About April Fool's

I'm intentionally not following what everyone else might be doing for April Fool's day, though I suspect many are focusing on a bit of levity amid the current global situation. If you're finding this post out of context, look up "news in 2020."

I will instead write a few thoughts on what has helped me sell a plausible practical joke while keeping it in good fun.

First of all, make the topic relevant and something that others might expect you to do. My past April Fool's post included:

I think these were mildly successful (one colleague flattered me by saying he thought the Lisp mediator was real!) because I've previously shared examples, good practices, and "fun" posts. These also followed a few trends popular at the time such as custom templating frameworks, "headless" CMS before the term became popular, and augmented reality interfaces.

After looking at plausibility for both the topic itself and whether you might post about it, I then try to avoid humor at the expense of individuals. I have been able to What seems to work well if you can joke along with a community you're a part of, in a way that either celebrates admirable aspects of your colleagues or is so silly no one should take offense.

See some of my posts that I've labeled under "humor." You can determine if they're actually funny, but most should be good-natured posts, appreciating community member contributions.

Apologies for the times I may have crossed the line. I believe I've fixed any particular issues, but feel free to let me know and I'll gladly fix, remove, or otherwise update any of those posts. One lesson I've learned is you don't know how things will be received until you actually start publishing. Community norms and expectations grow and evolve over time. It's good to follow, but it can take some practice to find your way in a given environment or community. 

Finally, and the main reason to avoid an April Fool's joke today, is I try to avoid topics that if taken seriously, could be misinterpreted or disappoint people. This is where it's good to avoid crying wolf on topics about negative or even positive results, expected deadlines, or unrealistic promises.

Being in a product role, I'm careful to avoid jokes about features, deadlines, or user feedback unless the context is quite clear. And even then, it's good to separate perhaps a valid observation (e.g. "customers keep asking for features that we have!") from the just-as-valid requests (e.g. they're asking because the existing features aren't clear).

In summary, I think I've done okay joking in a somewhat professional context by trying to be respectful while using plausible, yet sensitive topics. Stay safe, thanks for reading, and use humor as needed. We probably need a bit of fun for a while longer.

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