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Time poll crowns 4chan founder moot 'most influential person'

April 27, 2009 |  6:58 pm
Moot-4chan
4chan founder moot at last year's ROFLCon conference. Credit: Brennan Moore via Flickr

North Americans are worrying about swine flu. PC users are worrying about the Conficker virus. And companies promoting democratic Internet polls have to worry about 4chan.

Members of the underground message board appear to have successfully gamed Time's third annual World's Most Influential Person poll. Time has relented and officially crowned the founder of 4chan, who goes by the alias "moot," as the winner.

Time directly addresses the apparent orchestration by 4chan to influence the poll's results in its follow-up article. Moot "handily beat the likes of Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Oprah Winfrey," Time writes. "To put the magnitude of the upset in perspective, it's worth noting that everyone moot beat out actually has a job."

The obvious jab at moot, whose real name is believed to be Christopher Poole, is understandable. Time reports that moot, whom the magazine profiled last summer, had no knowledge of an organized . . .

. . . intervention by 4chan members, despite its documentation by bloggers over the last couple weeks.

Even before moot amassed the 16 million votes he got in his overwhelming victory, some bloggers speculated that 4chan users had not only boosted his rank, but also collectively influenced the order of the first two dozen or so nominees.

Take the first letters of the first names of the top 21, and it spells the phrase "Marble cake, also the Game." Aside from being a delicious pastry, marble cake is apparently the name of the chat room where the website's users have gathered to organize anti-Scientology protests. And the Game is an ongoing psychological experiment played by young people worldwide.

A blog called Music Machinery, clearly reporting outside of its usual niche, has a rather detailed analysis of how 4chan manipulated the poll. This would certainly explain why Anwar Ibrahim, a Malaysian politician, nabbed second place.

The allegedly successful attempt at swaying the poll's results is surely a relief to 4chan users. After their  failed try at stealing the Twitter race to a million followers less than two weeks ago, the win for moot proves that 4chan hasn't lost its touch.

Next year, Time should change the name of its poll to the Internet's Most Influential Person.

-- Mark Milian

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