Archive for July 18th, 2014

Poe’s Law

Only a few months ago, I had never heard of Poe’s Law. Now it’s a rare day in which it doesn’t crop up several times. Invocations of the Zeitgeist are inherently improbable, but if there were to be a persuasive illustration of the phenomenon, it would be something like this.

According to the succinct Wikipedia entry (already linked), Poe’s Law is less than a decade old. Among it’s precursors, also relatively recent, a 2001 Usenet comment by Alan Morgan most closely anticipates it: “Any sufficiently advanced troll is indistinguishable from a genuine kook.” In other words, between a sincere intellectual position and its satirization, no secure distinction can be made. (There is nothing about this thesis that restricts it to ‘extreme’ opinion, although that is how it is usually understood.)

The latest opportunity for raising this topic is, of course, @Salondotcom. (There’s an entertaining interview with the pranksters behind it here.) The offense of this account, which led to it being suspended by Twitter last week, was clear beyond any reasonable doubt. Quite simply, it was nearly indistinguishable from the original, a fact that has itself been explicitly noted (and tweeted about) innumerable times. Parody Salon slugs, so ludicrously over-the-top that they had @Salondotcom readers in stitches, were funny precisely because they were such plausible mimics of Salon‘s own. Readers were laughing through @Salondotcom, at Salon. This is almost certainly why the account was suspended.

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July 18, 2014admin 20 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Humor , Media
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