To simplify things, years in the headers will link to the documentation for all pranks that year. The Signpost coverage – where available – will be linked in the text highlighting some of the best or most controversial pranks. Since the early days of Wikipedia tended to have the biggest pranks, the second half will cover rather more years.
We didn't have The Signpost to document Wikipedia's first April Fools, and it was fairly tame compared to later years: A proposal to delete the Main Page, an attempt to block localhost for vandalism, and other things mentioned in joking that feel like things that would later happen. We did get one rather good news item on our main page:
...but it was shortlived, and compared to what was to come....
While having an Arbitration Committee was controversial in 2005, publishing a blatant hoax as featured article on the main page and announcing Wikipedia's imminent takeover by Britannica was apparently fine and dandy. And things got more and more goofy as the day went on:
Just some of what today we would consider outright vandalism that struck that day. Check out the tragic deaths right next to blatant hoaxes!
Even the interface changed. The text you clicked on to "edit this page" was replaced with "vandalise this page". And then later...
Things got weirder from there.
Our coverage attempts to dig through this chaos. An attempt to set rules was put in place, and the original plan for this year – just using a silly article that sounded fake, but was actually real – would be used in later years, instead of inventing fancy mediæval toilet paper holders.
More user interface shenanigans: the "delete" tab became "baleeted". Cyde changed "My watchlist" to "Stalked pages", and was blocked accordingly. Drini (later renamed Magister Mathematicae) wasn't blocked for his unprotection of the main page, though.
I'd say the meanest prank, however, was adding this to the community bulletin board:
Paid editing for all?
Our coverage is here.
The first year The Signpost missed out on any coverage. The big innovation this year was finally implementing Raul's idea from 2005 for Today's featured article:
George Washington was an early inventor of instant coffee, and worked to ensure a full supply to soldiers fighting at the front. Early on, his campaign was based in Brooklyn, but later he crossed into New Jersey toward a more profitable position. In the countryside, he demonstrated a love of wild creatures, and was often seen with a bird or a monkey on his shoulder. Washington's choice beverage was taken up by the soldiers for its psychoactive properties, even though it tasted terrible. Some thought his brewed powder could even remedy the chemical weapons then in use. But, despite this, Washington failed in his first bid for the Presidency, as papers were filed too late, and the nominator forgot to tell him about it. (more...)
Meanwhile, we rescinded the payments from last year. Recent changes got a new notice:
The Wikimedia Foundation has decided there is no other option at the present than to charge people to edit the English Wikipedia.
"For too long people have been free to hack this website. It's about time they paid" states Theresa Knott the new funding officer. "Allowing free access to all simply encourages vandalism. By asking for a quid an edit we stop kids vandalising, spammers spamming and edit warriors warrioring " Minor edits will naturally be cheaper, although the exact pricing details have not yet been fully worked out. Debate on this is welcome.
All users should register their credit card at Wikipedia:Credit Card Registration by noon on 1.4.07. Otherwise their editing privileges will be suspended. Members of the cabel are, of course, exempt.
Honestly, the did you know section really knocked it out of the park this year:
(Aside: this is one of the illustrations in Wiener sausage.
A short, fat Wiener sausage in 2 dimensions
...That's a wiener, alright.)
The featured article was Ima Hogg, one of those people who probably hated her parents a bit for their naming choices. To quote the article: She endeavored to downplay her unusual name by signing her first name illegibly and having her stationery printed with "I. Hogg" or "Miss Hogg".
Today's featured article: "The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) is a world-renowned institution dedicated to showcasing the finest art acquired from Boston-area refuse. The museum started in a pile of trash in 1994, in a serendipitous moment when an antiques dealer came across a painting of astonishing power and compositional incompetence that had been tragically discarded."
Other jokes include a to close English Wikipedia, and the dark Terminal Event Management Policy, about what to do if the world was ending on Wikipedia, particularly useful as Skynet was approved to begin operations.
The page that collects jokes also has this hilarious, but undocumented screenshot:
More next issue!