Rules of the Internet

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Rules of the Internet" is a loose collection of rules and aphorisms spawned by the infamous 4chan Image Board. Depending on who you ask, they are either not meant to be taken seriously or very Serious Business. Most of them don't apply except for within the community they originated from, and the list is continuously changing but through Memetic Mutation a handful have become well known.

Some of the more notable rules[1] include:

"Rules of UseNet"

An older set of such rules exists, generated well before 4chan by the denizens of UseNet. Among its entries are:

  • Rule nonumber: There are no hard-and-fast Rules on UseNet, only Guidelines, which are more or less strictly enforced (and differ) from group to group; this is why it's generally wise to read any group for a bit before ever posting to it.
  • Rule 0: There is no C*b*l. There is, however, a net-wide conspiracy designed solely to lead Dave Hayes to believe that there is a C*b*l.
    • Corollary: here are no pods.
  • Rule 1: Spellling and grammer counts. So do grace, wit, and a sense of humor (the latter two are different), as well as a willingness to meet odd people, but these are lesser considerations.
  • Rule 2: The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. (John Gilmore)
  • Rule 3 ("Why 3?" "Because we felt like it"): For every opinion there is at least one equally loud and opposing opinion.
  • Rule 4 (Godwin's Rule): Any off-topic mention of Hitler or Nazis will cause the thread it is mentioned in to an irrelevant and off-topic end very soon; every thread on UseNet has a constantly-increasing probability to contain such a mention.
    • Quirk's Exception: Intentional invocation of this so-called "Nazi Clause" is ineffectual.
    • Case's Corollary: If the subject is Heinlein or homosexuality, the probability of a Hitler/Nazi comparison being made becomes equal to one.
  • Rule 5 (Reimer's Reason): Nobody ever ignores what they should ignore on Usenet.
  • Rule 6: Don't post to misc.test unless you understand the consequences. (Eddie Saxe)
  • Rule 7-B: There is no topic so thoroughly covered that no one will ever bring it up again.
  • Rule 9: It's always September, somewhere on the Net.
    • Dave Fischer's Extension: 1993 was The Year September Never Ended.
  • Rule 17: Go not to UseNet for counsel, for they will say both 'No' and 'Yes' and 'Try another newsgroup'.
  • Rule $19.99: The Internet isn't free. It just has an economy that makes no sense to capitalism. (Brad 'Squid' Shapcott)
  • Rule 27: In cyberspace, everyone can hear you scream. (Gary Lewandowski)
  • Rule 29: No rational discourse can happen in a thread cross-posted to more than two newsgroups.
  • Rule 37: Read the thread from the beginning, or else. (Faisal Nameer Jawdat)
  • Rule 108 (from the soc.motss FAQ): "What will happen to me if I read soc.motss?" "In general, nothing. (You may be informed or infuriated, of course; but that's a standard Usenet hazard.)"
  • Rule 666: Old alt groups never die. They don't fade away nicely, either.
  • Rule 90120: Applying your standards to someone else's post will result in a Flame War.
  • Rule x^2: FAQs are asked frequently. Get used to them.
Rules of the Internet is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes associated with the Rules of the Internet:
  1. For values of "notable" that are extremely arbitrary, but being referenced elsewhere helps
  2. "Officially" Rule 51, but generally cited as Rule 36; the alternate Rule 36 is (in polite terms): "No matter how messed up what you've just seen is, there is always worse." Considering the originators of the list, this ties in quite nicely.