The 2ch community and its influence

“2ch” has several characteristics which separate it from other internet forums. The first major difference is the broadness of the topics that it covers. It has countless “categories” which covers a broad topic, and each category is consisted of numerous “boards.” On each board a user can make a “thread,” in which the actual discussion about a particular topic takes place. For example, a discussion about the recent decrease in Harvard’s endowment has its own “thread” on the “International News” board, which is categorized in the “World Affairs” category.

One characteristic that keeps 2ch constantly active is that each thread only allows up to 1000 posts. Because newer threads appear higher on the “board,” this limitation of the number of posts makes it possible to maintain new topics at the top of the board. Furthermore, it also helps 2ch restrict the amount of data stored on the severs, because older “thread” are put in a database that the public cannot access for free.

The second major characteristic of 2ch is its culture. “2ch” hosts a unique culture, which is different from that of the general Japanese population and other major internet forums in the US and in Japan. Such culture can be seen in the terminology used in 2ch, the special rules that as expected from a 2ch poster, and in how it has influenced popular culture in general.

There are many terms that coined in 2ch, and can only be seen in it. Some are terms are relevant to posting on a internet forum, such as “age” (pronounced uh-gay), which is used when one wants a particular thread to appear on top of the board. Others, seem bizarre, even in the eyes of non-2ch using Japanese users. For example, people who regularly post on 2ch are called “residents” of 2ch. Instead of writing suman (literally “sorry” in Japanese), a user may write sumaso, because the Japanese character for n () and so () look very similar. ROM may be used as short for “read-only member,” instead of the common used technological term, “read-only memory.” The video sharing site is referred to as Yoh-two-bay, because Romanizing the Japanese gives the same spelling as “Youtube.”

The culture of 2ch is so different from that of the general Internet that the users of 2ch are often considered to be “geeky computer freaks,” or a “otaku”. Such geeky students may spend long hours of their time on the internet, posting articles on 2ch. A typical otaku may have a lifestyle that is opposite to most people in society, actively making posts in the earlier hours of the day. The typical stereotype is that they often carry a large backpack and walk around in a seemingly “dorky” or “lame” outfit. Akihabara, a district in Japan formerly famous for the numerous of electronic stores, and more recently famous for its anime and otaku culture, is regarded as a “Mecca” to them.

              A widely know example of 2ch culture infiltrating that of the general public was when the movie “Densya-otoko” (Train Man) was release to the public. The movie, based on actual postings on 2ch (on the “Single Men’s” boards), is about a otaku boy who accidently meets a girl on the train. Because all his life, he had been obsessed with computers and animation, he does not have the social stills he needs to make the girl interested in him. However, in the end succeeds in getting a “real world” girlfriend. The movie, even though it emerged from 2ch and showcased the geeky culture of the internet forum nevertheless succeeded in getting more than 2 million viewers with in the first 40 days of its released, and latter even grew into a popular television drama series.

              The term “2ch” often comes up on the news as well. Because it has social influence, criminals have repeatedly used the website to harass or threat someone, prior to committing a crime, for example. A prominent example was when the 25 year old man wrote multiple posts on 2ch stating that he would kill people in the Akihabara district. Only minutes after the man posted similar statements on another internet forum from his cell phone, the man really did ram into a pedestrian-only part of Akihabara, using his truck. Because the man also killed people by running into people with his knife, his actions killed 7 people in total and injured 10 more. Especially after this incident, the police also started to take notice of the internet forum, and in several cases, people have been arrested for posting threats on 2ch.

It goes without saying that how the internet community should deal with contents on 2ch is crucial for protecting users from defamation, and copyright owners from infringement of their rights.

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