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84 comments

Obligatory... (5, Funny)

perlionex (703104) | more than 6 years ago | (#19743875)

XKCD Comic: [xkcd.com]

Soldier: General, Italian forces have entered Egypt.
General: As I expected. This is a foolish move by Mussolini, but like Hitler he will no doubt force his commanders to --
Soldier: Hey. Godwin's law.
General: Dammit. You know, this may become a problem.

Re:Obligatory... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#19743937)

I believe the purposeful invokation of Godwin's Law doesn't actually work, unfortunately.

It's more like Moore's Law in that respect, and less like the Laws of Thermodynamics.

I wonder how fast the comments in this article *will* degenerate, though. (Something Godwin's Law doesn't predict, unfortunately).

Michael Moore's Law (1)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 6 years ago | (#19745307)

I wonder how fast the comments in this article *will* degenerate, though.

Wait, do you mean Michael Moore?

Michael Moore has two laws:


Michael Moore's Law #1: As an real-world situation grows longer, the probability of a Michael Moore complaining about the problem approaches one.

Michael Moore's Law #2: The rate at which a discussion degenerates will double every 24 months.


Re:Obligatory... (1)

LarsG (31008) | more than 6 years ago | (#19758739)

Yes.

The law itself only says "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one".

On Usenet it has historically (Whow, the early days of Usenet is history now. Man, I'm old.) been used to indicate that a debate thread has become so heated that it no longer serves a useful purpose. When that happens, the thread is declared dead ("Godwin's law! I win!") and whoever made the comparison is considered the loser. It isn't valid to invoke Godwin on purpose, as it has to be a heat of the moment thing for the law to have any meaning.

Re:Obligatory... (0, Redundant)

perlionex (703104) | more than 6 years ago | (#19744119)

For clueless /. readers who don't click on the links, and who were wondering what the link between Godwin and Nazis / Hitler is; from the Wikipedia link on Godwin's Law in the article [wikipedia.org] :

Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies[1]) is an adage that Mike Godwin formulated in 1990. The law states:

"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

Godwin's Law does not question whether any particular reference or comparison to Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that one arising is increasingly probable. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued, that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact. David Weigel argued that Godwin's law is often used to ridicule even valid comparisons.

Re:Obligatory... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19744913)

You sir are an outrageous karma whore.

Re:Obligatory... (3, Insightful)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#19744989)

Well, as online discussions grows longer, probability of comparison involving ANYTHING approaches one. It's like with million monkeys typing random letters, but online users actually produce gramatical content (mostly).

Digg Dugg (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#19745039)

It's like with million monkeys typing random letters,
Reminds me of Digg...

but online users actually produce gramatical content
That's not true in every case....

(mostly).
...oh, okay, you remembered Digg after all. ;-)

Re:Obligatory... (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 6 years ago | (#19747155)

Sorry, that's not true. There might be things nobody ever talks about. So their probability of coming up in conversation is forever 0. :fnord

Re:Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19750219)

I think you're missing the point. Godwin's law is saying that the probability of the next post involving hitler or the nazis approaches one, not the probability of there being a post somewhere in the conversation approaching one.

Re:Obligatory... (2, Funny)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 6 years ago | (#19744185)

I thought it was more like:

Rommel: "Mein Fuhrer, the Italians have joined the war!"
Hitler: "Can we spare ten divisions to put against them?".
Rommel: "But they're on our side".
Hitler: "Himmel! We'll have to find fifteen divisions!".

To get back on topic, I thought Godwin's law doesn't apply where the topic actually is Hitler and/or Nazis - though I can't find a reference for it.

Re:Obligatory... (4, Funny)

Evilest Doer (969227) | more than 6 years ago | (#19745041)

To get back on topic, I thought Godwin's law doesn't apply where the topic actually is Hitler and/or Nazis - though I can't find a reference for it.
It doesn't apply, but that never stops a bunch of stupid slashbots from invoking it every time Hitler is mentioned. And, your "reference" would be simple logic.


Godwin's law is more for things like discussions on whether coffee or tea is better, with the tea lover calling the coffee lover a Nazi since Hitler liked coffee.

Discussions on, say, comparing a certain president - who invades countries on false pretenses, tries to establish a police state in his own country, calls people who disagrees with him "traitors", kills hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and calls it "collateral damage", and so on - with Hitler would not invoke Godwin's law since there is a reasonable basis for a comparison.

Re:Obligatory... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19745235)

Discussions on, say, comparing a certain president - who invades countries on false pretenses, tries to establish a police state in his own country, calls people who disagrees with him "traitors", kills hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and calls it "collateral damage", and so on - with Hitler would not invoke Godwin's law since there is a reasonable basis for a comparison.

Gosh, you are right. I never realized how much of a prick FDR was.

Re:Obligatory... (1)

seaturnip (1068078) | more than 6 years ago | (#19745959)

Ha. But I'm not seeing the "false pretenses" for invasion. Japan attacked first and Germany attacked US allies.

Re:Obligatory... (1)

Peil (549875) | more than 6 years ago | (#19763005)

<pedant> Germany declared war on the US due to it's treaty obligation with Japan. </pedant>

PARENT doesn't deserve the -1 Redundant mod (1)

Daychilde (744181) | more than 6 years ago | (#19752477)

There are multiple ways of interpreting it, but it's a valid reply to its parent.

Re:Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19746901)

Does it apply to comparisons with the Wikimedia Foundation considering that they already have a Fuhrer?

Re:Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19750891)

yes, saddam hussein should certainly be compared with Hitler and we were right to go after him and get rid of him.

Re:Obligatory... (1)

Cctoide (923843) | more than 6 years ago | (#19747889)

Not to be mean, but is there some /. rule that states "xkcd" has to be mis-capitalized on the first post of every comment thread? I thought we'd learned our lesson with "PERL"...

Hmm (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#19743901)

Wil he be revising any entry involving Hitler?

Re:Hmm (2, Insightful)

ThisIsWhyImHot (1121637) | more than 6 years ago | (#19744235)

If he is to revise any entry involving hitler, godwin's law dictates that it'll form an infinite loop and wikipedia will explode

Re:Hmm (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 6 years ago | (#19750919)

No, he will remove entries mentioning the Nazi's altogether, because if Wikipedia mentions the Nazis, it automatically loses.

Amazing (5, Funny)

FieroEtnl (773481) | more than 6 years ago | (#19743931)

Only three comments and this thread has already been Godwin'ed. I'm sure he would be proud.

Re:Amazing (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#19744163)

Only three comments and this thread has already been Godwin'ed. I'm sure he would be proud.
He's chosen the right Firm to work for now. The subject of Nazis and fascist behavior comes up faster in any discussion around Wikipedia than through any other. In fact, I'm sure the number of Wikipedia/Nazi comparisons triples every three months.

Maybe someone could write a Wales Corollary -- or a "Rand Corollary", perhaps more appropriately.

Re:Amazing (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 6 years ago | (#19745489)

I first read "Wiles" and wondered what FLT had to do with this. Then I wondered what the Wheel of Time had to do with this. Then I realized it was Wales and Ayn, not Al'Thor.

US Embassy in Iraq Built with Forced Labor (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19743939)

Re: US Embassy in Iraq Built with Forced Labor (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19743967)

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
(Actually probably most of it will be a buffer zone.)

Qualifications (-1, Troll)

paleo2002 (1079697) | more than 6 years ago | (#19743969)

Wait, so this guy comes up with a humorous modern-day interpretation of the old "Murphy's Law" addage and this qualifies him to provide legal council for Wikipedia? Yeah, sure, he's probably a lawyer and all but this is what led them to hire him over other applicants.

I came up with one of these when I started teaching intro. geology. "Everything in science comes in twos, threes, and fives." Can I work for NASA now?

Re:Qualifications (2, Informative)

daeg (828071) | more than 6 years ago | (#19743997)

Did you miss the part about Godwin being the first legal counsel to the EFF?

Re:Qualifications (1)

Elemenope (905108) | more than 6 years ago | (#19744615)

Might as well get this out of the way before someone else posts this who gives a damn...but that is kind of a dubious distinction. After all, since when has the EFF ever actually won any cases?

Re:Qualifications (5, Interesting)

mnemonic (43109) | more than 6 years ago | (#19744645)


EFF won the Steve Jackson Games case and Reno versus ACLU. Both cases were won while I was staff counsel at EFF. Just saying.

(I should add that I'm proud of EFF's work since then.)

Re:Qualifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19745599)

Do the mods not know who "mnemonic is?
Slashdot mod law #5 - comments by the person who is the subject of the article are automatically +5 informative.

Re:Qualifications (1)

Elemenope (905108) | more than 6 years ago | (#19746405)

Good call. I forgot about the "Steve Jackson Games is the Enemy of the State" case (and am ashamed, as I used to play GURPs a bit and should know better). I prefaced my comment with the "I don't care so much" because I'm not a rabid EFF watcher and a pretty consistent meme around here has been "EFF never wins cases" and I was stupid enough never to check the facticity of that meme. I appreciate your correction.

Re:Qualifications (1)

jdp (95845) | more than 6 years ago | (#19748683)

> EFF won the Steve Jackson Games case and Reno versus ACLU. Both cases were won while I was staff counsel at EFF. Just saying.

Well said -- and congratulations, Mike!

Can you share anything with us about what you'll be primarily focusing on?

jon

Re:Qualifications (1)

mnemonic (43109) | more than 6 years ago | (#19749343)


Hi, Jon.

I'm lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to be focusing on the full range of legal issues facing the Wikimedia Foundation. You can guess what some of them are (copyright, defamation, international law, etc.).

--Mike

Re:Qualifications (1)

Loligo (12021) | more than 6 years ago | (#19749123)


Mike did good work for the EFF.

And god help you if you took a contrary position on Austin chat systems back in the mid-80s. He verbally shredded all who opposed him.

  -l

(Hey Mike. Long time. Sorry about throwing up in your bathroom sink at Glen's going away party 20ish years ago.)

Re:Qualifications (2, Interesting)

mnemonic (43109) | more than 6 years ago | (#19749333)


Don't worry, I'm over the whole sink thing.

By the way, Glen is now my neighbor in Silver Spring!

--Mike

Re:Qualifications (1)

paleo2002 (1079697) | more than 6 years ago | (#19745545)

Yes, I understand he's a lawyer and no doubt quite qualified. Yale Law School? OK, I hear Yale still does that well at least.

I looked at the article summary, read "Godwin's Law" and thought to myself 'I never heard of Godwin's Law, but it must be succinct and insightful like Moore's Law". I followed the link to discover that's its basically a joke about internet discussions. I wish people would be more judicious when declaring things "laws".

The Law of Inverse Squares is a law. Comparing Walmart to nazi Germany is a$$hattery.

Re:Qualifications (1)

mindspillage (806179) | more than 6 years ago | (#19744187)

Damn, someone's leaked the sooper sekrit info on the decision process. I hate it when that happens.

Re:Qualifications (1)

Titoxd (1116095) | more than 6 years ago | (#19747817)

Er, there's a decision process?

And I wonder why I'm trying to be funny on Slashdot, instead of asking on your talk page... heh.

(Mods: Mindspillage is a member of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, btw)

Re:Qualifications - Slow Down, Cowboy! (1)

DaveCar (189300) | more than 6 years ago | (#19744599)

Can I work for NASA now?

Not until you've been a research fellow at Yale University for 2 years.

Hmm (1)

Uthic (931553) | more than 6 years ago | (#19744017)

He'll need to make a law about jokes about Godwin's Law :P

Re:Hmm (2, Interesting)

rs79 (71822) | more than 6 years ago | (#19746509)

"He'll need to make a law about jokes about Godwin's Law"

Oh let me go first: Sexton't law: "Make up a snappy one line for alt.flame and Mike Godwin will steal it for his own".

Check the dates:
http://groups.google.com/group/news.groups/msg/b54 314f075182eeb [google.com]

Re:Hmm (1)

kwoff (516741) | more than 6 years ago | (#19752745)

I'm sure that there have been plenty of others during the decades after WWII who had similar ideas, too...

Been Hired, eh? (1)

user24 (854467) | more than 6 years ago | (#19744021)

well we all know what happened when people got hired in Nazi Germany. Do we want that happening to wikipedia? huh? HUH?

godwin's law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19744087)

godwin's law is neither a law nor is it insightful. the chances of any topic being brought up in any conversation approaches 100% as the conversation progresses. that's only common sense.

Re:godwin's law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19745589)

godwin's law is neither a law nor is it insightful.

Neither is it informative, interesting, or funny.

It's about time (1)

grouse (89280) | more than 6 years ago | (#19744183)

After all these years of Slashdot being godwinned, it's about time that Godwin is slashdotted. Congrats, Mike.

Isn't time to have Furher brand consumer goods? (0, Offtopic)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#19744391)

I mean, how about some good old Goering Beer and Hitler Sausage!

He'd make awesome council (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#19745365)

As soon as he starts to lose, all he has to do is mention the Nazis and get a retrial.

Re:He'd make awesome council (1)

masterzora (871343) | more than 6 years ago | (#19746255)

Two problems with that:
1) The corollary that states that the comparison to Nazis or Hitler ends the discussion usually also states that whoever made the comparison loses
2) It always states that a purposeful invocation of Godwin's Law does not trigger the corollary.

But, other than that, humorous comment on your part!

Re:He'd make awesome council (2, Interesting)

rs79 (71822) | more than 6 years ago | (#19746767)

I should have theougt the pudgy pot smoking basement dwelling freedom (and in everything) loving crowd of slashdot would have recognized the proprietary capture of a cool and friendly slogan by a lawyer when they saw. But maybe not.

My purpose in the original incantation of same ( http://groups.google.com/group/news.groups/msg/b54 314f075182eeb [google.com] ) was to guarentee the freedom and protection from proprietary interests of said meme in a pre-prenguin gpl'less world.

And what happens? You schmucks play right into his hands and incant the demon himself by chanting his name over and over again. Arize from the depts of legal hell oh Mike Godwin. Take these souls that have pleged their dark hearts to you.

I know Mike Godwin. I like Mike Godwin. Mike is a friend of mine. But he's still a dirty thief.

Oh, the horror.

Richard Sexton
Froup this, bitch.
http://rs79.vrx.net/works/usenet/ [vrx.net]

Re:He'd make awesome council (2, Informative)

mnemonic (43109) | more than 6 years ago | (#19747931)

Hi, Richard.

As you know, I fully credit your having had some inkling of Godwin's Law before I formalized it. :-)

Next thing you'll be telling me that somebody invented cars before Henry Ford and that Apple didn't invent the personal computer!

Seriously, I will admit that I'd have thought about stealing a line from Richard Sexton, who is a crafter of great lines, had I known about Richard and the line in advance. But the greatest influence on Godwin's Law was Keith Henson's article about memes in Whole Earth Review, plus the fact that I was reading a lot of Primo Levi at the time.

--Mike

Makes me a little sad... (1)

Distan (122159) | more than 6 years ago | (#19745445)

It make me a little sad to see someone who was once on the side of good (the EFF) turn to the side of evil (Wikipedia). I guess everybody has their price.

Hopefully, once he sees Wikipedia from the inside, he will join the exodus of ex-insiders who have walked away from Jimbo's empire.

Re:Makes me a little sad... (3, Insightful)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 6 years ago | (#19746159)

It make me a little sad to see someone who was once on the side of good (the EFF) turn to the side of evil (Wikipedia).

Yes, darn them for providing a great free reference site whose content is all licensed under the GFDL. Thank goodness people are seeing through their sinister plan to educate the populace while proving that open content can work just as well as open software!

Re:Makes me a little sad... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19748519)

Oh, come on. Outside of the technical areas, most wikipedia pages with high Google ranks concerning politics, religion or history are absolute frauds and you know it.

Wikipedia articles on these topics (even featured ones) are fraught with bogus references from partisan/extremist websites, POV pushing, edit-wars, revert-wars,gross misrepresentation of sources through selective quoting, unbalanced views from self-published pseudoscholars, reflection of systemic bias from sensationalist news media, and numerous other problems not faced (at least, not as much) in more accountable and less partisan sources . Articles that have been implicitly "taken over" by edit-war groups and special interest groups of editors (many of whom coordinate edit-wars through off-wiki phpBB's) are commonplace, and, if you simply glance at the history and talk pages of these articles, you will see that incivility, personal attacks, logical fallacies, ad-hominem and other intimidation tactics are routinely employed by these groups to further their propagandistic aims.

One should, of course point out wikipedia's many strengths when it comes to esoteric and non-controversial topics (usually related to science or technology related subjects), but the rest of it is usually little more than propaganda hidden under a facade of authority and "neutrality" presented by the shiny frontend of the mediawiki software, and serves only to demonstrate the power of libel and rumor to spread on the internet...

But why does Wikimedia need him? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#19745453)

I'm surprised. The Wikimedia Foundation doesn't have serious legal problems. They need an intellectual property lawyer on tap, but most of their stuff is routine.

They may need a tax guy. With Jimbo Wales involved in both the profit-making Wikia and the nonprofit Wikimedia, there are issues with IRS nonprofit status for Wikimedia. (See Instructions for IRS form 1023, line 5A) [irs.gov] .

Wikia is turning into a popular culture/fan system; they have the Star Wars wiki and various other fan sites. One could argue that it would be to the advantage of Wikipedia to export all the popular culture stuff to Wikia, and focus Wikipedia on more encyclopedic subjects. But that's an asset of Wikipedia; if sold off to Wikia, money should flow the other way. Without an arms-length relationship between the two, there are serious tax issues.

Re:But why does Wikimedia need him? (2, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 6 years ago | (#19746013)

Yeah, it's not like anyone would consider throwing a slander lawsuit at wikimedia...

Great.... (1)

kbox (980541) | more than 6 years ago | (#19747771)

.. The guy who invents "laws" to help him win arguments can actually make important decisions now...

Godwin's law is really a meme (1)

smagruder (207953) | more than 6 years ago | (#19758549)

And this meme was developed to suppress honest discussion of American right-wing excesses.

Re:Godwin's law is really a meme (1)

mnemonic (43109) | more than 6 years ago | (#19763393)


That's news to me, Steve. I'm opposed to American right-wing excesses myself.

--Mike

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