A few weeks back there was a giant stink that ran amok on internet gaming sites, stemming from a fabricated “contest rumor”. A site created a rumor contest, and one such rumor was picked up by a number of websites as a legit “rumor” while others reported it almost as though it was fact, given the manner in which it was originally reported. Many crucified the sites that ran the rumors, regardless of how they spun it. Shouts of “poor journalism” rang through the pages of game site forums. This brought about these questions for me: When is a rumor a rumor? When is that rumor just a lie? Who should we trust to deliver our rumors?
I guess ultimately we need to clarify what exactly a rumor is. By definition, rumor is defined as such: “a story or statement in general circulation without confirmation or certainty as to facts”. So in some ways by its very definition, almost all thoughts and theory thrown out by basically anyone should be taken as rumor. Does that mean it’s worthy of print and/or our precious time to read it? I think we can all agree that indeed it is not.
By my own interpretation, the above definition should come with some additional qualifications when it comes to the gaming industry. Is said rumor something gleamed by hints taken from statements made by a gaming industry insider? Is the rumor made up from mere speculation based on facts present? Is the rumor created based on zero fact, and posted via some ambiguous site?
Clearly if the rumor is backed up by interviews and or documentation from a gaming industry insider, then without a doubt it should be circulated as rumor and reported on. I take no issue with this kind of rumor, and would never fault any site for trying to report on said rumor.
Rumors based on speculation are a tricky beast. “Professional Industry Analysts” live their lives making predictions based on facts present. Often they have inside information, but they, too, speak to what the trends say and make predictions based off that with little to no supporting fact beyond trends. The slippery slope starts when we get the more “fanboyish” gaming sites trying to make predictions and speculation based on what they would like to see happen. Often these show up all over the internet, but the reality is: these guys know nothing more than the person reading the rumor posted. These rumors need to be judged by the source and unfortunately will require more scrutiny to figure out their legitimacy.
Lastly we have the worst of all the rumor starters, “Mr. I-Want-Site-Traffic”. They disguise these lies as “rumors” and tease to draw people to their site. It’s usually filled with something flammable that will drive the fanboys crazy. It’s bad journalism, if you care to call it that, and on a whole does nothing to further our industry or inform their readers. It’s merely a grab at site hits and done with no true integrity towards reporting truth. More times than not, it’s the fanboys themselves behind these crazy and wild flights of fantasy. A few quick scans of the article will usually reveal its true nature.
So what does this all mean to you and me? Well, unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer. Being vigilant ultimately is the first line of defense. Quashing the false and misleading rumors is also a needed step from the community. We have to stop spreading rumors when we know them to be false and/or have a strong inkling that they are bogus. Lastly, sites creating these kinds of lies, contests or otherwise, should be held accountable by the community. Continued support of sites that create these false rumors just reinforces their behavior and legitimize their attempts.
I wrote this not because I am better than others at pulling out false rumors vs. legit rumors, but because I am tired of the crazed storm of ridiculous rumors that continues to flood gaming sites and forums. I would just like, for once, to read up on a number of rumors and be excited for them as opposed to playing detective regarding intent of the rumors.
So what’s your take on the rumor mill as it stands today? Is it out of control, or are things as they should be? Should we not lash back at sites that start false rumors for nothing more than traffic to their site? Let us know what you think.