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Although the name of the game may change from region to region, the prank known as ding dong ditch 'em" has been around ever since the invention of the doorbell. In it's most basic form, the game involves at least one prankster willing to ring an unsuspecting home owner's doorbell and then hide or run away. Watching the confused or angry expression on the victim's face as he or she looks for the phantom doorbell ringer is often the best part of playing, unless of course the homeowner is much better at finding guilty people than the guilty people are at hiding.
The basic plot of ding dong ditch 'em is ripe for variation and escalation, which means players could make the game even more interesting through the creative use of props. One of the most common props associated with it is the legendary Flaming Bag of Poo. In this more sinister version, the prankster will place a paper bag containing animal excrement on the victim's doorway and set it ablaze. When the victim answers the doorbell, he or she may instinctively step on the flaming bag to extinguish it, thus spreading the excrement or other foul substance everywhere. Although actual incidents involving the Flaming Bag of Poo are relatively rare, it is often the thought that matters.
Other versions of the prank may involve setting up props rigged to dump water on the victim's head or other unexpected assaults. Sometimes the point of the game is to draw out the victim for other special treats, such as the discovery of a vandalized yard or offensive sign. During Halloween, a quick game of ding dong ditch 'em could lead to costumed prankster leaping out from bushes to scare the victim. The possibilities are fairly endless with such a simple premise as ringing a doorbell and waiting for a response.
Most games do fall under the category of harmless prank, but occasionally some have abused the game to draw out real victims of real violence. There have been incidences in which homeowners have been assaulted or even shot after opening their doors to investigate a phantom knock. Whether it is a neighborhood prank or a serious attempt to lure out a victim, people need to exercise caution when answering their doors, especially when a visitor is not clearly visible in the doorway. It might also pay to find some other way to extinguish a flaming bag left on your porch following a suspected incident of ding dong ditch 'em.