Q Is Back and It’s Tearing the QAnon World Apart

“Q drops” have resumed, but believers are divided over whether they’re real.
A Qanon believer walks with a "Trump JFK Jr." flag. (Ty O'Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A Qanon believer walks with a "Trump JFK Jr." flag. (Ty O'Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Jim Watkins clearly doesn’t know how his own website works.

The owner and operator of 8kun, the fringe message board that the anonymous leader of QAnon calls home, has, over the course of the last week, made multiple egregious and obvious errors that provide clear evidence that he is behind the first new Q posts after 18 months of silence.

On 8kun, the members of the qresearch board, where Q posts their “Q drops” are angry—very angry— at what they see as a clear and obvious violation of the rules of the website.


But outside of this small circle of believers, the wider QAnon community is still celebrating the return of Q, oblivious to the fact that the new Q drops appear to be written not by a secret military intelligence insider, but by a 58-year-old pig farmer who’s obsessed with fountain pens.

The first new post since Dec. 8, 2020, was posted on Friday, posing the cryptic question: “Shall we play a game once more?”

Several more posts followed soon after, but members of the qresearch board quickly realized something was off. They noticed that just before the first new drop was posted, site administrators had changed the way the site generates the secure tripcodes used to verify anonymous users, such as Q. The one user whose tripcode didn’t change was Q.

Watkins tried to explain away this error by claiming Q’s tripcode was “whitelisted,” but this is just something that is not possible, said Fred Brennan, who created 8chan (as 8kun was known prior to 2018) and worked closely with both Jim and Ron Watkins.

“There’s no way without Q’s password to make a whitelist,” Brennan told VICE News, signaling that Watkins is either lying, or he is Q.

Next, members noticed that the ID on the new Q posts was 00000, which is used when members post updates using the anonymity-focused Tor browser, something which had been disabled since September 2021. The site admins had switched the feature back on just before Q’s first post in 18 months, again suggesting they knew what was coming.


Finally, on Wednesday, Watkins appears to have forgotten that he was logged in as Q, when he responded to an 8kun user calling Watkins “clueless” and “dopey.” Initially, the post and the subsequent Q drop both featured the same ID, but later the ID of the Q drop was changed to 00000, something only Watkins or his administrators could do.

Watkins has tried to explain these errors in a series of posts on other sites, including Gab and Telegram, where he tried to explain away the errors by vaguely suggesting that he had access to quantum computing technology—which he does not.

Watkins also claimed that his son, Ron Watkins, who is currently running for Congress in Arizona, had created many special secret tools that would explain all the strange errors that appeared in recent days.

Brennan believes Jim Watkins is posting the latest updates because he doesn’t think Ron, who was the site’s administrator until November 2020, would have made those errors.

The hamfisted attempts to claim that the new posts came from Q, and Watkins’ effort to explain away those mistakes, have been blasted by many on the qresearch board, with one member writing on Wednesday the new drops were “a fraud, like everything the Watkins are connected to.”

Brennan says that such backlash is almost unprecedented, and that he’s never seen this sort of internal dissent on 8kun.


And yet, despite all the evidence suggesting the new Q drops were not real, or were at the very least facilitated by Watkins and his team, the wider QAnon community continues to celebrate Q’s return.

“Q is back” is now a popular refrain among QAnon supporters across sites like Gab, Telegram, and former President Donald Trump’s platform Truth Social, where a version of Q that had emerged in recent months was seen by some as a replacement for the original Q. 

The reason that the vast majority of the QAnon faithful don’t have the questions and doubts that their 8kun compatriots do is that most QAnon supporters have never even visited 8kun, and many don’t really know who Jim Watkins is.

Most QAnon supporters get their information from one of the dozens of influencers who have leveraged the popularity of QAnon to grow their own followings.

As a result, most QAnon supporters will only renounce the new Q drops once the influencers they follow do the same–and so far, those influencers, starved of new content for the last 18 months, don’t appear willing to see the evidence in front of them.

“Ultimately what this means is that the symbiotic relationship between Q and QAnon influencers acts as a buffer between the majority of the community from the hardcore community on the boards that are pushing back on the current Q,” Marc-André Argentino, a PhD candidate at Concordia University who studies QAnon, tweeted

Over the course of Q’s 18-month silence, the power within the movement has shifted from their anonymous account on 8kun to a group of more than a dozen influencers, all of whom have their own way of interpreting what QAnon is and what it means. This situation has spawned the emergence of the JFK cult in Dallas and the QAnon Queen movement in Canada. If Watkins’ attempt to restart Q on 8kun fails, that trend is likely to accelerate.

“If Jim loses the 8kun users. It’s gonna represent a greater decentralization of the movement,” Brennan said.

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