Won’t Get Fooled Again?

Written by Dan Carlson@minutiaeman@tenforward.social

Published March 31, 2008

Maybe I just don’t quite “get” the concept of some pranks on April Fools Day. But I’m going to be a crotchety bastard and announce my intention to avoid reading any news from any sources that I wouldn’t imagine being published by an office full of cubicle-bound, button-down-shirt-and-tie-wearing journalists. Because it seems like for any other site, there’s a 75% chance that their major articles of the day are made up. (Along with 53.2% of all statistics, but that’s beside the point right now.)

Don’t get me wrong; I think that it’s great to pull pranks on April the First. I’ve done a few myself. But I think that there’s a line that’s been crossed by the general Internet over the past few years, with the tendency of various groups to come up with clever, headline-grabbing publicity stunts. (And in retrospect, the prank that the admins of the SCN pulled in ‘04 was probably in bad taste...)

Consider what news is published via the Internet in a semi-static medium; people can happen by at any time and read the material. But then they leave the site, move on, potentially believing everything they’ve read. Unless the reader takes the time to go back and check every page they’ve read later in the day to see if it was a prank or not, how can you be sure what is real?

What makes it worse is that, even though it’s still mid-evening on March 31 where I live, some people seem to have already begun their “festivities” since the GMT/UTC clock ticked over a little while ago. That really skews with the sense of time and which day said festivities are supposed to be “for.” I just don’t know which news sources to trust for the next 36 hours or so... and so, I’m going to flip the bird to all those well-meaning but misguided pranksters and only read sites like CNN and the New York Times until this all blows over.