Ghost in the machine

I found the Sun.Star Cebu newsroom abuzz yesterday over a website that seemed to know a lot of details, even intimate ones, about people and things. When I entered the newsroom, I found reporters, editors, librarians, and newsroom assistants gathered around TV host Jude Bacalso, the paper’s lifestyle editor, who was entering questions and getting correct answers on the Peter Answers website. ANSWER TO LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING. It’s in Have fun fooling your friends with the website. Click on photo to view larger image.

At first glance, it was freaky. How could the website know the names of a co-worker’s children, the pet peeve of an editor, what I was doing at the precise time the question was asked (holding out my cellphone), what was on a reporter’s head (a polka-dot headband), and what one reporter told another reporter about his mother-in-law?

I initially thought that Jude had a conspirator on hearing distance providing the answers but no one within the vicinity was typing when Jude entered the questions. It was also impossible for Jude to have pre-programmed the answers because the questions were thrown at him at random.

Jude, it turned out, was providing the answers himself right before our very eyes and none of us noticed it. In defense, though, Jude is a great actor and he did put up such a convincing show.

To asks questions in the Peter Answers website, you first have to “enter” a petition by “typing” Peter, please answer the following question: or Peter, please answer: in the petition space. You then ask the question in the next space and as soon as you enter the question mark, Peter “provides” the answer.

The trick, I learned from this WikiHow article, is that you do not actually type Peter, please answer the following question: or Peter, please answer:, you are actually typing the answer to the question you plan to ask. But to the people around you, it appears that you are typing the petition statement.

To enter an answer, press the period button and while you are typing the answer, the website displays the petition statement a letter at a time, making it appear to people that you are typing the statement. Once you’re done entering the answer of your intended question, just press the period button again and continue typing the petition statement as normal.

Ask the question you already entered the answer to and watch as people around you gasp in amazement at how the machine was able to know the answer.

I couldn’t stop laughing after being told how co-workers were tricked by Jude and some other pranksters. An editor in our Bisaya tabloid, after being thoroughly impressed that the website knew that Chilen chicharon was his favorite food, spent a lot of time in front of the PC trying to get answers to his questions.

The prankster, apparently, had told him that you have “to believe” in order for the website to cooperate and give you answers.

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37 responses

  1. cool post, very interesting. I had tried it with some of my friends and co-workers, It was very funny looking how amazed and puzzle they were when reading Peter’s answers everytime.

  2. Hi Max, first time reader here, but long time fan..

    Just wanted to drop a message to acknowledge my presence..

    Keep on writing!

  3. Wow. Peter is a genius. Hehe. Thanks to this post I made a few friends think their secrets aren’t safe with Pete.

  4. Hi Nick,
    Thanks. Your comment certainly made my week πŸ™‚

  5. filipinoprogrammer, Eksena,
    Just go easy on the prank, though, you can seriously mess someone up with it πŸ™‚ .

  6. Well I had a ton of fun with the peter answers thing. My friend did it to me first and then showed me how the trick works. I was messing with my brothers mind all morning today hehe

  7. What do you press to get the answer shown in front of people?
    When I press enter it just makes a question mark!

  8. bubba clot Avatar
    bubba clot

    who is behind me

  9. kelli jackson Avatar
    kelli jackson

    how old am i?

  10. Hey guys,
    It won’t work here. Do it at πŸ™‚

  11. What are our second names?

  12. will krstina caul go out with clint grant

  13. Grr. You know, I was totally fooled by this peter answers thing just last night. I know that there is a trick to this, but I don’t know what. I feel so fooled! Grr! Thanks anyways for the info.

  14. why dit you neve answer

  15. hey wat im at now?

  16. Why is a 9 yearold scared of you

  17. Please sneek up on Haley and please be a bully to her:(

  18. No. i think its really true.. he answered my brother about him(the spirit) the spirits answered on his own like he scared us but den he said afterwards that hes joking.. i totally freak out when he said “Why did you Close?” he know that we close the site cause my brother is freaking out to wat the spirit replied to him even my brother type “No. Im afraid now please dont be so cruel” peter replied “Why did you Close” den my brother new petiton is” cause ur so mean” then peter replied “Dont close” (This is in TAGALOG sory 4 my english) then they hav thier conversation NOT an Question & answer.. THE SPIRIT ACTUALLY REPLY ON HIS OWN!! i think dis is FREAKYY i promise

  19. hay peter answer im yamie como tu ?

  20. nakakagulat nga eh! nalaman ang kulay ng panty qoh!!!!!………………………………………………..

  21. ows tlga nahulaan kulay ng panty mo ahahahaha!

  22. What color are my fingernails?

  23. Mae,
    If you don’t mind, can you tell me who typed the questions at Peter Answers for you? πŸ™‚

    Pink? Red?
    Sorry it won’t work here. You’re supposed to do it at πŸ™‚

  24. peter answer my question

  25. what’s my father’s name

  26. what’ my father’s name?

  27. what style is my hair in?

  28. peter please answers

  29. wat’s my father’s name

  30. Hi guys,
    I told you. The questions won’t work here. Go to Please.

  31. jose joshua carpio is stell loving me?

  32. peter i will gradwate in grade 6?

  33. I spent an hour to because of my curiosity. I called my husband to try the stuff hoping that Peter might answer him and iwent to the kitchen to prepare our dinner while he’s doing it. My husband is so smart that he don’t believe in this kind of stuff instead he searched first some comments about . He found your site and read that it’s only a trick.Without telling me the secret he called me and my kids and asked me to ask questions. I was so amazed and believe that it was true….Shoot!, I was fooled by my Husband… when i searched about this and came across with your blog.. i called my husband to ask if he knew about this trick and he laughed out loud we visit same site …you should check it first before you believe….. hahahahahaha… thanks … for this entry.

  34. Hi ruth,
    It really is a great prank! πŸ™‚

  35. hello peter.. Whats my favorite colour?

  36. holy shit!!! got poofed!!!ahahaha..

  37. dielaisme Avatar

    peter? apa password fb lmk aku??

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