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.