Apr 23, 2009, 09:37AM

A War, Just For Lulz

Turns out there are consquences when a bunch of nerds get together and share manga and porn.

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For those, like me, who have only a very casual understanding of the notorious /b/ message board, mostly information learned from more tech-savvy friends (you know, the kind who majored in computer science and now work IT jobs and talk about Perl Scripting and shit like that), spending more than a couple minutes on the site can be completely disorienting. If you've never heard of /b/ at all, let's do a little Internet-101 rundown: /b/ is the "random" message board on the site 4chan, a popular imageboard and discussion site. Anything posted on /b/, comments and all, is automatically deleted after 24 hours, and the content is randomly cycled (something you saw on Page 2 may come back up on Page 5, there's no order). Rickrolling, LOLcats, pedobear, chocolate rain, all had their start on /b/.

There are only a few rules: users most confirm they are 18+, users cannot post child pornography (a rule that is mostly a joke among /b/ users), and users cannot hack or take over other websites. This last rule was adopted in late 2006, after many /b/-ers spent most of that summer on the Habbo Hotel website, a popular social networking site where users create avatars and interact with other users in an online hotel (think of it as Second Life with Nintendo-era graphics). /b/ users, all with avatars that looked more than a little like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, took over and shut down the pool at Habbo Hotel. I'll let the Encyclopedia Dramatica (the Wikipedia-style online encyclopedia for users of /b/ and other cult message boards) explain their reasons: "The site itself is made of rooms in a 'hotel' in which 'people' make avatars that can interact with each other. People sometimes go completely straight bonkers and think this website is completely real, forming meaningless 'relationships' to feel as though they are loved, have digital lifeless idiot 'friendz' to fill their IRL [In Real Life] social void, and create such hollow groups as defenseless armies, Harry Potter Sex Castles, Hospitals for the Terminally Stupid, and 'Sexy Nite Clubz'. These 'Sexy Nite Clubz' are places where the most pathetic of the Habbos are known to exist, where inside they have hawt Online Sex and kill each other. In the end, everything this website contains and stands for is just asking to be raided."

According to the Encyclopedia Dramatica, /b/ is "more commonly known as the asshole of the Internets." Some come only to troll for porn, others are devoted hackers. You'll find all types: "It is populated by pedophiles, furries, otaku, wapanese, Azns, WoWers, otherkin, Trent Reznor, probably Will Smith, and recently gentlemen. Also, God has been known to lurk /b/ for hopes of landing some hawt Baby Fuck. All these fags are called /b/tards." 4chan's /b/ is only the most well known. Other message boards have their own versions: 420chan, 7chan, 888chan, and on and on. None of the various users of these /b/ sites particularly get along. If it all sounds a little childish, well, it is, but you're missing the point. As the internet turns toward more and more regulation, /b/ boards are the Wild West, and "/b/tards" the outlaws. Those fully committed to hacking and trolling  all take the name Anonymous. Usually they do things, as they say, "for the lulz" - random internet pranks done for amusement. A "catch-all explanation for... any internet drama you cause," according to the Encyclopedia Dramatica. But as of late Anonymous is more and more organized. The Sarah Palin email hack at the end of the 2008 campaign—that was Anonymous. Same with the “Steve Jobs is dead” hoax that went around a few months ago, and the recent Time magazine poll hack. They've earned renown for Project Chanology, an ongoing protest against the Church of Scientology begun when the Church started taking down articles and videos defamatory of their "religion."

And maybe you saw the Fox News investigative report:

So what's this all coming to? Well, hard to say. But things are heating up. The recent guilty verdict against the founders of the file sharing site Pirate Bay wasn't taken to very kindly. Hackers are taking down Music industry websites, and going after the lawyers involved in the prosecution. As one admin of anonnet.org (a forum for various Anonymous hackers) told The Register, "They want to get the message across that the IFPI can not mess with the internet and that the internet is serious business... This is very much like the Scientology thing started more than a year ago now." In an interview with three Anons for the L.A. Weekly, Alexis Tsotsis writes, "The guys estimate that the movement has more than a million members, all posting as Anonymous — 888chan.org gets from 500 to 600 hits daily. Solar [one Anon] says that the group pulls off an average of three raids a day, though few make it onto our radar. In its most idyllic manifestation (the one that is presented to me), the Anonymous movement is a Darwinism of ideas, where the collective Zeitgeist takes precedence... It occurs to me that this loosely affiliated collective of individuals is the new New Romantics, or who Norman Spinrad called 'Neuromantics' and described as, 'a fusion of the romantic impulse with science and technology' — tech aesthetes with a zealous respect for the untamed nature of the Internet."

Or, as one of the Anons tells her, "Let’s start getting things done instead of looking for porn." Well, things are starting to get done. And it's fast turning into a war.

  • Whoa! I remember going on 4chan a bit back in the day but I didn't remember this serious business! They all just seemed like harmless perverts who liked to start internet memes. Blowing up football stadiums? That's news to me. That Fox News investigation video was pretty funny though; I can't believe the reporter actually said "epic lulz" on air. Brilliant.

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