Over the past weekend, word was leaked by yet another disgruntled 4chan moderator to none other than Hotwheels, the owner of 8chan, that Christopher “moot” Poole was deciding to revise his moderator policy by requiring that all new mods sign an “agreement” about what rights and responsibilities they have. Turns out that the rumors were true, as moot released a blog post with the actual agreement:
Volunteer Moderator Agreement
The following are the agreed-upon terms pursuant to which you will be volunteering with 4chan, LLC (“4chan”) as a Volunteer Moderator:
1. Duties. This is a volunteer position. As a Volunteer Moderator, you will monitor user-posted content on 4chan’s website at 4chan.org, including its subdomains and associated domains and any message boards contained thereon (collectively, the “Website”), and (a) report, edit, and/or remove user-posted content that is in violation of the Rules posted at https://www.4chan.org/rules (“Prohibited Content”) and (b) block users from accessing the Website for posting Prohibited Content (collectively, the “Moderation Duties”). You will perform the Moderation Duties in accordance with this letter agreement and any instructions and guidelines for Volunteer Moderators provided by 4chan to you from time-to-time. By entering into this letter agreement and performing the Moderation Duties, you represent and warrant that (x) you have no contractual commitments or other legal obligations that would prohibit your activities in connection with 4chan, (y) you will perform the Moderation Duties in a good and professional manner, and (z) you have full power, right and authority to enter into this letter agreement.
Okay, this is fair enough. As a mod you’re expected to enforce the rules. However, what if the rules were to change? As a mod, you’d be obligated to enforce the rules, no matter how unethical they may be.
2. Relationship; No Compensation. You understand and agree that this is an unpaid, volunteer position and not an employment relationship. This position is for no specific period of time and will be “at will,” meaning that either you or 4chan may terminate your position and the service relationship at any time and for any reason, with or without cause. Although you must perform the Moderation Duties in accordance with all terms and conditions contained in this letter agreement, or as otherwise provided by 4chan to you, 4chan does not require any specific time commitment for this position (i.e. it is not “full time” or “part time”), and the amount of time you spend performing the Moderation Duties is solely at your own discretion. You acknowledge and agree that 4chan will not pay you any wages or other compensation (including without limitation any equity or ownership share in 4chan) at any time, now or in the future, under any circumstances, for performing the Moderation Duties, and you will not be eligible to participate in any 4chan company-sponsored benefits. Any contrary representations that may have been made to you are superseded by this letter agreement. 4chan may terminate your position and the service relationship with or without notice to you.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. For free? So, if you want to mod you cannot ever expect to be paid, for what is a hugely thankless task, despite being one of the largest sites on the net? And you can’t even participate in company-sponsored benefits? So if 4chan were to go public, mods get nothing — not even a share of stock.
3. Identity Verification. Your service with 4chan is contingent upon your providing legal proof of your identity and your representation hereunder that you are authorized to work for 4chan. Prior to starting the Moderation Duties, you must provide 4chan with a copy of a government-issued identification document (e.g. a passport or driver’s license) in a form reasonably acceptable to 4chan. You represent and warrant that all information you provide regarding your identity and ability to perform the Moderation Duties, including but not limited to any form of identification you provide, is valid, accurate and up-to-date. You acknowledge that providing 4chan with any false or inaccurate information regarding your identity is both a breach of this contract and a punishable offense under law.
Now, to be a mod at 4chan means you must dox yourself to the owner, and they will have you by the balls should you ever try to dissent from orders. Gosh, this is an awfully harsh policy. Sounds like the future moderators of 4chan will need to be neighbors with Edward Snowden should they ever piss off moot.
4. Proprietary Information. You acknowledge that in the course of performing the Moderation Duties, you may encounter or otherwise gain access to certain Proprietary Information of 4chan, and you agree to hold in confidence and not disclose to any third parties in any manner or medium whatsoever or, except in performing the Moderation Duties, use any Proprietary Information. “Proprietary Information” means all financial, business, legal and technical information of 4chan or any of its affiliates, suppliers, customers, users, contractors, owners, and employees (including without limitation information about user-posted content, personally identifiable information pertaining to users (such as but not limited to IP addresses, location, and cookie data), team member identities or nicknames (including without limitation other moderators, and regardless of whether such identities or nicknames are real-life or virtual), chat logs, orientation materials, legal or regulatory affairs, operations, marketing, transactions, inventions, processes, materials, data, know-how and ideas, whether tangible or intangible, and including all copies and other derivatives thereof), that is previously, presently or subsequently disclosed by or for 4chan to you or which is otherwise made available to you or which you learn in the course of performing the Moderation Duties. For the avoidance of doubt, this letter agreement, its terms, and its existence shall constitute 4chan’s Proprietary Information. Upon termination or as otherwise requested by 4chan, you will promptly return to 4chan all items and copies containing or embodying Proprietary Information.
Translation: As a mod, you cannot talk about any of the inner workings of the site, or you’re going to court.
5. Survival. Your obligations under Sections 4, 5 and 6 of this letter agreement shall survive any termination or expiration of this letter agreement.
Once you sign the agreement, it’s forever….
6. Miscellaneous. This letter agreement constitutes the entire agreement, and supersedes all prior negotiations, understandings or agreements (oral or written), between the parties concerning the subject matter hereof. No change, consent or waiver to this letter agreement will be effective unless in writing and signed by the party against which enforcement is sought. The failure of 4chan to enforce its rights under this letter agreement at any time for any period shall not be construed as a waiver of such rights. Unless expressly provided otherwise, each right and remedy in this letter agreement is in addition to any other right or remedy, at law or in equity, and the exercise of one right or remedy will not be deemed a waiver of any other right or remedy. In the event that any provision of this letter agreement shall be determined to be illegal or unenforceable, that provision will be limited or eliminated to the minimum extent necessary so that letter agreement shall otherwise remain in full force and effect and enforceable. This letter agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of New York, USA without regard to the conflicts of laws provisions thereof. Exclusive jurisdiction and venue for any action arising under this letter agreement is in the federal and state courts located in New York City, and both parties hereby consent to such jurisdiction and venue for this purpose. Any notice hereunder will be effective upon receipt and shall be given in writing, in English and delivered to the other party in a manner indicated by 4chan.
It states that all prior agreements and negotiations are null and void, so who knows what moot said or promised to other 4chan mods and janitors in the past. From now on if they want the privilege of cleaning out the gutters of 4chan they must submit wholly and fully to moot.
Over at 8chan, the news was seen as the death blow to 4chan, as this means that the anonymous culture of 4chan is being sacrificed so moot can control his site more. Speculations are running high that moot will attempt to sell or somehow commercialize 4chan, because why else would you need a noose around the moderators necks? If anything isn’t being done as moot wants, or if someone (yet again) does a child pornography raid on 4chan, moot can assign the blame entirely on the mods and claim they weren’t doing their jobs.
If any of the mods openly protest, moot can say they are breaking the terms of the agreement, reveal their real info to the world as the person responsible for the infraction and laugh as they run from the SJW hordes. Meanwhile, should the site make money, moot gets to keep it all. In other words, this entire agreement shields moot from the downsides while allowing moot to keep all of the upsides.
Many legal questions are raised by the prospect of this agreement. For example, to enforce most contracts in court, there must be quid pro quo—something for something—and it is unclear what exactly mods are receiving in exchange for signing the agreement. In exchange for giving away their identity, receiving no pay, and being an indentured servant to moot, what exactly do mods receive? The right to take care of someone’s website?
Even David Auerbach, the Slate editor who was calling for an end to hostilities between pro-GG and anti-GG last October, has this much to say about the new 4chan policy:
Needless to say but between the draconian new terms, the abandonment of 4chan’s anonymity principles, and the extremely likely corporate whoring, 8chan and #GamerGate can expect a groundswell of new membership on top of its existing growth. People are getting tired of blatant power trips at major media companies, and 8chan, which remains the central place for GamerGaters to organize (Reddit bans any attempts at mass email campaigns), stands to benefit the most from disgruntled 4channers looking for a forum that honors freedom of speech.