It dates back to the first annual DarkFriendSocial where those that attended decided to have some fun on the cost of the other participants of the Jordanesque discussions in rasfw. (In fact this was twice unfair, as we others didn't even share the fun of being at the social itself).
Nevertheless, they decided to post a slightly changed summary of the social to rasfw. Of course we all fell for it and wild speculation based on the things reported by our trusted brothers and sisters who attended the social (meanwhile we learned how deceiving the impression one gets in the newsgroup can be).
The Hoaxsters gloated, but nearly couldn't stop the train anymore that they started. They began posting more and more strange and unbelievable facts, but still the belief in them was strong enough so that it took a posting unveiling the gloating emails of the hoaxsters to enlighten us. Still a lot of people considered the (anonymous) posting to be the hoax, not the original one. Therefore FaqDowager Erica brought to us an announcement (basically the same one that today still is contained in the FAQ.
Bill Garrett (who was, btw, the anonymous poster) answered to this with a brief history of the hoax.
In the wake of her announcement, Erica posted the meanwhile legendary Wheel of Pooh, so at least some good has come from the Hoax.
Some people were truely enraged about the Hoax and started flaming around, but at least I think that it was a great idea, it was very well done anmd even if it was based on absolute rubbish the dioscussions we had were among the best. So I hope that if ever anyone has an idea like these people had, he/she will go forward to implement it. But be aware that people tend to be a lot more mistrusting these days...
You can find both more facts and other opinions on Bill's Great Hoax page.