Tarandeep Gill (Via Twitter)

His name is Tarandeep Gill. He’s a web developer and entrepreneur, a graduate of the Georgia Tech computer science program, and a resident of Vancouver, B.C.

For nearly a week he managed to fool the world — or at least the world’s media — into thinking that Internet Explorer users are dramatically less intelligent than users of other web browsers are.

But he didn’t do it to drum up publicity for his startup. He did it to get people to dump older versions of Microsoft’s browser. And he wasn’t sponsored by another browser vendor.

At least that’s what he says in this post explaining his hoax. But really, who knows what to believe anymore when it comes to this whole thing?

At any rate, according to Gill’s post, the stunt was his latest effort to educate the world about the evils of Internet Explorer, particularly older versions. His previous campaign, protesting the Internet Explorer 9 launch, didn’t get much attention. So when he became frustrated trying to tweak his site for IE 6 through 8, he decided to start an Internet meme to see if he could bring some attention to the issue.

He writes …

… I wanted my “report” to have an authority. So I used some scientific language and style. I am myself a researcher and have done some research in Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence, though I have never had a paper published. However, psychology not being my area of expertise, I did some research on it to make my report look official. Then I had to create a website to make my report look real. The only dreaded mistake I made was copying the content from Central Test’s website and not even bothering to change/delete the pictures of the staff. I changed their names to made-up names though.

The next step was the press release. I hoped to get some coverage, but with all the signs that I have mentioned in this post, I was hoping to be uncovered pretty soon. But, I guess what I said was exactly what people wanted to hear. The “meme” spread so fast, it was becoming virtually impossible for me to track all the news sites/blogs that were covering my story. So, in the end I just went off to relax for the long weekend, and by the time I was back, people have started to uncover the hoax.

In the end, I would once again like to apologize to IE users who felt insulted, and to Central Test for copying their stuff without permission. And I really hope at least a few people stopped using IE 6.0 to 8.0 after this whole episode.

In talking with people at Microsoft about the episode, there’s definitely a feeling that the enthusiasm with which the media jumped on the story reflects an inherent (and misguided) bias against the company, and the type of customers its products attract.

I’m sure there’s an element of that — perhaps it’s the tech world’s equivalent of classism — but I also think it also reflects the competitive nature of tech blogging and journalism, and the tendency to jump on stories quickly, at times without vetting them enough.

As I noted in our post yesterday, I was more skeptical about the “study” than others, but ultimately not skeptical enough to figure out that it was a hoax.

In the end, this whole episode is a cautionary tale for all of us, and a good reminder not to believe everything we read.

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Comments

  • 2a

    He didn’t “fool” anyone – he flat out lied

    I wouldn’t go within 1000 miles of him or that company.

    • Guest

      Agree. All he did was embassy himself.

  • 2a

    He didn’t “fool” anyone – he flat out lied

    I wouldn’t go within 1000 miles of him or that company.

  • 2a

    He didn’t “fool” anyone – he flat out lied

    I wouldn’t go within 1000 miles of him or that company.

  • Hb23

    Next, I hope he comes up with a study showing that Hotmail users are also less intelligent!

  • Mike Bentley

    I think the issue is taking the report at face value. There are things like this posted to the net every day (for example, the awful advertisements commonly found across the web); it isn’t a question of the source lying, it is a question of how good your Google Fu has become. The article didn’t make enough sense, and I thought it to be irrelevant noise; I did not know, or didn’t get the sense that it was fiction, I just didn’t care enough one way or the other.

  • Guest

    MS lost the battle for hearts and minds a long time ago.First with the media, many of whom were die hard Apple users originally and only too happy to gloat about MS’s struggles and Apple’s resurgence. Then with consumers, in large part due to Apple’s very damaging “get a Mac” ads. I don’t think there’s any question this report would not have received the same coverage had it been about Chrome or Safari. The challenge for MS is how do you turn that around. Because it’s now contributing to making many new launches DOA.

  • Guest

    Your title should include the word HOAX or LIE or Lied

  • http://www.mactonweb.com/web-design-company-united-kingdom.html web design london

    The article didn’t make enough sense, and I thought it to be irrelevant noise.

  • Guest

    i agree IE is the worst browser ever and people still use it, it crashes way to often try something else i dont care if i insult anyone its ur fault for using the browser

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