Digital publishing has its own potential pitfalls that aren't concerns in a print medium. For example, The New York Times recently published one of their internal CMS (content management system) test articles in error.
Given the subject matter, the internet had a field day with it.
You can see a screenshot of the test article as it appeared on The New York Times website here:
The New York Times/screenshot
The test article—titled "Fields Of Watermelons Found On Mars, Police Say"—had Twitter in an uproar.
After all, who doesn't love a little watermelon in the summertime?
The article apparently contained some pretty great lines, such as:
"Authorities say rise of fruit aliens is to blame for glut of outer space watermelons."
Even the feds were involved, apparently.
"The FBI declined to comment on reports of watermelons raining down but confirmed that kiwis have been intercepted."
No word on if it was Scully or Mulder.
Local law enforcement opinions weren't left out though.
"Watermelon taste good, police say."
The writer—wisely identified as Joe Schmoe—also threw in some self-aware humor with the line:
"This story is terribly boring."
After the article was taken down, a spokesperson for The New York Times told Futurism:
"Earlier today, a mock article intended for a testing system was published on our site in error."
"The article has since been removed."
Twitter users were anxious to read the full article, with many calling for it to be republished.
Some were simply confused.
@Jon_Christian "Did you hear they found watermelons on Mars?" "Water on Mars? Yeah, it seems like it's every week… https://t.co/JkVz7dlrSy— Damien Maymdien (@Damien Maymdien) 1623182374.0
Others speculated about what happened.
@Jon_Christian I'd make a bet it was a CMS test, that got published by a tech person with full admin while doing a Q/A.— Mason Pelt (@Mason Pelt) 1623180800.0
@masonpelt @Jon_Christian This is almost certainly what happened. Sounds exactly like the kind of joke article you… https://t.co/739OLykui5— Derek B Johnson (@Derek B Johnson) 1623181890.0
However some people poked holes in the CMS test story.
@masonpelt @Jon_Christian This sounds exactly like what a watermelon growing Martian would say, if they were trying to cover their tracks.— Jubs (@Jubs) 1623183767.0
Is it all a Martian plot?
Eventually, someone found an archived version of the article.
@Jon_Christian Honestly a bit disappointed it's not a 10k word feature complete with interactive visuals. https://t.co/YL6yQGZSUw— Tony Ho Tran (@Tony Ho Tran) 1623182481.0
Sadly, the interplanetary scoop was only three sentences long.
The New York Times/screenshot
While there are no Martian watermelons taking over the global fruit market yet—much to the disappointment of many it seems—the accidental article certainly provided some entertainment.
For now folks will just have to continue eating the regular old Earth watermelons they're used to.
No complaints here.