Man who claimed to have deleted his company with one line of accidental code reveals it was a hoax

By midian182 · 15 replies
Apr 18, 2016
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  1. Last week it was reported that the owner of a small web hosting company had deleted his entire organization with a single line of accidental code. But it turns out the whole thing was a hoax – an internet marketing effort to promote his firm.

    Marco Marsala took to the Server Fault forums to ask how he would go about recovering his lost data after alleging that he’d accidentally ran the 'rm –rf' command line, erasing his entire company and the 1500 websites of his customers.

    As you would expect, forum users lambasted Marsala for not having safeguards in place to stop this apparent error, and told him that retrieving the deleted data would be extremely difficult.

    Things started to look a little suspicious when Marsala added an update to his Server Fault post that claimed all the lost files had been recovered. “We consulted a data recovery company who analyzed one of our 1,500 server disks for a reasonable fee, and after diagnoses, sent … a list of recoverable files. All files are here. Now we’re finding the money to pay [them] for all our servers,” he wrote.

    On Friday, Stack Overflow, which runs the forum, revealed that the story "was actually just a hoax in some kind of viral marketing effort.” In an interview with Italian publication Repubblica, Marsala said the promotion stunt was “just a joke.”

    “The moderators on Server Fault have been in contact with the author about this, and as you can imagine, they’re not particularly amused by it,” Stack Overflow said in a statement.

    Marsala did add, however, that his story does have some basis in reality; someone he knew really did delete his entire company with one line of accidental code, but this was “before 2006.”

    He also pointed out that Ansible - the configuration management software he claimed to be using – prevented the kind of mistake he was describing. Marsala said that despite being widely used, few people realized that his made-up incident wouldn’t be possible with Ansible.

    Hoaxes that turn out to be viral marketing campaigns are nothing new. But the fact that this one used a scenario where all the clients’ websites are deleted as a way of promote a web hosting company seems a bit weird.

    Permalink to story.

  2. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,377   +286

    Someone in the old thread called it. "I knew" it was too stupid to be true. But did this require an entire thread about it? :/
  3. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,681   +1,080

    Yea, it would get your name out there but not in a good way.
    psycros, wastedkill and H3llion like this.
  4. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,738   +3,757

    trgz, mailpup, Hexic and 10 others like this.
  5. First thing first, lets get him banned from Server Fault for life and I'm more than certain at least some of his customers are gonna bail. Good job Marco, good job.
    Darth Shiv and psycros like this.
  6. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,350   +1,999

    The things people will do for a little attention. I sentence him to a 60 pee on the 3rd rail with no concurrent sentence. We'll just call him "smoky"
  7. hkhan1989

    hkhan1989 TS Enthusiast Posts: 31   +23

    Well at least this ***** has lost all credibility!
    Don't really see how claiming you are incompetent will bring in new customers

    "Hey, let's use that data centre managed / owned by that guy who deleted all of his customer's VMs"
    psycros likes this.
  8. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,666   +1,951

  9. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,285   +243

    It was a 'hoax' because customers are pulling out and demanding 'compensation' for data loss. :)
    psycros likes this.
  10. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,729   +3,703

    Like others are saying, I don't think that will work. When the only thing that comes to mind now is him deleting his whole site. I know I don't want to risk it, by some chance he does decide to do it. It would be borderline foolish for anyone to take time investing in his website as a host.
    psycros likes this.
  11. Ziffel

    Ziffel TS Booster Posts: 75   +62

    The modern web: Monday: read shocking news stories. Tuesday: go back and see if Monday's stories were true or not.
    Raoul Duke and davislane1 like this.
  12. umbala

    umbala TS Maniac Posts: 197   +176

    Shorely shome mishtake, mish Moneypenny.
  13. thorpj

    thorpj TS Enthusiast Posts: 98   +27

    Let's ban him for... Joking?
  14. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,285   +243

    possible data loss joke = emotional distress, sleepless nights, broken dreams = $$$ recipe of a lawyer.
  15. thorpj

    thorpj TS Enthusiast Posts: 98   +27

    True, but I don't see a need to ban him from the forum. It's not as if he'll do this again.
  16. Next time he has an issue and goes to the forums, are you going to waist your time helping...knowing that it may just be a "joke" while there are soooo many others with real problems that need help?

    If they don't ban him, label him a joke so that others can help if they have time/feel like it.

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