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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

up vote 73 down vote accepted

I think we could all use a little help with a variety of functions when we are composing questions and answers.

Clippy presenting user with a list of choices concerning code formatting

We'd need to generate several static images, and display them:

  • randomly when a user is editing a post
  • based on either keywords they enter
  • based on buttons they press in the markdown editor
  • ???

Nice thing is that it could apply to all sites across the board, rather than being programmer/geek specific.

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4  
Change the third example from C to Perl and you might have something there. –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Mar 2 '11 at 1:41
6  
This makes me want to slap you. –  squillman Mar 2 '11 at 2:04
33  
"I see you're trying to ask a question about JavaScript. Why not drop that and try jQuery?" -Clippy –  Bill the Lizard Mar 2 '11 at 2:44
13  
@Bill: "I see you're trying to ask a question. Why not drop that and try jQuery?" -Clippy" –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Mar 2 '11 at 4:36
7  
Can we use jQuery to $.animate() clippy? –  xiaohouzi79 Mar 3 '11 at 4:45
7  
I think we need this for all users under 500 rep anyways :\ –  jcolebrand Mar 4 '11 at 17:43
12  
There goes my idea of proposing this as a serious feature request. –  Tim Post Mar 13 '11 at 13:51
2  
@badp I strongly suspect that previously you were mentally blocking it out due to the horrible abuse you must have suffered at its hands. Be at peace, it can harm you no more. –  Adam Davis Mar 22 '11 at 21:10

To each question that already has at least one answer, automatically add an answer from Jeff Atwood, Joel Spolsky, Marc Gravell, Jon Skeet, or whoever else is in on the joke. Most of these answers should be terrible, yet appropriate to the question's tags.

  • All JavaScript-tagged questions are answered with jQuery-worship.
  • All HTML-related questions are answered by bobince asking if the user has tried using regex.
  • All .NET questions get an answer from Jon Skeet suggesting that managed code isn't nearly fast enough for the task, and the user should try writing it in heavily-optimized FORTRAN. Marc Gravell responds with a comment about Duff's Device.
  • Jeff Atwood occasionally pops up to say that he once saw an answer on the hyphenated site, and the user should check over there. He doesn't explain what "the hyphenated site" is.
  • Joel Spolsky says something wise and insightful about the software business which has absolutely nothing to do with the question.
  • Someone claiming to be Eric Lippert promises to bring the user's C# issue up at the next design meeting and create a special language feature to handle it.
  • Larry Wall doesn't know the answer to your Perl question, but here's some poetry you might enjoy.
  • Alan Turing, Donald Knuth, and Charles Babbage answer one question each. Turing suggests "some form of tape-fed computation device". Knuth's answer provokes a flamewar in the comments with Edsger Dijkstra about the merits of goto.

Only questions that already have an answer are affected, so it doesn't interfere with the question/answer process too much. Also, you could restrict it to questions that already have an accepted answer or an answer with a certain amount of upvotes. Obviously, protect the "answerers" from rep loss when "their" answers are downvoted to smithereens.

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2  
"downvoted to smithereens"? You misspelled "reflexively upvoted based on their usernames." –  Pops Mar 31 '11 at 16:57
3  
+1 I likes this! It's too late to do this this year, but it's a solid candidate for next year IMO. We'd need a whole host of editors standing by under the respective pseudonyms. –  Pëkka Mar 31 '11 at 19:02
1  
I want to impersonate Babbage! –  belisarius Jun 18 '11 at 7:15

Calculate all reputation values on the site relative to Jon Skeet.

Any other day

Skeet 285,539
Me 6,811

On April 1

Skeet 100%
Me 2.39%

You could throw a client script in place to effect this without affecting the server code base.

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A site-wide summon (Jon Skeet) button, just like Batman's bat signal. It produces various fun interactions, like:

  • a blank answer generated into your question with the text "pending Jon Skeet".

  • a message indicating that Jon Skeet is busy at the moment "Please wait while Jon Skeet, finishes his call | returns from the moon | eats his pizza | flushes | etc."

  • Show random facts from Jon Skeet facts on meta Jon Skeet Facts

  • etc.

(Feel free to update this list with other suggestions).
A designer could have some fun with this.

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/**
 * @author Jon Skeet
 * @author Adam Davis
 */

Display mockeries of infamous ads.

"Punch the unicorn to see if you win 500 reputation!"

"Lose that Google 15 with this one weird dieting tip."

share|improve this answer
1  
Way to crib off of Jon Skeet's answer to your question. –  Pops Mar 30 '11 at 20:07
1  
@popular His answer exhibits modularity, loose coupling, high cohesion, information hiding and separation of concerns. It would be wrong not to reuse it. –  Adam Davis Mar 30 '11 at 23:00

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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Introduce a new feature - answer tagging.

Just like questions, answers can now be given up to five tags.

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Change the FAQ displayed to new users and claim that all questions must be written as answers as in Jepordy.

Prevent everyone with 10k or more to answer questions until one hour have passed since the question as asked.

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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

To join in with the Paywall jokes, a Paywall on answers from people with over 1k rep.

But my original idea was instead of "1 other answers" replace it with "Jon Skeet already beat you to it." Or your high ranking username of choice (or even, the username of the people who actually did beat you to it.)

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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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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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EBay-style premium listings!

enter image description here

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10  
I want fries and a shake with my gravatar. –  Shogging through the snow Mar 1 '11 at 18:23
5  
I <3 this - but make it cost rep –  8128 Mar 1 '11 at 18:24
8  
You forgot the $1.00 option where it's stamped with Jon Skeet's seal of approval. –  Tim Stone Mar 1 '11 at 18:38
12  
So, how much should we charge for allowing the use of <blink>? –  balpha Mar 1 '11 at 21:17
9  
@balpha, replacing <strong> with <blink> for the day would be... fun, too! –  Benjol Mar 2 '11 at 5:44
1  
I like a little <blink> in my <marquee><marquee direction="left">. –  mmyers Mar 3 '11 at 17:35
12  
Ban Jon Skeet from submitting a competing answer $34.99 –  TCPMAN.EXE Mar 6 '11 at 0:19
12  
@mootinator let Jon Skeet answer but attribute it to me $124.99 –  Pëkka Mar 6 '11 at 0:20
1  
@Pop I think it says "up to 3 / post $2 or 5 waffles" –  Pëkka Mar 7 '11 at 21:20
5  
You totally forgot "Protection From Moderators ..... $CALL" –  Tim Post Mar 13 '11 at 13:49

Turn SO into an old-skool BBS.

Text mode console screen, preferably black background with white or green text for authenticity.

Would look something like this:

Welcome to StackOverflow. You are logged in as Spudley.
Please enter a command to continue.
Example commands: 'listquestions [active|featured|hot]', 'showquestion <id>', 'askquestion'
Type 'help' for more.

>_
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1  
Heh, balpha can be the first kid on the block to actually succeed at creating this. Sigh. –  Pops Mar 15 '11 at 14:12

Put a Katamari button on every page of the site.

http://kathack.com/

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I would agree with the answer for anonymous user names and user images, but adding also an experiment, by hiding the reputation, tags, recent questions/answers, bio, etc.; basically no Profile/Users pages.

Everything will continue to work the same (unless you will also add some random unicorns.. like everywhere), just nobody will be able to see who is who behind the answers/questions. Every user should be able to see their own points and profile page though, since not showing the votes for questions/answers is not an option as it might affect the overall quality of Q/A that day.

With this little experiment maybe Jon Skeet will stop getting upvotes for his unfinished answers for at least a day.. :) Also it would be fun to see the leagues the day after and how the top users were affected by this. Many believe that high-ranked users are getting more points just because they are high-ranked, so let's put it to a test.

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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

How about some fake tag and badge sponsorships? "debugging" could be sponsored by Roach Motel. "Famous Question" could become "XHTML Regex parser". Etc.

HTML tags lea͠ki̧n͘g fr̶ǫm ̡yo​͟ur eye͢s̸ ̛l̕ik͏e liq​uid pain, the song of re̸gular exp​ression parsing will exti​nguish the voices of mor​tal man from the sp​here I can see it can you see ̲͚̖͔̙î̩́t̲͎̩̱͔́̋̀ it is beautiful t​he final snuffing of the lie​s of Man ALL IS LOŚ͖̩͇̗̪̏̈́T ALL I​S LOST the pon̷y he comes he c̶̮omes he comes the ich​or permeates all MY FACE MY FACE ᵒh god no NO NOO̼O​O NΘ stop the an​*̶͑̾̾​̅ͫ͏̙̤g͇̫͛͆̾ͫ̑͆l͖͉̗̩̳̟̍ͫͥͨe̠̅s ͎a̧͈͖r̽̾̈́͒͑e n​ot rè̑ͧ̌aͨl̘̝̙̃ͤ͂̾̆ ZA̡͊͠͝LGΌ ISͮ̂҉̯͈͕̹̘̱ TO͇̹̺ͅƝ̴ȳ̳ TH̘Ë͖́̉ ͠P̯͍̭O̚​N̐Y̡ H̸̡̪̯ͨ͊̽̅̾̎Ȩ̬̩̾͛ͪ̈́̀́͘ ̶̧̨̱̹̭̯ͧ̾ͬC̷̙̲̝͖ͭ̏ͥͮ͟Oͮ͏̮̪̝͍M̲̖͊̒ͪͩͬ̚̚͜Ȇ̴̟̟͙̞ͩ͌͝S̨̥̫͎̭ͯ̿̔̀ͅ

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Quora was right all along:

  • Unlock favourite/ignored tag editing for all users.
    • +2 rep per suggested interesting topic.
    • All suggested interesting topics are automatically accepted. No exceptions.
  • Followers!
    • You can follow people by starring them.
    • +10 per follow.
    • −2 per unfollow.
    • To kickstart things generate many followings at random.
    • Follow at 10 reputation
    • Unfollow at 125 reputation
  • Formatting!
    • Markdown is too hard. Get rid of it.
    • Replace it with an intuitive WYSIWYG editor. You cannot see or edit source, because HTML is so web 1.0.
    • Ban evil outbound links outside the site; URL copy and paste ought to be enough for everybody.
  • Janitors!
    • Moderators are so web 2.0; get rid of them.
    • Closing sucks; retag instead.
    • Janitors can super downvote: +2 reputation for the voter, −10 for the votee.
    • Become a janitor at 1000 reputation.
  • Notifications! Drop down a message every time:
    1. A post of yours was upvoted.
    2. A post of a follower's was upvoted.
    3. A follower upvoted a post.
    4. A post of yours was downvoted.
    5. A post of a follower's was downvoted.
    6. A follower downvoted a post.
    7. A post of yours was accepted.
    8. A post of a follower's was accepted.
    9. A follower accepted a post.
    10. A post of yours was commented.
    11. A post of a follower's was commented.
    12. A follower commented a post.
    13. A new question has been posted since you have loaded the page.
    14. A follower posts.
    15. A post of yours is answered by a follower's follower.
    16. A follower's question was answered.
    17. A follower was followed.
    18. A follower was unfollowed.
    19. A follower unlocks a privilege.
    20. You are followed.
    21. You are unfollowed.
    22. You gain reputation.
    23. You lose reputation.
    24. You would gain reputation, but a cap prevents that.
    25. A follower gains reputation.
    26. A follower loses reputation.
    27. A follower gains reputation, but a cap prevents that.
    28. A follower visits chat.
    29. A follower enters a chatroom.
    30. A follower posts a chat message.
    31. A follower stars a chat message.
    32. A follower flags a chat message.
    33. A follower is followed.
    34. A follower is unfollowed.
    35. A follower adds an interesting tag.
    36. A follower removes an interesting tag.
    37. A follower adds an ignored tag.
    38. A follower removes an ignored tag.
    39. Jon Somebody has started typing an answer for the question you are viewing.
    40. Jon Somebody has viewed a question of yours.
    41. Jon Somebody has started typing a question of yours.
    42. Oh, nevermind, Jon Somebody has stopped writing.

NotificationOverflow

share|improve this answer
2  
"Drop down a message"? Is that how the cool kids are saying "Send an SMS" these days? –  Pops Mar 1 '11 at 19:36
1  
Yeah, I know what you actually meant. But requiring users to provide phone numbers capable of receiving texts would be much more April Fool's-y. –  Pops Mar 1 '11 at 19:45
1  
Hey @Aarobot, I'm sorry but I could barely see your reply. I'll give you a screenshot as soon as I can display more than a line of text at a time... ah, here we go –  badp Mar 4 '11 at 19:47
7  
Ahahahahahahahahahahahaha! What a brilliant mockup. –  Pëkka Mar 4 '11 at 20:20
2  
Aces. This should definitely be on our screens as of April 1st. –  Aarobot Mar 4 '11 at 20:22

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

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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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

It'd take a bit to do, but basically let everyone have diamond moderator privileges and run free. It's a joke that creates itself :)

Of course, you'd want to make a backup before and restore the backup afterwards, as well as put up a banner explaining that any questions asked will not be there tomorrow and also of course explaining that everyone has diamond unicorn powers.

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Change all SO rep scores and counts to their binary or hex representations (depending on funny bone inclination).

Tell people it's a permanent change for programmers. Say something like "you spoke and we listened". Write a creative blog post to support it. Make it witty and amusing. I'm sure many people here can contribute awesome ideas to such a blog post.

If you have to keep the kids happy then at least keep any tooltip/alt tags as their actual base 10 number values.

Example of the binary version, mocked with Firebug:
enter image description here

share|improve this answer
8  
Hex would be easier as it wouldn't overflow the layout and require layout changes. –  Adam Davis Mar 2 '11 at 12:44
5  
@Pollyanna But it would be more fun if the reputation was overflowing everywhere, because you could never see how much reputation anyone has. –  ughoavgfhw Mar 6 '11 at 1:45
8  
Thanks, now I miss the ever color changing envelope even more. –  Tim Post Mar 13 '11 at 13:52

Stack Exchange, Inc is going public!

As our show of thanks to you providing all the great content for Stack Overflow, we're allowing you the one time opportunity to convert your reputation points into actual company stock.

This is a one-way transaction and any points converted will be deducted from your reputation and show on your user history and graph as "SOIS buy-in"

And create a page that shows how much stock they would get for whatever amount they want to pony up.

share|improve this answer
23  
Better yet: shutting down 'cause they were bought out by Oracle for internal mailing list uses –  Joel Coehoorn Mar 1 '11 at 21:05
1  
+1 for Oracle reference. –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Mar 2 '11 at 5:09
2  
This...is...STACKOVERFLOW! Therefore, s/pony/unicorn/ –  Piskvor Mar 3 '11 at 10:11

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

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

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I'm not sure how difficult it would be... but how about switching themes between sites? For example, give Stack Overflow the Programmers theme for a day, and vice versa. Or perchance do a three-direction with Stack Overflow getting Programmers, Programmers getting Meta Stack Overflow, and Meta getting normal Stack Overflow. You can then mix and match the sites for different interesting combos. Gaming ↔ Game Development, AskUbuntu ↔ Unix & Linux...

Not all of them have good matches (Seasoned Advice and Photography stand out, although I suppose using Photo's theme with a picture of a delicious meal wouldn't be entirely bad...), and there's nothing to swap between the Beta sites. But I figure, the idea was a mite humorous enough to toss out.

EDIT:
Five-minute mockup for Shog:

the Seasoned Advice theme for Stack Overflow

share|improve this answer
1  
I think you stole my idea! :p –  jcolebrand Mar 1 '11 at 17:38
16  
Seeing the Seasoned Advice theme on SO would be hilarious... –  Shogging through the snow Mar 1 '11 at 17:38
4  
This would be absolutely hilarious, but possibly confusing to new visitors. Maybe show to registered users only? –  Pëkka Mar 1 '11 at 17:44
3  
Eh, just distribute the old Physics SE light-on-dark theme to all sites and call it a day. –  Pops Mar 4 '11 at 17:38
23  
Snack Overflow? –  gnostradamus Mar 9 '11 at 20:54

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.

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

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