Rule 34 (Internet meme)
The exact origin of Rule 34 is unknown, though it may be related to the "Rules of the Internet", a list of protocols and conventions which first appeared on 4chan. The earliest known use is stored in a compilation of 4chan posts from 1993. In 2003, a webcomic captioned "Rule #34 There is porn of it. No exceptions.", which was drawn by Peter Morley-Souter to depict his shock at seeing Calvin and Hobbes parody porn. Morley-Souter posted his comic on the United Kingdom website Zoom-Out in 2004, and it has been widely reproduced.
Rule 34 first appeared on Urban Dictionary in 2006, submitted by user Nukeitall, who claimed the adage was commonly used on a variety of message boards. Then on October 12th that year, the rule was included in the original "Rules of the Internet" list on the Internet culture wiki Encyclopedia Dramatica.
In 2008, users of the imageboard 4chan posted numerous sexually explicit parodies and cartoons illustrating Rule 34. In the special argot of 4chan request forums, "porn" is called rule 34, Pr0nz. One dictionary of neologisms claims that Rule 34 "began appearing on Internet postings in 2008."
As Rule 34 continued spreading on the Internet, traditional media began reporting on it. A 2009 Daily Telegraph article listed Rule 34 as third of the "Top 10" Internet rules and laws. A 2013 CNN story said Rule 34 was "likely the most famous" Internet rule that has become part of mainstream culture.
According to researchers Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, "Today, Rule 34 thrives as sacred lore on blogs, YouTube videos, Twitter feeds and social networking sites. It's frequently used as a verb, as in 'I Rule 34'ed Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell on the judging table'." They propose the reason why the maxim resonated with so many people is because it "certainly seems true" for "anybody who has spent time surfing the Web."
Cory Doctorow concludes, "Rule 34 can be thought of as a kind of indictment of the Web as a cesspit of freaks, geeks, and weirdos, but seen through the lens of cosmopolitanism," which "bespeaks a certain sophistication—a gourmet approach to life."
Variations and corollaries
The original rule was rephrased and reiterated as it went viral on the Web. Some common permutations omit the original "No exceptions."
- "Rule 34: There is porn of it."
- "Rule 34: If it exists, there is porn of it."
- "Rule 34: If it exists, there is Internet porn of it."
- "Rule 34: If you can imagine it, it exists as Internet porn."
The conundrum of finding an Internet pornographic exception to Rule 34's "No exceptions" led to the Rule 35 corollary. On 12 October 2006, an early "Rules of the Internet" list, posted to the cyberculture wiki Encyclopedia Dramatica, included
- "Rule 34: There is porn of it, no exceptions.
- "Rule 35: If no porn is found at the moment, it will be made."
Rule 35 is also often referred to as Rule 34b.
Another expression of these rules is:
- "Rule 34: If it exists there is porn of it. No exceptions."
- "Rule 35: The exception to Rule 34 is the citation of Rule 34."
Thus, "The rules suggest that if you can think of a pornographic scenario, theme, or style—no matter how esoteric or unlikely it may seem—then such porn will already have been made, and it will be available online. If this is not the case, then it is only a matter of time before such porn is made."
- The rules of the internet Archived 2013-06-16 at Archive.is, 4chan archive, 15 February 2007.
- Rule 34 in a 4chan Channel 4 archive
- Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships, Penguin Books, 2011.
- Dewey, Caitlin (6 April 2016). "Is Rule 34 actually true?: An investigation into the Internet's most risqué law" – via www.washingtonpost.com.
- Parmy Olson, We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency, Hachette, 2012, p. 33.
- Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro, eds. The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, Yale University Press, 2012, p. 204.
- Tom Chivers, Internet rules and laws: the top 10, from Godwin to Poe, The Daily Telegraph, 23 October 2009.
- Todd Leopold, Meet the Rules of the Internet, CNN, 15 February 2013.
- Ogi and Gaddam, 2011.
- Cory Doctorow (1 October 2011). Context. Tachyon Publications. pp. 70–. ISBN 978-1-61696-078-0.
- Doyle et al., 2012.
- Leopold, 2013.
- Paasonen, Susanna (2011), "Introduction: carnal appeal", in Paasonen, Susanna, Carnal resonance affect and online pornography, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, p. 1, ISBN 9780262016315.
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