Canv.as, a slightly secretive image-sharing and content creation site created by 4chan founder Christopher Poole, has opened its doors to the rest of the world — but for viewing purposes only.
Existing beta Canv.as users can link to threads within Canv.as and show threads of images created within the image-sharing site. The site is designed to streamline the content creation process by making it easy to “remix” images with additional pieces of content or create animated images. Canv.as beta users can simply link to a thread within the image-sharing site, and external visitors can view the entire thread — but cannot remix images or post new images. Users will still require a beta invite to get a chance to remix images.
Canv.as is basically a descendant of 4chan, a lightly-moderated imageboard that has become the font of most memes in the modern era. Poole’s project is worth watching closely, since a lot of sites have tried to replicate the same community energy that 4chan seems to have — for example, the comment streams in news aggregators like Reddit.com — but the 4chan magic just doesn’t seem to pop up anywhere else.
The site has more moderation than 4chan has in order to attract advertisers. 4chan was originally a tough sell because it was inadvertently host to racist or illegal content. The site lets users moderate content by voting up original and popular submissions with “stickers” and quickly reporting offensive content — and down-vote unpopular content with stickers as well.
4chan has 4 million monthly visitors in the U.S. and 8 million globally — many of whom are tech-savvy and know their way around image-editing programs like Photoshop. The site has basically no rules, and that has become part of the appeal. But it also has a number of barriers to entry, such as requiring a few technical skills like Photoshop mastery to fit into the somewhat haphazard community.
Canv.as is trying to remove that technical barrier to entry by making it simple to edit images. Each image thread has a “remix” option that makes it easy for users to quickly add their own flair to the image with brush-strokes or additional images. It doesn’t require users to purchase (or pirate) larger image-editing programs like Photoshop. And so far it seems like a pretty vibrant community, with hundreds of original images appearing on the site daily. It hasn’t quite reached 4chan standards yet, but it looks like it is on track.