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Rule 34 is an Internet adage in the “Rules of the Internet” list of protocols and conventions which asserts that if something exists, there is porn of it. The humorous concept is commonly illustrated through fanart and fanfictions in which fictional TV and cartoon characters engage in sexual behavior, in similar vein to the Ruined Childhood meme.
According to the Lurkmore Wiki, Rule 34 originated from a comic posted on the website Zoom-Out, which was cached by Google as early as October 5th, 2004. In May of 2009, Something Awful user Electric Eggs posted a thread titled “Ask me about inventing Rule 34”, in which he claimed to have created the comic with his sister after learning the adage in an IRC chatroom.
On March 30th, 2006, the first Urban Dictionary definition for “Rule 34” was submitted by user Nukeitall, who claimed the adage was commonly used on a variety of message boards. On October 12th, the rule was included in the original “Rules of the Internet” list submitted to the Internet culture wiki Encyclopedia Dramatica. Rule 35 was created as an addendum to the rule, which clarified that if porn on a subject did not currently exist, it would be created.
Rule 34: There is porn of it, no exceptions.
Rule 35: If no porn is found at the moment, it will be made.
In May of 2007, the Rule 34 database was launched on Paheal.net with a searchable archive of Rule 34 images. On August 20th, the webcomic Xkcd published at comic titled “Rule 34”, which illustrated a hypothetical sexual scenario involving a woman and a guitar.
On February 17th, 2008, an anonymous 4chan user started a thread on the /b/ (random) board titled “Rule 34 thread”, which accumulated over 365 responses prior to being archived. On August 24th, 2009, the Internet humor site Holy Taco published a post titled “25 SFW Rule 34 Images”, which featured several notable demotivational posters of the rule.
On October 23rd, 2009, The Telegraph published an article titled “Internet Rules and Laws: The Top 10, From Godwin to Poe”, which mentioned Rule 34’s prevalence in online fanfiction. On August 6th, 2010, a TV Tropes page for the rule was created, which compared it to the tropes “Brain Bleach”, “Sexy Whatever Outfit”, “Freud Was Right” and “Fetish Fuel.” As of June 15th, 2012, a Facebook page for “Rule 34” has accumulated over 6,400 likes.
An expanded edition of the Rules of the Internet included Rule 63, which asserted that for every character, there is an opposite sex version of that character. The rule often manifests itself in a similar fashion to Rule 34, with fan arts depicting the gender-swapped characters engaging in sexual behavior.
According to Google Insights, “rule 34” is the most searched set of keywords from the Rules of the Internet.
The Telegraph – Internet rules and laws – the top 10, from Godwin to Poe