4chan Apparently Got a User to Chop Off Part of a Toe Over the Weekend

There's this place called 4chan where cutting off your toe will make you cool.

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Aug 31 2015, 10:45pm

Screengrab via a now-deleted post on 4chan.org

Over the weekend, a post on 4chan became one for the ages when one of the anonymous users of the legendarily shocking image board apparently chopped a fair amount of his or her own toe off (Warning: link is to an uncensored version of the photo above). The post was insanely popular, leading other users to refer to it a day later in a thread about the all-time best cases of the rare phenomenon known as "OP has delivered."

It might not be immediately clear why a little self-mutilation would be something worth delivering—You can just Google "toe cut off" if you want to see that kind of thing—but there's a reason this OP (which stands for "original poster") is a unicorn of sorts.

Alongside the initial photo of a toe with a small scab, the OP offered someone in the thread the chance to decide how to respond to such a predicament. "Use neosporin" maybe, or "Get a nice pedicure".

When another user suggested "chop off the toe," the eventual amputation of the toe was a victory for the site, and maybe a permanent piece of 4chan history.

The original post is gone, and 4chan doesn't archive. If you aren't familiar, think of 4chan as a big roll of butcher paper on a conveyor belt that users scrawl things on as fast as they can before it goes into an incinerator. Most content isn't worth saving. Someone posts an image, typically with a comment, and others can add comments and images to the thread. If it doesn't attract much attention, it disappears unceremoniously. If it's funny, or salient, or just interesting for some reason, there'll be a longer thread.

When things are really cooking in one particular 4chan thread, it's a magic moment. In the aftermath, there are just screengrabs and memories. To the uninitiated browsing 4chan, a gory image, a dick pic, or maybe some racist comments might not seem like they're worth much in context, but divorced from context, they're worth even less.

What originally made this particular thread catch fire was that it was a "Dubs Get," a tantalizing style of post, in which an anonymous commenter is offered the chance to get his or her way based on what's essentially a dice roll. If the numeric code on your anonymous comment happens to have two instances of a digit in a row, you decide the outcome. As comments pile up, interest in the thread grows. A more normal "Dubs Get," might start with a photo of a lady, and offer topless photos to the user who rolled dubs.

In the case of the toe, the commenter who wrote "chop off the toe" won dubs. They actually didn't at first, but a controversial re-roll produced two 5s in a row. OP chose to honor the re-roll, and had to either deliver, or admit he or she had wasted everyone's very precious time.

OPs, as a rule, do not often keep their promises in this circumstance, or really any circumstance on 4chan. "Waiting for OP" is such a familiar phenomenon, it has its own Knowyourmeme article. In image macros, one who would wait for an OP's illusive delivery is portrayed as a skeleton posed as if waiting by a laptop for centuries in the hopes that the awesome pics will finally arrive. The message: Patience won't pay off. No sense risking boredom by waiting around. Find entertainment elsewhere.

This trend of disappointment extends well beyond Dubs Gets. Unlike on 4chan's slightly more gullible cousin Reddit, trust in any claim is practically nonexistent, thus the prevalence of the phrase "Pics or it didn't happen." On any given day, 4chan users will scroll past dozens of outrageous boasts or challenges, assuming nothing will come of them—nothing that can be documented anyway.

That's not a bad thing. Two years ago for instance, a post materialized promising to 4chan that the OP was a suicidal American Airlines pilot who was preparing to deliberately crash a plane full of passengers. That thankfully didn't really happen.

But occasionally something does.

Perhaps no example is more famous than the time in 2007 when a 4chan user posted a photo apparently from the Catacombs of Paris, asking the rest of 4chan if they thought he might successfully be able to smuggle a stolen Parisian skull back to the US. Shortly afterwards, the OP posted a photo of a skull in what appeared to be the comfort of his own home.

But although 4chan was pleased with the stolen skull, it was not content. "Anon demands to see penis in eye socket," wrote one user. And on that day, OP delivered (link is about as NSFW as it gets). Yes, the remains of an 18th century Parisian were desecrated for internet points.

But OPs of the past have supposedly delivered on much uglier promises. In one famous case (which must be relegated to the bin marked "pure legend" for obvious legal reasons) a 4chan user claimed to know where a missing girl named Emily Sander was buried. The winning commenter would be one who was able to guess the entire numerical code of their comment. When one user guessed correctly, coordinates were supplied, and they supposedly matched the location of the body when it was eventually found—although documenting the actual chronology in this sequence of events is impossible. Shenanigans were probably afoot, but that hasn't stopped the case from permeating the culture of 4chan.

That culture has also included a penchant for gawking at self-mutilation since long before this weekend's phalangeal severance.

Perhaps the most legendary internet-administered surgical procedure was the 2013 incident in which a female 4chan user put 4chan in control of a cyst or tumor that had grown on her breast. OP certainly delivered (Warning: Don't click that. What are you thinking?), and the revolting outcome was met with that rarest of 4chan responses: concern for the OP's health, in the form of pleas for her to hurry and disinfect the wound or seek medical attention. Cases like this are the the logical extreme of a place where everything is taken to its logical extreme. As another user put it, "I think this might be my cutoff."

It's as though deep down, 4chan wants to be called on its bluff. The real mind of 4chan and its evil twin 8chan isn't just what New York Magazine called "the dankest mumurations of the male id." There's a superego in there there too somewhere. It finally peeks its head out when the id has had its fun, and the game is over.

Note: Don't cut off your own body parts because someone on the internet told you to. Research suggests even if you actively want to cut parts of your body off, it's probably still a neurological problem.

Follow Mike Pearl on Twitter.

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