Mysterious flyer linking to bizarre online quiz found in Sheffield park

Written by Michael Robinson

A creepy notice linking to a website from mysterious organisation ARAE appeared zip tied to a tree in the middle of Ponderosa park last week.

It reads: “It is vital that you provide us with your information.”

Following the link shows a questionnaire which has left Sheffield residents on social media site Reddit puzzled.

Users on r/Sheffield and r/RBI have been trying to solve where the flyer and the contents of the questionnaire have come from, who the organisation are and whether this a heritage project or augmented-reality game (ARG).

A spokesperson for ARAE said: “The purpose of the questionnaire is to collect information regarding individuals who believe they recognise the provided image.

“ARAE is a research-focused organisation. Information about ARAE is only disclosed as strictly necessary to meet our objectives.”

The start of the quiz lays out a set of rules telling quiz-takers not to “disclose any information to others” or “distribute photographic materials provided to you.”

A reddit user thought the first photo which shows figures barely visible in the foreground and background was taken near Eden Pit in Middridge, Durham – an old coal mine in use until the start of the First World War in 1914.

If the user answers ‘no’ to the first question the questionnaire will end immediately and thank you for taking part.

The quiz is filled with multiple choice questions and asks the user about their feelings towards immigrants, Rome and whether they or anyone they knew have had the bubonic plague.

One r/Sheffield member said: “That was creepy… strange racial/religious angle. It is intriguing though.”

Another said: “It’s a bit of creepy, ARG-ish meta fiction. Quite enjoyable I thought, gave me a gentle chill down the spine.”

There are also questions on whether those taking part have memories of past lives and some taking the quiz have theorised this is the motivation behind the exercise.

One user likened the situation to the ‘How to tell if you are dreaming’ flyers found around Sheffield last year.

Some users believe the organisation’s name refers to the Arae from Greek mythology – spirits of curses, often ones placed by the dead upon those guilty of their death.

The questionnaire ended by saying “if we require further information, we will contact you.”

Written by Michael Robinson

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