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An imageboard or image board is a type of Internet forum which operates mostly via posting images. The first imageboards were created in Japan, and many English language imageboards today are centered on Japanese culture. They are based on the textboard concept.
Imageboards, similar to bulletin board systems, are used for discussions of a variety of topics. The primary focus of imageboards, however, is directed away from text posts, and is instead placed on picture posts. The two share many of the same structures, including separate forums for separate topics, as well as similar audiences. Imageboards are much more transitory with content—on some boards (especially highly trafficked ones), the thread deletion time can be as little as 10 minutes. The most popular English language imageboard 4chan tends to revolve around Japanese culture such as CG artwork or anime. In Japan, where imageboards are more common, topics vary widely, ranging from trains to current news.
Imageboards are also different from online galleries in that most of the works posted are not made by the poster, but instead are taken from other online sources: galleries, other imageboards, and edited pictures.
Most imageboards and 2channel-style discussion boards allow (and encourage) anonymous posting and use a system of tripcodes instead of registration. A tripcode is the hashed result of a password that allows one's identity to be recognized without storing any data about users. Entering a particular password will let one 'sign' one's posts with the tripcode generated from that password, while trying to take another user's tripcode and compute their password from it (for instance, to make posts that appear to come from a particular person) is computationally difficult. Anonymity is considered to be one of the advantages of an imageboard. Some boards have from time to time removed the ability to post with a name altogether (known as 'forced anonymous/anonymity'). However, using a tripcode on some boards, such as 4chan, is generally discouraged by the community, who prefer to remain anonymous.
On many imageboards, if a user wants to reply to a thread but not bump it, they can put the word sage (correctly pronounced /sa-ɣe/ though often confused as IPA: [seɪdʒ], akin to the homographic English word; Japanese: 下げ, short for 下げる sageru, "to lower") in the e-mail field. "Ageing" can refer to either bumping a post or putting the word age (Japanese: 上げ, from 上げる ageru, "to raise") into the e-mail field. Sage is used by some board users generally to signify a bad thread.
There are two primary types of imageboard software packages in widespread use: linearly directed imageboards modeled closely after Futaba Channel (in which content is posted through hierarchical subsections of topical interest, usually denoted by a forward slash such as "/f" for female), and nonlinear imageboards modeled after Danbooru (usually indicated by the usage of controlled folksonomic vocabulary for topical tagging and search).
There are currently several Futaba-based imageboard software packages in widespread use: Futallaby, Wakaba, Kusaba X.
Futallaby is a PHP script based on the Futaba script from Futaba Channel. Although the Futallaby source is still freely available at 1chan, it is no longer in development, and the download page recommends using Wakaba instead, stating that "Wakaba can do everything Futallaby does and so much more." Futallaby started as a translation of Futaba, later retooled to support XHTML and customizable CSS styles. It is mostly notable for being the first open source English imageboard script.
Wakaba is a Perl imageboard script with a SQL backend to store thread information. It is designed to be more efficient and cleanly written than other scripts that are available, while preserving the same kind of functionality. Wakaba is one of most popular western imageboard software scripts, used most notably by iichan (Wakachan). Because of its focus on bare-bones functionality, Wakaba lacks many of the modern amenities provided by 4chan's Yotsuba, and newer imageboard scripts. A few users have attempted to remedy this by forking the original project and adding in features they consider beneficial. Two FOSS examples of this are frankusr's Wakaba fork, and the user experience focused Glaukaba.
Kusaba X is a continuation of kusaba. Like Kusaba, Kusaba X is written in PHP, and is designed with modularity in mind. It requires a MySQL or SQLite database to run. kusaba and its derivatives were at one time some of the most popular imageboard solutions. Kusaba X is still in development and the developers state that version 1.0.0 is to be released soon.
Unlike Futaba-inspired imageboard software packages, Danbooru and derivatives aim for a non-hierarchical semantic structure in which users are able to post content and add tags, annotations, translations, and comments.
There exists a number of different Danbooru-style imageboards, both those who have shared source code and those who are not released for others to use.
|Yes||Danbooru||Ruby on Rails||FreeBSD||?|
|Yes||CamelBoard||PHP||FreeBSD||Does not use or require MySQL|
|Yes||Tinyboard||PHP||MIT plus an anti-GPL clause||author specifically forbids mixing GPL code|
|Yes||naranai 1.3.x||PHP||GPLv3||built to replace Danbooru because author considered Ruby unsuitable|
|Yes||MyImouto||PHP and MySQL||MIT||?|
|No||Gelbooru 0.2.x||PHP||Proprietary||Gelbooru 0.1 was opensource but no longer so|
Futaba Channel (ふたば☆ちゃんねる), or "Futaba" for short, is a popular, anonymous BBS and imageboard system based in Japan. Its boards usually do not distinguish between not safe for work and clean content, but there is a strict barrier between two-dimensional (drawn) and three-dimensional (computer graphics (CG) and photographic) pictures that is heavily enforced and debated.
4chan is an English language imageboard based on the Japanese imageboard Futaba Channel. This imageboard is based primarily upon the posting of pictures (generally related to anime, manga, and popular culture) and their discussion. The Guardian describes it as "at once brilliant, ridiculous and alarming."
The site and its userbase have received attention from the media for a number of reasons, including attacks against Hal Turner on his Internet shows, distributed denial-of-service attacks against eBaum's World, taking part in Project Chanology, and multiple cases of anti-animal abuse reports.