So, Verified Facts really took off! We got a ton of coverage in a lot of high-profile places. Our short-lived internet fame was a very intense experience.
First of all, Ian Webster, who coded the project, wrote his own overview here. If you have magical code powers and want to learn how we did it, he’s the guy to read.
Ian then posted Verified Facts to Hacker News, where we were highly upvoted. We got a lot of traffic from this!
At some point Charlie Stross, the author who wrote Accellerando, posted about us.
Then NEIL GAIMAN tweeted about us. Holy fuck! This was ridiculous for me in particular, since I’ve read so much of his stuff. Ian had no idea who he was:
Then BoingBoing posted about us. This was huge. Super huge.
We got a really kind writeup by this person here. It is nice to be treated as if you have a sophisticated master plan and deep comprehension of the things you are doing, but I think during the creation process were were less focused on whether or not we were a sophisticated piece of satire or criticism, and more focused on whether or not we could be completely funny. In retrospect, the project is definitely a commentary on conspiracy theorists and the conspiracy theorist mindset, but the commentary is not particularly deep* and throughout the project, I mostly was just having a good time, not pondering deep mysteries. That said, I’m now reading Foucault’s Pendulum. So, there you go.
Anyway, we were very excited and grateful to be received so positively. We generated hundreds of thousands of conspiracy theories and entertained hundreds of thousands of people in under a week. Heck, I even got retweeted by Neil Gaiman on my birthday. (One of the best birthday presents I have ever received!) It seems as if we picked the right topic: conspiracy theories are exciting and intriguing as well as somewhat disgusting and deplorable, and there are a number of strong internet communities which find them fascinating and hilarious (‘skeptics’, weird fiction fans, etc). This helped us get a lot of attention very quickly. I doubt we’ll be able to replicate this experience again, but it was tons of fun, we learned a lot, and we made both ourselves and many other people happy.
So, overall, a massive success.
* “Wow! This paranoia is so meaningless, it can be modeled by random chaos!”