Either they perceived the news as truth, or called it fake, no grey zone in between. The split between the two camps, was quite unequal. An estimate would be that 90% regarded the screw as a fact and based all the further opinion on that, only 10% were critical to accuracy.
This smells like massive response bias. I imagine most skeptical and critical readers get tired of responding with the obvious "hmm, how do we know this is true?" response.
A more interesting statistic would be how many people saw it and didn't find it interesting enough to warrant further investigation. I believe I saw the headline, rolled my eyes, and went back to work.
That's not to say lock-out isn't an important consideration, but it didn't pass the "this can be verified" test, and anyway, it would be obvious enough once the new iPhone came out.
 Edit: maybe the masses are stupid (I'm not convinced of this), but the vocal rush to judgement of a few is not necessarily a representative sample.
Being high-profile creates buzz, and creates controversy. Controversy sells, and makes a product more high-profile. You always have to take into account that the people who are yelling are the ones who have something to yell about. Behind them, there are people actually using the products who don't care either way.
I could care less about a bunch of unwanted emails in my inbox, but the pollution of the online community review and advice spheres is what really pisses me off about cnuts who try and game stuff.
They're polluting our collective consciousness quite literally.
EDIT: to add a few links to sites gloating that they weren't caught.
And no facts, no matter how well sourced, can defeat ideology when the ideologues have the down button and outnumber the critical thinker.
For instance, pointing out that Apple licensed the technology they got from Xerox back in the day, a stone cold and indisputable fact, gets down voted into invisibility and claims that it isn't true and that it was stolen, here on Hacker News. The claim that Apple stole from Xerox has been repeated so often and in so many cases that it has become "fact" in their minds. Another example is the idea that Apple didn't invent any new technology with the iPhone. They need this to be true, so they spread all kinds of nonsense (like 2001, a movie, is "prior art", which shows a significant lack of understanding of what patents are)... and they believe it.
It isn't simply that people are gullible, its that ideology (and apple hating is a prevalent ideology) is stronger than reality for so many people.
 Maybe religion is a better word, it feels more accurate, but is more likely to be taken as a pejorative so I'm going with ideology.
With so many sources available, it's difficult to correct misinformation. People tend to believe what they want the truth to be, and now they have sources to confirm it.
Apple also makes it hard for tech people. It is a consumer oriented brand, choosing them is like drinking a beer with your meal rather than carefully selecting the appropriate wine.
Edit: OK iPhones don't have external screws. MacBook owners then. Same holds.
I need to develop a bit of critical thinking I guess.
The actual stories were posted on smaller sites which questioned the authenticity. And Wired actually did an article on custom screws and used the image as a jumping off point: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/08/if-theres-a-screw-the...
So you can look at as either a success or failure.
(disclaimer: I run MacRumors.com)
Also there is at least some proof that it was posted 5 days ago: http://imgur.com/fkyQS and http://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/xvnvo/a_friend_took_a...
I suppose we can question that day4.se were really the ones who planted it... but, does it matter who planted it? The conclusion is the same.
I've only partially thought through this argument, so I'm sure it has all sorts of holes and will be easy to misinterpret in every way possible, but I'm throwing it out there anyways.
I think this story is getting more press than it really deserves.
Don't you think that was the whole point of the authors in the first place? I mean, here we are, talking about this again! Even if we all end up flaming the authors, here we are.
There is no such thing as bad press. I don't believe for a second it was some "experiment". Please.. it's a press stunt. And it worked.
The people who believe the false rumor of a custom Apple screw are, at least to a large extent, the people who wouldn't put it past Apple. There's a point being made there; Apple has done a lot in their short history of mainstream popularity to lock users out of their hardware and software. A custom screw wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary. With this argument, Apple has developed a notorious reputation and when people are believing this without questioning it, it means the Apple community (as opposed to just Apple users) is screwed.
The ones who would not believe it, I feel, are split into two camps. Ones who saw no evidence of this being true, and ones who could not reconcile it in their mind that Apple would be doing something like this. The ones who didn't believe it because of a lack of evidence is the community Apple (and every other company) needs on their side. The ones who didn't believe it because they didn't want to believe it do so out of a blind love for Apple, and denial that Apple could betray them. Even if this is a small number of people (you can't deny they exist, though), it's still evidence that the Apple community is screwed.
The first group is full of people who either hate Apple for similar-but-opposite reasons to the last group or people who are suspicious of Apple's history (especially after the newest Macbook Pro). There is merit in their mindset, and that's not good for the Apple community. The last group is full of done-no-wrong supporters, who will praise anything Apple creates for better or worse. The lack of critical thinking and constructive feedback and criticism is bad for the Apple community. Who knows if a review of a new product is 10/10 because it's a good product or because it's an Apple product?
This is just my analysis, and I am happy to discuss alternative viewpoints. For what it's worth, I'm not upset that these guys made a fake. It gives a great view into the mindset of Apple news publishings and reactions.
The reason Apple is at hand in this argument is because Apple is high profile with a very divisive community of both supporters and detractors, and as such has the ability to capture the news on a broader level. It'd be hard to argue that the Hotmail community is negatively impacted by chain emails, for example. Though you are right, this mindset crosses the gap between all products and ways of life.
We're not talking the New York Times here. We're talking Apple-fan blogs.
If I forward you a link by email of something interesting but probably fake, do you get offended by me sending you something possibly fake? No, if you are interested in Apple stuff, then you probably find it interesting, even if fake.
Casual blogs are the equivalent of passing along interesting stuff found on the internet, fake or not.
Yes. You're wasting my time and making me question your ability to think critically.
I expect this sort of thing from my Grandmother. All others are held accountable.
You had the disclaimer on your top level comment but not this one: "(disclaimer: I run MacRumors.com)"
It's a good lesson, though: even rumors which are totally characteristic of a company and which easily fit in with how they've acted the past still deserve critical thought.
Without giving it much thought, i assumed that an asymmetric screw implied that it could only be turned one way. Which would lead me to wonder how many other people were deceived by the title.
What we're really seeing is the distortion effect the further any statement gets from its source. Someone misunderstands a concept, doesn't understand an idiom used in the statement, or tries to interpret what is being said into their own lens. End result being the statement gets changed from the original. The further the statement goes the higher percentage chance of the telephone effect kicking in.
One could probably do a study, for instance, of game console releases and see the same effect taking place. The first level rumor might be "Look at this cool Xbox809090 faceplate from the factory in China!!" and the tertiary article published in a mainline news article might read "New XBOX Set to shoot lasers out of new faceplate!!!!".
tl;dr The further a message gets from the originator, the higher the chances of it being altered.
I guess my country is just plain racist.
First, who are the people who loathe Apple as a malevolent entity that's out to steal their constitutional right - and vital need - to overclock their devices' firmloader hyperkernels? Not "the Apple community" (a nebulous concept in itself), but the legions (well, maniples) of Samsung fandroids that love to tweet and blog and, huh, googleplusify about this kind of thing.
Therefore we could more easily argue that it is that community of Apple haters that is screwed, because of its disconnect from reality, and its inability to see what qualities are more important in a phone/computer/iSomething: these are, presumably, the same people who honestly believe that the iPhone only succeeded because of "marketing", and that it's more important for a laptop to have an easily replaceable display assembly than to weigh a kilogram less.
On the other hand, given that its opponents are reduced to grasping at renderings of imaginary straws, we might well say that the Apple community, far from being screwed, is in fact hot-glued to prosperity and success.
I won't, however, deny that there must be people who love Apple to an excess. I am content with pointing out that there is nothing at all, in this story, that provides the slightest reason to conclude that these people are more numerous than we would otherwise expect; if anything, it might be the opposite. The fact that you are employing an argument so irrelevant that it would be generous to call it a paralogism, then, is itself further proof of how the Linuxoid community is thoroughly screwed (though, to its credit, with standard Philips #0 screws).
That is not to say that I disagree with everything you wrote, of course. Like you, for instance, I am not upset about this fake; and how could I be, when this is the first time I heard of it? Still, if it didn't exactly achieve the widest reach, I agree that it provides some amusing insight into how the Internet tech media works; and so does the commentary. I'm just glad that they came clean with the prank before the release of a slightly-cheaper, slightly-uglier Korean version of the fabled asymmetric screw.
Note: the above is meant as satire and does not reflect the opinions of my employer.
Most people with half a brain just kept their mouth shut, so there's really no way to draw any conclusion about the Apple community as a whole, unless you can produce an accurate number on the people that ignored the whole thing.
I'm a long-time customer of iFixit, but I've been really disappointed in iFixit's attempts to shill their products with FUD (warranted or not) about Apple. It reminds me of the "Chewie's" chewing gum scene in Clerks, where the gum salesman is ranting about the cigarette industry.
Every critical post they make is a long diatribe followed by a shilling of their products that does nothing to solve the larger problem. It's all about selling their product. And hey, it's their right, but I find it tacky.
What's the point of their $10 "liberation" kit? It includes the pentalobe driver for the screws they're replacing. Why would I really need to replace the screws at this point? I don't.
I thought this was a recent iFixit trend, but I see they've been using these tactics for a while.
Our goal is to help people get things fixed, and encourage designs that are long lasting.
You're certainly welcome to disagree with us. I don't think we're any more opinionated than Apple's designs are. We have a different perspective, and we share it. We back up our opinion with relevant products. People only buy them if they find them useful.
The Liberation kit was a fun way for everyone to get involved in the process. We also sell standalone Pentalobe drivers—so if you want to keep your original screws, you can do that too. Having Phillips screws on your phone is actually quite convenient—most eyeglass kits have the small Phillips drivers, so if you're in much better shape if you ever need to open your phone up to dry it out while you're on a trip. The liberation kit is effectively the same thing Apple techs use when you take it in for service and they swap out your screws for Pentalobe ones.
iFixit isn't about marketing gimmicks. We didn't build the world's largest repair manual and open source it just to sell tools. We're trying to change the world.
Repair is win-win-win. You save some money by making something work again, the manufacturer wins because their product is useful longer, and the environment wins because it didn't end up in a landfill.
I'm convinced that what the world needs now—more than ever—is a free, open source repair manual for every thing. That's what we're building, and it gets better every day.
Note that in this case, an iPhone is locked down enough in hardware and software to where it really doesn't matter if you can open the screws or not. Actually I don't own an iPhone, is there something you can gain by opening it up? Replacing battery or SD card or something?
$10 is perhaps a bit pricey for some people. I have no idea of the quality of those drivers, but I've spent well over that on single items before.
Paying £30 for a pair of tweezers seems crazy to some people, but if you're using that item for 8 hours a day it makes sense to buy something that you really like. And having spent that much on professional quality tools I'm not fussed about spending £7 on a couple of screws and a couple of screwdrivers.
If you don't have those handy, then it can seem like a good deal.
Here's how it looks: http://awesomescreenshot.com/02fd25oe4
Makes pretty much any page readable, but combine with noscript/adblock to keep the content from changing.
So the media have to grasp every rumor, every speculation, everything which can be made into a scandal.
They would never, ever, say "nothing to see here, pass on". That would be loosing sales for them.
I really hate that particular brand of quip.
I find it most often employed by people who want to effortlessly dismiss some statistic that they happen to disagree with.
I'm not claiming that's the case here or that Twitter is full of solid, factual information. Rather, that it's a worthless way to respond. At least the original posts in such cases, no matter how loose provide a context for someone inclined to search out of the facts.
Secondly, the spread of misinformation, when it does happen this quickly, is usually rectified just as quickly. The good thing about most reputable tech blogs is that updates happen quickly and often. Anything you might have accepted as fact one day might be dispelled the next.
Aside from Apple's stock tanking several years ago when Ryan Block published a news story on Engadget about delayed iPhone shipments, when was the last time anyone was hurt by this sort of misinformation, anyway?
Apple fanboys however... They care about the margins of product-announcement papers and reads the future from them like gipsy-queens reads tea-leaves. It's an impressive performance, but still oh so pointless.
Because they miss the important thing: A screw is an implementation detail. What you want is open access to the bits which matters: SIM, battery, storage, platform and bootloaders.
Provide me with that and I couldn't care less what screws you use.
So anyone taking the time to actually think through a bit is surrendering time, at an important moment in the discussion, to less careful people.
Very similar idea - and all before the Internet.
I think most readers understand that apple news is rumor (unless it comes from apple). So the reader doesn't really care if the news is true. They want are stating their opinions as if it were true. They may not explicitly say "i know this is probably fake, but if not, apple can go screw themselves."
Similarly, the publishers are purely reporting the existence of this conversation to their readers. Like "hey, this is what folks are talking about, you might be interested".
What this article points out is how the news media is very hungry for new stories, and their need to publish as soon as possible. This means unverified information passes through the journalistic filter. This also points out, like the emails above, that people will generally fall for confirmation bias in many cases. Even HN has bouts of the echo chamber. It's really hard to counter, even when you are actively guarding against it.
Manual critical thinking and checking sources all the time is very mentally draining. I would bet that most to all of us have some form of automatic first-pass mental filter that immediately questions "facts" contained in email chain letters, or the latest fad technology if it has too many buzzwords, or Facebook posts. That is a shortcut we've developed so we don't have to manually think about every bit of information that comes across our desks. It goes immediately to the mental round file.
Unfortunately, there are people out there that do not have this filter. Maybe they haven't mentally trained to look for these kinds of problems. Maybe they were referred to the story by a trusted source, like a good friend or a prominent publication. Maybe the information fell precisely into their particular confirmation bias that it bypassed their skepticism. Political advertising thrives on this problem. Unscrupulous con men thrive off this problem.
But it happens to us all the time. I fall for it all the time, even though I try to find the "real" facts and am generally skeptical of most things. Thus it doesn't surprise me that people fell for the screw hoax, because Apple is traditionally very secretive and has a history of locking out DIYers. That screw fit Apple's MO to a T, and thus likely slipped through many of the internet bullshit filters and went viral. It happens. It will happen again.
The best we can do is try our best to root out false information, and accept that we will be fooled from time to time.
This isn't new, either. This is just a cyclical case of lazy journalism.
But I think there is one question left unanswered: Why are we assuming this story itself is in fact true? Because it's written on a blog? :)
The problem w/ this prescription is that just b/c something is 'unreasonable' to us doesn't make it untrue.
Go ahead and make some weird top secret screw. We'll 3D print a drive for it.
Claims the article, by what measure?
Yep, the poster should be in jail.