Godwin’s Law

Anphicle December 5, 2010 0

Every social media site, forum, message board or site where users can post messages has probably at one time or another hosted a discussion with two sides to an arguement. With the safety of online anonymity people won’t say “Oh good point, I guess I was wrong”, nor will they want to lose proving their point of view. It is much more likely the discussion will escalate to the point where one person will post an analogy to Hitler or Nazis. Godwin’s Law states exactly that; “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1″ (Source: Wikipedia).

Despite seeing this scenario several thousand times I only found out it had a name a few weeks ago, though a slightly different adage. It was “The first person to use a Hitler or Nazi comparison instantly loses an arguement”, though it may indicate a lack of verbosity it isn’t always true. Godwin’s Law doesn’t say if whoever is first to make a Nazi or Hitler reference loses, it just states that a reference may occur the longer an online discussion goes on.

Mike Godwin coined the phrase in the 1980s after seeing it happen time and time again on Usenet discussion boards, Godwin’s Rule was naturally named after him. He is an internet lawyer and author of books on the topics of internet rights and law. Read more about Mike Godwin here, he is an interest bloke.

Godwin's Law Hitler Analogy

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