Who Is Really Behind The Bonkers QAnon Conspiracy Theory?

There are six possibilities

Travis View
Aug 8, 2018 · 7 min read

To people who believe the QAnon conspiracy theory, the mysterious 8chan poster known as “Q” is somebody close to President Trump. But no one knows precisely who he/she/they are. Even within the QAnon community, the true identity of Q is hotly debated.

QAnon true believers say Trump is leading the battle against the deep state and the child-sacrificing, lucifer-worshipping elites. To let the public know what’s going on, posts by Q reveal “breadcrumbs” of top secret information.

This is, of course, insane horseshit.

But that fact still leaves us with a problem: Q is clearly somebody. Or a group of people.

And this somebody or somebodies is well-versed in conspiracy theories, persistent enough to keep posting for nearly a year, and highly defensive against anyone who calls bullshit on QAnon.

Which means, unfortunately, the only way to guess the true identity of QAnon is to create your own conspiracy theory.

There are currently six skeptical theories that explain the real origin of the QAnon posts.

  1. 4chan Trolls
  2. Conspiracy Theory Scammers
  3. Live Action Role Play (LARP)
  4. Russian PsyOp
  5. Deep State Pied Piper Operation
  6. Trump Aide Dan Scavino

To be clear, many of these theories aren’t mutually exclusive. Q may be multiple groups acting together, each with different goals for QAnon. But these six theories are the most commonly cited possible explanations.

Here’s a break down of each theory and what they mean.

1) QAnon Is Really 4chan Trolls

The Theory

QAnon started on the infamous 4chan image board. It later moved to 8chan.

4chan “anons” are known for (occasionally dangerous) pranks that even fool the mainstream media.

For example, in 2008 4chan successfully spread a rumor that Steve Jobs suffered a heart attack. That caused Apple stock to tumble 10 percent before the truth was revealed.

QAnon is just another 4chan prank that got wildly out of control.

Who Believes It

Some 4chan anons believe QAnon was an epic prank on “normies and boomers.”

The “4chan troll” theory was also promoted by New York Times editorial assistant James Hitchcock.


The fact that QAnon originated on 4chan is, by itself, strong evidence for the troll theory.

Buzzfeed wrote about the possibility that QAnon is a leftist prank that’s based on the obscure Italian novel “Q.” But the article overstates its case when it calls the theory “highly likely.”

2) QAnon Is Really Conspiracy Theory Scammers

The Theory

QAnon is a group of active conspiracy theorists who created their own conspiracy theory in order to build their audience and help the MAGA cause.

Who Believes It

Pro Trump, Anti-Q researcher The War Economy promoted this theory. He named a specific group of conspiracy theorists and anonymous coders who allegedly created QAnon.

Q later fired back at the War Economy in a Q drop, calling The War Economy part of an “infiltration.”

The theory is also promoted by streamer UNIRock.

UNIRock claims he has communicated with the “original” Q. This source allegedly says that there have been five Q’s in total.


On August 14th, NBC News published a well-researched investigation that traced the rise of QAnon to three people: Pamphlet Anon, BaruchtheScribe, and Tracy Diaz. This is the same group that the The War Economy claimed are the people behind Q.

The report includes evidence that Pamphlet Anon, whose real name is Coleman Rogers, logged into the Q account on 8chan and had inside knowledge of Q’s posts.

3) QANON Is Really A Live Action Role Play (LARP)

The Theory

Even people who are pro Trump or otherwise sympathetic to the anti-deep state narrative occasionally dismiss QAnon as a “LARP.” This means that it was intended to be a make believe game where Q plays the role of the government mole, and QAnon believers play the role of researchers who help overpower the deep state.

It just spun out of control.

Who Believes It

Jack Posobiec, who has previously promoted conspiracy theories like Pizzagate, claims Q started as a LARP and got out of hand. He has promised evidence of his claims, but hasn’t provided it yet.

On the QAnon debunking subreddit /r/Qult_Headquarters, redditor QPredictedPiss advances the LARP theory in a popular post. He claims that Q is currently run by the team behind BadSelfEater, an alternate reality game from 2016.


Some have accused QAnon of being a project of internet puzzle group Cicada 3301. In January, Cicada 3301 member “Defango” claimed in a video that he worked with the math professor William Monty McGovern to create QAnon.

4) QAnon Is Really A Russian PsyOp

The Theory

QAnon is a Russian organization such as GRU or Internet Research Agency. As part of their continued meddling into the American political system, Russian agents created the Q persona to get Americans to unwittingly act in the interest of the Russian government.

Who Believes It

The Russian PsyOp theory has been promoted by grey hat hacktivist The Jester.

The theory is also popular among anti-Trump people who believe the QAnon campaign is being used to distract from the Mueller investigation.


Q’s agenda is curiously in line with Russia’s. Q casts doubt on Russian meddling, hates Russia hawks like John McCain, and promotes the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. The Seth Rich theory is a favorite of Russian-backed campaigns because it absolves Russia of hacking the DNC.

Q Also recently promoted an attack against the Global Engagement Center, which is a State Department initiative tasked with fighting Russian meddling.

Some also point to the fact that QAnon first began posting a single day after the first indictments in the Mueller investigation. The first indictments were filed on October 27, 2017, and the first Q drop was on October 28, 2017.

5) QAnon Is Really A Deep State Pied Piper Operation

The Theory

QAnon isn’t a force working against the deep state. QAnon is actually controlled by the deep state. U.S. intel organizations are using QAnon to guide people away from true anti-deep state efforts.

Who Believes It

The Pied Piper theory is promoted by people who believe that the “deep state” is a real malevolent force, but are otherwise anti-QAnon.

It was explained on Twitter by Suzie Dawson, a New Zealand journalist who is currently living in Moscow after seeking asylum from Russia. Wikileaks said that Dawson’s theory “may be correct.”


The Pied Piper theory is as convoluted as any theory promoted by Q. In a long Twitter thread, Dawson alleges that the QAnon campaign follows a standard PsyOp playbook, since it worked early to establish credability and then deepened followers’ devotion with spiritual concepts.

The people who run Julian Assange’s Twitter account said that QAnon is being used to reduce “pressure on the White House To stop the US government persecution” of Assange.

6) QAnon Is Really Trump Aide Dan Scavino

The Theory

This theory is promoted both by people who do and don’t believe in QAnon.

It purports that Q actually is a high level Trump official who is close to Trump himself. But it’s not necessarily someone with “Q clearance” or anyone doing battle with the deep state. It’s just someone in Trump’s social media team, like White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino.

Many Trump tweets are written by Scavino.

Who Believes It

The Scavino theory is occasionally promoted on the pro-QAnon subreddit r/greatawakening.

But it’s also suggested by people who think Scavino is using QAnon to run a disinformation campaign.


The “QAnon is Dan Scavino” theory would explain some of the strange instances where Trump tweets line up with QAnon concepts.

For example, Trump had previously decried the Mueller investigation as “13 Angry Democrats.” But he recently switched it to “17 angry Democrats.” The number 17 is code for “Q” in the QAnon world, because Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet.

Trump also recently tweeted “5 for 5!” He was apparently referring to Congressional races, but it also corresponds to something Q frequently posts: “5:5.”

Ok But Who Is Q Really?

Fuck if I know.

Travis View

Written by

Happy to be here.

Travis View

Written by

Happy to be here.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store