We are living in the gold age of user-generated content. Anyone can post a joke before breakfast, become a meme by lunch and be fired for the joke at the end of business. Ok, it's more like the "tin age", but still a unique moment in human history. Here at Stack Exchange, we're doing our part by hosting some of the very best content produced entirely by individual users at scale. I think it's fair to say we are the Wikipedia of Q&A.

It all started back in 2008 with a site named after a class of bug. Even so, it achieved some popularity within the developer community. The network first expanded to fairly technical topics, but very quickly sites popped up for just about every form of human knowledge including an endless variety of CMS and blockchain schemes. In the days BSE (Before Stack Exchange) it was certainly possible to share knowledge. There were podcasts and blogs and forums and Geocities pages. You could post on someone's Wall or microblog or be Tom's friend. And of course there were wikis and social news sites with alien mascots. But none of them capitalized on the simple genius of the question and answers format quite like Stack Exchange.

The Web turned 30 this year and we got to thinking it's too bad Stack Exchange sites have only been part of a third of that history. What, we pondered, would the world be like if Stack Exchange had started back in the year 2000 1998? Relieving you of the need to imagine it, we are proud to announce a new Time Machine feature that lets you experience Stack Exchange before its time.

Y2K baby!

What's that? It says "WELCOME TO STACKOVERFLOW" you say? I asked our designers about that and they tell me dank fonts don't need lower case. Oh, you mean why isn't it STACKEXCHANGE? That's a bit of a time travel paradox. We set the baseline at 2008, but the Stack Exchange brand didn't really show up until a couple of years later. We have our crack quantum mechanics working on it. Once they patch the timeline, we won't have any way of knowing.

As you explore the Stack Exchange off-ramp of the Information Superhighway keep your eyes peeled for content that could only exist in the '90s such as:

Feel free to note especially appropriate examples in the answers below, but please don't spoil The Sixth Sense.

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    Sadly, I need a real time machine to go back and fix the alarm I set improperly this morning. – Jon Ericson Mar 31 '19 at 15:54
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    I wonder what MyWhitespace.com would look like... – Jamal Mar 31 '19 at 16:10
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    This looks positively awful on systems that don't have Comic Sans installed. i.imgur.com/O3G9t86.png – Nonny Moose Mar 31 '19 at 16:45
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    Nice celebration. I reckon the SO/SE experiment has been one of the best in terms of peer-supported information sharing. Its philosophical underpinnings of freedom, responsibility and community place it far in advance of Wikipedia. – Lawrence Mar 31 '19 at 16:56
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    I though stackexchange had been hacked! Since I came to it today from a Google search, I carefully checked the domain. Every letter was right so that led me here. – Dale Mar 31 '19 at 17:14
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    I think that you should limit count of (displayed) votes to 99 on this question due to some technical limitations of system. – val says Reinstate Monica Mar 31 '19 at 17:53
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    At first I thought I landed onto a fake stackexchange website until saw this! – kiradotee Mar 31 '19 at 19:13
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    Something's not right with mine. Those trailing stars on the cursor, which I assume were done with activex, load way too quickly, and don't slow down my machine one bit. – user4815162342 Mar 31 '19 at 20:16
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    How is this making me nostalgic for 1998 if I wasn't even born yet in 1998? – DonielF Mar 31 '19 at 20:20
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    1st time I saw it I did a double-take. 2nd time I smiled. 3rd time, I sighed. But now I've seen it over and over again, and am fed up of turning it off on every single page I visit, it's really annoying. Can't you allow us to disable it once and for all once we've seen it? I'm almost in the mood of avoiding SO until your odd sense of calendar decides that Apr 1st has passed. FWIW, it's 10:15pm on Mar 31st here in the UK, and I've been seeing this thing for hours already. Past a joke. – Avrohom Yisroel Mar 31 '19 at 21:15
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    @JonEricson Do you really think people only want to disable this on one site? As in, "oh, it looks really stupid on this site, but I really like it on that site"? This perennial distinction between the different SE "sites" is getting really old. If I disable annoying crap once, I want it gone for good. – isanae Mar 31 '19 at 22:03
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    Disable only working on one site is dumb. I suspect that most of us who turned this disaster area off aren’t doing so because we think it’s too awesome. – Rob Moir Mar 31 '19 at 22:16
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    If Netscape 3 (for best viewing experience) won't install on a 64bit Windows, is that a Netscape issue, or a SysWow issue? – Éliette Mar 31 '19 at 22:56
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    Why doesn't it remember my selection that I do not want to see that? This is really annoying that I have to disable this stupid look every time I look at an answer. – a_horse_with_no_name Apr 1 '19 at 5:44
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    Why it is not a global toggle among all stackexchange.com sites? It's super annoying to disable it for every site. – VarunAgw Apr 1 '19 at 13:56

48 Answers 48

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I want to add comments but it turns out I need more reputation points. Yes I need to travel to future to add comments on this post.


I think this annoying background show how much StackExchange cares about its end users. I had a late night session resolving some production issues and struggled to read the answer, because of its annoying font and colours and was not quite wake enough to figure out I could disable this background.

Why has Stack Exchange done this ? I do not even find it remotely funny ? Could you not think of better ways to pull an April's fool prank without affecting the usability of the side for end users who really need to use it.

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    Click to clock to disable. – smileycreations15 Apr 1 '19 at 14:10
  • Yes, I figured that out eventually, however, I was pretty bleary eyed by that time and it took me ten minutes to find the clock. – Alex Apr 2 '19 at 7:12
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    And in that state you believe it possible you were doing quality work? You couldn't even find a theme toggle. – user212646 Apr 2 '19 at 7:27
  • The normal content wasn't covered directly by the backgroud image. – Low power Apr 2 '19 at 10:05
  • I was not after quality work, but a quick bug fix to resolve issues caused by someone else's release. The normal content wasn't covered, however, it was pretty hard to read given the font and the fairy dust stars. I was more focused on finding the right answer rather than finding the right UI toggle. – Alex Apr 2 '19 at 11:01

It's beautiful! Brings back memories of back in the day when I would load my interwebz floppy disk and connect my dial-up modem and browse on myspace, waiting 45min to load each page. Then I would turn on my TTS add-on and play text-based DND. Then I would connect to some government computer and play simulated nuclear warfare. Ah, memories!

*Disclaimer: I may or may not have any knowledge of what life was like in 1998.

  • That sounds accurate enough for what life was like in 1998. – doppelgreener Apr 1 '19 at 14:58
  • @doppelgreener And I may or may not be relying on a knowledge of computers and the movie Wargames – John Locke Apr 1 '19 at 15:04

I don't mind this for the most part, but this rule:

        .container .favicon {
            background-image: url("https://cdn.sstatic.net/Img/april-fools-2019/broken-image.png?v=a2722a3b4e69");
            background-position: 0px;

is kind of obnoxious. I like being able to tell which site a question is from, and this single-handedly forces me to disable the joke.

  • I am sure you have much bigger gripes than this though... with an alias like that... you are in my thoughts and I hope you survive this heartless web of confusion, intact, to tell the tale, one day... – Dagelf Mar 31 '19 at 20:36

The theme is impressively responsive.

I give it a C minus for the aforementioned reason.


As expected from Stack overflow, they done something special on special day.

Today I whole day used 90's theme (although many times just scrolling mouse :) )

Great Job..

Congratulations to whole team :)


You guys forgot to change the page layout on the stack sites to use html <table>'s so that's it feels more retro


Shout out to the responsive design team at SO in the 90s. Was very much expecting a horizontal scroll bar :)

enter image description here

  • I see the downvote trolls still exist in the 90s – Mike Apr 1 '19 at 19:34

Won't load using Internet Explorer 5 on my Mac! (You're not alone, Netscape users)



Needs a "Punch the Monkey" banner ad.

(Or two, for the full computer-bogging experience.)

  1. Either your Netscape button is broken, AOL is too busy to take me to it, or my modem is too slow. But I got a 56k modem, so I know it's not a problem with my connection speed.

  2. I'm working on a program and running into problems. Do you have any resources for programming in HyperCard?

  3. What would really make this theme great would be a place to click to save 1 square foot of rainforest.

Thanks for the fun April Fool's Day/Unicorn/sparkles/time machine theme!


I think it should also have a lot of pictures of random cats.


Captain Marvel says hello. My Geocities page may or may not be jealous. The mouse pointer is sheer bloody genius and the only recommendation I would make for this page is MOAR FRAMES. FRAMES EVERYWHERE.

Oh, what's your AOL keyword? I might have some hours to use on there still and I need to change my status message.


Best thing i have seen so far

Best thing i have seen so far


I ain't even mad


It irks me more than it should that the 'birth of Stack Overflow' page that you linked to contains a reference to Jeff Atwood starting to "rack in the dough" rather than rake. I know it was 11 years ago, but can that be fixed...please?


I am really disappointed that you didn't put something better, like for example showing score in millions, so we all feel super1337 like mr skeet. Maybe an idea for next 1st April.


I am using Dark Reader to use my browser with a dark theme. I don't know about the rest of you, but this is the most annoying thing that has ever been done to me! It's like living in a nightmare!

I understand becoming old is depressing. We all would like to return to our youth, but is this the most constructive way to do it?

I also understand you Americans and probably two more countries around the world make a silly celebration on April 1st. For the rest of the world, it's just freaking annoying. Imagine how you'd feel if I entered your barn and stole your donkey on December 28th, because that's how I'm feeling right now. If you want to make this site international, don't misrepresent 90% of the world.

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    xkcd.com/1172 ... – cmaster - reinstate monica Apr 1 '19 at 11:15
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    Whatever the barn/donkey celebration is, I want in. I’m shopping for a barn and donkey on Amazon right now. I’ll expect you on 12/28. – Dan Bron Apr 1 '19 at 15:55
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    Is it really stealing them, or is it more of a donkey swap? Plush donkeys are ok right? We normally celebrate Regift or Return day on the 28th but this sounds fun. I wonder if RR day is actually related to this donkey thing. Maybe people loaded up their donkeys with ill-fitting sweaters and horrifyingly ugly vases and such before they were “stolen”? What a great way to have an answer for your mother-in-law when she asks after that lamp! Sorry it was stolen, so sad. – ColleenV parted ways Apr 1 '19 at 18:45
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    Wow, nothing like a bit of anti-American bigotry to get the juices flowing. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Apr 1 '19 at 19:30
  • Why is it bigotry? Just keep your local celebrations local, as everybody else does. For me, it's just a few days on which the site was virtually unusable for no reason. – David Apr 2 '19 at 6:52
  • "Imagine how you'd feel if I entered your barn and stole your donkey on December 28th, because that's how I'm feeling right now." You're country's lame. – user212646 Apr 2 '19 at 6:58
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    WP has a list of the countries that celebrate April Fools or a similar holiday. Turns out, most of Europe has such a tradition, and Latin America does something similar… oddly enough, on Dec 28. Is that actually what you're referring to? – Nathan Tuggy Apr 3 '19 at 0:58
  • @NathanTuggy Sure! – David Apr 3 '19 at 7:15
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