A new record for Godwin's Law

A new record for Godwin's Law

Summary: Everyone knows Godwin’s Law, right? The longer a heated discussion goes on, the probability that someone will compare someone else to Hitler or the Nazis approaches certainty. Usually, Mac-versus-PC arguments take some slow simmering, followed by a few preliminary flame wars, before someone lets fly with the Hitler references. But today’s comment section beneath a post on a BusinessWeek blog sets a new record for invoking Godwin’s Law.

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Everyone knows Godwin’s Law, right? The longer a heated discussion goes on, the probability that someone will compare someone else to Hitler or the Nazis approaches certainty. The original rule applied only to Usenet newsgroups, but it has since expanded to include any sort of online discussion, including comments on blogs.

Usually, when Mac-versus-PC arguments are involved, it takes some slow simmering, followed by a few back-and-forth insults that eventually burst into flames, before someone lets fly with the Hitler references. And I’m usually gone by that point, because flame wars between mindless fanboys are, frankly, boring.

But today’s comment section beneath a post on BusinessWeek’s Byte of the Apple blog sets a new record for invoking Godwin’s Law. The discussion centers around an article in today’s Wall Street Journal that claims Apple’s sales declined year-over-year in November, indicating that perhaps Apple is subject to the same economic pressures as every other company selling pricey consumer goods.

Even Apple Inc. is beginning to suffer in this year's dismal holiday season, and worries are mounting the recession will weigh on its business next year.

Apple, which has outpaced the overall personal computer market this year despite its strategy of eschewing discounts, showed its first signs of weakness in November.

Sales of Macs in U.S. stores last month declined 1% from a year ago, while industry-wide PC sales rose 2%, according to research firm NPD Group Inc., which tracks retail sales.

Arik Hesseldahl of BusinessWeek disagrees that this means bad news for Apple, arguing that the comparison is skewed by unique factors, including the launch of new MacBooks in October of this year. Obviously, when interpreting economic data, reasonable people can disagree.

Oh, wait. Did I say reasonable people? The very first comment beneath this post heads straight for Godwin-land. Here’s what commenter Zato wrote:

The Wall Street Journal will say whatever it can get away with to discredit Apple and Google. Both are marked for elimination in Rupert Murdocks [sic] and Microsofts' plan to control the internet and build the fourth Reich.

In 20-plus years online, I don't believe I've ever seen someone go Godwin on the very first post. An awesome performance indeed. A mere two weeks before the end of the year, I believe we have a winner.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling pretty comfortable with my decision to skip CES and Macworld next month. Anyone taking bets on which show folds first? And how long will it take before the TalkBack section beneath this post slips into Godwin territory?

Topics: Enterprise Software, Apple

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35 comments
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  • Axis Leaders

    The real question is do others count, like Mussolini?
    lazerousz
  • Sorry, couldn't resist ...

    Nazi ...

    :)
    Ludovit
    • LOLercaust!

      Seig heil!
      Marcos El Malo
  • re: Anyone taking bets on which show folds first?

    http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2008/12/16macworld.html

    Apple Announces Its Last Year at Macworld
    CUPERTINO, California???December 16, 2008???Apple?? today announced that this year is the last year the company will exhibit at Macworld Expo. Philip Schiller, Apple???s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening keynote for this year???s Macworld Conference & Expo, and it will be Apple???s last keynote at the show. The keynote address will be held at Moscone West on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. Macworld will be held at San Francisco???s Moscone Center January 5-9, 2009.
    Larry Seltzer
  • RE: A new record for Godwin's Law

    and after that...

    http://applecanceledchristmas.com/

    Apple Announces Last Year of Christmas
    CUPERTINO, California?December 16, 2008?Apple? today announced that this is the last year for Christmas. Philip Schiller, Apple?s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, spoke at a joint press conference held with Santa Claus at the North Pole this morning. He announced: "Apple has been honored to work with the North Pole the last several years to make Christmas possible, however, we have decided together that this is the last year for Christmas."
    Larry Seltzer
  • I've been skipping macworld since the Trs80

    I've been skipping macworld since the Trs80
    nospam8
    • Ah...memories...

      ...I think my dad's TRS-80 is still stored under my bed at my parents house... As well as the funny printer with its silvery paper... Hours of fun programming that thing!
      Ben_E
  • Sheltered life

    [i]In 20-plus years online, I don???t believe I???ve ever seen someone go Godwin on the very first post.[/i]

    Let me introduce you to the wonders of misc.health.alternative!
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • I've always wondered...

    Does troll refer to the mythical creature or the type of fishing?
    isulzer
    • I've always thought it was the fisher

      ...you know, trolling for more victims to take your bait, sort of thing.

      But perhaps I just like the visual.

      ===
      Mostly I had to chime in because I've invoked Godwin more on ZDNet than anywhere else. Man, am I glad the political season is over.

      I invoke Godwin.
      beoz
      • Me too.

        But I've heard a lot of people saying troll under a bridge, which really doesnt fit.

        Incidentally, its pretty pathetic when someone like Ed replies to a troll with more trolling isn't it?
        isulzer
        • One wonders...

          ...if Ed had been on the Christmas sherry before posting this one.

          Still, it's good for a laugh.

          Also, Zato; Microsoft is a singular term not a plural.
          Sleeper Service
          • Microsoft singular

            "Also, Zato; Microsoft is a singular term not a plural."

            I think he was going for the possessive form, but missed the ' key.
            Barc777
          • You're right though.

            It was funny. People playing the nazi comment or the conspiracy theory are most ridiculously funny.

            Incidentally, I can't seem to figure out what they guy was accusing Microsoft of exactly. Although I do know that Apple and Google have been doing their best to take down Microsoft with open standards and a plethora of products(perhaps even some under-table deal). And microsoft has in turn been fighting them with closed standards and a plethora of products(perhaps with more under-table deals). Certainly this is the way people think and fight. But lacking proof... the comments seem kinda silly. Obviously, all three companies have a history of looking out for their revenue.
            isulzer
    • Where I come from

      the fishing "troll" is "trawl", so I've always though of a troll as someone who jumps out like an angry animal just for the sake of scaring everyone.

      Mythical creature for me.
      Fred Fredrickson
      • Ahh.

        So it has to be the mythical creature. But fishing for replies would make more sense. That's the situation I see it used for now. I guess the original meaning isn't quite the same as it is now.
        isulzer
      • Troll vs. trawl

        You might want to look again:

        http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/troll
        Ed Bott
        • Synonyms

          Troll (noun) is a mythical creature often depicted as living under a bridge (See "Three Billie Goats Gruff", Norwegian children's tale;

          Troll (verb) means to fish with a baited, single line and is used as an analogy, i.e., frolling for women in a singles bar;

          Trawl (verb) means to fish with a moving net, as in "a fishing trawler" a specialized vessel for that purpose.
          cdmsr
          • the word doesnt mean what you think it does

            Troll (verb) means to fish with a [b]baited, single line[/b] and is used as an analogy, i.e., frolling for women in a singles bar;

            Trawl (verb) means to fish with a [b]moving net[/b], as in "a fishing trawler" a specialized vessel for that purpose.

            Since Trolls rarely target *everyone* on/in a board/chat room/thread I'm thinking trawl is never going to fit. The idea is to catch just one sucker then reel them in a bit and have some fun. Not piss everyone off and sink the boat. ;P
            ariesghost
      • RE: "Where I come from", not really

        "Trawling" is "to fish with a trawl".

        "Trolling" is:
        1. To fish for by trailing a baited line from behind a slowly moving boat.
        2. To fish in by trailing a baited line: troll the lake for bass.
        3. To trail (a baited line) in fishing.

        And "troll" is:
        1. (in Scandinavian folklore) any of a race of supernatural beings, sometimes conceived as giants and sometimes as dwarfs, inhabiting caves or subterranean dwellings.
        2. Slang. a person who lives or sleeps in a park or under a viaduct or bridge, as a bag lady or derelict.
        trybble1