Cunningham’s Law states “the best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.”
The concept is named after Ward Cunningham, father of the wiki. According to Steven McGeady, the law’s author, Wikipedia may be the most well-known demonstration of this law.
Cunningham’s Law can be considered the Internet equivalent of the French saying “prêcher le faux pour savoir le vrai” (preach the falsehood to know the truth). Sherlock Holmes has been known to use the principle at times (for example, in The Sign of the Four.) In “Duty Calls,” xkcd references a similar concept.
“Weekend Competition, reader comment 119”. Schott’s Blog. The New York Times. 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
Cunningham’s Law: The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it’s to post the wrong answer. N.b. named after Ward Cunningham, a colleague of mine at Tektronix. This was his advice to me in the early 1980s with reference to what was later dubbed USENET, but since generalized to the Web and the Internet as a whole. Ward is now famous as the inventor of the Wiki. Ironically, Wikipedia is now perhaps the most widely-known proof of Cunningham’s Law.
“Fritinancy: Word of the Week: Cunningham’s Law”. Nancyfriedman.typepad.com. 2010-05-31. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
- “The main thing with people of that sort,” said Holmes as we sat in the sheets of the wherry, “is never to let them think that their information can be of the slightest importance to you. If you do they will instantly shut up like an oyster. If you listen to them under protest, as it were, you are very likely to get what you want.”
“xkcd 386: Duty Calls”. xkcd. 2008-02-20. Retrieved 2014-03-08.