On rumors ...
There's been a bit of a hubbub in the past 24 hours over a bunch of recent rumors regarding the next Nexus device, and features in the next major update to Android. By now, you've also probably read that many of these "rumors" -- which, by the way, is a fun word for "Made-up " that people like to use to have some sense of deniability ("Hey, they're only 'rumors'!") -- simply were not true, that they were perpetuated by a "hoaxter" and that, hey, they were only rumors.
I'm writing this in our forums for a few reasons. One is that *this* is where we at Android Central generally discuss rumors. On rare occasions we give a "rumor" play on the front page of the blog. You'll note in this case that the only time we paid lip service to this latest round is when I was saying how ridiculous they were. And so I'm not giving their demise the full weight of Android Central now, either with a full blog post, or a spot in my Sunday column, where I get to write pretty much whatever I want.
Another reason is to not pile on. Android and Me issued a retraction, for whatever that's worth. Frankly, it's insulting to me as a reader of tech news, and even more so as the editor of a site that writes about Android. Spreading invented rumors is bad enough -- and I'll be the first to raise a glass to a colleague who gets burned. It happens. But it also appears that relationships with the "source" were embellished. And that, to me, is beyond the paie.
But, hey. They're just "rumors." And so long as everyone knows they're only "rumors," it's OK to print whatever you want, right?
Not in the slightest. Readers should demand more of their favorite writers and editors. (And perhaps folks need to look up "evidence" and "proof" for a more precise definition.)
Android Police, one of several sites that repeated the Android and Me rumors (and one that I think usually does some pretty good work), did an interesting post-mortem, calling it an "excellent rumor mill case study" and that "chasing rumors is entertainment." That's a slightly better way to look at it, I suppose, though I don't see the fun in spreading potentially incorrect information. This job is tough enough to get right under the best of circumstances. Maybe I'm just older and my definition of "fun" is different.
Not once did I see an apology from anyone. Is this really all people expect? "Whoopsie, that was way wrong, our bad." There's an old saying in journalism that "readers don't keep clips." That's true. But that doesn't mean I forget. And I have a long memory.
Here's how to beat the rumor mill. I'll let everyone in on the secret: Don't play the game. Deal with fact. Build trust with your audience, and don't play fast and loose with it. Of all the factors that went into making Android Central the biggest and best Android-specific blog in the world, that's the most important one. Timing was certainly another. Hiring folks like Jerry and Alex is another -- and everyone else with a byline here.
I like that we have this rumor section of our forums to discuss things. It's a more controlled environment. And if anyone wanders in here, they're not going to mistake fact for fiction. (Or at least they shouldn't -- read this sticky.) And we've broken some pretty big stories in this space, without having to put unconfirmed information on the blog. I like that, too.
I'm pretty disappointed that some of our comrades in the Android space were fooled by all this. (And I'm elated that these "hoaxters" don't even bother trying to sell us such .) I like most of the people we compete with. We have beers sometimes. That any of us is able to do this for a living still astounds me. But what happened over the past week or so, culminating in retractions and "case studies" isn't good for anyone. It simply should not have happened. And it makes my job harder. Or, I dunno. Maybe it makes it easier. We'll see.
I'm going back to work now. Actually, I'm on a plane on my way to San Diego, for another wireless trade show. Because, for me, that's where real work is -- covering events, and writing about devices that actually exist. And that's the way it'll continue around here.
- 10-08-2012, 12:27 PM #2
- 10-08-2012, 12:44 PM #3
- 10-08-2012, 12:46 PM #4
- 1 Posts
Re: On rumors ...
Yeah, I mostly agree with you here. I think rumors have a bit of a place, but probably lean a bit more towards how you approach it as opposed to how this latest issue has played out. Traditionally when I've posted a rumor, I've researched the plausibility of it, communicated with sources in an attempt to corroborate the information, and only post when I've heard the same information from multiple trusted sources. Also, I have to believe the rumor enough to attach my name to it and provide my justification on why I think something is plausible.
I think this one got way out of hand, and many lessons are to be learned. Thank you for presenting this information in a way that is respectful, Phil, and not "na na I told you so."
- 10-08-2012, 03:06 PM #5
On rumors ...
Rumors are just that but it was irresponsible of Android and Me to claim the tipster was a trusted source who had provided information in the past. I use "irresponsible" loosely here because in reality it was a out and out lie by the other android site. I'm glad I belong to this site instead :-)
- 10-08-2012, 03:11 PM #6
- 10-08-2012, 03:54 PM #7
Re: On rumors ...
The Nexus rumors are really the only ones I can remember enjoying reading about. So much secrecy over an Android device that typically sales pretty bad all things considered. It's fun to see the stories on the next Nexus but I would hope people are able to take them all with a grain of salt.
Having been using a Galaxy Nexus since April though I couldn't be happier with the overall software experience. I didn't have to root, ROM and update nightly to get the experience I desired with my phone. Anti-Nexus perhaps but stock Android with Nova Launcher Pro and Android Pro Widgets is perfect for me. Now we just need some of these fancy cameras and battery improvements of today's smartphones. So bring on that super secret Nokia Nexus already.
By the way well said Phil.
- 10-10-2012, 11:39 AM #8
- 327 Posts
Re: On rumors ...
I hadn't really ever thought of rumors (at least in the tech world) as a destructive force before, but seeing your argument makes me possibly think otherwise. I do like the fact that rumors pop up in the forums though!
It's also interesting that rumors don't appear even more than they do already in various blogs. I mean, the rest of the media is mostly just sensationalist, so why not Android news too? Not that this is a bad thing, of course :P
- 10-13-2012, 01:58 PM #9
- 10-31-2012, 04:03 PM #10
- 11-09-2012, 12:14 AM #11
Re: On rumors ...
This entire mess highlights one of the main reasons that I read this site regularly and just skim most others. You my friend are a tech journalist. Your background in print journalism gives you an edge in the area of editorial judgement that is sorely lacking on about 95% of tech sites. Most of them are tech bloggers, composing posts to get hits to get add clicks and make money for the site and increase their page rank.
You certainly do your share of that (it is kind of necessary when you get paid full time from add and store revenue), but you also use editorial judgement and choose NOT to publish some stories. When you do publish a rumor of some kind we can rest assured that you are getting it from an at least semi-reliable source, and you present it as a rumor with more than the "this is just a rumor *wink* *wink*" we see on most other tech sites, and you certainly dont compose entire blog posts with elaborate theories presented as facts with little or no actual evidence.
I knew in my gut that this entire story was nothing more than someones "wishlist" for Android; someone who didn't understand how deep the so called "skins" (application framework is a better term) went into the OS, and was very glad to see that you didn't follow the crowd to run with it.
Good job and keep up the good work
- 06-23-2013, 06:18 PM #12
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- 08-11-2016, 09:46 AM #16
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