IE and me: Who looks stupid now?

Yes, the 'IE users are stupid' story is a hoax. Cringely says the joke's on him

Apparently, 2011 is one of those years when April Fools Day also lands in July.

You know that survey that said IE users were dumber than paint, which I wrote about not once but twice earlier this week? It's all a hoax, perpetrated by a Web entrepreneur named Tarandeep Gill (if that is his real name). He fesses up here.

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Yes, I feel stupid, thanks for asking. At least I'm in good company. CNN, the BBC, NPR, and a number of other mainstream news outlets all took the bait.

Really, who could resist? It was a story tailor made for the Web. It could be captured in a Google-friendly five-word headline: "IE users are more stupid." It had impressive-looking graphs in PDF format from a company with a cool-sounding yet entirely nonsensical name (AptiQuant). It was allegedly done by Canadians, whom we know never lie, eh? And it stuck the needle into Microsoft fanboys, which is always good sport.

Still, I shoulda known better. The numbers for the survey (100,000 respondents) were just too large for a company that obscure. The IQ scores for IE6 users (80 points or so) were too low. There was no way to drill down into the data, which should have raised some suspicions. There were no other reports of that "lawsuit" IE users allegedly were filing against AptiQuant, and there was something a bit off about blog post announcing the suit.

Gill himself notes several reasons why folks like me should have smelled a rat, including the fact that the AptiQuant website was registered only two weeks ago. (Note to self: Check DNS records for obscure survey companies from now on.)

The reason Gill's ruse was so appealing, despite its flaws, was that it seemed to confirm what many accept as a truism: Most of the savvy users left IE a long time ago for better alternatives, and many who didn't are -- well, "inexperienced" is the nicest way to put it.

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