Poe's law

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Poe's law is an Internet adage which states that, without a clear indicator of the author's intent, parodies of extreme views will, to some readers, be indistinguishable from sincere expressions of the parodied views.[1][2][3]

History[edit]

"Poe's law" was originally written by Nathan Poe in 2005, in a post on christianforums.com, an Internet forum about Christianity. The post was written in the context of a debate about creationism, where a previous poster had remarked "Good thing you included the winky. Otherwise people might think you are serious". Poe then replied, "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is uttrerly [sic] impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won't mistake for the genuine article."[1] The original statement of Poe's law referred specifically to creationism, but it has since been generalized to apply to any kind of fundamentalism or extremism.[3]

In part, Poe's post reiterated advice often posted on internet forums, about the need to clearly mark sarcasm and parody (e.g. with a smiling emoticon) to avoid confusion. As early as 1983, Jerry Schwarz, in a post on Usenet, wrote:

Avoid sarcasm and facetious remarks.

Without the voice inflection and body language of personal communication these are easily misinterpreted. A sideways smile, :-), has become widely accepted on the net as an indication that "I'm only kidding". If you submit a satiric item without this symbol, no matter how obvious the satire is to you, do not be surprised if people take it seriously.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Poe, Nathan (11 August 2005). "Big contradictions in the evolution theory". christianforums.com. Archived from the original on May 31, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2011. Poe's Law: Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won't mistake for the genuine article. 
  2. ^ Aikin, Scott F. (January 23, 2009). "Poe's Law, Group Polarization, and the Epistemology of Online Religious Discourse". Social Science Research Network. SSRN 1332169. 
  3. ^ a b Chivers, Tom (Oct 23, 2009). "Internet rules and laws: the top 10, from Godwin to Poe". The Telegraph. : "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing."
  4. ^ "Emily Post for Usenet". Newsgroupnet.announce. November 1, 1983.  (Emily Post)