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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.
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 4cha, 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.
Poole has become a respected Internet entrepenuer, 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.
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