The Signpost

From the archives

April Fools' through the ages

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.

2004: Let's delete the main page!

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:

Santa Claus' elves go on strike at the North Pole, they threaten that if talks don't resume by noon EST, they will become elf-employed.

...but it was shortlived, and compared to what was to come....

2005: Britannica takes over Wikipedia, fake articles get flushed down the loo.

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:

Even the interface changed. The text you clicked on to "edit this page" was replaced with "vandalise this page". And then later...

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.

2006: The last hurrah of screwing with the interface; paid editing for all

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:

  • Special Notice: Due to generous donations by several large corporations, Wikipedia can now afford to pay editors. All editors with over 1000 edits are elible to apply. For details on how to register for the payroll, CLICK HERE.

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:

Washington at war

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...)

Recently featured: New CarissaIvan Alexander of BulgariaCleveland

Meanwhile, we rescinded the payments from last year. Recent changes got a new notice:

The Wikimedia foundation

Wikipedia Announcement

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.

...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".

Featured picture candidate "800 x enlargement of a pixel"

Six administrators were blocked this year, one for making Wikipedia's tagline " "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia administer [sic] by people with a stick up their lavender passageway". Lovely.

Besides the above-linked article, we also had a short history of April Fools' on Wikipedia.

Finally, my favourite joke nomination at featured picture candidates, "800 x enlargement of a pixel"

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:

The picture of the day demonstrated just how much beauty standards change

We briefly covered things, but, honestly, the only things worth speaking about is the main page fun. The article was wife selling, which is kind of boring, but DYK once again ruled the roost:

Termitaradus mitnicki fossilized in amber

Adult-sized wooden cradle with "Henpeck'd Club's peace box" written on the side

A red Škoda Fabia II car.

Ruth Belville, also known as the "Greenwich Time Lady", who made money selling people the time

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