2channel (Japanese: 2ちゃんねる), sometimes abbreviated as "2ch" (2ちゃん), is the Japanese text board community founded by Internet entrepreneur Hiroyuki Nishimura. Since its launch in 1999, the anonymous message board has grown into one of the largest and most popular online communities in Japan, with approximately 10 million daily visitors as of 2014.
On May 30th, 1999, Hiroyuki Nishimura, then a Japanese college student studying at the University of Central Arkansas, created a text-based message board named 2channel as a pet project. According to Nishimura, he created the website in order to find out what would happen if there was a place on the Internet where people could post their opinions anonymously.
On January 2nd 2009, Nishimura sold 2channel's ownership to a Singaporean company Packet Monster, and insisted that he himself had resinged from the administrator. However, the authorities told to the news media that they recognised that it was a dummy company and Nishimura still dominated the service, during the investigation for a drug dealing case in 2012.
In August 2013, 2channel became to face cash-flow problems because a huge leakage of credit card information of the users who registered "2ch Viewer" service happened in that month.
On February of the following year, NT Technology, an American company which has been maintaining 2channel's servers over a decade and also provides 8chan, announced that Nishimura and his fellows were all removed due the problem above, and instead its chief officer Jim Watkins and his company Race Queen. would operate the textboard with the rights of "2ch" domain name and its service.
Nishimura launched 2ch.sc, a clone site automatically copying all threads and posts from 2ch.net, in April 2014. The administrator also claimed that all the rights of 2channel was belonged to him or Packet Monster, and they hijacked the service.
In May 2016, Nishimura filed a claim to World Intellectual Property Organization on the grounds that he got the trademark rights of "2ch" in Japan, but it was rejected in that July.
On October 1st, 2017, Race Queen released the official announcement that 2channel's ownership was transfered to Loki Technology, and both of the service name and the domain name will change to "5channel" for smooth transfer without any rights conflicts. In that statement, Race Queen revealed 2ch.net had been suffering on obstructions from Nishimura side which has been continuing even after the WIPO's decision proved their validity.
According to the early adopters of the site, 2channel was conceived as an alternative destination to accommodate disgruntled visitors of Amezor Linkhouse, a bulletin board system (BBS) community originally launched on August 5th, 1997 and the first of its kind to display threads in a non-chronological order by their popularity and level of user engagement, after it began experiencing server issues due to heavy traffic volume and increasing censorship efforts. Following the mass exodus of users from Amezor to 2channel in mid-1999, the former website ultimately shut down on December 30th later that same year, which resulted in the massive growth of 2channel's user base.
In August 2001, 2channel also began experiencing server outage due to heavy traffic volume, which temporarily rendered several sub-boards on the site inaccessible. By March 2002, 2channel had begun displaying IP addresses of the anonymous posters after several visitors of the site became implicated in serious criminal cases, including the hijacking of a bus in May 2000.
In its early years, the site was run by three central administrators: Nishimura, Ichirō Yamamoto and Yoshihiro "Yakin" Nakao, until Yamamoto left the group and Nishimura resigned from his company in 2002. Since then, the site has been managed by the only remaining member of the original three, Nakao, a server specialist and president of online media company Zero Co.Ltd, with the aid of more than 300 volunteer administrators.
Under the management of Nakao, the website underwent a period of commercialization during which premium services like 2channel Viewer and 2channel Search were launched.
In January 2009, 2channel was acquired by Singaporean company Packet Monster for an undisclosed sum, amidst the mounting pressure of legal and financial troubles prompted by Hiroyuki's refusal to disclose private user information.
A posting in a thread will either "age" (bump, from Japanese "ageru", to raise) or "sage" (not bump, from Japanese "sageru", to lower) its position in the thread list; "sage-ed" posts have no effect on its position. Threads may be "sage-ed" if the thread is disliked, or to keep it from cluttering the main thread list, or to prevent idle browsers from flooding in and trolling the thread at the top of the list.
Because of the absolute freedom and anonymity the board offered, it quickly grew to become the largest and most influential message board in Japan. According to Alexa.org, 2channel today is the 153rd most popular site online. For comparison, Google is #1, Digg is #115 while 4chan is #617.
 The Japan Times – Accidental leak IDs over 30,000 'anonymous' 2channel users / 09-17-2013
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