Should Easter Eggs In WordPress Be Removed?

Once again, the discussion of WordPress and Easter eggs has popped up on the WP-Hackers mailing list. This time, it was a story shared by Eric Mann regarding a client of his who thought their website was hacked after accidentally triggering the Easter egg where you compare a revision to itself. The question Eric asked was whether or not there was a way he could turn it off to shelter clients from experiencing that behaviour. The discussion then turned into the best way to turn off Easter eggs in WordPress either through a define via the WP-Config file or an EasterEggs.php file but there was also a solution using Javascript that was shared later on in the thread.

After reading the discussion I always find it hilarious imagining someone stumbling across the Matrix Has You Easter Egg and then freaking out as if their site had been hacked. But after giving it some thought, I think this is one of those Easter Eggs that is too easily accessible for common folks to trigger. If people think there is an ANY key on a keyboard, it’s quite possible then to think this Easter Egg scares people. Over the course of the past year, the discussion of WordPress and Easter Eggs, more specifically the Matrix one has been discussed multiple times, each without a solution.

I don’t want to see Easter Eggs in WordPress disappear but I also don’t want end users accidentally doing something that causes them to flip out. I think the fun involved with the Matrix Easter egg has run its course and the revision compared against itself should instead show a warning or an error. So with that, I have a poll question for you to vote on. I’m also interested in your comments regarding WordPress and the Easter Egg situation.

[poll id=”37″]

10 responses to “Should Easter Eggs In WordPress Be Removed?”

  1. If they have to ‘go’, just make it easy to disable (or make them all “up down left right a b select start”).

    That said, even Microsoft Office has easter eggs — — And I actually had a coworker freak out when he did that (he was trying to document some code, we ended up going for ‘foobar = rand()’ and that stopped it). Everything has easter eggs and they’re easier to trip when you’re a newbie than any other time (unless you’re a bored bank worker stuck in the office on Christmas day….)

    I don’t see it as unprofessional at all. And I bet that guy never makes the same mistake again. AND the tech has a great story to win drinks with at the bar.

  2. I’ll always enjoy Easter eggs … I’m actually disappointed that I haven’t found more of them in WordPress. Still, I know if I ever set up a blog for my parents (for example) I’d want to disable any that they might accidentally find.

    Certain demographics will never really understand an Easter egg. Whether it scares them (because it looks like a hack) or distracts them (i.e. the Facebook Contra code) I know just the presence of an Easter egg would be upsetting. Easter eggs that animate and display a self-destruct countdown are entertaining to those of us in the know, but they utterly fail the “would my parents understand this” test.

    I also don’t see the feature as unprofessional, but it can definitely be confusing to new/infrequent WordPress users.

  3. It was said on the list, but I think the problem with the revision comparison is that it’s rather easy to stumble upon. Most easter eggs require some sort of complex operation (Konami code, whatever) to trigger them. Anyhow, what was said is that this shouldn’t really be an easter egg trigger, it should be an error trigger. I don’t think the uproar would be periodically happening if it was something that required more effort on the part of the user to make it happen (i.e. they basically should need to go seek it out, not have it happen while they were randomly trying to do something).

  4. I was to give the Office example too. Easter eggs should NOT be removed. It’s a completely known fact now that every software has easter eggs, and there is no reason to remove that little fun from the coding work.

    This said, I’m pretty sure easter eggs will never be removed and there won’t be on option to turn them off. Laying these is part of the developer’s job :) People complaining that it’s unprofessional should be more professional themselves. It’s the responsibility of someone who does an install for a client to remove easter eggs if they want to. Just like they will remove hello dolly, install needed stuff, etc.

  5. @eddiemoya – Most software I’ve seen have some easter eggs somewhere. Some are harder to trip than others. Microsoft’s are the only one’s I remember off the cuff and without violating my NDA (bank software).

    @Eric Mann – The “would my parents understand” defense becomes less and less valid, the … well not the younger, but the more tech savvy perhaps, parents get. Cultural shift.

  6. I think the Easter eggs should be revamped periodically. That Matrix one is getting a bit old now.

    Something in the wp-config.php file to disable them would make sense IMO, but I certainly .
    wouldn’t want to see them totally gone. That would be lame.

  7. Just a note: I voted “yes” because that is my preference. However, I know that my preference will never be implemented, and would equally and perfectly happy with an easy way to disable easter eggs.

    Also, I disagree with the argumentum ad microsofium on principle (it’s okay to trash Microsoft – except when we want to use them to justify our own behavior?), but even if using Microsoft as a justifiable argument in favor of easter eggs, the MS ones can only be accessed by user input that is so deliberately complex and arcane as to be utterly impossible to stumble upon.

    Also, if we’re going to emulate Microsoft, at least make the easter eggs mildly entertaining (e.g. displaying random quotes from the capital-P-dangit spoof website?), or useful (e.g. a list or other display of core contributors?).


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