10 Rules of Internet

In my years working in technology, I have learned a few things. These lessons have become oft-repeated refrains when speaking to people, so I thought I'd collect them so I have a link to send folks when needed.

  1. Given enough time, any object which can generate musical notes will be used to play the Super Mario Brothers theme on YouTube.
  2. Judging by their response, the meanest thing you can do to people on the Internet is to give them really good software for free.
  3. Three things never work: Voice chat, printers and projectors.
  4. Once a web community has decided to dislike a person, topic, or idea, the conversation will shift from criticizing the idea to become a competition about who can be most scathing in their condemnation. (See The Law of Fail.)
  5. Any new form of electronic communication will first be dismissed as trivial and worthless until it produces a profound result, after which it will be described as obvious and boring.
  6. If your website's full of assholes, it's your fault. (See the post on this topic.)
  7. Most websites treat "I like it" and "This is good" as the same thing, leading to most people on the Internet refusing to distinguish between "I don't like it" and "It's not good".
  8. When a company or industry is facing changes to its business due to technology, it will argue against the need for change based on the moral importance of its work, rather than trying to understand the social underpinnings.
  9. People will move mountains to earn a gold star by their name on the Internet.
  10. The only way to get useful feedback from people on the Internet is to ask questions that are actually answerable, instead of open-ended.

Bonus rules which apply equally on the Internet and off:

  • Never argue against logic with emotion, or against emotion using logic.
  • We hate most in others that which we fail to see in ourselves. (That's pretty much where this blog started, 14 years ago.)

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