Love it or hate it, you can thank 4chan for countless online phenomena like lolcats, the ubiquitous photos of cats combined with humorous text, often in "kitty speak."
The image-based Internet forum has been the breeding ground for some of the Web's most well-known inside jokes, but it's still unknown or mysterious to many. But thanks to the Smoking Gun, a site dedicated to unearthing court and government documents, we now know a little more about how the site works directly from the mouth of its founder, Christoper Poole. Poole delivered testimony, just posted by The Smoking Gun, in the criminal trial of the Tennessee man who hacked into Sarah Palin's e-mail account. The on-the-record question-and-answer session doesn't reveal anything major, but it serves as a very simple introduction to what the site is and how it works.
Many of 4chan's users, especially those in its random section known as "/b/," are pranksters whose actions range from playful to obscene to downright hateful. They have rigged a Time magazine online poll, securing 4chan's founder the spot as the most influential person of 2009 and popularized the practice of Rickrolling -- a bait-and-swtich in which a person is tricked into watching the music video to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." Most recently, 4chan's users helped to launch a campaign to harass an eleven-year-old girl and then another against Gawker for writing about it.