I’m shocked to find rumors going on here

by Mathew on October 15, 2008 · 6 comments

Just for the record, John Gruber of Daring Fireball seems like a smart guy, and he certainly knows a lot about Apple. How he knows so much isn’t clear, but he appears to be pretty well connected. Everything he said in advance of the Apple event yesterday (as far as I can tell) turned out to be true. But is that enough for John? No. Just to rub it in, he takes some time in a post today to call out those who were wrong, including a long section about Duncan Riley at The Inquisitr, who started the rumors about Apple launching an $800 laptop, which of course turned out not to be true.

I’ve had issues with Duncan in the past, but this seems more than a little mean-spirited. Was the report from his reliable source wrong? Sure it was. And as Gruber points out, today’s post on The Inquisitr does more or less try to weasel out of that by claiming that the $899 monitor effectively fulfilled most of the rumor. I think Duncan should have come out and said his source was wrong and then moved on. But that’s just me. Still, was it really necessary to do an all-out takedown of Duncan’s blog post, as though such things never happen on the Web? I mean, come on.

As Peter Kafka notes at Silicon Alley Insider, the combination of Apple’s secrecy and the huge interest in new products is a recipe for a rumor-fest (something Apple seems to have become resigned to). There are dozens of sites that exist solely to propagate rumors about what Apple is up to, and 90 per cent of those turn out to be wrong. Even Engadget and Gizmodo have been wrong in the past. For all I know, Gruber himself may have actually been wrong about something once or twice. Has that somehow become a blogosphere crime now?

If Duncan had no source whatsoever, and simply made up the $800 rumor out of thin air, then I think he would deserve that kind of criticism. But he says he had a reliable source, and I have no reason to think otherwise (of course, they aren’t all that reliable any more). The other sites that come under fire from Gruber seem even more petty: so 9to5 Mac was wrong about the plastic shell. Is that the end of the world? Hardly. And then he slams Mac Soda for having the apostrophes facing the wrong way in ’08 and ’09. Come on, John — time for a few deep breaths. Back away from the keyboard slowly. What the heck, maybe even go outside for awhile.

  • http://carrieanddanielle.com Daniel Gibbons

    It's petty but not that surprising. But in the end the market takes care of it: it simply means that fewer people are likely to believe and report on the next rumour Duncan publishes.

    It is funny, though, that a lot of bloggers simply ignore how much work journalists often put into developing real, trusted sources for breaking news. And how careful the good ones are about confusing pure conjecture with real information.

  • http://techmeme.com/ GabeRivera

    Mathew, I've been attacked online over the years for a lot of stuff, sometimes thoughtfully, other times less so, but never based on specific, untruthful claims, as I was in July, by the originator of the $800 rumor. Not sure if it's happened to you, but when someone hurls lies about you for links, you get a very quick education on the source's veracity. So considering this particular source, I suspect the $800 rumor was written in bad faith, the worst kind of linkbait.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks for the comment, Gabe. And you could be completely right — Duncan may have made the whole thing up as linkbait. But even if that is the case, I still think John went a little overboard. If he's going to spend that much energy on every false Apple rumour, he's going to have a new full-time job on his hands.

  • http://carrieanddanielle.com Daniel Gibbons

    It's petty but not that surprising. But in the end the market takes care of it: it simply means that fewer people are likely to believe and report on the next rumour Duncan publishes.

    It is funny, though, that a lot of bloggers simply ignore how much work journalists often put into developing real, trusted sources for breaking news. And how careful the good ones are about confusing pure conjecture with real information.

  • http://techmeme.com/ GabeRivera

    Mathew, I've been attacked online over the years a number of times, sometimes thoughtfully, other times less so, but never based on specific, untruthful claims, as I was in July, by the originator of the $800 rumor. Not sure if it's happened to you, but when someone hurls lies about you for links, you get a very quick education on the source's veracity. So considering this particular source, I suspect the $800 rumor was written in bad faith, the worst kind of linkbait.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks for the comment, Gabe. And you could be completely right — Duncan may have made the whole thing up as linkbait. But even if that is the case, I still think John went a little overboard. If he's going to spend that much energy on every false Apple rumour, he's going to have a new full-time job on his hands.

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