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On Leading the Anonymous

The idea of managing your own anonymous community has some appeal for people who think a rowdy group of strangers are their friends, but it's actually a bad investment with many downsides. As a former board owner, here are a few things to ponder.

Part 1: The Self

  • Don't give yourself an identity. There's just something cathartic about the community naming you, rather than you naming yourself. If you're forced to adopt a name, be generic or thematic.
    • Don't be too flashy. If the community emphasizes anonymity, you aren't supposed to stand out in the first place! Even if you're not trying to, you'll always come off as flashy with the name on.
    • You'll need thick skin. Anonymity can bring out the worst in people, so don't take these things too personally. This is also a reason why you should avoid using the “self insert” name.
  • If you want a large community, you need other moderators. If you have no connections, this will be tough. You don't want to be the only moderator going insane by patrolling your own creation.
  • You need a place for staff communications. There will inevitably be some IRC channel, a private board,1) a Skype group, a Discord server,2) and so forth. I'll expand on this in Part 4.

Part 2: The Boards

  • You probably won't be the next 2channel/4chan/8chan/etc. You're trying to catch “lightning in a bottle”, but you can't simply force this using methods like sabotage, spam, and paid drones.
  • Don't open a plethora of boards. You will spread your community thin, newer visitors will get lost because you've given them too many options, and most of your boards will look dead.
  • Start off small and build upwards from there. The community is stronger when consolidated, plus you'd have to gauge your community to see if they'd even approve of certain ideas anyways.
  • Don't stay on a single board for too long. The positive of consolidating activity has this negative where community subversion is easier.3) Also, idiots rarely flock to lesser used boards.

Part 3: The Community

  • Establish rules and enforce them. Nobody likes them, but you need to have solid rules if you ever think your community will get big, and there needs to be some level of enforcement.
    • Determine protocol for proxies, VPNs, and Tor exit nodes. There's a lot of weird pests with too much spare time who will ruin the fun. Most outright ban, others temporarily disable.
    • Ban evasions are a pain to enforce. Special pests might try to manipulate discussions to make you look trigger happy, so consider showing that a proxy, VPN, or Tor was used.
    • Are you frustrated yet? It begins to dawn on you that solutions do exist (e.g. registration systems, paywalls, etc.), but you would have to accept that anonymity kinda sucks, doesn't it?
      • End-user registration system? This is a controversial move, but forcing users to register an account can ease the pain if done right. Major examples are Ylilauta and Adao Nimingban.
  • Going behind the scenes ruins the mystique. Once you see who posts what, the whole mystery behind anonymous communities vanishes as “it was user-facing anonymity all along!” 😱
    • Avoid leaking post histories. Unless it's huge and scandalous or weird, this should only be a last resort (unless requested) since it decreases trust and it isn't a “fuck off” spell.
    • Profiling is okay. Some scripts lets you attach notes to IPs, so make use of it! If you use one that doesn't, use a word replacing extension to replace the IP with your notes.
  • Keep an eye on the old and the new. While the smell of fresh blood livens things up, don't discount the possibility that ulterior motives could be in play when the new subjugates the old.

Part 4: The Layers

  • There will be a meta chatroom. Appearances are deceptive. Above the surface-level discussions, there might be a secret chatroom you've never heard of, so try to be ahead of the curve.
    • Benefits of an official chatroom. While it draws attention away, it also gives meta a proper place to go, shows you how to conduct yourself, and warfare becomes hilariously more transparent.
  • Splinter communities and dissent? Shit happens. You just have to play your cards right. If you're lucky, nobody cares and won't budge. If you're unlucky, welcome to the numbers game.
    • Reunification isn't always the best option. At the heat of the moment, you might feel inclined to patch things up quickly. However, just like real life, reunification isn't always the best option.
  • Alliances, coalitions, confederations, federations, and webrings? When you can afford to run an independent website, you might be interested in these. Obviously, I never got here.
  • Never clean house for a loyal triumvirate. If your community is sizable, this royal fuck up can leave your moderators overloaded. Some examples of this include late 55chan and Bunkerchan.

Part 5: The End

  1. Transfer leadership. The rational, yet boring option. You'll probably have to sort out a ton of things behind the scenes to avoid getting bit in the ass for something you want out of your control.
  2. Shut it down and announce a successor. A development where you manually guide or redirect the community to a specific refuge. Hopefully, you didn't burn too many bridges, right?
  3. Shut it down and don't announce a successor. You announce the shutdown, but instead, you let the community decide where they go. You can't really back out after some time has passed.
    1. Make the community-chosen successor official. The last-minute people pleaser switcheroo…
    2. Do nothing. How much time will you give them? Will they scramble or congregate? Who knows!
    3. Announce some unexpected successor at the last possible minute despite the fact that the community has already chosen a popular successor. Who does that?! 55chan.
  4. Don't care and just nuke it all. The fun option! There was never any form of culture or life here, so slap on a robots.txt file to kill the Wayback Archive.4) Effectively, this is just a spicier Option 3b.

    ∧,,∧    :(' ;ソ.  I just want
    .( ´・ω・) <二:彡 to grill for
    ( つ旦O 〔 ̄ ̄〕  God's sake.
    と_)_)   |_━_|
   ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄
For instance, 4chan has the “Janitor & Moderator Discussion” (/j/) board.
Fun fact: 4chan's moderation team uses Discord! The old janitor application form said IRC and Skype, but they have since changed it to Discord after mid-2018… which has been leaked twice now.
Of course, you still have to pay for the server and domain in order to keep the “robots.txt” file that will keep archiving disabled, so you better hope people have short memories.
on_leading_the_anonymous.txt · Last modified: 2023-07-31 09:21:53 by namelessrumia