Alex Boese, curator of the Museum of Hoaxes and expert on all things April Fools', advises that you finish reading articles before rushing into the next cubicle to spread the incredible news. Many hoax articles end with an obvious clue or an explanation that it's all a joke. Double-check all radio warnings of disasters—volcanic eruptions, floods, killer bee invasions—and question any story uncovering a new, onerous tax (say, on Linux).
New-product announcements that arrive on or near April 1, such as the left-handed Whopper, should be approached with skepticism, Boese says, but he cautions against reflexive hoax-spotting. On March 31, 2004, Google released the beta version of Gmail, which featured 1 GB of free storage, cavernous compared to other e-mail provider offerings. That was the same day the company unveiled its Googlelunaplex plans. The moon joke and the generosity of Gmail's 1 GB storage caused some nerds to sense a con and insist—wrongly—that Gmail was a giant April Fools' Day hoax.
For a GoogleGulp of hoaxes, check out Alex Boese's bookHippo Eats Dwarf: A Field Guide to Hoaxes and Other B.S. What hilarious media-generated April Fool's Day hoax have I missed? Send your nominations to email@example.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)