Rules of the Internet is a list of protocols and conventions, originally written to serve as a guide for those who identified themselves with the Internet group Anonymous. The list serves as a summation of popular catchphrases and axioms commonly associated with 4chan. Since there are numerous drafts and editions in circulation, the rules fluctuate in number and the validity of each rule remains debatable. Despite this, several of the rules including Rule 34 and Rule 63 are agreed upon across internet communities.
The idea of making a set of rules, similar to Netiquette for 4chan users, was initially talked about on Anonymous-related IRC channels before an entry was submitted to Encyclopedia Dramatica sometime in late 2006 and archived on January 10th, 2007. The entry was highly debated on its discussion page as well as the site’s forums. At the time of the archival, there were 18 rules in the entry, despite it mentioning that 48 existed.
A set of 50 rules were posted on the text based 4chan discussion board on February 15th, 2007. The earliest Yahoo! Answers question seeking the original Rules was posted on June 13th, 2007, with the top answer linking to the Encyclopedia Dramatica page. A wiki-style site for the Rules of the Internet was established in December 2007 to document every rule that circulated the web. When the site was first archived in October 2008, 180 rules existed. As of June 2012, the site lists rules numbering in the 900s. In January 2008, a set of 100 rules was added to Urban Dictionary
A set of 47 rules exists on an Encyclopedia Dramatica entry as of June 2012. This set also has been documented on the Internet Archive as a community text.
In 2007, 4chan’s founder Christopher Poole, better known as moot, was asked about the rules during a question-and-answer session at ROFLcon. He claimed that they were invented by Gaia and they did not actually exist.
Though search for “rules of the internet” show significant volume over “rules 1 and 2” in the first graph, the second graph shows “rule 34” eclipsing both, evolving into an independent entity. The term “Charles Stross” has been removed from the results to avoid including search for the science-fiction novel Wikipedia – Rule 34 (novel) of the same name.
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