So, April Fools’ Day for 2011 has come and gone, but, that doesn’t mean we can’t look back and take a look at some of the pranks pulled this year.
Please note that this isn’t supposed to be an exhaustive list of every prank pulled this year. It’s instead a list of those I personally noticed and/or found particularly of note.
First of all, it’s worth noting that this is the first year I’ve made my own website “April Fools’ Compliant”, which essentially involved putting this GIF all over the page backgrounds on an infinite repeat, as well as a fake deletion tag on the Main Page, which contained a disguised link that would load a Rickroll in an iFrame.
In addition, this is the first year I participated in the English Wikipedia’s April Fools’ Day celebrations. Aside from participating in some of the fake Article for Deletion (AfD) debates, I also nominated the Universe for deletion per Plato’s Cave (here’s a link to the last revision of the AfD debate).
The English Wikipedia has also had a tradition since 2004 to put up an April Fools’ Main Page. How it works now is that strange articles and facts are selected for inclusion on the Main Page, and the entire page gets reworded in such a way that entries sound like they’re fake when they are actually factually true. You can see the general information page about the April Fools’ Main Pages here, and you can see the three versions of this year’s April Fools’ Main Page here: version 1, version 2, and version 3 (version 1 is shown at the start of the day, version 2 towards midday, and version 3 at the end of the day).
Finally, a summary of everything else that happened on Wikipedia on April Fools’ Day 2011 can be found here. Highlights include User:TenPoundHammer’s transformation into an otter, a Hummer, a hummingbird, a spider, and a swatted spider, the article on recursion’s redirection to recursion, the deletion debate over the deletion debate over the deletion debate (…) over the Articles for Deletion process (as one user put it, A F D C E P T I O N!), and the nomination of Google for deletion for being a hoax.
Elsewhere on the Internet, YouTube’s annual April Fools’ Prank was to time travel all the way back to the year 1911, rebranding itself as YouTube 1911. In addition to putting up the purported viral videos of 1911, a new “1911-ify” feature was introduced that, when activated, made the YouTube video being watched appear as if it was recorded with an ancient film camera (like those used to record the first silent films), and the audio replaced with a silent film piano soundtrack. Here’s YouTube’s blog post on the matter.
The xkcd webcomic also introduced xk3d on April Fools’ Day, which allows any xkcd comic to be displayed in 3D. Mouse movements caused the perspective of the comic to shift. The feature can still be accessed post-April Fools’ Day here, and you can contribute to the effort to make every comic 3D here.
On the subject of 3D, ThinkGeek has released De-3D Cinema Glasses, perfect for removing the annoying 3D from modern movies shown in theaters!
Wikitroid, the Metroid Wikia that I am an admin on, also did its first April Fools’ prank this year, although this is one I didn’t have much of a part in. The primary prank was to turn the webite into Goosepedia, a wiki dedicated to geese. The prank was inspired by my lolgoose, which in turn was also featured in the background of the new Goosepedia’s webpages. In addition, a pair of April Fools’ RfCs was created.
On the subject of RFCs, the IETF released three RFCs this April Fools’:
- RFC 5984: Increasing Throughput in IP Networks with ESP-Based Forwarding: ESPBasedForwarding
- RFC 6214: Adaptation of RFC 1149 for IPv6 (RFC 1149, also an April Fools’ Prank from a few years ago, concerns transmitting the Internet via carrier pigeon)
- RFC 6217: Regional Broadcast Using an Atmospheric Link Layer
The April Fools’ RFCs have been a tradition by the IETF ever since 1989, with the first April Fools’ Day RFC appearing in 1978.
Google’s April Fools’ prank this year was Gmail Motion, which would allow Gmail users to use body language and gestures to control their email inbox. Alas, it’s not an actual feature… at least not yet. Google also ran some additional pranks this year, which you can find in Wikipedia’s handy list.
And, to close out this post, here’s a list of honorable mentions: (Note that I may add things to this list as time goes on)
- The Metroid Database, a Metroid community, replaced their normal homepage with an article on the discovery of Metroid 64, a long-lost Metroid game for the Nintendo 64.
- Shinesparkers, another Metroid fan community (full disclosure: I’m a moderator on their forums) did a subtle modification of their normal page background image. Can you spot it in the screenshot to the right?
- Boing Boing‘s April Fools’ prank was a parody of the New York Times’s new paywall, asking people to buy a subscription after 25 pageviews.
- The freenode IRC network implemented new changes to make the #defocus channel a more productive environment.
- The Inhabitant New York City reports that a certain building’s insanely shiny facade sets fire to surrounding buildings. Added to list on April 3rd, 2011.
That’s it for this year! So, until next year….