Addressing more than 40,000 people, Christopher Poole, who is known as ‘Moot’, said he felt deeply proud of the community he had created

Christopher Poole, the founder of the anarchic image-board site 4chan , told users on Friday his retirement had been “a long time coming”.

“This is it for me,” he said. “This is goodbye.”

Addressing more than 40,000 people via a live YouTube broadcast, Poole, who is known as “Moot”, said he felt deeply proud of the community he had created.

On Wednesday, in a post on the front page of the site, Poole announced that he would be moving on. “I look forward to one day returning to 4chan as its Admin Emeritus or just another Anonymous,” he wrote.

“The journey has been marked by highs and lows, surprises and disappointments, but ultimately immense satisfaction. I’m humbled to have had the privilege of both founding and presiding over what is easily one of the greatest communities to ever grace the web.”

Poole founded the site 11 and a half years ago, when he was 15. It quickly grew into one of the internet’s most influential – and chaotic – communities, spawning memes and jokes that spread far and wide. Today, it has a base of more than two million active users and more than 20 million “lurkers” every month.

The site has often proved controversial over its no-holds-barred approach to posts, especially in the /b/ (random) board. /b/, the site’s first forum, is infamous as the sweaty engine-room of the internet; the dank primordial ooze from which most internet culture, at one point or other, emerged.

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Rickrolling – the now-infamous practice of tricking people into clicking a link to Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up – originated here. So did LOLcats. Anonymous, the powerful hacktivist collective, is thought to have taken its name from the label that accompanies posts by users – known as “anons” on 4chan.

4chan was also one of the sites at the centre of the leak of naked pictures of celebrities hacked from Apple’s iCloud in September. The month of the leak, Poole said, was a difficult one.

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“It took a toll,” he said. “We had close to a billion page views that month. I was completely overwhelmed.” He said he “got many a legal nastygram from firms representing the actresses, spent a shitload of time on the phone to lawyers” and spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills.

He said he had been considering retiring long before that.

One anon asked Poole if there was any board on the site he hated. “There are no boards I hate,” he said. “I find it’s very tiring to hate people on the internet.” Asked about his state of mind, Poole said that he had found “a kind of zen” and was “in a good place”.

“For people who are angry on the internet,” he added, “I hope that one day you find the beauty in things.”

On Wednesday, on /b/, a thread was started that called for tribute. “Let us all rejoice in this final calling to Moot”, the original poster wrote. Before the board disappeared, a chorus of anons had joined in joyous ululation – more than 63,000 shouts of “Moot!”

It was a fitting fanfare. © Guardian News and Media 2015