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While I'm aware of today's brilliant SO prank, I decided to also run my own*, because I'm in the uncomfortable position of topping SO's weekly user board today. I decided to use it to promote Movies.SE, which seems like the most appropriate place to send people interested in the memephilic sensation, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

While I'm dodging tomatoes and hoping our fine SO admins don't take it as cause to kick me off the site, I wonder what you all think of user-managed pranks on April Fool's, as long as they're in perfectly good fun and help users find answers and communities they might not have expected otherwise.

Meta seems entirely appropriate for this discussion, because I'd been thinking of other ways to abuse my (brief) time in the spotlight to maximize entertainment for all involved without stepping on too many toes. So, other than my drawing the combined ire of everyone on Movies.SE, do you all think this kind of behavior is (a) manageable, (b) appropriate, and (c) in the spirit of this fine community here on SO?

(PS: Bronies.)

* Said prank has now been taken down at the conclusion of April 1st. I'd modified my profile to a picture of Big Macintosh and one additional pony from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, replacing my profile text with:

I've discovered my inner brony. Join me and all my friends at!

share|improve this question
* Brohoof * – Jeremy Banks Apr 1 '12 at 8:12
@TwilightSparkle This, literally, just made my evening. – MrGomez Apr 1 '12 at 8:14
Wait, what is the prank you're running? – Cody Gray Apr 1 '12 at 8:15
@TheEstablishment A quick avatar-swap, and from the profile linkthrough: I've discovered my inner brony. Join me and all my friends at! – MrGomez Apr 1 '12 at 8:16
Ah, yeah. That's totally cool. I don't even see that as a "prank". You're allowed to change your avatar and profile to whatever you want. I did it on Meta a while ago, and it's still amusing the heck out of me every time I cast a close or delete vote. – Cody Gray Apr 1 '12 at 8:18
@MrGomez I also was thrilled, seeing this post so shortly after changing my profile. =D Just FYI there are a handful of MLP:FIM questions on SF&F.SE. – Jeremy Banks Apr 1 '12 at 8:18
I'm not a brony, but it disappoints me that there isn't a Stack Exchange site dedicated to My Little Pony. You all deserve better. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 1 '12 at 8:20
@TheEstablishment It's the sort of subtle humor that pleases me. The only thing bringing me to ask is, with the good fortune from last week, #1 status appears to confer about 100-200 profile clickthroughs a day. So, it suddenly becomes less trivial than it would be normally! :) – MrGomez Apr 1 '12 at 8:20
OMG Ponies... I approve of this posting. – RobM Apr 1 '12 at 12:34
Please rephrase your question in the form of gems – Ben Brocka Apr 1 '12 at 18:29
up vote 21 down vote accepted

As long as you aren't doing something that you would get a slap on the wrists for any other day, such as:

  • Creating useless noise in the form of a question
  • Creating useless noise in the form of an answer
  • Creating useless noise in the form of a comment
  • Putting pr0n in your profile / gravatar

... On Stack Overflow, I'm sure that everyone will take it as harmless fun and maybe laugh a little. Laughing is good.

Concerning pranks, when in doubt - don't.

Last April 1 I cleared over 600 flags in an eight hour period. That wasn't fun. I'm glad to see that the noise on the main site has been kept to a minimum this year, well so far - anyway.

I'd also hope that we keep shenanigans down to a dull roar on Meta as well, but my personal opinion is to be a bit more tolerant of April 1 fun here than on the main site. That's not the official stance, because as you know, we tolerate only small amounts of constructive fun with steely, businesslike frowns.

Just keep in mind that it's our job as moderators to sweep up all of the confetti when the party is done.


As far as 2012 goes, thanks for not making a mess, and thanks for making me laugh :)

share|improve this answer
It being a Sunday you stand a far greater chance of less people showing up overall. They are lazy. – jcolebrand Apr 1 '12 at 14:47
@jcolebrand I know, what a lousy day for April 1! – Tim Post Apr 1 '12 at 14:48
@TimPost it's terrible, isn;t it?! Who decides these things. – Ben Brocka Apr 1 '12 at 18:30
Every action must be done in the appropriate place. Down – Lazy Badger Apr 2 '12 at 21:26
@BenBrocka. But ... but the 1st of April is a Saturday. Always. Appendix D says so. – TRiG is Timothy Richard Green Dec 16 '12 at 1:00
"Putting pr0n in your profile / gravatar" - Did anyone actually try to do that? – DVK Apr 1 '13 at 17:02
@DVK Yes, well, pretty close. It was some kind of self portrait, and no, I don't want to talk about it. – Tim Post Apr 1 '13 at 17:20
@TimPost - Didn't notice any NY congressmen on politics.SE so far :))) – DVK Apr 1 '13 at 17:21

Why not? Alright, new users may be confused, but that's no biggie.. On SO, anyways as a non-dev you can't do much for a prank. You can ask some prank-y questions, though these will probably be deleted(see comments).

As a precedent, take Wikipedia. Pranks galore!.

I see four types of pranks:

Translated to SO:

  • Pranks of the first type won't be really effective on SO, since we have a much lest robust meta-ness. Yes, we have MSO, but on MSO it's April Fools' day every day anyway. Nothing different we can do here. Can we?

  • The second type is exactly what you've done. These are OK, but may not get much attention. Unless we have a meta-thread listing them.

  • The third type would amount to either (a) editing old, popular posts and making them funnier. Not really funny. (b) Asking kooky questions. Of course, with SO's level of traffic, these may get drowned out. Or deleted(see comments).

  • The fourth type would be quite hard to do. We already have Clip-cloppy, but I don't think the devs will do anything else that will affect the entire viewerbase. Or will they? Pretty please?

share|improve this answer
Clip-cloppy affects the entire viewerbase. – Cody Gray Apr 1 '12 at 8:45
You can ask some prank-y questions, though. Please, no. Why possibly confuse users who're simply trying to help folks solve their problems? – Arjan Apr 1 '12 at 8:59
What @Arjan said. Seriously, don't try it. (deleted - visible to 10k users only, but just look at the permalink and you'll know what I mean) – BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 1 '12 at 9:22
@Arjan: Alright, fixed. – Manishearth Apr 1 '12 at 9:33
@TheEstablishment: Whoops, I meant to add an else there. – Manishearth Apr 1 '12 at 9:33
Well heck. I don't think there's anything wrong with asking a joke question or two one day out of the year. The challenge is to do it well. The question @Bolt linked is just a terrible question. It isn't even close to being funny. I guess it's supposed to be a complicated meta-satire on the generally poor quality of questions that we get on SO, but even as someone who loves subtle humor and critical theory, I don't appreciate it. Compare that, though, to this question. See the difference? – Cody Gray Apr 1 '12 at 9:33
@TheEstablishment: Ooh, now that's a good 'un :) I might try to do something of the sort on Physics.SE if I get time later on. (Over there its quiet enough that such stuff won't affect much--unlike SO) – Manishearth Apr 1 '12 at 9:36
I think, on rare occasions, a well done prank question can be constructive. They can force one to think outside the box. The rotating form-covered box. – Ben Brocka Apr 1 '12 at 14:48
@BenBrocka We really need a meta-thread to deposit all these :D – Manishearth Apr 1 '12 at 14:53
@Tom : decided to try it out on Physics: – Manishearth Apr 1 '12 at 17:58
@Manishearth: Yes... I agree. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 2 '12 at 21:51
Here is a pranky question that worked wonderfully and got some in-spirit answers. It's historically locked now, of course. The most upvoted answer did actually involve making you think about your assumptions and was interesting. – Kate Gregory Jul 10 '13 at 23:16
@KateGregory Yeah,, I remember that one :) – Manishearth Jul 10 '13 at 23:17

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