WASTJO’s Law Is, Sadly, Alive and Well

I’ve briefly mentioned Godwin’s Law before, an Internet adage which asserts that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler becomes more likely. (Wikipedia)

I was thinking about that today as I was reading a few stories in the Wall Street Journal. After reading the articels I would then start reading the comments, and I had a sense this was going to happen from past experience. At some point, and usually fairly quickly someone makes a political statement that seems to have little to do with the article.

It could be someone bringing up the COVID lockdowns, a reference to WOKE or BLM, getting in a jab at Trump or Biden, climate change.

When such a comment is made, you can be sure someone is going to respond to it, and then the discussion goes off on a tangent, with little of that discussion having to do with the original article.

So I decided to give this phenomenon a name.

Not having the hubris of Mike Godwin, I couldn’t name it after myself, so I used the first two letters of the Wall Street Journal; hence, WASTJO’s Law,

From what I have briefly examined, it usually takes less than 10 comments until WASTJO’s Law kicks in.

I know it’s not just limited to the Wall Street Journal, but it is one of the sites I am most familiar with, and one where I have noticed this phenomenon for years.

I also didn’t do much research to see if someone has already picked up on this phenomenon and given it a name.

If not, who knows. Someday there may be a Wikipedia entry for WASTJO’s law…

46 thoughts on “WASTJO’s Law Is, Sadly, Alive and Well

  1. Well if it is listed in Wikipedia someday then I hope you get proper credit for it. 🙂
    I see your point and admit that its true but I can honestly say that doesn’t happen on my comment thread. LOL! Oh it may go off on a tangent but not onto one of the subjects that you mentioned.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Springer’s Law—The principle that for nearly every media post of my length, a troll shall intervene for the sole purpose of starting an agreement. One classic is when a biased news source (from either side of the aisle) asks a leading question in a survey and then tries to use its results to support some argument.

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  3. This does seem to be an inevitable chain of events when the subject abruptly turns political. To me, these threads always smack of a desperate desire to be seen as right. And though I appreciate your overtly humble nature, may I suggest another name for the phenomenon, the “Q Quotient”. Great post Jim!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thanks, Brad. and yes, I am sure a big part of this is people just wanting to show they are right, or smarter than everyone else. I’m worried about that name; I might misspell it every once in a while 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your nickname for it, and it is so disappointing but never surprising anymore when this happens.(it kind of rivals the jlo and arod nicknames.) I once wrote a post about mr. rogers’ sweaters, (how his mom had made them and he wore them in an homage to her), when someone started arguing that he wore them because he had been in the military and killed people and used them to cover up his military tattoos, and secret past, etc.- a crazy unfounded rumor about his war experience and aftermath), and I replied, ‘I was truly just trying to write about how sweet it was that he wore these for his mom and that she had made them, nothing deeper or more sinister.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How could anyone criticize Mr. Rogers?! When the movie about him came out, I went out and bought two cardigan sweaters, because I wanted to be just like him. I still wear them a few times a week,,,

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This WASTJO’s Law reminds me of all the lamestream media bias that pervades our news these days, always trying to influence our political thinking. In fact, though your law based on the Wall Street Journal, it reminds me of a different wall. Joseph Goebbels used to say that if you throw enough mud on a wall, some of it will stick. The Nazis that run our media these days would make both Goebbels and Hitler proud. Or maybe Joe Biden, who reminds me quite a bit of that toothbrush moustachioed dictator.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s probably why. Also the fact that most commenters wouldn’t use someone else’s blog as the place to go on an off-topic political rant. Anyway, if they did you could always delete their comment…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. One started down that path here but fortunately didn’t take it any further. Yes, we have more control over our comments sections than a newspaper does, and I’m glad of our ability to censor if necessary. I’ve never felt the need, but it is always there as a last resort.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve observed the same thing regarding comments and probably contributed to it as well. Many articles and stories are intended to provoke Borden’s law. A travel blog I follow often reports stories that can be construed as political. Invariably in the comments one or two people object to the content of the post and say they read the blog solely for travel-related content which seems strange.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do have to admit that sometimes I enjoy some of the politically charged comments, because the writer is sometimes quite clever and I find myself laughing. I’ve often found myself understanding a little bit better alternative points of view when someone offers a more toned down comment. Unfortunately, those types of comments are few and far between.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sadly, this phenomenon can also produce harsh comments along the way. I don’t mind when comments take a different tangent, but let’s remain civil. Sorry Jim, I am a bit fired up with some social media posts about college basketball . . . shared by my wife.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the comments can be entertaining and informative. But there is no need for them to turn nasty, which they usually do.

      I’m sorry about the Ohio State loss – I had them going pretty far in my pool…

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  8. I sometimes use a news site called newser. All they do is distill articles from other media into easily swallowable bites. The reason I like it is it stays in chronological order (like blog posts). You can always click on the site and determine if something big happened in the last hour or so. Because of the simplicity of the articles, it attracts a fairly low quality of readers. Your WASTJO law is accelerated by five times but it’s all pro and anti Trump. It usually takes two comments to get that ball rolling and then there’s no reason to read the comments, because you can read all the same comments on any other story. It really drives me nuts.

    Liked by 1 person

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