4Chan creator Christopher Poole's new imageboard site Canvas began its soft launch today so we decided to take a tour. The Internet hivemind 4Chan is the infamous anonymous, anything-goes site responsible for such memes as the the Rickroll and lolcats, and a daily supply of gross-out photos and pornography. But in order to attract a number of prominent investors such as Silicon Valley angel investor Ron Conway, Huffington Post founder Kenneth Lerer and Delicious creator Joshua SchachterPoole, Poole has insisted Canvas won't be a smut palace like 4Chan. With as much as $625,000 of funding, Canvas has been widely dubbed a "PG-rated version of 4Chan" because it aims to build a large following (akin to 4Chan's 10 to 12 million visitors per month) as well as an advertising business beyond the 4Chan's staple porn-site ads.
At this point, though, Canvas feels more R-rated than PG. It's is free of blatant XXX-rated images and many of its threads feature benign Web humor, but it's plastered with profanities and have a few odd boob shots. And, in the category of general tastelessnes, like 4Chan, it features images mocking Down syndrome children.
In terms of design, the site's layout is much more intuitive than 4Chan's with a collage of photos on the home page leading to individual threads where users submit photos and contribute to the image.
Don't get us wrong, the site is home to a number of perfectly family-friendly themes. A swaddled baby thread took off with relatively benign results, including the ones above. And here's what was uploaded to a a unicorn image thread:
But despite the site's claim that it's a "worksafe site" and users should "keep it clean and respect copyrights" those activities don't seem to be strictly-enforced. Will advertisers hop on board? It's tough to say. The Internet is the Internet and what's considered "clean" for a forum is not what you'd consider "clean" for Disney. Regardless, Poole will now be dealing with a tension he never had to bother with in the 4Chan days. Censor content and alienate the trolls. Keep it free and alienate advertisers? Time will tell who wins out.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.