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Pool’s Closed is a catchphrase associated with a series of raids carried out by Anonymous against the online social networking site Habbo Hotel, where members of the group formed human blockades to obstruct the entry points of popular hangouts with their avatars dressed in afros and business suits. The first raid was launched in July 2006 after rumors began to spread on 4chan that some Habbo moderators had tendencies to ban users based on the skin colors of their avatars.
Sometime in 2006, rumors began to spread on 4chan’s /b/ (random) board that Habbo’s social moderators were prone to racial profiling against dark-skinned avatar users and abusing their ban powers to keep them out of the site. On July 6th, 2006, a group of 4chan users calling themselves /b/lockers decided to raid Habbo Hotel by forming blockades around the entrances of popular hangouts, exploiting a technical issue that wouldn’t allow avatars to walk through each other when entering and exiting premises. As a result, the human blockade quickly became a source of frustration to the newcomer.
As time passed and the raids continued, the operation also became more organized and complex with detailed instructions on how to participate:
Even a piece of software dubbed the “Pool Tool” was developed and released as a freeware to provide tips on how to unban a character, spam phrases repeatedly and bypass the censor filter in chat mode. Among some of the notable phrases were “Pool’s closed due to AIDS” and the word “harbl” (4chan’s slang word for penis). Both of these words became banned from the site eventually.
July 12th, 2006
The raid continued throughout the week and its intensity peaked on July 12th, 2006, with /b/lockers joining in from Encyclopedia Dramatica, 4chan, YTMND and other Anonymous-affiliated websites. According to Lurkmore wiki, the sudden influx of nigra (a slang term for “nigga” on 4chan’s /b/ board) avatars on Habbo Hotel crippled the majority of public rooms as well as discussion forums and led to the banning of several words like “AIDS.” Later that day, Habbo Hotel went offline.
This marked a successful event and every year on the same day raiders anonymously log onto Habbo Hotel. They blockade the Hotel’s pool from entry while shouting “Pools closed” to users trying to enter. As a result of the 2006 raid, avatars that are black with an afro and a suit are automatically banned.
The mascot of Habbo raids features a clip art of a smiling black man with an afro and arms crossed. Other mascots associated with the Habbo Hotel raids include the Afroduck, a character derived from a well-timed screenshot of a /b/blocker standing behind a bronze duck statue, and Swastiget, which refers to the group staging of a line formation in the shape of a swastika to anger the site’s moderators.
Reenactments in Real Life
The Habbo Hotel raids by 4chan’s /b/ became so popular that they eventulally gained some offline recognition as well. In Finland, people rallied together outside Sulake’s headquarters (the parent company of Habbo Hotel) in afro wigs and suits, forming a real life “swastiget.” In the center was someone cosplaying the character Suiseiseki from the anime Rozen Maiden.
As time went on, people would go on to cosplay the “Pool’s Closed” avatars at anime and internet culture conventions, or print the “Pool’s Closed” mascot on a paper and take pictures of it at their pools.
In 2007 and 2008, people met up and went to screenings of the 2006 action thriller film Snakes on a Plane in afro wigs and suits. In 2006, a Second Life griefer group formed called Patriotic Nigras, their name inspired by the raids. At the Anthrocon 2007, a small scale protest reportedly took place.
In early 2008, a Texan named Mary Alice Altorfer came across a “Pool’s Closed” sign in her neighborhood and called the local news station with a claim that it was promoting racial discrimination. Altorfer’s encounter with an internet meme in real life was soon turned into a news story and after the broadcast, a video clip of the report was uploaded onto YouTube. In the following days, members of Anonymous allegedly launched a harassment campaign against the woman.