Every once in a while I see someone claim that 4chan was, at some point in time, some kind of secret Something Awful goon club. People seem to be saying that, after /a/ was separated from /b/ (i.e. /b/ stopped being "anime/random"), /a/ and the other anime boards became "ADTRW: imageboard edition"; while /b/ became "FYAD: imageboard edition". However, when piecing things together from the available archived threads, my personal memory of 4chan, and a dash of common sense, this... doesn't really seem true.
First of all, I'll admit that I only started browsing 4chan 2 years into its life. But by that point, /b/ had already become a completely different beast. FYAD had its memes and /b/ had its ironic posts, but as a general rule, the two boards only seem to have been similar in a very superficial way; they were 'everything goes', wacky-zany random shitposting boards, but the actual nature of the random shitposting was very different. Looking at the SA archives, FYAD in 2003-2005 was, even back then, largely aiming for sarcasm, irony and satire, while /b/ was more 'let's post dumb shit for the hell of it while shitting on things we hate head-on'. FYAD was also the type of place that internet-detectived people like Shii for being 'anime pedos', and 'anime pedo' material was only posted on FYAD with a veil of irony and "heh, we're just making fun of the people who like this stuff for REAL". Meanwhile, /b/ was full of anime weirdos that didn't even try to hide it with irony.
Sure, I first came across /b/ 2 years into 4chan's life, but I also have this: http://web.archive.org/web/20031008225412/http://img.4chan.net/b/imgboard.htm
- a very, VERY early /b/ from late 2003. Aside from trip/namefaggotry being accepted and very common back then, 2003 /b/ doesn't seem all that different from modern 4chan. It's already vastly, VASTLY different from 2003 FYAD-style posting. [continued in next post because lol character limit]