Easter Eggs in WordPress: What’s There to Get Eggs-Cited About?

What happened to Easter eggs in WordPress? Have they disappeared forever?

Since The Matrix Has You Easter egg surprised (and freaked out…) users in WordPress 2.6, there hasn’t been a single hidden feature in more than four years. That’s 13 versions of WordPress.

Easter eggs are fun to discover and provide a cheeky outlet for developers who have put a lot of time and work into a program and want to leave something of themselves behind. Easter eggs are silly and don’t often make sense, but mostly it’s fun finding one yourself and sharing it before your friends have stumbled across it.

Easter bunnies
Where are the Easter eggs in WordPress?

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the need for a writing style guide for core. In a recent WP Shout post, WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg poo-pooed the idea, saying, “WP has always been opinionated software with a lot of personality. Every year or two people try to neuter it, remove a bit of its soul, and sometimes it gets through.”

That said, isn’t it sad that Easter eggs seem to have disappeared from WordPress? Is the WordPress personality Mullenweg jumped in to defend slowly being – as he put it – “neutered?”

Or are Easter eggs annoying and confusing for users who don’t understand what they are? Do Easter eggs just provide more work for developers who feel the need to remove them to prevent users finding them?

Should there be Easter eggs in future versions of WordPress? Have your say in our poll.

The Tradition of Easter Eggs in Software

Easter eggs – named after the Easter tradition of hiding chocolate eggs for children to find – have been part of software for 35 years.

The story goes that in the early days of software development, the identities of programmers were jealously guarded because software studios didn’t want their staff to gain celebrity status and eclipse the brands they had carefully created.

At the time, Warren Robinett, a programmer for Atari, didn’t exactly appreciate the lack of acknowledgement for his work. After failing to get his name into the manual for the Atari 2600 game Adventure, he snuck his name into the game itself.

The Matrix Has You

This Matrix-inspired Easter egg appeared when a user tried to compare two versions of the same revision in the post editor.

While the Easter egg was intended as a light-hearted bit of fun, there were some site admins who weren’t all that amused and sought out ways to remove it.

The Disable The Matrix Has Your plugin soon appeared.

In response to a Trac ticket seeking to remove the hidden feature, Mullenweg commented, “Gotta have a little soul” and “This ticket is a parody of every default argument people make in WordPress development.”

Lead core developer Andrew Nacin dismissed claims the Easter egg was unprofessional and refused to remove it from core, saying many big companies included easter eggs in their software.

If you haven’t seen the Matrix Easter egg, check out Victor Font’s video.

Adding Your Own Easter Eggs to WordPress

The Konami Easter Egg plugin allows you to add an Easter egg to your site and create a custom password to access the secret.

Only people who know the secret code will see your message. By default, the code is the classic Konami cheat code (up up down down left right left right b a enter) but you can change it to anything you like.

You can also customize the css to change the colors on your hidden page.

Easter Eggs for Developers

Some would argue an Easter egg still exists in WordPress, though it’s really more a developer’s shortcut tool.

If you go to http://example.com/wp-admin/options.php?option_group_id=all (replacing “example” with your site), you’ll be taken to a hidden page in your WordPress backend with lots of extra juicy options.

Should we have Easter eggs in WordPress?

Easter eggs aren’t as popular as they once were. Back in 2009 there were four updated plugins that allowed you to add Easter eggs to your site – Customizable Konami Code, WP Cornify, WP-Konami and Konami Easter Egg. Only Konami Easter Egg has been updated in the past two years.

So what do you think? Should we have Easter eggs in WordPress? Tell us below and don’t forget to vote in the poll.

Image credits: James Nash.