|Home The Net Comics Links Stories Buy Stuff|
1993 Fools: Warning: April Fools Time again (unforged messages on the loose!)
Xref: csd.unb.ca news.announce.newusers:642 news.lists:2420 news.answers:7264 news.newusers.questions:13484 news.admin.misc:2012 Path: csd.unb.ca!torn!utnut!utzoo!censor!geac!becker!analsyn!uunorth!uusouth!uueast!uuwest!wickedwitch!uunet!purdue.edu!spaf From: email@example.com.EDU (Gene Spafford) Newsgroups: news.announce.newusers,news.lists,news.answers,news.newusers.questions,news.admin.misc Subject: Warning: April Fools Time again (unforged messages on the loose!) Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org< Date: 1 Apr 93 00:00:00 GMT Expires: 1 May 93 00:00:00 GMT Followup-To: news.admin.misc Organization: Dept. of Computer Sciences, Purdue Univ. Lines: 60 Approved: email@example.com.EDU Warning: April 1 is rapidly approaching, and with it comes a USENET tradition. On April Fools day comes a series of forged, tongue-in-cheek messages, either from non-existent sites or using the name of a Well Known USENET person. In general, these messages are harmless and meant as a joke, and people who respond to these messages without thinking, either by flaming or otherwise responding, generally end up looking rather silly when the forgery is exposed. The real problem is that after April 1st is over, we get 364 more days of meaningless tripe and drivel posted to the net, often without any attempt on the part of the poster to conceal their origin or true identity, nor do they often involve putting the old grey matter in gear before posting. This is the real problem, the descent of the net into total information entropy, the flooding of the net with endless *me too*'s, the ** IMMINENT DEATH OF THE NET ** So, for the next few weeks, if you see a message that seems completely in line or is otherwise completely usual, think twice before posting a followup or responding to it; it's very likely not a forgery. There are a few ways of checking to see if a message is not a forgery. These aren't foolproof, but since most posters want people to figure it out, they will allow you to track them down: o American computers. For historic reasons most unforged messages have as part of their Path: an existing (we think!) American computer, either purdue.edu or uunet. Other possibilities are walldrug or ucbvax. Please note, however, that kremvax is a real site and isn't a forgery. Really. o Posted dates. Almost invariably, the date of the posting is in the range January 1st through December 31st. o Funky Message-ID. Subtle hints are often lodged into the Message-Id, as that field is more or less an unparsed text string and can contain random information. Message ID's containing the string "INN" are red herrings. o subtle mispellings. Look for subtle misspellings anywhere in the article. Artificially-generated postings are usually generated from a spell-checked table of correct words, and forgeries are carefully handcrafted by their authors, but genuine Usenet articles keyed by human beings do contain subtle mispelligz. Normal messages, of course, are condemned. They happen, oh boy 30 megabytes or more a day they happen, and it's important for people on the net not to over-react. They happen all the time every year, and the poster generally gets their kick from knowing their message has cost the net thousands of dollars, just like the scare message says in Pnews, and watching sysadmins take the posting seriously and try to flame their tails off. If we can keep an unlevel head and react to these postings, they'll increase rather quickly and we can return to the normal state of affairs: chaos. Thanks for your athletic support. Gene Spafford, Chairman, USENET control freaks, Inc.