Last night a few people noticed a very intriguing posting on Craigslist. The post contained the following (The post was removed and this all we were able to get):
Saturday night event in downtown Indianapolis needs seat-fillers. Total number of seat-fillers needed will vary based on crowd. Must tolerate loud noise and crowds. Must have red or dark green casual clothing to wear. Event will last all evening on Saturday night. All ages, sexes, races, etc. Please use contact e-mail. Event planner will follow-up with exact details on location for staging of seat-fillers (additional information and instruction provided there).
It didn’t take long for a few over zealous bloggers to get tipped off about the posting and create their own backstory. The most interesting was Clay Travis of OutKickTheCoverage. He went on to speculate that the Big10 was actually behind the whole thing and created the listing. His headline read “BIG TEN PAYING “FANS” $75 TO ATTEND INAUGURAL TITLE GAME”. Yep, all caps and everything.
Let’s just take one second to stop and think about what his article says. That the Big10 is having to give away free tickets to it’s first ever Conference Championship game. College football – one of the most popular sports – and the Big10 at that – one of the most popular conferences can’t sell enough tickets to their game, that they would actually give them away for free. That is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.
Even after contacting the Big Ten, Travis continued selling his story as fact (@B1GFootball Tweet).
It was obvious that nobody did an ounce of research to see if this story had any legs. Within 15 minutes of seeing the story, Dr. Saturday was able to prove that not only did the Big10 sell their allotment of tickets, but they did it within 2 hours… 5 months ago. Back in July the Big10 offered this statement on July 30th, 2011:
General public tickets for the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game went on sale at 10 a.m. ET this morning and were completely sold out within two hours. An additional 15,000 tickets will be made available to each institution once participating teams are determined.
Then everything was settled, right? Wrong. Next people start speculating that the two teams playing in the Big10 Championship (Wisconsin & Michigan State) hadn’t sold their allotment of tickets. Then going on about how embarrassing that was for both Sparty & the Badgers. Well it turns out that again nobody took the time to do a little research. We at Illegal Shift contacted the ticket office of both programs to ask if they sold their allotment. It turned out that both programs had indeed sold their allotment of 15,000 tickets. Even a simple Google search found the following article:
Michigan State has sold its entire allotment of 15,450 tickets for the December 3 Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis, Indiana. All season ticket holders and Spartan Fund members who submitted requests prior to the noon Nov. 21 deadline,will have their orders filled.
Okay, finally we have everything settled. The Big10 isn’t giving away free tickets and neither is Michigan State or Wisconsin. All is well, right? Wrong. It didn’t take long for another rumor to get started. Now people are claiming the Indianapolis Convention Center is the one responsible for the Craigslist posting. Clay Travis even went on to question if the City of Indianapolis was using tax payer money for this whole ordeal.
After reading about this new speculation we decided to do a little research. We at Illegal Shift then contacted the Indianapolis Convention Center to see if they were indeed giving away tickets on Craigslist. Their response was pretty straight forward.
“We are not.”
Then after refreshing Craigslist we noticed the posting had been taken down and it simply read “This posting has been flagged for removal.“. The people who created the posting also linked to a Twitter account in the post. That Twitter account was @ICC_Seat_Filler and has since been deleted by Twitter.
It’s not surprising that people ran with this story and they have every right to do so. But the issue here is that nobody stopped to think about how ridiculous this whole thing sounded. Not only that, but nobody took the time to send out a few emails or make a few phone calls to see if this thing was for real.
This is one example of why bloggers get stuck with the “Write Fast. Publish Now. Research Never.” cliche. You get a handful of people, who have a sizable enough audience, publishing something without doing any research and it makes everyone look bad. If you aren’t going to do the research, at least take a second and actually think about what you’re writing.
The worst part, the group of people that got suckered into this scam Craigslist posting. There is no telling what this person has done with the email addresses they collected (or who they’ve sold them to). Many of these people only found out about it because a few bloggers thought it would be a good page view generator.
[update 12.01.2011] EDSBS got an email back from the “Seatfiller Hoaxster”. Hilarity ensues during their email exchange.