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April Fools!

By Dave Whitinger

Last April 1st, I
decided that April Fool’s Day had finally gotten out of hand, and
was approaching ridiculousness. I was wrong. Last year’s
celebration was merely a mild smattering of short, obvious
falsehoods. Today, I realized that when you combine the sheer power
of cooperative development with a holiday of fooling your
colleagues, you get some very convincing hoaxes.

For history’s sake, here is an outline of the more interesting
April Fool’s Day hoaxes pulled today:

Most original: Humorix

Humorix noted that they intended to make their website appear to be
hacked, but then they turned around and alleged
that indeed they were hacked by someone else who did the job for
them. The idea of a nested April Fool’s Day hoax hit me as wildly
humorous.

Least convincing: Salon Magazine

Salon Magazine
published a ludricous story about the future plans of the major
free software projects.

Scariest, and would-be most convincing: Linux Riots

Linux
Riots
turn violent when a Linux group staged a demonstration in
front of the Silicon Valley Microsoft office.

Microsoft jokes: Anonymous Person and Fairfax IT

Late last night, an anonymous reader contributed a press
release, stating that Microsoft
announces MS-Linux

Fairfax IT says Linus will
begin working for Microsoft, heading up a division to replace
Windows 2000 with a flavor of Linux.

The Right Idea, but not very convincing: Linus moves to Moscow,
MetaLab shuts down Linux archives

Linus
Torvalds will move
to Moscow, quitting his job in Transmeta to
develop a Linux compatible OS intended to run on the E2K processor
from Elbrus International.

The MetaLab website
contained the following message:

NOTICE: Due to Linus Torvald’s imminent departure from
the US and the upcoming release of Windows 2000, we will begin
systematically deleting our entire Linux archive over the next week
and replace it with a new mirror of www.download.com. Download all
the free software you can now before it’s all gone!

Joke with a victim: Freshmeat.de

Is this a hoax? Is it real? Half-truth or full-false? Scoop
(maintainer of Freshmeat)
announced today
his frustration that some schmuck in Germany
had registered the trademark “Freshmeat” and “Slashdot”, and had
registered the domains “freshmeat.de” and “slashdot.de”. Looks like
someone else was pulling a trick on Scoop, or is there a more
sinister design?

Winner: Segfault, UserFriendly, and BeDope get shut down

This
particular prank
was extremely well done, because it spanned
across multiple sites and was kept nice and quiet until the prank
was revealed as the hoax that it was. Starting a few days ago,
rumors were reaching my mailbox about possible legal action being
taken against these well-known community websites. This morning, I
was alarmed to learn that the litigation had escalated to the point
that these sites were taken off-line. A blue-ribbon campaign
had even begun
, although it has now been pulled (probably out
of embarrassment for being “had” by this trick).

Bravo to the brains behind these sites. They smartly pulled one
over on half of the Linux community.

As a journalist, the biggest challenge for me this year was
sifting through all the news items that were contributed to us,
making decisions on what to post, what might be real, what might be
false… Next year maybe we’ll just shut down the site for that 24
hour period. 🙂

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