PC World’s Top 25 Web Hoaxes

PC World writer Steve Bass compiled a list of the Top 25 Web Hoaxes and Pranks. Here's the list (minus Bass's commentary):
  1. The Accidental Tourist
  2. Sick Kid Needs Your Help
  3. Bill Gates Money Giveaway
  4. Five-Cent E-Mail Tax
  5. Nigerian 419 E-Mail Scam
  6. Kidney Harvesting Time
  7. You've Got Virus!
  8. Microsoft Buys Firefox
  9. The Really Big Kitty
  10. $250 Cookie Recipe
  11. Free Vacation Courtesy of Disney
  12. Sunset Over Africa
  13. Alien Autopsy at Roswell, New Mexico
  14. Real-Time GPS Cell Phone Tracking
  15. Apollo Moon Landing Hoax
  16. Sell It on eBay!
  17. Chinese Newspaper Duped
  18. The Muppets Have Not Already Won
  19. Chevrolet's Not-So-Better Idea
  20. Rand's 1954 Home Computer
  21. Microsoft Buys the Catholic Church
  22. Hercules the Enormous Dog
  23. Lights-Out Gang Member Initiation
  24. Hurricane Lili Waterspouts
  25. Pranks Shut Down Los Angeles Times Wiki
It's a decent list, though if I were to create such a list it would be very different. For instance, I would think that Bonsai Kitten would have to be in the Top 25. And what about Kaycee Nicole Swenson, OurFirstTime.com, and the Blair Witch Project (after all, the Blair Witch Project spawned the whole genre of hoax websites created to promote movies)? I also don't think that hoaxes such as "Microsoft Buys Firefox" were really big enough to warrant inclusion in the top 25, and it's a bit of a stretch to count some of the entries, such as the Alien Autopsy and the Moon Landing, as web hoaxes. Well, it goes to show that lists usually say more about the preferences of the people who make them than anything else. One of these days I'll get around to making a list of my own.

Urban Legends Websites

Posted on Sat May 05, 2007


I definitely think Bonsai Kitten should have been in there, probably nearer the top...
Posted by Nettie  in  Perth, Western Australia  on  Sat May 05, 2007  at  06:35 PM
This list is a strange one. What about DHMO? Not a "hoax" but tons of people still believe it.... And Victorian Robots? Yahoo directory STILL thinks that one is real. Arguably anything that is posted with misleading information could be a hoax website (I am casting a wide net here: advertisements! government reports! corporate astroturf websites!). And so on. This guy's list simply makes me wonder....
Posted by C. Cochrane  in  Michigan  on  Mon May 07, 2007  at  11:31 AM
What I find interesting about this list is that most of these hoaxes, legends, rumors have been going around since long before the Internet existed.

For example, The $250 (or some other high price) Cookie (or some other food) Recipe tale has been around since at least the 1950s, and probably much longer-- Jan Harold Brunvand traced it back several decades in "The Vanishing Hitchhiker," which itself was published in the early 1980s.
As Alex has chronicled elsewhere, fake giant animal pictures were very popular postcard art at least since the late 1800s. And, of course, the "Apollo Moon Landing Was a Hoax" story has been circulating since the orignal Apollo moon landing, which, as I recall, was in 1969.

More evidence for my thesis that new technology provides new media for circulating folklore, but doesn't substantially change the folklore itself.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Marfa, Texas  on  Mon May 07, 2007  at  02:02 PM
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