We spoke to the three students who created the Instagram behemoth Ed Spotting

In a way we are all an Ed

Everyone has a doppelganger and a few weird mates, but here's something on a different level.

University of Manchester students George Wells, Rhys Jackson and Harrison Smith, under the pseudonym 'Carol' run the Instagram account Ed Spotting (@ed_spotting), where they post lookalikes of friend and fellow student Ed Hacking.

Ed Spotting originated at the end of March, and now has 356 followers. George said: "One day I saw an Ed in the Ali G, took the fateful first snap and everything happened from there."

The criteria? We spoke to George, who said: "The criteria focuses around the holy trinity. Much like the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. It's the hair, the glasses and the beard."

This is Ed.

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The original and the best. Any others are pretenders

A post shared by Edspotting (@ed_spotting) on

This is an Instagram account dedicated to finding people who look a bit like Ed.

"It's not necessarily one thing that defines an Ed," George continues. "It's several factors that generally stick to long dark hair, glasses and a beard. An Ed looks like he's the kind of bloke who loves a real ale and an early night.

"Overall though they tend to be handsome lads. We've had submissions with short hair or even way beyond shoulder length so it's an ever-changing scale. Everyone's a bit on the spectrum of being an Ed."

The real Ed had mixed feelings on the use of his identity since Ed Spotting's launch in March.

George said: "In all honesty, he wasn’t best pleased about it. But then he started receiving the sweet, sweet juice of Old Lady Fame and he couldn’t get enough. I think that both him and Ed Spotting have grown together."

We spoke to Ed Hacking, who said that he hasn't had an identity crisis since the rigorous documentation of Eds started. But he conceded: "There’s more lookalikes than I thought to be fair.

"I could never pick an ultimate Ed, but there are a few that I genuinely thought were me at first. And it’s always the bad ones like a half naked pirate or something."

Fans have spotted Eds in Buenos Aires, Valencia, Gloucester, the Dover ferry and the milk aisle in Sainsbury's. According to George, around five per cent of the population is an Ed.

He said: "We have a dedicated team working round the clock to produce a mathematical algorithm to correctly estimate the density of Eds within a given radius, depending on many factors such as weather, availability of real ales and stocks of Linda McCartney sausages. From our current research, we can only accurately say that five per cent of the population is an Ed"

Of where an Ed can be found, George tells us: "Eds are creatures of habit. They stick to a strict routine of waking up early, hitting the library and then finishing off the day sinking pints in any boozer".

Like every promising start-up, however, Ed Spotting has had its share of difficulties.

"Recently Ed cut his hair which was troubling news for us as an organisation."

So what's the future for Ed Spotting? When you discover the sheer amount of Eds living in the world, what do you do? How do you go further? Carol hope to crown the ultimate Ed to rule all Eds.

George commented: "If this has to be done by a fight then so be it. We'll start training Ed up immediately. My dream is to have an Ed Spotting party where only people who look like Ed attend."

Ed Spotting have also commercialised Ed since the account took off. In hope of advancing Ed Spotting’s prestige, t-shirts featuring the infamous Ed imagery can be pre-ordered from this week.

SKUM Merchandise Officer Freya Marshall immortalised Ed's silhouette on this t-shirt, which can be bought for £10.

"I hope that anyone buys them, especially actual Eds," said George. "We're trying to keep costs low at around a tenner to make them available to anyone. Not only will the shirts give us an identity as a brand and some credibility, the awareness will be raised when people wear them."

Are you an Ed? Could one of your friends be an Ed? If you spot an Ed or are an Ed, submit a stealthy photo to Carol here. The best submissions will be uploaded, along with the occasional photo of the real Ed himself.