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April Foul-ups: Some Dos and Don'ts for April Fools Pranks



Ah April Fools Day. A time for merriment and silliness. Like Halloween, it's one of those days cordoned off for behavior that would normally be considered awkward or unusual. But, as often happens on these normalcy-flaunting holidays, people mess up. The social mores and rules are poorly defined, and people often rush to do something silly and step over the line. For today's meandering musing post, I'd like to discuss some things that make a good--or bad--April Fools prank.


The first thing to remember about April Fools pranks is that they should not disrupt the normal operation of your business/site/whatever. Presenting fake news on a news website, watermarking images on an image website, or disrupting/impeding users in any way is not a good idea. April Fools pranks should not be malicious in nature. They shouldn't be destructive or inconvenient or mean-spirited. FIMfic ran into this problem a few years ago: they announced they were banning HiE and people were appropriately annoyed. Derpibooru made a similar mistake this year.


The next thing to remember is that restraint is important. Making too many pranks not only makes each one less funny, it also increases the chances that each one may be taken seriously. Again, see FIMfic's botched April Fools day: not only did they make the aforementioned announcement, they also had 2 other joke posts from site reviewers and the FIMfic gold thing. Derpibooru not only watermarked their images this year, but also changed all their spoiler images to the same "premium content" image. Sometimes this can be a result of multiple subgroups within a community each doing their own thing, of course, but not always.


The final thing to remember is that it is okay not to do anything for April Fools. A good prank should not be rushed or poorly planned. Likewise, some things and services simply do not lend themselves to April Fools pranks. If you can't come up with a good one, then don't force something out. This can also heighten impact for later years: after all, if you skip doing a prank one year, then the next one will be less expected.


So what are some good examples of pranks that follow these ideas? A personal favorite prank of mine was Netflix's a few years ago: they replaced several of their usual categorical suggestions (like "Comedy", "Inspirational Documentaries", etc.) with some rather...specific ones


What were some April Fools pranks that you found particularly memorable? And were they memorable because they were funny, or because they were bad/inconvenient/overdone?


I was going to link to a Wall Street Journal article about Google and Yahoo messing up their April Fools pranks this year, but apparently it's now hidden behind a paywall. So have a gif instead, I guess;


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