5 Internet Commandments To Live By Or Incur The Wrath Of The Web (And A Note On Porn)

Ads by Google

internet commandmentsThe Internet is a somewhat lawless place. Sure, there are various legalities concerning the posting and viewing of certain content — including pornography and copyrighted material — but generally speaking the rules that govern the Web are both lax and difficult to enforce.

Certain websites, such as social networks, will lay out their own ground rules which, if broken, could get you banned. But there are also commandments that have risen from nowhere to become entrenched in the Web as a whole.

What follows are 5 of these Internet commandments that, if adopted, could save you blushes and bullying as those around you point and laugh at your ineptitude. These are laws that have become written into the very fabric of the Web as it has emerged and evolved over the last two decades. Take note, take heed, and take them all with a healthy pinch of salt.

Poe’s Law

internet commandments

“Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.”

Poe’s Law is named after Nathan Poe, who authored this particular adage in 2005 during a debate about creationism on a Christian forum. According to Wikipedia, Poe’s Law can be traced back even further, with similar sentiments being expressed as long ago as 1983 when Jerry Schwarz spoke of the importance of smileys. In its purest form it’s a reminder that words will be taken literally when written down.

Example: If I were to say “Vegetarians are all evil because everyone in the Bible was a meat eater,” someone, somewhere will take it literally because I haven’t made it clear it’s poking fun at fundamentalism.

Ads by Google

Godwin’s Law

internet etiquette

“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

Godwin’s Law, named after its originator Mike Godwin, states that an online discussion will always include a reference to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis, no matter what the topic is that’s being discussed. Godwin conceived of this adage in 1990 when Usenet was popular, but it still remains accurate to this day no matter where online the conversation is taking place. If Godwin’s Law does come into play then whoever mentioned Hitler automatically loses the argument, and the discussion should probably come to a prompt end.

Example: After many, many messages back and forth debating an issue, someone will state that “Of course, Hitler also believed in … so you agree with the Nazis, do you?” Or words to that effect.

Cohen’s Law

internet etiquette

“Whoever resorts to the argument “whoever resorts to the argument that… has automatically lost the debate” has automatically lost the debate.”

Cohen’s Law is named after its originator Brian Cohen, who, in 2007, formulated the argument that anyone who tries to dismiss someone else’s point of view has automatically lost the argument. This law can be expanded indefinitely a little like Pi, but most people stick to the basic layout offered above. Bringing up Cohen’s Law during a debate is severely frowned upon, so use it wisely.

Example: I’ve run out of steam in an online argument to the point that I retreat to dismissing the other person’s point of view without offering any explanation or evidence. I therefore lose the argument myself.

Skitt’s Law

internet etiquette

“Any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself.”

Skitt’s Law reportedly originated in 1998 when a G Bryan Lord named it after a Usenet user named Skitt. It’s the online equivalent of Muphry’s Law, which says a similar thing about editing and/or proofreading. I’ve been guilty of this one myself. I absolutely abhor typos in all their forms, but responding to comments quickly leads to some inevitably creeping in.

Example: You say, “The trouble with this article is your argument is unfouded.” I reply, “Thanks for the feedback but intil you learn to spell your comments will fall on deaf ears.

The Law Of Exclamation

internet tips

“The more exclamation points used in an email (or other posting), the more likely it is a complete lie. This is also true for excessive capital letters.”

The Law Of Exclamation is fairly recent, first being recorded in 2008 by Lori Robertson. But the truism it relates has been with us as long as the Internet has been around. Exclamation marks should be used sparingly, but people often forget this online and in emails. These are generally the same people who think using capital letters to virtually shout their message means the recipient is more likely to listen. They’re wrong, and also stupid.

Example:NO, I did not post that picture of you to Facebook. HOW DARE YOU imply as much!!!!!” Clearly I did post that picture of you to Facebook.

What About All The Porn?

internet commandments

In case you hadn’t noticed the Web is awash with pornography. It’s not as though you can’t avoid it — generally speaking you still have to actively go looking for adult material online — but if you’re that way inclined you’ll have no trouble finding what you want. Which is where Rule 34 and Rule 35 enter into the equation.

These are two entries of the Rules Of The Internet, a loose collection of laws put together on 4chan. Many of these rules apply only to 4chan and will be nonsensical to those who aren’t familiar with that site, but Rule 34 and Rule 35 have broken out to become part of the Web as a whole.

Rule 34 states that, “If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.” Rule 35 adds that, “If no porn is found of it, it will be made.

If you’d like to test this theory then be my guest, but I couldn’t possibly comment on the veracity or otherwise of these particular laws.

Conclusions

This isn’t a complete list of the laws that somewhat govern the Internet by any means, but it represents those that most people will have encountered in some form or another. Having spent well over a decade using the Web I’ve seen all of these adages proved conclusively. And I suspect you will have to, or if not, you will from now on.

Which of these Internet commandments rings most true for you? Are there any other Internet commandments of this kind you feel should be spread to a wider audience? As always we’d love to hear from you, so feel free to add your views on the subject matter to the comments section below. I command thee do it now. NOW!!!

Image Credits: Jorge Hernandez, Feral78, Davidd, Vic, Douglas Muth, Neil Milne, Surian Soosay

Join live MakeUseOf Groups on Grouvi App Join live Groups on Grouvi
Internet Meme Origins
Internet Meme Origins
14 Members
Hacker Groups
Hacker Groups
58 Members
Internet Crimes
Internet Crimes
28 Members
Internet Piracy
Internet Piracy
11 Members
WWW Fact or Fiction
WWW Fact or Fiction
10 Members
Ads by Google
Comments (34)
  • John Williams

    It’s not uncommon to get all these at once. The first reply to OP completely misses the irony and it sparks a multiparagraph debate where people refute each other point by point and the exclamation marks begin to proliferate. Then someone picks up on an infinitessimally obscure point of spelling. This instantly provokes a response that said nitpicker is a Nazi …. The thing then rumbles on because some people just don’t know when to give up. Finally in response to something completely unconnected, Rule 34 will pop-up and the thread will die.
    My own law would be that sooner or later in any heated forum thread a contributor will simply state that the OP is a faggot and say no more.

  • Nermal

    i love the way all of these so-called ‘laws’ pop up and everyone is supposed to adhere to them..

    If you refer to Hitler then you auto-lose the argument..
    If you make ad hom comments, you auto-lose the argument..

    What a load of rubbish.. someone makes up some meme-law and it’s supposed to apply by proxy, a tacit application and effect?

    No wonder the ‘net is becomeing so buggered up!

  • Buzzy McBee

    This column is worse than hitler.

  • Bob Janke

    I’d like to introduce a commandment against bacon, Anchorman (the movie), and Ron Swanson. Who do I talk to about this?

    • dparrack

      But, but, all those things are awesome. As are cute kittens. How dare you?! ;)

  • Guy McDowell

    There should be (or maybe already is) a truism that, when engaging in an argument online, the person who has the least to do in the real world will win – by attrition.

Load 10 more
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.