April Fools Day is not for amateurs

I love The Onion. They have talented and very funny writers who know how to create news parodies that are biting and clever — in other words, not stupid or cruel.

For some reason, during several days surrounding April 1, those who maintain blogs feel compelled to give the whole fake-post humor thing a shot. Inevitably, many (if not most) of the people reading such posts fail to pick up the joke and point to the post, thinking that it’s news. And then, there is a round of posts about how stupid people are who point to fake news.

If you blog or Tweet or bookmark, consider this the kind of reminder you get twice a year to move up or back your clocks: April Fools Day is next Tuesday.

To track fake stuff, Wikipedia users typically have a page like this (just change 2007 to 2008). [Later: i wonder if there is another place that tracks stuff Wikipedia users do the site on April Fools Day?]

Ironically, everyday on the blogosphere and in the news (and on Wikipedia), I read stuff that sounds like April Fools jokes. Unfortunately, it’s often true.

Side advice for anyone with a product to launch or news to announce: Don’t do it during the next few days as the cliche lede on blog posts will be, “Is this news some sort of April Fools Day joke?”

Later: Here’s a great example of why I don’t like April Fools posts. This article on the website of the BBC with the headline, “Magazines harm male body image,” is obviously an April Fools joke, right? Or, if not, they should have saved it for another weekend as it seems like a parody that would appear in The Onion. (Although, in the The Onion, such a story would be much more clever — even if 11 years old.) In the BBC article, “Dr Giles from the University of Winchester” has surveyed 161 readers of “lads” magazines and concludes that the content “may” drive them to “try to become more muscular.” (How can evidence be both conclusive and conditional (it may)?) Dr Giles and “specialists” call the “maybe” condition, “athletica nervosa.”

Upside if the article is legit: Magazines are relevant to an important demographic…and images that appear in magazines can trigger consumer behavior.

Bonus link: Anil Dash has a long tradition of pointing out how tech-bloggers April Fools Day jokes are lame.