Academic paper about 4chan's /pol/ forum


Originally published at:


We then analyze the content posted to /pol/ with a focus on determining topics of interest and types of media shared, as well as the usage of hate speech and differences in poster demographics. We additionally provide quantitative evidence of /pol/’s collective attacks on other social media platforms.

I think that this part shows a split between two ways of conceptualizing /pol/. The former acknowledges that content is posted to /pol/ by anonymous users, but the latter and subsequent bits frame it as if these people act on behalf of 4chan itself, which seems to not be the case. For example, if I were a malicious actor on the net, I think it would be a stretch to say that I speak or act on behalf of bOING bOING simply because I post here.

This seems to tie into emerging “norms” with regards to network space as public forum. People worry on the one hand about the lack of truly public space serving to marginalize criticism and strengthen the interests of corporate owners, while yet still putting the onus upon sites to curate and moderate the discourse which occurs there. I think that both approaches disempower people because they shift the responsibility for individual’s speech to those who host them.


/pol/ is easy to spoof, but it automatically adds a trip to unique IPs and posts the flag of the IP’s country. It’s both anonymous from a user’s personal life but allows for the crowd to search out and target specific trips so it encourages group think and unity despite the anonymous nature.

I find /pol/ to be a sad curiosity. Most of the actual content (i.e. the posts that are not just random crap, raids, etc.) are people with terrible views reaching out to find literally anyone. There is a lot of people posting something along the lines of “How can I convince my family or friends why [insert race] is a problem?” or “Why doesn’t anyone else see that [insert conspiracy, typically an alt right one]?” and even “So I know why [insert one racist/sexist/etc. “problem”], but redpill me on [a different one], I can’t find anything on google.”


I remember the idea that the internet would help spread knowledge and be a general boon to civilized society across the globe.

Well, I guess it’s done that some, but on the other hand it’s also made it easy for white supremacists to meet and discuss their hatred and infect the debate without ever having to show their faces.

One step forward, one step back.


The OP image is pretty funny though. Pepillary?


My mind drifts to a certain Barbershop number by the venerable Pythons.


Would you mind expanding upon this? What do you mean by “trips”? I tried doing a search for “website trips” and didn’t see anything that looked relevant.


Boing boing has hosted articles about why breasts should be allowed on facebook, I thought using a provocative image to make a point wouldn’t bother people here.


I see your point, but everyone else’s as well. Maybe add a spoiler blur filter to it? (Highlight the code for the picture, then click the cog)


A trip is just the short form for a tripcode. From the 4chan FAQ,

Tripcodes can help verify a user’s identity to others, and are a type of pseudo-registration. To use a normal tripcode, place a hash mark ("#") followed by a word or short phrase after what you’ve entered into the [Name] field (ex. “User#password”). Upon submission, the server will generate the hash unique to that particular word or phrase. The previous example would display “User !ozOtJW9BFA” after being posted.

In threads on ceirtan boards, ie /pol/, each user in the thread is assigned a tripcode. This means that when a discussion occurs, individuals can recognize which responses come from which posters. It gets rid of confusion over samefagging(someone replying to their own post) etc. Hope this helps!

Edit: Just made it this far in, but they actually tackle tripcodes in section 3.2 of the paper


I think that’s a little different. Boobs aren’t necessarily offensive, that image certainly is more on the offensive side. [ETA] Boobs aren’t ever really offensive, just by themselves. They feed babbies…


I have to agree, even though personally I don’t much mind. That said tho… Trumps tiny, deformed T-rex arms crack me up.


If it had just been only a Trump-rex… :wink:


Indeed. Her choice of seating is not something to be contemplated lightly. I think I’d balk even if it was to save the world or something. Well, possibly to save the world. But with great reluctance.


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