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You know what day is coming up, right? Just to get you up to speed:

So, what about 2011? Well, while we do have some ideas, we'd be stupid not to ask the probably largest accumulation of… special… creativity on the Internet – and that's obviously Meta*!

So, offer your ideas! Of course you won't know until April 1st what actually happens (and we don't promise anything), but be sure that we plan to reward great ideas with a little more than just a Meta rep bounty!

Except that your suggestions should be a) funny (at least in the eyes of most people), b) doable, and c) awesome, there are no restrictions. C'mon get crazy!

*cue obligatory "the sites are run by you" :)

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22  
Changing reputation scoring once again would be nigh hilarious –  random Mar 1 '11 at 17:24
34  
Cut everybody's rep in half, and close Meta for the day. –  Pëkka Mar 1 '11 at 17:26
2  
Multiple all gained rep * a random negative number for that day, that will surely scare some users :P –  Ivo Flipse Mar 1 '11 at 17:27
5  
Captcha lottery: Those who guess both words are automagically moderators –  belisarius Mar 1 '11 at 17:35
48  
Open PoliticsOverflow and forbid **subjective and argumentative**** questions. Everything closed :) –  belisarius Mar 1 '11 at 17:44
3  
@GeorgeEdison: I thought we finally got the community wiki police off of Meta. I guess not... Anyway, let people get some reps for their good ideas, at least for a while. This'll be auto-CW'ed because of answer count in no time anyway. –  balpha Mar 1 '11 at 18:08
1  
I just passed 15k rep thanks to this question. And this is a question in need of protection if I ever saw one.... –  Pops Mar 1 '11 at 18:35
3  
@Ivo I see the question coming in SO: What is a random negative number? –  belisarius Mar 1 '11 at 18:52
14  
This is too small to be the official network-wide plan, but: post an unsolvable problem -- like my "solve P=NP" question from last year -- and attach a 100k rep bounty. –  Pops Mar 1 '11 at 20:05
3  
The time is right. Let's bring back the dead. –  Adam Davis Mar 2 '11 at 0:35
2  
@balpha, in all seriousness, I wonder whether whatever the joke ends up being, it might be best not to implement it on math.se –  Benjol Mar 2 '11 at 6:44
6  
@Benjol - If Math.SE doesn't want an April Fool's joke played on them, they should start lobbying against it on their meta, specifically requesting that the line, "Bring your sense of humor." be stricken from the FAQ. Yes, a lot of people will be confused and frightened by the joke, but we're going to ask them to put up with it and embiggen their cultural awareness to include the silly American thing. The day they remove teh funneh from stackexchange will be a sad day indeed. –  Adam Davis Mar 2 '11 at 17:03
3  
Please note that in NO WAY will earnest users of the various sites be impeded in their usage of the site. You'll still be able to ask questions, add answers, and vote. The moderators and people who can vote to close won't allow any significant amount of fun having in terms of real questions and answers. The question and answer pool won't be polluted. And, frankly, if it's a problem for some users, will it really hurt them to take a break from the site for a day? –  Adam Davis Mar 2 '11 at 17:05
6  
maybe apply a dark theme... –  Jin Mar 3 '11 at 5:16
3  
@Benjol @jjnguy Having recently read through some of meta.math.se and math.se I now understand the point of your suggestion. On the other hand, when your brother is so easily annoyed, it's wrong not to poke him once in awhile. –  Adam Davis Mar 3 '11 at 17:49

75 Answers 75

You could make everyone think that the sites were hacked by Anonymous by replacing every user name with "Anonymous" and every user image with:

enter image description here

Or:

enter image description here

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2  
Or maybe Guy Fawkes? –  mmyers Mar 1 '11 at 18:30
3  
I wonder if anonymous would take it as a challenge. How risk averse do you think SOIS is? ;-D Free security testing, and a great april fools joke to boot! –  Adam Davis Mar 2 '11 at 0:19
1  
@Pollyanna: Everybody wins! –  gnostradamus Mar 2 '11 at 7:14

BURN BURN BURN!!! button

There's a limit to how much exposure to the low quality tab one can handle, after a while, noob-rage starts to take hold, and you start getting the urge to do more than just flag.

It would be cathartic to have a 'nuke' button with some satisfying animation effect to consign the likes of this to oblivion, leaving a smouldering pile of ashes.

EDIT Add in a downvote, just to incentivate downvoting on stuff that deserves to die.

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1  
Something like i.imgur.com/NusRS.png? Pressing it flashes the question background red while a tiny missile fly in and after a moment the qusetion is destroyed. –  tombull89 Mar 2 '11 at 8:58
3  
Obviously this should be called the burninate button –  xiaohouzi79 Mar 3 '11 at 4:50

I'm totally in favor of Commander Keen as suggested by Pollyanna, but nevertheless:

Ask users to participate in "a short" survey, and then continue asking questions until the user finally gives up? (The responses of the first 5 or 10 questions might actually be useful, if the real survey needs more data.)

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1  
"Unicorn-shaped cake made of waffles will be available at the conclusion of the survey. Thank you for helping us help you help us all." –  Pops Mar 3 '11 at 16:36
2  
I like this one. After 10 or so generic questions about, say, demographics, it should start randomly picking out old question titles from the database and asking those as survey questions. (Possibly filtered to those with question marks to make it less obvious what's going on.) –  Aarobot Mar 4 '11 at 19:01
1  
@Aarobot, or questions from balpha's Not a real question! –  Arjan Mar 4 '11 at 20:50
2  
Nice idea, but definitely promise a serious prize like an iPad or a netbook. Let the questions become more and more ridiculous (although I think they should be real survey questions, not ones from the database.) at some point, the user will leave in frustration. Then to round the joke, actually hold a draw among those who stayed on for more than 50 questions, and give away the real prize. –  Pëkka Mar 5 '11 at 23:26

Run the first annual Stack Exchange moderator recall elections.

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Allow (fake) protesting of OP acceptance decisions

Add a button right below the green checkmark labeled PROTEST which pops up a message saying you can overrule the OP's decision to accept this answer at a cost of 30 rep points.

If the user accepts, redirect him to a page on the site where the protesting procedure — a clear scam for stealing half the user's rep points — is described, and a confirm button is displayed.

If the user confirms again, say

Thank you. The answer will be un-accepted and your rep points deducted by tomorrow morning.

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2  
@Justin I thought it more like a bet. If mods approve your decision, you lose 30 rep points and the answer is un-accepted. If mods deny, you lose half your rep. A fair game :) –  belisarius Mar 31 '11 at 15:13

Replace the term "Rep" with "Exp".

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4  
I thought this was funny at first glance, but it breaks Important Internet Rule #9 -- "don't feed the trolls" -- so -1. –  Pops Mar 4 '11 at 17:39
2  
@TheOutOfStarsException: Well, to be fair, my rule #1 is "make up numbers at random for all other 'Important Internet Rules'; feel free to add, change or remove them at will." –  Pops Mar 6 '11 at 22:27

I think all the sites should be grayscaled ... not just the metas.

Or better might be to reverse the site colorations, from meta to the host, etc. Too simple, but also easy enough it should be doable.

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Have the community user bump/replay all the questions from last year, at the time same time of day that they were asked.

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jQuery Overflow.

When editing a question, after entering the title, the red banner (similar to the subjective warning) pops up: "It appears your question is about programming. Have you totally dropped that and tried jQuery?"

Answer editing boxes are pre-fill with "You should totally drop that and try jQuery." (which will automatically go away once the user starts typing, and which won't allow the submit button to be pressed until they start typing, so we don't get this as an actual answer, but it appears anyway).

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When a user gets or gives their first up vote of the day they get a special Unicorn badge which links them to this little game which is hosted on agame

It would of course require you to get permission to use the game but it would be worth it.

Also, add the Konami code for the day and Cornify it up!

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1  
I like the Konami code idea. –  jjnguy Mar 1 '11 at 17:55

Launch a Q&A site for Quora.

I did, in fact, have April 1 in mind when I proposed it.

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Hide the envelope icon and watch the users freaking out, oh.. wait..

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2  
the eeeek question is gone 404 –  Alpine Mar 15 '11 at 14:09

Every question gets the tag.

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5  
How about every question requires the user to add the unicorn tag, but that tag not counted toward the upper limit of 5 tags per question. –  John K Mar 9 '11 at 20:14
3  
@John K - Brilliance. How about a choice between either [unicorns], [ponies], or [jon-skeet]? –  Justin Morgan Mar 31 '11 at 18:43

Some new tags and and to go along with this proposed tag:

for those times when you only need Jon Skeet to answer you. And it will tag Jon Skeet so he sees your question as a priority item when he logs in. I suppose we could go so far as to introduce some others, for instance or

When you combine the first few tags with the latter one it pushes your tag to the top of the queue. Then there's the response tags:

and and (which has synonyms and of course)

And in the spirit of helpfulness:

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2  
I like how you just TOTALLY STOLE THE IDEA I MENTIONED IN PRIVATE IM ;-) –  The Unhandled Exception Mar 16 '11 at 22:18
4  
You're so very welcome. I only did it because you're all out of stars at the moment. –  jcolebrand Mar 16 '11 at 22:19

I originally came up with this as a throwaway joke a few days ago, but since you ask...

for(Question q : questions)
    q.deleted = !q.deleted;

You could flip the closed bit in addition to/instead of the deleted bit.

... or perhaps the community wiki bit.

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12  
I'll be taking that day off. –  Bill the Lizard Mar 1 '11 at 17:50

Upgrade CAPTCHAs to test basic English spelling and grammar. Keep the obscured text, so people can't just hook up existing grammar checking engines, but come up with your own images so you don't end up displaying GBLI^24[phi].

Might as well spend April Fool's Day doing some actual quality control. Hm? No, I'm not annoyed by any of the posts I edit on SO, why?

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7  
Ooh ooh, how about CAPTCHAs that make you enter text that matches a regex? –  mmyers Mar 1 '11 at 18:27

Zalgoize all questions and answers. Or even all text on the site.

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1  
Zalgoize? What is that? –  Borror0 Mar 15 '11 at 2:55
2  
@Borror0: Google "zalgo text" and you'll find a few generators like this one. I̩̖̊̀t͔̪͠'̤͓͌̔͒ͅs̷̙̮̣̹̟̬͚̎͑̔́ͩ ͖̲̯̹͉ͭ̃ͯ́̑͢ͅg͉͓͉̱̜r̬̻ͭ̾̎̔͒̾͘ê̈́͏̯̞a͕͗̌͘ͅt̅͋ͦ̍͘!̭̣̟̫͍̃̏ͯ̈́ –  mmyers Mar 15 '11 at 3:56
1  
Oh! So that's what it's called! Thanks. –  Borror0 Mar 15 '11 at 3:57

Simple version:

  1. Make downvotes cost 1/2 the user's rep.

Extended edition:

  1. Make downvotes cost 1/2 the user's rep.
  2. Display a notification thanking the user for donating 1/2 their rep to the Jon Skeet foundation for terminally hopeless programmers (or some more believable fake charity incl. a link to fake site)
  3. Award a funny 'Philanthropist' badge to anyone who loses over 1k rep as a result over the course of the day.

(Recalc at the end of the day, of course.)

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1  
Reducing or eliminating the vote quota and forcing users to "buy" votes (up or down) would also be interesting... –  Shog9 Mar 1 '11 at 21:43

Kitten macro every title. Choose a variety of kitten related images that are short and wide, and use them as the background for the question title. Use a modulo of the post number so the same image is served with any given question.

Iconic cat images (leaping through the grass, ceiling cat, etc) as well as moving gifs of dancing cats would give each question just the right spice it needs to encourage more upvotes.

It should also lesson people's stress as they blow past deadlines at work due to their diligence here.

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Do Nothing

MSO will be ablaze with users wanting to know what the joke was, expecting Unicorns or other such magic. Doing nothing is not a joke, and yet it is.

(the temptation was strong to put "troll" in this answer somewhere, as in "to troll").

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Claim that you have lost all the source code for the last ~2 years and revert the site to its design and functionality as it was at the moment it left the private beta.

I miss close/reopen wars

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Announcement of Stack overflow email accounts. Gmail started years ago on April first, and just like taking over ee, Stack Exchange is now targeting google, starting with email.

Similar to personal urls on careers, people would have to claim/reserve their email, so there would be a land ruch on them. We can make their experience more interesting by claiming that the first three names they chose are taken, and recommending jonskeet with a random eight digit number appended.

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How about Matrix SO?

Matrix SO

Here is a quick demo

javascript:document.body.style.background="url('http://steve.files.wordpress.com/2006/03/Matrix%20tut%202.jpg')";document.body.style.color='white';void(0);

Type this in your browser address bar.

It needs improvement though.

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3  
@Arjan jQuery will solve it for us. –  Alpine Mar 4 '11 at 20:51

Tag "autocorrect"

How about messing with the tags users choose to apply? For example, any time someone submits a question on SO, display when the page loads. On Cooking, you could do [butter] → [margarine]; on Unix and Linux, [kde] → [gnome].

Tag confirmation

If the "autocorrect" seems too disruptive to the user experience, add a confirmation page instead, with messages like...

  • "Have you tried Eclipse?" for all [netbeans] questions on SO
  • "Salad, huh? Do you have any questions about chocolate? C'mon, live a little!" for [salad], [tomatoes], &c. on Cooking
  • "Mint, huh? Are you sure you don't want to try a real distro?" for [mint] on Unix/Linux

Meta

Meta sites should get to share in the fun! Let's skip all that pesky "discussion" and "thought" for one day by automatically attaching to every post.

Also, there are already some restricted and some required tags on metas. How about deploying new ones? Perhaps "deferred" could become [status-six-to-eight-weeks] and "support" could become [plzsendtehfaqz]? Next year, new restricted/required tags could even sprout up on the main sites!

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Cash in on the Twitter revolution by adding a Dickbar. Trending topics will keep users of Stack Exchange up to date on current happenings in the Twitterverse, such as what color everyone's underwear is and things celebrities hate. Plus, it's another thing to monetize.

Screenshot

(Explanation)

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Only allow comments shorter than 15 characters and questions or answers shorter than 30.

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4  
SO > Twitter –  badp Mar 1 '11 at 19:04

On entering of a special keyword, make everything fall to the bottom of the screen, like this (requires Chrome or Chrome plug-in for other browsers). Depends on compatability and viability across browsers.

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Since all sites are integrated, "seemingly" pull out information from careers.SO about current employer, send random warning (alert on top, something along the lines of

  • "You really should be working."
  • "What will the folks at [Current_Employer_Name] think of this?"
  • "Suspicious activity detected, contacting [Current_Employer_Name] HR."
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3  
mmm, this has the potential to do too much damage to the trust people have in the site. Too brutal for an April Fools' joke IMO –  Pëkka Mar 5 '11 at 23:10

How about a blog post to claim that StackExchange has been acquired by Facebook ?

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A nice easy one - switch to Sketchy theme for the day :)

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