April Fools’ Day 2004 Wrap-Up (ParodyLaw.com)

The most popular stories on this site and some elements of good parodies.

Top 10 April Fools’ Day Parodies 2004

Here, in order, were the most popular stories on my ParodyLaw.com site this April Fools’ Day.

  1. IRS Announces WYSKster
  2. Google Email (Gmail) – Real or Parody?
  3. Lexis-West Merger Announced
  4. Google About To Buy The GoGooroa Island
  5. Internet News Guru Matt Drudge Uncovers Dating Scandal
  6. Bush Tries to Outsource the Deficit
  7. EZBake Oven For Your PC
  8. EFF acquires Department of Justice
  9. UK Government to Tax Linux?
  10. Breaking News: Feds Put ‘Baby Hacker’ To Bed
  11. DOJ Bans Linux from US in Wake of iWidget Brouhaha

Some elements of a good parody.

  • Put the joke first. A good parody is done for the sake of the joke, not for ulterior motives, and especially not for ulterior financial motives. The recent case of Google vs. Booble is a good example of how not to do a parody. See BLADAM’s nice summary of Booble’s blunders for more on this topic. See also Stanford’s summary of the copyright/fair use/parody cases.
  • Be rich. A good parody has links to other sites and may even involve its own domain name.
  • Poke fun at yourself. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you can’t take a joke. Google did a good job with its moon jobs this year, even if it didn’t make my list.
  • Include elements of truth. Rick did a great job of this by linking to actual stories about the erosion of privacy.
  • Be subtle. A good parody makes its readers wonder. Has multiple layers. Is not a one-joke story. Baits the reader with a good headline, hooks them with the first paragraph, and then reels them into the story.
  • Be timely. Most people check news (i.e. email, blogs, websites) in the morning, so for the U.S., anything published after 11:30 am Eastern time is probably too late.
  • Be false. My “top 10” list contains 11 entries not as a tribute to Spinal Tap but because the number 2 “parody” this year turned out to be true. Proving, once again, that truth is stranger than fiction.

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