Observing the bizarre rumor mill from the other side


I remember being nonplussed upon reading news reports that some Windows feature or other was a sure thing, despite a lack of actual, y'know, official confirmation. The one that sticks with me is the claim that there would be a 128-bit version of Windows 8. The source for this information was a remark in somebody's LinkedIn profile, which I'm sure is completely reliable, because nobody lies in their LinkedIn profile.

One group claims to have lined up an exclusive interview with the elusive Robert Morgan, although the interview never appears to have taken place.

Not only was the profile fake, it was fakified by the people who "discovered" it.

Another example is the article 8 things you need to know about Windows 8, which says "But there are some things we do know." And then a few paragraphs later, they admit that everything they know is from job ads and LinkedIn profiles, so y'know, totally reliable.

And then there's this article, which is 100% speculation. "I'm thinking if such an announcement happens, it'll be Silverlight for the iPhone." The basis for this claim is a tweet from somebody guessing that Steve Ballmer will announce Silverlight for iPhone at the WWDC Keynote, which is double-speculation, since Ballmer's purported appearance was itself just wild speculation (that turned out to be false). After considering the feasibility of such an announcement the article ends, "What do you think? Could the rumors be true?"

I have to admit, I really admire that. The article makes up a rumor, and then asks, "Is it true?" Hey, here's an idea: "No it isn't, because you just made it up."

Today is P. T. Barnum's birthday. Or at least the day people claim to be his birthday.

Bonus reading: How I Fooled the Internet into Thinking This Fake Sony Nexus Was Real.

Comments (10)
  1. Karellen says:

    "Is it true?"

    You're asking the wrong question. No-one in the online news^Wrumour-mill biz cares if it's true. All that matters is, "Does it get clicks?" Hence listicles.

    But also, see Betteridge's law of headlines[0].

    [0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_law_of_headlines

  2. The MAZZTer says:

    Remember the golden rule: For any headline that is a yes/no question. the answer is probably "No".

  3. IanBoyd says:

    Can reporters make up anything they like as long as they end the sentence with a question mark?

    Some would say 'yes'.

  4. jrb says:

    On the rumor about Windows 8 128-bit version, I wonder if it got its start from InterlockedCompareExchange128 https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/hh972640(v=vs.85).aspx

    The minimum supported Windows version is 8 for those functions. Someone may have seen that Windows now has 128-bit atomic compare exchange and and interpreted that is relating somehow to a 128 bit version of Windows.

    1. __klg says:

      I think it's a bit of a strech, considering that anyone using InterlockedCompareExchange128 would probably know what cmpxchg16b is. Or maybe they were so happy that the 8TB limit is bumped up and got confused.

  5. guest says:

    Tomorrow on the news: Raymond Chen, official Microsoft representative, has announced that the next update for Windows will contain an iPhone emulator written in Silverlight. Source: this article that used the words "iPhone", "Silverlight", and "true".

    1. Ray Koopa says:

      Also, 128-bit was just delayed and now appears for real. Raymond Chen, long-time employee at Microsoft, who also had the power to write the blue screen text, mentioned it in one of his articles in his blog about Windows.

  6. smf says:

    I just heard a rumour that Raymond Chen was not real.

    1. Pseudo-Anon says:

      I thought that was common knowledge by now. Remember when Microsoft accidentally outed him?

      https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20130515-01/?p=4353/

  7. Frank says:

    Some of the funniest are when Microsoft has an event on product "x" and doesn't mention prodyct "y". There will always be several articles decrying the demise of product "y" because Microsoft didn't talk about it, and that means it's been cancelled.

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