The Law of Exclamation

The Law of Exclamation

Updated Sep 24, 2016 at 04:42PM EDT by Brad.

Added Jun 12, 2012 at 05:33PM EDT by amanda b..

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OMG!!! Point made A little excessive, but ok if you're really pissed off. Now we're getting a bit stupid. Idiot. Idiot, bordering on moron. Moron or Super Moron Throw rocks at me


The Law of Exclamation is an Internet axiom arguing that a statement’s validity is called into question by the amount of exclamation points used. While the statement was originally made in reference to chain emails and message board postings, it can be also applied to any text found online.


The use of multiple exclamation points being associated with email hoaxes was noted as early as 1997 in two separate articles published by the IBM research team. The first[19] was uploaded that January and intended as a guide for lay population to be able to identify an email virus hoax. The second was a scientific research paper titled “Hoaxes and Hypes”[18] presented later that year at the 7th Virus Bulletin International Conference held in San Francisco, California.

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Throughout his fantasy novel series Discworld[2], Terry Pratchett uses exclamation points in characters’ dialogue as a method of describing their sanity.[3] In the 11th installment of the series titled Reaper Man[4], a character is quoted as saying "Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind." In 2007, the book Send[6] tried to implement a new set of style guidelines for email etiquette that encouraged the use of exclamation marks as a way to show appreciation and excitement in text-only situations.

This was debated in a Slate[5] article, which cited esteemed author Elmore Leonard's suggestion of using no more than two to three exclamation points per 100,000 words of prose from a 2001 New York Times[7] article. However, neither of these suggest usage of exclamation points to be indicative of the statement's validity.


The observation gained significant credibility in March 2008 after, a nonpartisan voter education project by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, published an article[1] about the validity of chain emails relating to democratic politicians Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. After finding only 2 of the 31 emails they analyzed contained factual information, author Lori Robertson offered seven tips to look for when reading a suspicious e-mail. One of them addressed the overuse of exclamation points:

The author just loves using exclamation points. If the author had a truthful point to make, he or she wouldn’t need to put two, three, even five exclamation points after every other sentence. In fact, we're developing another theory here: The more exclamation points used in an e-mail, the less true it actually is. (Ditto for excessive use of capital letters.)

The Law of Exclamation was submitted to Rational Wiki[8] in September 2008. The adage was highlighted in another article by The Telegraph[9] in October 2009 and subsequently picked up by the Democratic Underground forums[10] as well as personal blogs including Michael[11], Blurred Clarity[12] and Open Parachute.[13] Additionally, the law has also been applied to fake Facebook[20] profiles and hotel reviews.[21]

Abe Lincoln is getting ready for his birthday bash: 11I! Wall Info Photos Video Notes + What's on your mind? Share Abe Lincoln is getting ready for his birthday bash!!!! Mon at 10:22am via Facebook for iPhone Mary Todd L. and Robert Todd L like this 16th President of the USA, the Great Emancipator, Sav- ior of the Union, all around Charles Darwin What's up birthday buddy? Did you naturally select to forget my invite??? Mon at 1:54am, good and honest dude. Information Relationship Status: Married John Wilkes Booth Sic Semper Tyrannis!!! Birthday: | April 16, 1865 at 10:02pm February 12th, 1809 What e zza Where e ughkeepsie" Las Vegas, NV Maps Search the map Find businesses Get directions Maps Bellagio ☆☆☆☆☆ 2048 reviews W Flao Rd E F 3600 Las Vegas Blvd S Las Vegas, NV 89109 702) 693-7919 702) 693-7111 ogle Map d NAYTE View Larger Ma Get Directions: To here From here Edit Ne! Overview Details (8) Reviews (2048) Photos & Videos (50) Web Pages (1353) Your review ☆☆☆☆☆ A fake Bellagio review with Google Universal Search-New Hotel-Today I never been in Las Vegas and never stay at the Bellagio Hotel, but I can say that this hotel is the Worlo Rooms are. and I was... about the lobby Reception was. and restaurant could be.. I will.. stay... at the Bellagio Hotel A unknow customer! Edit Delete

The overuse of exclamation points in email has also been discussed on the Guardian[14], GOOD[15], the Boston Globe[16] and PR Daily[17], but none of these stories implicate the amount of punctuation in a sentence with the likelihood of it being a hoax.

The "!1" Phenomenon

The “!1” Phenomenon is a well-known but sparsely documented typo that is commonly found in online conversations. In many cases, a string of exclamation marks followed by “1” can be read as a careless typo, though it has been increasingly used with intention to express a sense of urgency or excitement. It is considered part of leetspeak, an alternative alphabet for the English-speaking internet users.

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