Psuedo Sites

Jeffrey Hastings writes "Think you can tell an authoritative, scholarly web site from a "spurious" one? Think your students can?

Well, If you want a laugh, check out this collection of faux web sites. They started out as an idea I had for teaching information literacy but I found as I began to create them that they were so darned fun to write that I just couldn't stop. Soon another nameless SUNY at Buffalo School of Information and Library Science alum joined in with his contributions.

What we ended up with is the germ of an encyclopedia that includes topics like "Biomes of the World," "The American Civil War," "The Planet Mars," and an overview of the exploits of that famous Great Lakes region explorer "Sheldrake the Beneficent." Believe me: writing them was an amusing way to pass the long winter evenings, and now that spring is approaching up here in the "Northern Norselands," I'm glad to share them with you.

See for yourself! Have a look and, if you get the joke, feel free to send me your own, original, spurious web site. You can feel free to mirror or link to these sites as well, but I hope you'll consider contributing an entry or two.

Find them all at:

Jeffrey Hastings,
Highlander Way Middle School Library.
Send YOUR spurious encyclopedia entries in html to: [email protected]"


I guess there is so much misinformation on the web already, some deliberate, some careless, that I don't see much humor in sites being deliberately misleading.

I do think there is humor is being deliberatly misleading. I once made a list of common English phrases in Spanish. Stuff like "Would you please bring me the check," turned out to be " My sister is an octopus." My friends never asked me for translation help again.

I think the site is a scream.

I think the site is funny. BUT, this information is still out there, with the URL having the word "encyclopedia" in it. And not everyone is as savvy as this guy is hoping his students will be. We know that. At some level creating misleading information without pointing out that it is specifically and deliberately created to be misleading is part of the problem, not the solution. If the beluga whale page suddently became so popular that it was ranked first on Google on a search for "beluga facts" it would be pretty embarassing to have to explain "a librarian did this to point out how to avoid web pages with misleading information." All I would do to change this is add a small link at the bottom that says "disclaimer" which explains the purposes of the pages.

If the point is not to actually fool people but highlight the perils of being fooled, this would help the pages serve their purpose without helping to cause part of the problem they are being designed to fix.

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