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Internet Cleaning Day

Part 2: From the Dept. of Prankology

Example #2:
Email contributed by N. Thompson, March 27, 2000:



It's that time again. As many of you know, each year the Internet must be closed down for a 24-hour period of time in order to receive maintenance, or a "Tune Up" if you will.

Many dead links on the World Wide Web will be removed, as well as ftp links that are no longer used. Lost e-mail will also be removed from the system at this time.

In addition to the normal maintenance to be completed this year, we will also be using new high-pressure information jets to clear out the bottlenecks that have plagued the Internet so greatly this past year. Although the down time for maintenance will be an inconvenience for many people, you will find this will allow for a much more efficient and faster responding internet.

This year, the "Tune Up" will occur from 23:59 GMT (11:59 PM) on March 31st until 00:01 GMT (12:01 AM) on April 2nd. During that 24 hour period, dozens of powerful Internet bots at key locations around the globe will simultaneously scan the Internet and complete the desired maintenance jobs wherever they may be required.

To help protect any valuable data you may have on the Internet from possible corruption, we highly recommend you take the following steps before this 24 hour maintenance period begins:
-1. Disconnect all terminals and LANs from the Internet.
-2. Disconnect all Internet servers from the Internet.
-3. Refrain from connecting any computer, or any other Internet connection device, to the Internet in any way.

Note: The term "other Internet connection device" includes such devices as WebTV.

Again, we understand the inconvenience this will cause many people. And for that, we apologize. However, the great increase in Internet performance you will experience after this short period of maintenance will far outweigh any problems it will cause.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Mr. Yuben T. Ricked
Global Internet Maintenance Organization
Department of Prankology

Webmasters and Sysops: It is very important that the entire Internet community be notified of the upcoming Internet maintenance before it gets underway. Please direct all of your users and personnel to read this notice ASAP!

Please pass this announcement to all other Internet users you contact as well.

Thank you.

Analysis: Yes, folks, it is that time again — namely, April Fools' Day — so be mindful of practical jokes. Case in point: "Internet Cleaning Day" is a classic online prank.

Though versions of this email have circulated since 1996, it's actually a variant of an older bit of Faxlore warning that telephone service must be suspended in a particular area at a particular time in order to "blow out" phone lines that have become "clogged" or "dirty." Internet versions of the prank have tended to be more sophisticated, laced with just enough tech jargon to confound recipients whose technical knowledge is slight or who don't bother reading it carefully to catch the joke.

Variant #1 (previous page), which names the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as its point of origin, is by far the more typical of the two examples archived here. MIT receives inquiries about it every year and sends out boilerplate disavowals when necessary. According to a spokesperson contacted this year, there is no one at MIT named "Kim Dereksen" (supposedly on the Network Maintenance staff).

Variant #2 (this page, above) shouldn't fool a soul, sporting as it does so many overt clues to the fact it's a joke. If the signature, "Yuben T. Ricked" of the "Department of Prankology" isn't obvious enough to give it away, well, then happy April Fools' Day to you!

See also: A Brief History of April Fools' Day

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