4chan's twenty-something founder Christopher "Moot" Poole just publicly launched his much-hyped new startup Canv.as, which is billed as "4chan for grown-ups." Does 4chan hate Canv.as? Of course it does.
Canv.as, which has raised $3.6 million in venture funding, is an unprecedented attempt to monetize the meme-making process 4chan perfected over seven years of troublemaking. Like 4chan, the site is based on users uploading and remixing funny pictures and .gifs. But Canv.as is supposed to be a clean, well-lighted place for memes —its three rules are "keep it safe for work," "Don't be mean," and "Stay on topic." It's the polar opposite of 4chan's meandering, porn-infested boards.
Today Canv.as was released into public beta, so anyone can sign up and start remixing pictures with the built in photo editor (they're mostly cat-based, right now) and compete for cartoon badges for exceptional work. But judging from the vitrolic feedback on 4chan, not many 4channers are going to try out their overlord's new baby. Here's just a sample of the comments about canv.as from 4chan and the Reddit thread where Moot announced the public beta:
4 CHAN IS NOW OBSOLETE
there are fucking ready made hearts with lol in them over there, are you fucking crazy? are we 12 year old girls?
4chan has turned into complete fucking shit, and the concept of canv.as is a total fucking sellout. Retards creating shitty cookie cutter memes? Fuck that shit.
LOVE IS DEAD /b/
Oh fuck me.
Whats wrong guys? mite be cool, who knows.
Hey moot, requiring registering users to register with Facebook makes you a fucking candy-ass. I was actually going to register until you made me sign up with Facebook. FUCK YOU. Nobody gives a flying fuck about canvas, you already have an image board man! Just revamp 4Chan. I guess this means you don't care about 4Chan anymore? You're just gonna let it keep dying and move on to another site? Fuck off.
(Canv.as requires a Facebook account to login—sort of strange considering Moot's outspoken criticism of Facebook's anti-anonymity policies.)
The blowback highlights the tricky place Moot occupies as he tries to both convince the some 18 million 4channers that he's not abandoning 4chan, while luring them over to his new, money-making venture. (4chan has never been, and likely never will be, profitable.) Frankly, 4channers are right to be a bit jealous of Moot's new creation. It's hard to see how Moot will be able to equally nurture a successful start up and 4chan's /b/ message board, where a popular inside joke involves posting child porn when moderators aren't looking. Something's going to give, and we're guessing it will be the site that's not backed by millions in venture funding.