jan­itors are more pro­act­ive. They may have ac­cess to staff-only boards, which reg­ular users don’t, and what­not. They get no cap­code. Typ­ic­ally, re­vealing that you are a jan­itor is grounds for im­me­diate dis­missal.

So you’re a mod. Now what?

You have somehow found your­self in the po­s­i­tion of an im­age­board mod­er­ator, and have seen a post which merits mod­er­a­tion: what do you do?

  • Is it sharing il­legal ma­ter­ial?

    For ex­ample, child por­no­graphy. De­lete post and ban IP forever.

  • Does it clearly break the rules?

    The user needs to be banned, but should the ban be pub­lic? Should the post be de­leted? These are both cul­tural is­sues. The guidelines here work for lain­chan, but be sure to know the feel­ings of the more ex­per­i­enced staff of the im­age­board you are mod­er­at­ing.

    • Has it been re­sponded to, or has the post been around for a while?

      If so, it might be dis­ruptive to de­lete it.

    • Has the post not been re­sponded to, or is it fairly new?

      De­leting it is prob­ably safe.

    • Is the ban going to be for a long time, or is the post really bad?

      Prob­ably go for a public ban. Public bans serve two pur­poses: they re­as­sure users that the bad poster has been dealt with, and they act as a warning and a re­minder that mod­er­a­tion is hap­pen­ing.

    • Is the ban for a short time, or is the post only just over the line?

      No public ban. If users see lots of public bans for what they per­ceive as small of­fences, they are likely to com­plain “mods are nazis” or something.

      Bear in mind that a user can make a non-public ban pub­lic, by posting a screen­shot of the ban mes­sage.

  • Does it ar­gu­ably break the rules?

    De­cide if it ac­tu­ally does or not. This may be easier to do in dis­cus­sion with other staff. Then see does it clearly break the rules?, but bear in mind that the post is on the bor­der­line: so prob­ably a short non-public ban.

  • Is it just gen­er­ally low qual­ity?

    Is there an ex­pected tone on this board? If so, the post may be worth de­let­ing, and a (non-pub­lic) very short ban given to the user to convey some in­form­a­tion. Vichan can be con­figured to show users a ban mes­sage even if it has ex­pired by the time they next visit the site: this can be used to give users “warn­ings”, a very short ban with a mes­sage about post qual­ity.

    This is the trick­iest cat­egory to en­force, as it’s easy to be swayed by per­sonal bias. En­sure your mod­er­a­tion is fair!

  • Is it off-topic, but still good?

    Then it may be a good idea to move the post to a new thread, move the thread to a new board, or mod­post in the thread to try to get the dis­cus­sion back on track.

If you are un­sure, talk to your fellow staff! We do it for the same reason: to have the best im­age­board we can.

And re­mem­ber: dis­cus­sion of mod­er­a­tion within a thread it­self is al­most al­ways off-topic. Don’t get caught up in that if people ques­tion your de­cisions (and it’s easy to do so!). If there is a meta-dis­cus­sion board, re­direct mod­er­a­tion cri­ti­cism to there.

Ter­min­o­logy

  • avatarfag: someone using a con­sistent avatar (eg, a cer­tain anime char­ac­ter) to identify them­selves.
  • avatar­posting: the act of posting as an avatarfag.
  • cap­code: a spe­cial string in the name field which iden­ti­fies the poster as a member of staff.
  • chan: im­age­board.
  • dubs: a post number with a pair of re­peating di­gits.
  • GET: guessing your post number to be a sat­is­fying value (eg, “dubs GET”)
  • fullchan: 8chan. See halfchan.
  • halfchan: 4chan. See fullchan.
  • live­board: an im­age­board where posts are up­dated in real-­time as people type, using javas­cript.
  • mod­post: a post with a cap­code. Can also be used as a verb (“to mod­post”).
  • namefag: someone using a name to identify them­selves.
  • newfag: new user.
  • noko: in­cluded in the email field to re­turn to the thread, not the board in­dex, after posting (some im­age­boards (like lain­chan) do this auto­mat­ic­ally).
  • oldfag: old user.
  • sage: in­cluded in the email field to not bump a thread when post­ing. Can also be used as a verb (“to sage”).
  • samefag: someone posting in a thread acting as two or more dif­ferent people, typ­ic­ally to pro­voke ar­gu­ment by ar­guing the ex­treme of each side until others are drawn in. Can also be used as a verb (“to samef­ag”).
  • trip: a trip­code.
  • trip­code: a hashed pass­word in­cluded in the post name field to identify the poster.
  • tripfag: someone using a trip­code to identify them­selves, but es­pe­cially someone doing so when un­ne­ces­sary, or someone re-using the same trip­code across mul­tiple threads. Can also be used as a verb (“to tripf­ag”).
  • trips: a post number with a trio of re­peating di­gits.
  • vichan: a pop­ular PHP im­age­board pro­gram.
Date
Tags
culture, tech
Target Audience
Imageboard dwellers & cyber-anthropologists.
Epistemic Status
Totally unsubstantiated opinions, but I've been immersed in this culture for a while.