The power of mis-information and its followers

Rant: This may translate into nothing more than a personal rant, but recent events are too difficult to ignore.

Yesterday, my discovery of the the text string "iPhone for Derek Punsalan / 2 yr. Agreement Savings $150" on a recent Cingular receipt received a noticeable amount of attention. The story graced the pages of Digg, Tuaw, Engadget, and AppleInsider amongst others. Although the traffic was outstanding and the newfound attention enjoyable, I re-discovered the power of mis-information.

The receipt for the purchase was authentic, I use the service on a regular basis, and the text string was an accurate identification of a glitch in the Cingular pont-of-sale (POS) system. The post was shared, not to incite a rumor, but to convey the simple point that I found "iPhone" on my receipt, and that the order in which text was printed was suggestive of a price adjustment.

Unfortunately, Engadget elected to share the news as a likely "rumor" with their ever so creative (Rumor likelihood: 20%) appended to the end of the description. I find this mis-information disgusting. In my eyes, as well as many others, labeling authentic content as a rumor is discrediting – which bothers me even more so because of the transparent nature in which the discovery was shared.

This in turn lead to the events which prompted this post. Over a period of 24 hours, I have received more email in one day than I have in three. Why? What could be the source or reason for new popularity? Accusations that I whored this site out by jumping on to the Apple / iPhone rumor bandwagon. For once, trolls originate not from the deep comment threads of Digg, but rather, larger technology focused news blogs with readers who aren’t actually reading, but following whatever it is that is fed to them.

End rant: I now end my annoyance of readers who aren’t actually "reading" and smile at the accusations that the receipt was bogus and Photoshopped. I only wish I actually possessed the skills to make a receipt look so real.

Discuss - 14 Comments

  1. Adam C. says:

    Well put.

    I’m glad you got some extra traffic to come your way though, any publicity is good publicity right?

  2. Ben Bishop says:

    I think you rather asked for all the hassle with the previous post, ‘iPhone with Cingular receipt’. While I agree you clarified the information in the post there was no indication in the title to that effect.

    Further by stating, “Thankfully, I refrained from starting a wildfire claiming that I had received an iPhone with receipt as proof.” you were appear naive (which I am sure is not the case) to think that it wouldn’t be picked up by someone anyway and used to as a tool to drive traffic (or start wildfire) to their site and then ultimately yours. This isn’t a criticism, simply a post about a bizarre receipt which should ultimately result in a few more readers (the benefits social media traffic is another topic entirely though).

    As Adam states above, any publicity is good publicity.

    Keep up the good work though, I was a reader before and shall continue to be.

  3. I appreciate you not throwing that receipt in the air as a confirmed purchase of an iPhone – but as the blogosphere works, even mentioning the word “iPhone” or “Web 2.0″ will drive traffic to your blog. That’s the law of blog nature.

    Keep it up, and some extra exposure hurts no-one but Darren Rowse.

  4. Jack says:

    Haha, I had no idea that all that happened! Though, when I was reading your post, I figured someone would go and add it to Digg… then it wouldn’t be too long before the whole thing was blown out of proportion!

  5. Devon Shaw says:

    While it was an interesting curiosity, I’m definitely looking forward to when us regular readers can get back to business as usual. :)

  6. Derek says:

    Business as usual later this week for sure.

  7. Derek says:

    The types of reactions and the sources of the reactions was completely backwards from what I expected. For starters, I expected the comments on Digg to be filled with users muttering things like "great, more Apple news", "Apple fan boys at it again", etc. Surprisingly, the commenting dialogue concerning the story, for the most part, dealt with how Cingular handled hardware discounts. My last expectation was for a site like Engadget to immediately label the story as a rumor rather than conducting a little more background fact checking.

    There is no denying that once a site like Engadget labels it as a rumor related post, the title and idea stick. It was far from what I expected considering Engadget’s sister site TUAW stayed completely neutral. rather than using the post as fuel for a completely different fire (combining it with Leopard release date rumors),

  8. Sean S says:

    … and you didn’t see all of that coming, how? The moment I read the post in my reader I knew you were asking for it.

  9. Robin says:

    Gizmodo isn’t what I would classify as intelligent.

  10. Glenn Wolsey says:

    I think this can all be summed up in one highly intelligent blog post .

  11. Andre says:

    People are stupid. Who knew?

  12. Jordan says:

    Now I know the best way to get visitors to me site ;)

  13. davo says:

    I’m perfectly confident in my saying this: I believe Engadget simply thrives on rumors and speculation.

  14. Damn man, I guess your grids are doing something weird to people =)