What IS a meme?
A meme starts out as an idea. That idea is then expressed through some sort of medium, such as words, images, videos, or websites. When this idea is transmitted to another individual, it becomes a meme. That is all there is to it.
But the idea should not be subconscious. It should be able to be consciously imitated.
So isn’t everything on the internet a meme?
Most everything. Here’s an example:
Person 1: LOL check out this video!
Person 2: Okay!
Person 1 has just transmitted a hyperlink to Person 2. That link is a meme.
How does Knowyourmeme determine which memes should be considered for confirmation?
Based on notability and impact.
So memes are notable once they are transmitted a lot, right? Like one of those hilarious Smosh videos!
Not necessarily. While the popularity of a meme is taken into account, that does not necessarily mean that it is notable.
Let’s use “Smosh” as our first example. Although Smosh may be a very popular Youtube channel, it is one of many, many Youtube comedy channels. It is true that they made a huge impact on the lipdub fad, but they do not really differentiate themselves from the rest of the Youtube celebrity crowd.
Let’s use “Magibon” as our second example. The internet was fascinated/captivated/disgusted by this girl. She became an internet phenomenon through her mindless staring, attempts to speak Japanese, and ridiculously huge eyes. That is why her entry was eventually confirmed.
Therefore, notability and impact are not based solely on the amount of views. Memes that are considered for confirmation should somehow influence internet culture in a noticeable way.
Then how do you define how “influential” a meme is?
This is where Kenyatta Cheese’s criteria from the FAQ comes into play:
Anyone who thinks that they’ve spotted a meme in the wild can submit an entry to the Internet Meme Database. Once in the MemeDB, entries are evaluated by the KYM community based on six primary concepts:
1) Viral Spread: search results, social media mentions, forum posts, route of spread.
2) Point of Origin: Find out where the meme first appeared and provide proof that it spread beyond its original subculture.
3) Derivatives/instances: Existing volume of spoofs, mashups, remixes, parodies, recontextualizations, and re-enactments. Is it mutating?
4) Appearance in Memetic Hubs: Websites and communities that have been made famous for spreading and culturing memes.
5) Organic / Forced Memes: Was the meme spread peer to peer or was it astroturfed? Even astroturfed phenomena can become memes.
6) Spin-offs / Sub-memes (Optional): Many memes spawn entire trees of sub-memes.
These six concepts are how entries are evaluated, and also help determine how influential the meme is. It should NOT be confused with the actual definition of a meme.
You should try to show evidence that the subject of your entry exhibits some of these traits.
Then aren’t very general topics, like e-mail, a meme?
Yes, but Knowyourmeme likes to keep its meme entries focused on more specific ideas. Try to use your best judgment on what is too broad of a concept. Good examples of specific memes are catchphrases, stories, images, videos, practices, and the like.
What is an IRL meme?
If you’ve been here for a while, you’ve probably heard the term, “IRL meme,” thrown around a lot. “IRL meme” stands for “In real life meme” and implies that a meme is used more often “in real life” than online.
The problem with this phrase is that it is often used to describe memes that come from movies, television, books, etc. Movies and television shows are not “real life” either, people.
A better way to argue against an entry that you don’t believe is an “internet meme” is to simply state that it is not an internet meme.
So what’s the difference between an internet meme and a non-internet meme?
If a meme is posted on the internet first (before being posted in other forms of media) and spreads primarily through the internet, it is an internet meme.
If a meme originates from places outside the internet it should fit into one or more of the following categories:
1) The meme is used differently on the internet than it is in other forms of media (for example, “Nice Boat”).
2) The meme is referenced on the internet far more often than it is in other forms of media (for example, “Pool’s Closed”).
3) The meme continues to be popular on the internet when it is not popular in other forms of media (for example, “???? PROFIT!!!!”)
4) The meme becomes popular and propogates because of the internet (for example, “Crank That Soulja Boy”)
Having reading this, I hope you will submit quality entries and also use the following phrases more carefully:
“This is not a meme.”
“This hasn’t spread to other sites so it’s not memetic.”
“It’s not a meme because it has no derivatives.”
“This is too much of an IRL meme.”
EDIT: Some definitions have changed since this was posted, but, for the most part, are still accurate.