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What’s The Equivalent Of ‘Ink By The Barrel’ On The Internet?

One of my all-time favorite journalism quotes, often misattributed to Mark Twain, goes something like:

 

“Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton.”

 

 

The actual phrasing, history and correct attribution of this quote, commonly called “Greener’s Law,” are hard to determine. (That page actually has a lot of good info on the history and variations, if you’re into that.)

The idea is generally, it’s a bad idea to argue with someone that wields so much power and influence as a daily newspaper (or at least, as much as the newspaper once did in many communities). Today, however, there are so many different forms of media outlets that the newspaper itself doesn’t hold so much power.

So, while figuring out who first said it and how might not be something we can do in hindsight, I thought — inspired by a blog post on the topic by Peter Lewis — it would be fun to look forward instead and figure out what the new media equivalent would be. I’m sure the 10,000 Words readership has a few fun ideas for the next incarnation of this phrase.

How would you adapt this idea to the modern media?

Here are a few fun suggestions from Lewis, myself and others:

  • Never pick a fight with someone who buys their bandwidth by the gigabyte. (From Darrell Patrick)
  • Never pick a fight with someone who gets more than a million uniques a month (From Lewis)
  • Never pick a fight with someone who has a black belt in SEO techniques (Lewis)
  • Never pick a fight with someone who has more than 500,000 Twitter followers (Lewis)
  • Never pick a fight with someone who has a camera and a Twitter following
  • Never pick a fight with someone who collectively goes by Anonymous
  • Never pick a fight with someone who knows how to use the Internet better than you
  • Never pick a fight with someone who isn’t above hacking into your voicemail for a scoop
  • Never pick a fight with someone who has compromising photos, video or audio you
  • Never pick a fight with someone who has access to Google to prove you wrong immediately

Send in your suggestions and I can append them to this list.

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