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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.
1) Do not talk about rules 2-33
34) There is porn of it. No exceptions.
35) The exception to rule #34 is the citation of rule #34.
36) Anonymous does not forgive.
37) There are no girls on the internet.
38) A cat is fine too
39) One cat leads to another.
40) Another cat leads to zippocat.
41) Everything is someone’s sexual fetish.
42) It is delicious cake. You must eat it.
43) It is a delicious trap. You must hit it.
44) /b/ sucks today.
45) Cock goes in here.
46) They will not bring back Snacks.
47) You will never have sex.
50. You can not divide by zero.
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
Rule 1 & 2
Rule 1. Do not talk about /b/.
Rule 2. Do not talk about /b/.
The rules stating that 4chan users were not allowed to discuss their participation on the site outside of it were first added to Urban Dictionary on their own in April 2007. By 2009, many 4chan users were arguing that these rules only apply when Anonymous members are raiding another site. Some say Rules 1 and 2 were inspired by the 1999 cult film Fight Club, where main character Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt) notes that the first two rules of the club are not talking about it.
Rules 3, 4 and 5
Rule 3. We are Anonymous.
Rule 4. Anonymous is legion.
Rule 5. Anonymous never forgives.
Rules 3, 4 and 5 often are recited as the motto and closing signature in Anonymous public announcements and press releases and, typically for operations and raid campaigns, since as early as 2009.
Rule 30 & 31
Rule 30. There are no girls on the Internet.
Rule 31. Tits or GTFO.
No Girls on the Internet is a catchphrase used by netizens to imply that there are no female entities actually participating in online forums and conversations, especially in anonymous-friendly settings like chat rooms and message boards.
Tits or GTFO is a reinforcing statement of the preceding Rule 30 (“No Girls on the Internet”) that suggests the burden of visual proof rests heavily on the individuals who claim to be females.
Rule 32. Pics or Didn’t Happen.
Pics or It Didn’t Happen is a catchphrase used in rebuttal to a poster who has made an unbelievable or outlandish claim without support of any visual evidence. This reemphasizes the desire for photographic proof shown in Rule 31.
Rule 33. Lurk Moar.
Lurk Moar is an adage that serves as a rule of thumb for inexperienced users or newcomers to BBS or forums, where being unfamiliar with the codes or conventions of community will likely result in miscommunications or being seen as nuisance to others. The concept of self-education through silent observation has been previously iterated through the initialism RTFM since as early as 1999. The phrase was defined on its own on Urban Dictionary on May 18th, 2007.
Rule 34. There is porn of it, no exception.
Rule 35. If no porn is found at the moment, it will be made.
The most widespread of the rules, Rule 34 states that pornography is an omnipresent aspect of online media culture and all that is conceivable has been visually depicted in a salacious manner. Rule 35 serves as its supporting clause, stating that if it doesn’t exist at that moment, the void will be filled in the future.
Rule 63: For every given male character, there is a female version of that character; conversely for every given female character, there is a male version of that character.
Rule 63 is an internet adage which states that for every fictional character, there exists a counterpart in the opposite gender. This concept of gender-bending has been popularly illustrated through Alternate Universe artworks and usage of Traps.
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 of the same name.
fn18 Wikipedia – Rule 34 (novel)