Christopher “Moot” Poole is stepping down as the administrator of 4chan, the iconic (and occasionally infamous) message board he founded at the age of 15. He announced his departure on 4chan’s news blog today, saying site users should notice a minimal change as he hands control over to a handful of volunteers (including 4chan’s lead developer, managing moderator, and server administrator.)
“4chan has faced numerous challenges over the years,” Poole said in his post. “But the biggest hurdle it’s had to overcome is myself. As 4chan’s sole administrator, decision maker, and keeper of most of its institutional knowledge, I’ve come to represent an uncomfortably large single point of failure.” For now, it seems, he’ll be staying away from the site, but it probably won’t be his last interaction with it. “I’ll need time away to decompress and reflect, but I look forward to one day returning to 4chan as its Admin Emeritus or just another Anonymous,” he says, “and also writing more about my experience running 4chan on my personal blog.”
4chan, which currently claims around 20 million monthly visitors, has an influential but checkered history. Its chaotic /b/ board helped create some of the most popular internet memes of the past decade, and it gave rise to hacktivist collective Anonymous, which has since grown into a global movement. It’s also, however, played host to some of the worst elements of the internet, something that has created visible tension in the past several months. 4chan was originally a central meeting place for adherents of what would become the “Gamergate” movement, but Poole banned discussion of it from the site, partly because of members who led “raids” or attacks on Gamergate’s targets. As a result, he was designated a semi-official enemy of the movement, which reappeared on the 4chan clone 8chan. And while the site has stayed afloat, its dollar value has always been relatively low, especially compared to money-makers like Reddit.
4chan may have been Poole’s first venture, but it hasn’t been his only one. In 2011, he founded an online community called Canvas and released an app called DrawQuest, but the company failed last year, and he announced its official dissolution last week. He doesn’t say where he’ll be moving next, but he’ll answer questions in a livestreamed session on Friday. He’s also posted some site statistics: during its 11-year life, it turns out, the site has seen 42 billion pageviews and 1.8 billion posts. The next year will see whether it can survive without the man who was once synonymous with it.