Disaster struck on Saturday afternoon when the competition ran by Imperial College Union to name a new student bar was posted on the forum website 4chan, sparking thousands of entries from the website users.
A link to the initially insecure submission form for votes and other potential name suggestions was posted on the /b/ (“Random”) thread, stating that:
“People of 4chan, I need your help.
“My university is trying to decide its new bar name by online vote.
“Do your worst.”
One thread had the website users supporting the motion to submit repeatedly the name “The Patriarchy” whilst another identical post appeared and had posters suggesting repeatedly that they were submitting the name “No Juice Allowed.”
Between 1pm and 3pm over 2,000 submissions were made through the page, with roughly 1,400 of those being for the name “The Patriarchy.” Various other names also suggested ranged from trollish to offensive and anti-semitic.
Users of the website turned increasingly sinister as the threads developed, posting screenshots of the Facebook pages of Officer Trustees, including Union President Tom Wheeler, and emails and contact numbers of the sabbatical staff, encouraging others to “target them too.”
One post encouraged others to book out all the tables in the union bar FiveSixEight, whilst another started posting screenshots of the Officer Trustees. Some people posted saying they were also students at Imperial, although many of the anonymous posts on the threads seemed to be made by people external to the university. One user posted that they had registered a campaign through the Union website, called “Hitler did nothing wrong.”
After the thread was brought to the attention of Union staff, the submission form was put behind login entry, meaning afterwards students could only vote once.
The Union website announced the winning name, The Foundry, last Wednesday, after discounting any suggestions made during the period of peak activity last weekend that appeared to have originated from 4chan users.
Felix spoke to Chris Kaye Deputy President (Welfare) and Deputy President (Finance & Services) elect, who will be working closely with the bar next year. Chris told us: “When someone posted the poll on 4chan on Saturday, we took steps to limit the poll to logged-in users only.
“Sadly we decided that their name choices weren’t the best so we discounted them, however we have their IP addresses so we may see if we can invite them down for the launch!”
The bar will be named “The Foundry”, which received 100 votes, followed closely by “Urban Oak,” that received 96.
The Union stated on its website: “The name is a great way to recognise the history of the site where the new hall of residence stands. From the early 1920s right up until the mid 1980s the site was owned by Landi & Gyrforming the site for their factory and offices.
“The factory made “Elgee” electricity meters and time switches. Specifically the Elgee factory, just like Woodward Hall, was cut into the slope just west of Victoria Road.
“We are really excited to bring you this new bar and restaurant in conjunction with College Campus Services and look forward to it being an integral part of the student experience for hall residents and students who live nearby!”
Trolling surveys by 4chan users is not new: a campaign run by Mountain Dew back in 2012, called “Dub the Dew” was hijacked. The competition looked for people to submit and vote for the name for a new drink, with the name “Hitler did nothing wrong” topping the charts after the competition was posted.