It's no secret that bad information abounds on the web. The most dangerous information, of course, is the kind that's posted with a hidden agenda, such as paid content masquerading as real content.
The problem, of course, is that the "low barrier to entry" for providing information on the Internet has a leveling effect, making errant nonsense appear as credible as information from what used to be called a "trusted source."
To illustrate this point, I've gathered together list of hoax web sites that emulate the "look and feel" of real sites. They're a perfect way to illustrate that you can't believe everything you find on the web.
What I find fascinating about these sites is that most of them are more interesting, more detailed and better presented than the "serious" sites they're imitating.
I've appended a full list below, but here are five that deserve special mention:
Boilerplate. Purports to contain hitherto-ignored historical research about a robot named "Boilerplate," (see image) that was featured at the Columbian World's Fair of 1883. The site has a real "Ken Burns" documentary feel to it, and contains photos of the robot, along with various artifacts and souvenirs.
Kresky TV. This is dedicated to the television show "Nick Kresky" which for four and half seasons in the late nineteen seventies detailed the adventures of "ultra-cool undercover cop Nicholas David Kresky. Even though the show never existed, after you look at the site, it's hard to remember, vaguely, having seen actual episodes.
WingMakers. Describes a series of archeological discoveries that piqued the interest of "the ACIO, an ultra-secret, unacknowledged department of the National Security Agency responsible for reverse-engineering recovered extraterrestrial technologies." Astounding in its details.
CarpSoft. I strongly suspect that some people have stumbled across this one and thought that it was a real B2B consulting website -- at least until they read the fine print.
Zombo. Impossible to describe. I'm not even sure it's actually a hoax. In fact, you can do anything you want with Zombo. Anything. The only limit is your imagination.
Here's the full list:
- Absolution Online
- Afterlife Telegrams
- Aluminum Foil Detector Beanie
- Asian Prince
- Britain for Americans
- British Stick Insect Foundation
- Buy Dehydrated Water
- Click Monkeys
- Cranky Media Guy
- Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division
- Dog Island
- The End of the Internet
- Feline Reactions to Bearded Men
- Final Curtain
- First Genetics
- First Page of the Internet
- The Flag-o-Rama Flagstore
- The Framley Examiner
- Funky Shoes
- Fun Phone
- General Delivery University
- Kresky TV
- Landover Baptist Church
- Mail-Order Husbands
- Miskatonic University
- Ninja Burger
- Origami Boulder
- The Ova Prima Foundation
- Power from the Phone Company
- Sellafield Zoo
- The Spud Server
- This Page Intentionally Left Blank
- Time Travel Mutual Fund
- Yoga Kitty