April 2nd, 2005


(no subject)

I'm not usually one to pull April Fools day pranks, but yesterday I was inspired, and had a handy venue with thousands of victims to make the effort worthwhile. The pranks have been mostly positively described by the victims as, eg. "brilliant and funny", which I think makes it a complete success. My prank was on the players of Vampires. There were four different variants, each player getting only one.

The first, most subtle, and my personal favourite, was the appearance of having logged in as me instead of as themself. All the links on the page would immediately return the user to their usual page, with "April Fool" in huge letters at the top.

The others were each a block of text with a single link, in which the link would go to the same "April Fool" page which was otherwise normality. The texts of those were:
Due to an excess of cheating by a few unscrupulous parties, resulting in unexpectedly high bandwidth costs, the game will be unavailable for the next two weeks. Please click here for full details.

The server previously at this location has been siezed by the IRS in connection with necessary inquiries into a tax audit. The publicly available details of the ongoing inquiry can be found at http://www.irs.gov/inquiry/8172341 (note - this URL is nonsense, and seized was misspelt deliberately for authenticity.)

Due to a hard-drive crash, approximately 28% of the database has been irreparably damaged, meaning many vampires will unfortunately have to start again from scratch. Click here to see whether yours is one of the affected. Affected players who have donated will, of course, be reinstated with the powers they had from donating.
My view of April Fools pranks is that they should be more funny than cruel. While some of these are slightly cruel (MMORPG-players will realise that "your character/game is gone" is cruel; other people may not understand), I think (and seem to be vindicated by the amusement of the victims) that this was balanced by the fact that the link in each immediately revealed the prank. Five seconds of panic immediately soothed is more funny than cruel. Also a consideration, on which grounds I rejected some of my similar prank ideas, is that it's much meaner to say "you have something new and great! No you don't, april fool!" than to say "something horrible and implausible has happened! No it hasn't, april fool!" So I avoided any 'nice' pranks, except the illicit-nice of having logged in as the superuser (only 'nice' for people who would cheat, who deserve a meaner prank).

So, a successful and enjoyable April Fools prank all round. Even so, in future I think I'll go back to not bothering.