Sexual Survey of 4chan Users: 6481 Bracingly Honest Responses

by Violet Blue on December 26, 2010

4chan Sex Survey

With over 6000 responses, the 4chan sex survey (LINK UPDATED) may be the largest sex survey yet. It’s quite comprehensive, and bracingly honest: I think that’s the beauty of 4chan and its inherent anonymity – and of non-state sponsored, non-commercial sex surveys. It’s going to upset some people, but to a good many of us sex educators and researchers (and sex/tech nerds), this is a much-desired snapshot of the online sexual landscape. It’s a kind of honesty I’d like to see come to more sex research.

4chan sex surveyWhat is most interesting to me is – ALL of it. Age range, age of first masturbation (median is 12). I was pleased to see the stereotypes defied and that a significant amount of 4chan users are what mainstream culture considers “sexual minorities” or rather, considered sexually underserved, or sexual underclasses: 19% identify as bisexual, 6% are trans, 12% are women.

I especially liked the distinction between medium and format to achieve climax. There are lots, so click through to see the whole spread – if you’re a mainstream sex “expert” I guarantee you’ll learn some new terminology.

* 77% jack off and come to video, 59% to online images, 42% real life, and 29% use erotica.

* As for format, 76% like porn, 48% typically climax having sex, and 44% just use their imagination – followed closely by hentai, at 41%.

* For masturbation preference genre, 72% are into straight, 54% are into amateur, 37% are into jailbalt, and coming in fourth is gangbang/orgy/threesome (followed one point by sibling incest).

* Top fetishes are anal at 43%, fellatio at 42% (damn!), panties at 34% and then cunnilingus at 33%

(In these instances, respondents were allowed to select more than one checkbox so percentages add up to more than 100%)

Thanks to the friend who sent this over.

UPDATE: A post just went up on tech gossip site TechCrunch calling the survey “garbage” and encouraging their readers to take the survey themselves – TechCrunch’s way of ensuring that the survey is garbage by encouraging contamination of the data.

Good thing I saved the survey to my desktop last night before I posted this, when it was just hitting other messageboards. The survey link above has been updated to send you to the original survey with the original data intact.

This survey has brought a lot of hate out. I expected that, but I didn’t expect the degree to which TechCrunch has stooped. In fairness, their post calls the survey “garbage” after reaching out to get a comment from 4chans founder:

I emailed 4Chan founder moot a.k.a Christopher Poole to get his take on what one commenter called “One of the best representations of the youth in the 21st century.” “It’s total garbage,” Poole responded.

When asked if this was yet another example of media trolling (remember TIME’s ‘Person of the Year 2009′?), Poole clarified “It’s ‘real’ in the sense that a random user conducted it and I imagine he collected responses on 4chan. But the questions, answers, sample, method used, etc aren’t exactly scientific. It should be taken with a massive grain of salt.”

Nice leading questions, TechCrunch hack. Not sure what comparative studies or polls Poole has to back that up with – if any. And as I wrote in the comments of this post, sex surveys have a context that is important to consider, a context that underscores the value and uniqueness of this survey. I’m being criticized (and not by any of my sex ed peers, who have been sharing this link) for saying the survey is “honest.” If you spend as much time looking at sex surveys and sex studies of all kinds as I do (almost daily), you might be inclined to agree.

Interestingly, our TechCrunch trolls continue with,

4Chan user genkouhande, who set up the ongoing poll as a project on December 24th, tells TechCrunch that while all surveys do have error, he’s confident with the results, having included test responses like “Age: Over 59,” “Started masturbating: Over 18,” and “Time spent on 4Chan: 24+” to help trap the trolls. “As more people answered the survey the results seemed to be less chaotic and have now been pretty typical,” he said.

If only sex surveys cited in mainstream media (like this set of lies and this set of lies-to-law) had a mod actively and knowledgeably working against trolling. Oh, and cared enough not to put forth any agenda.

In closing, I can’t resist pointing a few things out.

The TechCrunch post ends with, “(…) no plans to conduct any sort of official OKCupid-type survey.”

I enjoy OkCupid surveys as much as the next girl. However, these are not “official” outside of OkCupid – I hate to break it to Ms. Tsotsis, but this is also the “official” outlet of proclaiming that iPhone users have more sex. By the way, I think of Ms. Tsotsis as the lovely person who posted an awful piece about a woman who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by a Twitter employee, all of which was horrible for everyone, damaging and alleged, and the post mysteriously – but not quietly – disappeared. Credibility, much?

What a fucking idiot.

{ 10 comments }

1 Popzealot December 28, 2010 at 12:05 am

Wow!!

Despite it all, they seem a little prudish when it comes to toys.

Silly kids don’t know what they’re missing.

2 megan December 27, 2010 at 5:51 pm

This is most certainly not the largest sex survey ever performed! (See: the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior). But although this may not be unscientific, the results are pretty interesting.

3 officemike December 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm

It’s an interesting survey if we want to know the preferences of straight, white males in their teens and twenties: the overwhelming majority of respondents. What about everyone else?

4 genkouhande December 27, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I gave her the link to your article in my brief interview as one example amongst many of people in support of the outcome of the survey against the few critics I’ve personally heard from. She did seem to turn it towards moot’s side by giving the article the title “Moot On 4Chan User Survey: “It’s Total Garbage.”” rather than “4chan Users’ Survey” and actually talking about what the study results were. Also, moot’s claim that I wanted it to be “scientific” is pretty empty, since no survey type study can be “exactly scientific”, since there’s no control. I did my best with the trap answers as mentioned in the article, and wouldn’t say I’m 100% confident with the results, but the numbers seemed pretty steady from 5000 onwards. Not sure how this will play out now that it’s becoming popular.

Thanks for saving a copy but I’ve also been saving copies as time goes by (why I know results have become “typical”), and plan on doing a follow up survey in probably 6 months to see any changes in answers to current questions, add a few questions, and to test the reliability of this pilot study. I would consider the study to be probably over now that it’s been influenced by non-4chan users. In any case, have fun with the results :3

5 Etienne Perret December 27, 2010 at 3:14 pm

How is getting off by imaging anal or oral sex a fetish?
I consider oral, anal and vaginal totally normal ways to engage in male to female sex. Oral and anal are totally normal was for male to male sex.
Oral, vaginal and anal (with a strap-on in some cases) are totally normal female to female sex.

6 Eric December 27, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I’m always happy to find more data on sexual preferences but 4chan is not known to be filled with the most responsible or reliable people (I have no idea if this is true, just the stereotype). That said, the size of the survey is what gives it any sort of credibility. Almost 6500 people is a massive survey and I’m happy about that.

Considering the double level of self-selection here though (people who choose to be on 4chan and who choose to take the survey), I’m not sure if this can or should be applied to anyone outside of 4chan users. It’s a nice bit of data though.

7 Jason Riedy December 27, 2010 at 2:36 pm

While not necessarily “garbage”, constructing statistically honest surveys is devilishly difficult and quite possibly impossible. I can understand a detailed rebuttal of the questions and structure. TC definitely over-stepped in calling for fresh, biased input, and many cited surveys have the same problems. Consider the “surveys” on many news web sites. I would caution against taking any one survey as “correct.”

Good results *tend* to appear from later analyses of multiple surveys combining results with demographic information about (likely) respondents. As one base survey, this has value. On it’s own? That needs to be determined from the wider survey of surveys. My observations are ignoring any names or reputations involved but are considering the history of surveys.

8 lux476 December 27, 2010 at 5:39 am

I think that your assumption that this “study” is a “snapshot of the online sexual landscape” is wrong. If you look at the question “What boards do you most typically lurk?”. 72% of the users visit mostly the /b board. And this board is kind of extreme, for example necrophilia, childporn… .
6534 users participated in this “study”, but how many users visited 4chan at that time? How many users answered the question more than once? You can’t say anything about the margin of error.

In my opinion is this “study” neither representative for 4chan nor representative for the “online sexual landscape” and therefore useless, because of the lack facts I mention above.

But I have to admit, that this data is exactly how i expected to be(Age, Age of starting masturbating and so on). I think with a better margin of error and more representative data you will get similar data for 4chan. But to get representative data with an good margin of error for the whole “online sexual landscape” is another thing.

9 violet December 26, 2010 at 11:45 pm

@End_User – Absolutely. I think that if you know the culture even a little, you know you’re going to have people voting up extreme things just to be extreme, and projecting what they want to have people perceive. Pranking, too – obviously, it is physically impossible to spend “over 24 hours a day” on 4chan.

That said, I’m with you on taking this as more realistic (and likely more accurate) than anything I’ve seen yet. I don’t think anyone has asked anonymous communities if they enjoy such a range of behavior – illegal to vanilla – since Kinsey. And no one – no one – liked him doing that.

I think the margin of error is there for sure, though I also think that error margins are likely to be higher in regulated, funded sex studies of (for example) kids and teens who are far less likely to pick something extreme (because it’s funny/true) but who are much less likely to self-report their interests and activities, for a whole host of reasons.

I see the knee-jerk backchat about this on HN, and I think, wow. They don’t understand how data and information flows in the sex world.

I think this is a really valuable thing.

10 End_User December 26, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Keep in mind that although I believe this study over a state sponsored study any day that 4chan users can be in it for the shock value of their answers instead of answering honestly. I wonder what the real margin of error is here.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: