Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Suggest HN: No April Fools this year
115 points by bryanrasmussen 3 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 87 comments
As you get near April Fools, and need to deploy your prank pages, perhaps reconsider doing it. As a general rule April Fools has become less popular on the web the more widespread it has become, and some people might take levity badly given the current world situation - I myself am among the party of people who think everything is open to mockery, but only if the jokes are good. Most April Fools pranks are tedious.

Obviously you may not have the ultimate say in what pranks are to be played at your company on the world, but perhaps you can push back on them and point out they might not be as well received as in years past.

I find this a mean-spirited, depressing and (ironically) tone-deaf idea.

1. People need humour in challenging moments 2. Black comedy and gallows humour can lift the spirit at even the worst of times 3. As much of the northern hemisphere enters spring we could collectively do with a fillip to jolt us into a more optimistic mindset

The only value in this proposal I see is that if you are working on a tedious April Fools prank then yes you should drop it, which is true whatever year we are in.

I agree with you, but in agreement with OP, April Fool jokes just aren't funny. They're inherently mean. You can be funny without tricking someone, and everyone is already on an emotional knifepoint at the moment.

What about easter-egg style April Fools' like Google's 8-bit maps? Not an ounce of meanness https://maps.googleblog.com/2012/03/begin-your-quest-with-go...

Fair enough, good ones can exist. But every year April 1st becomes such a barrage of PR stunts, mostly not of that quality, that I'd rather companies didn't waste the resource.

I definitely agree there is typically a lot of chaff to sort through.

> I agree with you, but in agreement with OP, April Fool jokes just aren't funny. They're inherently mean.

This entire debate is mostly going to be heavy on the subjective and is largely pointless accordingly. It's opinion tossing, people hoping their opinion somehow magically weighs more.

I like pizza. No, pizza sucks, it's too hot. Pizza isn't hot enough. Only cold pizza is good. No all pizza is inherently evil. Pizza is hand delivered by the saints. Only pizza with pineapple is good. Pizza with pineapple is the worst thing ever.

Seinfeld sucks, he isn't funny at all. Seinfeld is a god.

The only people that think April Fools jokes are funny are the ones performing them, or PR departments. I have no idea what sort of pizza that would be, but I don't think it's that subjective.

All the people disagreeing with OP in this thread are misreading them as wanting to somehow ban jokes and humour.

I agree. I haven’t found a single April fools prank funny in years. It’s just an annoying day where even more fake news is passed of as fact only this time tolerated by all because lols. In the past few years I’ve tried to simply stay offline for the day.

Joke all you like if that helps you stay sane through the pandemic, but leave those who don’t wish to out of it and don’t play pranks on people.

While they rarely hit the mark being funny, I still find that AF projects can be fun, and the ones by bigger companies don't seriously intend to prank people beyond the standard format of passing off creative writing in a factual format.

Sure, and many of the ones like Google’s, which are just fun things you wouldn’t normally expect, but aren’t so much pranks or anything, are totally ok. It’s the pranks, fake news and what not that’s not amusing or funny.

The traditional april fool’s joke (on the internet) is fundamentally satire, which is notoriously hard to do well. It needs to be something plausible enough to get people to start reading, but be absurd enough that people know it’s not real by the end without being told.

It's especially hard to do well when it's forced through the filter of a PR team. It's not humor for humor's sake, it's humor to improve a brand. I don't think this is impossible to do well, just very rarely done in practice.

Like Geico.

Yeah, we need to get rid of "jokes" that mislead people, mock them, or otherwise hurt or disadvantage people. Especially since fake news and misinformation has become a serious problem online. Jokes that are actually fun are great. But those don't need to be restricted to April Fools either.


Issue with April's Fools jokes are that many of those aren't funny. Some are trying too hard, some are just company-ads hoping to "go viral".

Sometimes there are good ones, but 90% are not.

Humor is subjective.

Seems much more sad and dreary to be the kind of person who can only find humour when punching down.

I kinda hate April fools in any case. I'd be up for banning it indefinitely going forward.


I totally agree with your second sentence. Nobody's saying "ban jokes, I hate humour". Just this specific type of joke, at this specific point in time.

For many, recent April Fools Day "pranks" come across as just another megacorp advertising opportunity. I don't personally find it funny, or even pleasant. It's forced...like someone's putting it on their promo packet as evidence of community service or something.

So yeah, I'm jaded, but that said I don't want to be a grouch about it (except for here, for argument's sake). If people enjoy it, then I'm cool with quietly simmering.

Hardly agree. I suppose if you're a patient or one of your family is, there's no room for stupid jokes that might make them feel better such as "developed a working vaccine" only to know it was a joke and they'll feel even more depressing than before.

I've always hated April fool's as nothing seems to be funny but only for those who pull it off. I tend to "turn off" the internet on the day just to avoid feeling I've wasted time.

> As a general rule April Fools has become less popular on the web the more widespread it has become

Agree. Most are somewhere between tedious and boring. “Oh look, we changed our company name to [something amusing only to a pencil pusher]. Aren’t we funny. Buy our products.”

> some people might take levity badly given the current world situation

Disagree and fuck them. The last thing we need is doom and gloom [0]. Few situations ought to be handled with solemnity. Including funerals. We gain nothing and only make it worse. What we do need is levity. Some light-heartedness.

[0] Music genres of that name are encouraged though

edited for impact

As I said some people would take levity badly, I don't necessarily agree with them, but there are people who often say things are too serious to joke about or during.

on edit: submitted before your edit.

Things you shouldn't joke about are one thing. But during? Sure, there are situations that you shouldn't joke during... for a few hours up to maybe a day or two max. During a weeks or months long situation, jokes can't and shouldn't be stopped.

Why do you care what people like that say? Especially so if you say you don't agree with them.

I dislike April Fools days jokes, basically it makes everything worthless for the internet that day and some of it worthless the day after. So I would like to have people not do it.

In my experience from previous years lots of people on HN seem to feel the same way because there are always all these pranks, and people complaining that they're not very funny.

So I would like people not to put out these stupid jokes.

One thing that might help people to decide not to make the pranks is the observation that some people would find them offensive, given that the purpose of these pranks are essentially marketing exercises.

As for why I would care what people say, I care to a minimal extent and tolerate what I see as humorless behavior in the same way that while they might say that was inappropriate when I make a joke I would like them to tolerate my viewpoint. Thus if I think something might be offensive to some people in a context I consider if it is really funny before saying it.

And then I come on HN and laboriously explain my reasoning for every little bit of politeness I practice because that's just the kind of guy I am.

A lot of the clichés we use don't apply any more pencil pusher is one of them

And yet you understood what I meant.

I'm not sure I did -- a pencil pusher is an accountant and they don't even push pencils any more

Hard disagree. We need levity now more than ever as we stare into the abyss, and there has been a growing trend to be less whimsical and more serious in hackerdom/technology business in general over the last few decades (eg the MSFT blanket easter egg ban).

Hoist the jolly roger, and give me your best jokes ever this year.

PS: DEFCON is cancelled

Just avoid COVID-19 cure "jokes"

And no "quarantine is over" type stuff.

Serious question, how are people supposed to tell the difference for this one between a joke and a certain politician's utterings or the demands of ruthless big-corp leaders?

Critical thinking?

I know it's a foreign concept but I'm sure we can import someone to teach us.

Maybe Trump’s “this will be over by Easter” is a setup for an epic April Fool’s Joke.

His entire handling of the crisis is a massive fool's joke.

Are we supposed to pause comedy until this virus is over? Potentially we could still be dealing with this till Christmas. Hell, give it another year for people to begin to come to terms with the misery surrounding the virus. When shall we start comedy again?

On the other hand, I want to see even more jokes. Yes, the situation is crap, so even more the need to raise everybody's spirits. If you don't want to see jokes, log off for a day, some insane Doctors said it won't actually kill you.

I would suggest that jokes that lessen the current virus or deaths surrounding it would be in poor taste, but each to their own. I personally won't be making morbid jokes, but I'm not going to fetch the pitch forks out of the garage to go seek revenge from anybody who does.

The best April Fools joke I can remember was an anti-joke, when Google announced Gmail on the 1st of April. They were promising what were then unbelievably generous allowances and no one could agree on whether they were serious or not.

GMail offered 1000MB of storage on launch. Their main competitors Yahoo! and Hotmail offered 10MB.


For me, a former Perl hacker, the Parrot announcement represents the best April Fool's joke.


The official Perl.com site announced Perl and Python were going to merge so you could run both languages in the same interpreter. In itself that was quite amusing, but the best part is that the Raku project actually adopted the name for their VM because it could actually do that, and became https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parrot_virtual_machine, so what started out as a proper joke turned out to be real.

parrot VM: initially a joke until someone twigged that a dynamic-lang runtime to compete with .Net & JRE wasn't so absurd.

Personally I feel I am desperate for some humour in the current climate. I'm going into my birthday tomorrow isolated and in a few days would greatly appreciate a chuckle. Go for it.

Happy birthday buddy! Here's a joke for you:

> Two elephants were skydiving

> and suddenly one gets a

> Cinnabon bun in the eye.

I have to admit this doesn't seem very funny at all, but someone told me this and I couldn't stop laughing. Then again, I was twelve at the time. :o)

Hope you have a great birthday, despite the times!

I really don't get it.... My three favourite jokes from when I was twelve

* What is E.T. short for? Because he has little legs * How do you titilate and ocelot? Oscillate it's tit a lot. * What is Batman's favourite food? Toast - still don't get why that is funny but even now I laugh.

Thanks for reaching out!

Haha I don't get it either. I also have no idea why but the Batman one cracked me up as well. Maybe I'm wired wrong.. :o)

Thanks for the laugh!

I don't get it ?

Haha man neither do I, but it still cracks me up. I think maybe I'm laughing at my twelve year old self laughing at a joke I didn't understand then either, but still laughed till I cried.

It may well just have been a friend saying random nonsense, I have no idea.

Want to make a Zoom meeting for your birthday? You can celebrate for 48 hours across all time zones!

Wow this sounds tempting. So far I have three friends who are planning a beer and Factorio session - they have even posted beer...

Happy birthday!

Good rule of thumb, is April fools is funny, only if the recipient laughs with you afterwards.

Spreading misinformation is not funny. Making others miserable is not funny. Schadenfraude is not funny.

We need levity and laughter more than ever. Doing it well is where the dividing line is. I'd suggest do it well, or don't do it at all.

For me, what makes a good online April fool's joke is the gestalt switch, where I first believe it, then I read it with increasing incredulity, and then I remember that it's April 1st.


Come on! Just don't make distasteful or obviously bad jokes, otherwise it's fine, welcome even.

I agree. I think this comment sums up how I feel: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7609289

> I agree with what people have already said, but I think there's one more point to add: people usually over-estimate how funny their own comments are. We have a tendency to think, "This idea of mine is hilarious! And different! Surely this witticism is the exception." And we are usually wrong. When you have N people all doing that, there's a lot of noise.

> I try to gently point this out to people who complain when their attempt at humor has been downvoted by the community. It's not that we don't like humor. We just don't like banal attempts at humor, which becomes noise. Or, put in a less charitable fashion, "You're not as funny as you think you are."

Kind of agree. No, fuck people who can't handle jokes, but April fool's is rarely jokes. They're just deliberate humiliations.

Iow: don't do jokes where the punchline is "look how fucking stupid you are for believing what I said", which is most April fool's jokes.

Isn’t all of The Onion and what Colbert used to be about? In fact, isn’t that all satire — bitingly critical mockery?

Still not humiliations.

That's true, it's not humiliating when you aren't being satirized or mocked by an Onion or Colbert report.

Cmon it’s the most magnificent of corporate jokiness times. Always funny even when it’s not a global disaster. How can you bring down such a rich tradition in which corporations aim only to bring some light to your day?

Organized, planned, workshopped humor on an industrial scale!! What Ho!

> Most April Fools pranks are tedious.

Totally agree. Also the problem with most April Fools events online is that unless you spend 30 minutes scrutinising the page, it's not apparent that it's a joke or fake. A bad joke is one that no-one gets. It doesn't make you clever to have outwitted your readers, just arrogant.

Let's face it, in these trying times, there's enough fools online and in the media trying to screw our lives up, lets not be part of that.

Most? That's a shame. The ones notable enough for me to remember are all ridiculous fake product launches, where it's really obvious that they're not serious (though sometimes it does exist in some form, which just makes it better).

Pranks are difficult to do right. They easily can be experienced as frustrating, aggressive or plain idiotic by the receiver while the giver thinks it's totally hilarious. It requires a lot of empathy to create a good prank that doesn't hurt anyone especially when it's experienced online, ie. without being able to interact with a "WTH man?! - Sorry, tried to prank you but it misfired. You OK?"

In the good pranks category, I'm especially fond of new product announcements when it's clear it's a joke like Amazon shipping authors directly or the Google's "Clean screen" app. They are often refreshing and witty and it's just what I want from a good joke. And it's free positive marketing if done right. (Just don't announce your company bankruptcy, like Elon Musk.)

I'm still holding to my idea of swapping a font with https://hellveticafont.com/ for a day. I'll just make sure it's not obstructive and can easily be disabled.

Repurpose the day for poking fun at King Donald, ordering the tide of Covid-19 to recede! You're fired!


It’s almost like humor is subjective. Yes, many people suck at it and do it in wrong or counterproductive ways, especially with the rise of “prank” YouTube channels and the like which view embarrassing people as the end goal.

But there are other ones that I have found genuinely amusing and funny. The list of Google’s April fools pranks/features has some real gems - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Google_April_Fools

Some of them even lead to products or other real features down the line (like the 2014 Pokemon google maps explorer, which went on to become Pokemon Go).

Yeah, some jokes miss the mark for me, but I get that my sense of humor isn’t universal, and frankly I think a bit of levity is important for us right now as individual and as a culture.

April Fools among people with a mutual understanding of each other is levity.

April Fools as practiced on the internet and directed at strangers is bullshit on a good day and a headache on a bad one.

I've got enough bullshit to deal with.

I 100% agree with not doing April fools. Humor is important; jokes work with twisted semantics and surprise. April Fool's websites have neither and just render the web useless for a day.

If anyone is looking for some good humor during this time beyond an ice cream bar, please check out the latest edition of Techloaf and MASH THAT LIKE BATON.


April fools can be very fun. My mom convinced my two younger brothers once they were moving to Spain and would leave the house in our country to be run by them. They called friends and family, completely forgot it was April 1st.

On the other hand I have yet to encounter a coporate HR approved April Fools that have me a laugh.

I didn't put this into the text field but this might be relevant https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/31/15076050/april-fools-day-...

There are creative positive pranks though, that can give people a boost or atleast a smile.

I like the Michael Carbonaro/Just For Laugh Gags variety. That kind of positive humor and creativity is helpful during crisis. You can see the effect it has on people in the youtube comments.

"I myself am among the party of people who think everything is open to mockery, but only if the jokes are good."

This is the entire issue, as with evil people, no people ever find themselves to be bad jokers, or evil.

There’s no such thing as an appropriate joke. That’s why it’s called a joke.

> Most April Fools pranks are tedious.

Reddit usually nails it with their April Fools events. I would hate to see that lost because we are supposed to be dark and gloomy in times of crisis.

Anyone else remember "too soon" when it comes to making jokes?

Maybe we are seeing "it's never going to not be soon, don't even think of it"

HN doesn't do much in the way of humour anyway.

Yeah it is an instant recipe for being downvoted. :-(

As it should. Empty comments posted for the giggles of author (and maybe a few others) would just add too much spam. Look at what reddit grew into, you have templates of comments and meta comments everywhere, very low quality content.

An appropriate HN comment: "Shouldn't that be 'April Fool's day"? ... [long thread about whether singular or plural]

Reddit still has plenty of high quality content, even with the jokes and meta-commentary. And much of the humorless content on HN isn't exactly high quality.

Indeed, the humorlessness of this place tends to encourage tedious pedantry and vindictive sniping.

Totally agree. I feel its too hard to strike a balance between the two.

I like humor, it's just especially rare to see it here. We put up with plenty of other stuff that I consider spam but is clearly of interest to others here.

> some people might take levity badly given the current world situation

Fuck this attitude. Just yesterday I joked in a comment on Youtube about the quality of James May's video for reminding people to stay at home. I wrote

"James May shamelessly reused the footage he recorded during the Spanish Flu pandemic".

6600 people liked the comment, it was by far the most liked comment on that video, until suddenly Youtube decided it was inappropriate and the comment was no longer displayed. Who are they to decide what people are allowed to find funny?

That's bizarre. It seems like a completely harmless joke.

Yes, and I still think this is hilariously funny. My guess is that Youtube currently filters all comments that contains coronavirus and related subjects. And to be honest, there are some truly stupid, awful and potentially harmful comments. I cannot imagine the comments are filtered manually.

But you put us also in contsant mourn mode where nobody can even relax a bit with this situation.

I'd rather have April fools than virtue signalling

Dude look how virtuous we are, we avoid making a joke because there's a virus around. We take everything very seriously. Please buy our products

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact