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moot is the online pseudonym used by Christopher Poole, the creator of English-language imageboard 4chan and media remixing web app Canvas.
Christopher Poole created 4chan in 2003 when he was 15 years old and living in New York City. According to a 2007 article in The Star, moot frequented the Something Awful forums prior to creating 4chan. The site was launched on October 1st, 2003 as a place to discuss Otaku culture, inspired by the Japanese image board Futaba Channel (2chan), with a primary focus on anime and manga. Poole remained somewhat anonymous until his name was revealed in a Wall Street Journal article profiling 4chan on July 9th, 2008. His web presence remains fairly limited, but his Twitter account has more than 43,470 followers as of November 2012.
Time Magazine Poll
In April 2009, a website was launched for the annual Time 100 poll to decide who would be given that year’s title of World’s Most Influential Person. After the link was posted on 4chan, Anons decided to work together to skew the results. Eventually they were able to vote moot to the top of the list, and also managed to vertically spell out “marblecake also the game,” a reference to the name of the IRC channel used during Project Chanology raids, by arranging the first 21 nominees’ names in a particular order. Time announced that Poole had won the title World’s Most Influential Person with 16,794,368 votes on April 27th, 2009.
In a stunning result, the winner of the third annual TIME 100 poll and new owner of the title World’s Most Influential Person is moot. The 21-year-old college student and founder of the online community 4chan.org, whose real name is Christopher Poole, received 16,794,368 votes and an average influence rating of 90 (out of a possible 100) to handily beat the likes of Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Oprah Winfrey. To put the magnitude of the upset in perspective, it’s worth noting that everyone moot beat out actually has a job.
Canvas is a social web application focused on remixing media (mostly images) using a built in image editing tools. On May 14th, 2010, TechCrunch reported that Poole had managed to raise $625,000 in funding for the project. A private beta was launched on January 31st, 2011, with only 4,000 invites. On September 6th, 2011, Canvas announced on their official blog that they were opening Canvas up to the public. After its initial launch, the site was featured on Business Insider, The Creator’s Project and Digital Trends. In 2011, there were more than one million posts made on the site and by January 2012, there were an estimated 77,000 monthly users on the site. Throughout 2012, the Daily Dot published near-daily collections of the site’s most popular content.
DrawQuest is a mobile gaming app that allows users to participate in drawing challenges on their smart phones or tablets. In the game, users would be presented with quests, or prompts, that often involved a single doodle given to the user that they would have to draw a scene around. The app was originally launched for the iPad in February 2013  and downloaded over 1 million times within the first two weeks of its release. On November 21st, the app was released for iPhone OS, which was covered by several tech news sites such as Tech Crunchand The Laughing Squid. On February 22, 2013, DrawQuest launched the Tumblr blog bestofdrawquest to showcase their users’ artwork (shown below).
On January 21st, 2014, Poole announced on his blog that DrawQuest and Canvas had failed as business ventures and both products would be closing. In the blog post, he explained:
“I’m incredibly proud of an amazing team and all that they have accomplished. Our most recent product, DrawQuest, is by all accounts a success. In the past year it’s been downloaded more than 1.4 million times, and is currently used by about 25,000 people a day, and 400,000 last month alone. Retention and engagement are great. And yet we still failed. It may seem surprising that a seemingly successful product could fail, but it happens all the time. Although we arguably found product/market fit, we couldn’t quite crack the business side of things.”
The same day, similar announcements were made on the official blogs of DrawQuest and Canv.as to notify all users that they would try to keep the service up for a few months, but they wouldn’t be able to provide a systems update after the upcoming v3.1.1. In addition, e-mail newsletters were sent out to instruct users on how to save and back-up their contributions once the site shuts down.
Poole has become a respected Internet entrepeneur, and has spoken at conferences at the Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and South by Southwest. In 2008, he was referred to as “the most influential web entrepreneur you’ve never heard of” in an article in The Observer.
Advocacy of Online Anonymity
Poole spoke during the TED2010 conference about the importance of online anonymity on February 10th, 2010 (shown below, left). He contrasted anonymous websites like 4chan to sites like Facebook and Twitter that encourage the sharing of personal information. Poole expressed a similar sentiment during his keynote presentation at South by Southwest Interactive on March 13th, 2011 (shown below, left) and specifically pointed out how he disagrees with Mark Zuckerberg’s view of anonymity online. He stated: “Anonymity is authenticity. It allows you to share in a completely unvarnished, raw way.”
Stature Within 4chan
On 4chan, specifically within the random “/b/” board, moot is regarded as a celebrity of sorts and is often featured in threads dedicated to posting various images of the site’s creator. Several exploitables exist that use photos of moot. As of November 2012, there are more than 23,300 Chanarchive threads that mention moot. Additionally, a Facebook fan page for moot has more than 8635 likes as of November 2012.
Dispute with Moot.It
In late November 2012, Christopher Poole’s lawyers sent a formal letter (shown below) to Moot.It, a San Francisco-based startup company planning to release customizable commenting software. The letter states that “moot” is part of Poole’s right of publicity under New York State law as well as a trademark of 4chan, arguing that since the name represents his online life and persona, people could mistakenly construe that Poole is associated with the company. Moot.It’s founder, Courtney Couch, responded by saying that the company took their name from the word’s definition “open to discuss or debate” and noting that they did not plan on changing the name. Couch’s lawyer also released a statement dismissing the lawsuit as “frivolous” and arguing that any further inquiries would lead to “a lawsuit for malicious prosecution.” The news of the legal discussion was featured on BetaBeat[, BBC News, Ars Technica and Softpedia. As of 3:18 PM EST on November 20th, 2012, Moot.it was offline, but it is unknown whether or not it was related to the dispute.
Reaction to GamerGate
Originally 4chan allowed discussion of the Quinnspiracy / #GamerGate controversy. However after attending the XOXO convention (which has Anita Sarkeesian, as a guest speaker) he and the mods purged 4chan of all discussion of GamerGate, closing threads related to the topic and banning users.
On September 18th after a riot conducted by /sp/ and /v/ moot gave a response and reason for the deletions:
The reaction to moot’s stance on GamerGate as well of the preceding censorship forced users to seek a new refuge for the discussion on MasterChan and the recently formed 8chan
Search queries for both “christopher poole” and “4chan moot” reached their highest volume in April of 2009, the same month Time Magazine announced Christopher Poole had won the annual Time 100 poll for World’s Most Infuential Person.
Business Insider – REVEALED: Inside Canvas, 4chan Founder Moot’s Secretive Startup
Digital Trends – Canvas: 4chan founder Moot’s newest meme generator
The Laughing Squid – DrawQuest Drawing App Launches for the iPhone and iPod Touch