Happy April Fools day

We celebrated April Fools Day with a little prank:   views on your presentations have an extra two zeros on them. We hope you find this funny. Your views will be rolled back to normal in a few hours.

You can see tweets about this prank on twitter … we asked people to mark their tweets with #bestofslideshare in an email we sent out.

We sincerely apologize if we annoyed you … we notice from the reactions on twitter that some people are not amused.

Update: We’ve always loved our users and will continue to do so in future, the joke notwithstanding. If our prank upset you, we’re sorry.

Update Again: Actual view counts have now been restored. Its all over and back to normal!

Please check out SlideShare CEO’s follow-up post : Lessons learned from an April Fool’s prank

90 Responses to “Happy April Fools day”

  1. Dave Ross

    Ok, two extra zeros, fine. It was cute.

    So who the heck viewed my presentation eight *hundred* times? :)

  2. Cheryl Smith

    Well, I just wrote a great post talking about how awesome you are and how you get it.

    I’m a fan with a sense of humor. And PMS. Ask me next week. :-)

  3. Sean Nash

    Wow. People…

    Get a life. Relax. It’s one joke…
    and it was played on NATIONAL JOKE DAY.

    Quit being such a sissy because you are so vain you fell for the fact that your sucktastic presentation could even anywhere approach those numbers.

    Go lay down. Get some rest. When you wake up… smile. Your brain will feel better.
    ;-)

    Sean

  4. Rashmi

    @DaveCross Ah, I did not know that. (but also have not had enough coffee. Its early here :-) )

    @Charlie I completely understand, this messes with people. And they put serious stuff on SlideShare. We will keep this in mind in the future.

  5. Eduardo Bregaida

    Hi eduardo.bregaida,

    We’ve noticed that your slideshow on SlideShare has been getting a LOT of views in the last 24 hours. Great job … you must be doing something right. ;-)

    Why don’t you tweet or blog this? Use the hashtag #bestofslideshare so we can track the conversation.

    Congratulations,
    -SlideShare Team

    Hauhauahuahauhauha Very Good
    @bregaida

  6. Miles

    Rashmi (we met at Web Directions) and team; I understand the intent, but it didn’t work so well. I tweeted that I got the email, and then realised I got done by a weird joke, and now just feel embarrassed. :(

  7. Rashmi

    @Miles I understand, and honestly, I wish we had better anticipated how this would make people feel. Sorry, and we will keep this in mind in the future.

  8. Mark Goren

    You got me! Nice work and brilliantly executed. Goes to show that not everyone is thinking about being “fooled” today.

  9. Neil Sequeira - ReadyContacts

    LOL! My first reaction was shock! Wondering what could I have possibly done right to get those kind of views. Did CNN.com do a piece on our site? By the time I saw the numbers were back down in the hundreds…very strangely I was relieved…so there are no shortcuts to tens of thousands of views :)

    Good one!

  10. Rashmi

    @Mark Goren, @Nancy White and @Bruno Amaral Glad you thought it was funny :-)

  11. Chris Lehmann

    Well, I got got… and I tweeted it out. Oops.

    My issue is this — if you’re going to do an April Fools prank, there should be a way for a skeptical reader to figure out that it was an April Fools joke. That’s the difference between funny and feeling punked.

    An easy way to have done this — make a link to a fake “embed” with a ton of the new hits… most folks would have clicked to see where they were getting link-love from… and redirect that link to the “April Fools” page.

    – Chris

  12. heasulli

    @Sean Nash: I AGREE!!! Everyone needs to laugh a little bit more- it’s very therapeutic! AND, if you can’t laugh @ yourself, well then, you BETTER not ever be laughing @ anyone else…..

  13. Rashmi

    Chris,

    Thats excellent feedback. Good idea. Thanks. We will do something about that right now.

    Rashmi

  14. Afzal Khan

    You caught me! Not expected to get fooled from Slideshare team, but it was great….

    Brilliantly done! Had a good laugh on myself today.

    Cheers!

  15. Bob Woods

    I’m glad you caught me early w/the Twitter reply, because I was going to re-post my old slide show based on the number of “views” and trumpet it a bit.

    No matter what, though, I thought it was funny and a good way to promote your site. Although we are promoting a “April Fool’s-free zone” at our site, I’m glad to see others are doing it.

  16. Mohit

    @Dave, I think you are taking the joke way too seriously, it was a joke on April fools day, with no malicious intent and no harm was done, so get a life and chill..

    @Rashmi, you cannot keep everyone happy with a prank. But they are fun for most of the others (and people executing them ;) )

  17. Kim Krause Berg

    It was a good April Fool’s prank. I was miffed and felt used, but to be fair, this what April Fool’s day is about. I think it promoted Slideshare but at some risk to you but folks have short memories :)

  18. Amy

    I was sorry for the poor fool who had seen my slides 3000 times. I’m relieved to hear it was a joke! You had me :-)

  19. NaS

    got me for a while there until I sees lack of comments for 300,000 views, and >10K views on my private docs – SECURITY BREACH!! ;)

    nice one @jboutelle

  20. Paolo Tosolini

    Nice prank! I was going to send out an email to my management about how successful my presentation was. Then I got the tweet from SlideShare and didn’t hit SEND just in time.

  21. Jess Dennis

    Interesting idea for April Fools, but here’s my issue…knowing that the SlideShare team can mess with the numbers so easily makes me question credibility. I agree with an earlier post, “this is not YouTube” SlideShare has credible, useful information, changing the numbers is a questionable decision. Either way, interesting prank there will probably be a lot of conversation around this let’s just hope it’s mostly positive my thoughts lean toward the negative right now.

  22. Thibaut Thomas

    As a customer of your service, I expect Slideshare to be a reliable, trustful and serious business tool. I looked foolish in front of my network before I realized you cheated on me by cheating numbers.

    Even worst, you sent me a great CRM email to tell me that ! If it had been true, I would have prased your email and your service for being smart and funny. Instead, this email is now looking dumb and even mean. Thanks for letting me notice that I have 10 times fewer views that what I thought !
    I am now taking action to find another hosting service for my presentations.

  23. Jeffry Pilcher

    1. This took time out of my day. I’m busy. I don’t want to waste time tracking down phantom embeds. I was about to write an email to Slideshare asking them to investigate these weird view counts. I don’t appreciate it. I can’t tell you how pissed off I would be if I had wasted any more time on this by sending emails and tweets out to colleagues and business associates. If you truly understood your audience, you’d know that “squandering time” equates to “business inefficiencies.” Hopefully you’ll learn how irritating business distractions can be as you waste YOUR time doing the backstroke over the next few days.

    2. This a business site, not a “social media playground” like Facebook. This move dealt a blow to the Slideshare brand in the eyes of the professionals you serve.

    3. The concept was fully self-serving. It would be one thing if Slideshare inflated numbers, sent out emails, and that was all. But Slideshare asked people to tweet it. Slideshare wanted to “generate buzz.” I don’t like being your pawn in a marketing ruse. You are here to help us build OUR brands. We’ll help you build YOUR brand as you provide a solid, reliable professional service.

    A boneheaded move that backfired. Unprofessional and off-brand. Unfunny and unappreciated.

  24. Rashmi

    @jeffreypilcher

    Thanks for the feedback. We do understand where you are coming from. We planned this yesterday, its hard to see all the reactions / impact when you are planning something.

    Your point is taken, we will keep in mind in future.

    Happy April 1st!

  25. Phil Bradley

    Well, I blogged it, so I’m guessing you guys know what I think. Bottom line – if you annoy more users than you amuse it’s not worked. If you intentionally make it hard to get access to your service because of the traffic, it’s not worked. I think something on the home page that immediately said it was a joke would have sorted the confusion, and earlier tweets would have clarified the situation. I saw a lot of confusion and anger on Twitter; you should have done as well.

    However, when all is said and done, it was April 1st and people don’t always get things right. The good thing to come out of this is I hope an even greater understanding of the value that people put on your service!

  26. dcaron

    Ok, you got me alright, but not all the way! I reported the issue thinking someone had hacked the site … but … there was no way I would have beleived that a 100,000 people had viewed my slides in less than 24 hrs :>

    Well done and no, as a professional, I AM NOT OFFENDED !

  27. Anirudh

    I think your little prank worked surprisingly well because most people’s judgment fails when they’ve been given good news. Moreover, it didn’t seem like a newsletter or a generic template and was surprisingly genuine.

    While I applaud your idea and the execution of the same, people seem get really annoyed when they’re given good news and told it’s false, rather than if they were given bad news for the same.

    I really hope your excellent service doesn’t take a hit for this, perhaps another mass-email for damage control might be required :)

    Good luck.

  28. neil mcpherson

    Dear Ones

    Your prank was quite a good one. I thought it had got to be a prank – when I first saw it.

    But then I convinced myself that 30,010 people had indeed watched a small presentation on the start of The Holocaust; one that I produced 4 months ago on Kristallnacht 70th anniversary and the burning of the synagogues in Europe(it had occurred near my birth date in 1938).

    And then there was my other show, about why it is crazy that so many small business owners – in droves – try to wing it in business without inexpensive, available help from professionals… and how and why they fail.

    I thought it was just conceivable that, after 8 months of horror in the financial world, somewone would actually wake up, on the same day that my new website for arts business owners was published with a show connected to it via a blog. And that, after two years’ part-time work by me, new father of two. But 20,079!! Pathetic I know.

    The SEO had been done on my site and I had worked like a slave drumming up interest and responses from Twitter, over twelve long hours in the last two days. 70% of the hits on my site were from Twitter referral. Genuine ones.

    I thought Slideshare had caught the virus, as it were, and my wildest dreams and hopes had been realized – all in a day. 20,0079 hits and then, only 279 of them, honestly produced! Bliss lost.

    Then I checked back to Slideshare (it is evening here and I nearly went to bed overhappy). My wife is away at a work dinner somewhere. I had almost called her out on SMS in front of her CEO.
    I bought champagne. The I found out. Some clown at work.

    So it is all just sad.

    Happily for your organization I took a medication for high blood pressure an hour ago.

    What I think about the security of my Slideshare account cannot be spoken about right now. I feel sick. But it is well known here that this week the CEO of the German Rail System was obliged to resign over a similar lapse in the security of private and corporate internet records.

    Maybe another Slidehare genius could produce a bells and whistles Slide Presentation to describe how this lapse was even possible and what is being done to reassure users.

    Neil McPherson laughing fit to vomit.

  29. Jon Hansen

    As I had openly admitted on Twitter, I too fell for the “prank” hook, line and sinker.

    I also indicated that some would feel that anyone who expressed disappointment are limited to those who take themselves far too seriously.

    I have never been reluctant to use self-deprecating humor – after all if we cannot laugh at ourselves as the saying goes . . .

    However, I truly do rely on SlideShare’s numbers to inform clients about read activity. And while 20,000 reads was an hugely “optimistic” number, one also considers the source in weighing the veracity of the information. And as a side note, meteoric increases are possible as my blog’s syndicated readership base grew from 0 when it was launched in May 2007 to reaching 300,000 syndicated subscribers each month worldwide by August 2008.

    Perhaps that’s what made it a great prank was the fact that no one could see it coming. On the other hand, to arrive at that point of creditability (re being a trusted source of info) is something that is earned and maintained through an organization’s conduct or actions. Ultimately, SlideShare’s hard earned creditability is what created the degree of trust that opened the door to making one susceptible to the prank in the first place.

    In hindsight, is this really the way SlideShare wanted to leverage that trust?

    Once again, and as demonstrated by a couple of comments above, there will certainly be some to tell others that they have to get a life and not take the situation or themselves so seriously. In the end however, SlideShare has to ask if their little joke furthered their organization’s best interests (i.e. added to the trust that people have in the company), or as it hurt it?

    That is a question that should have been asked before hand.

    As for me I will take my lumps because I am a big boy, and that’s life. But I will never view SlideShare in the same light, nor will I honestly look at your statistics with the same level of confidence I had prior to this morning.

    One final note: I have a number of secured documents re papers which can only be accessed through the utilization of a tightly controlled password. Unfortunately, it would appear that SlideShare deemed these documents to be a target as well as they are showing a higher level of reads than warranted by internal verification. I hope that someone from SlideShare will get back to me to let me know that it is indeed part of the prank and not a more serious security breach within their system.

  30. Chani

    I received the email and half-fell for it. But had the good sense to ask a web2 expert (Walt) to confirm if it was a prank. He did. And I didn’t twitter. Momentary exhilaration was worth the good-natured ribbing from family members. My wife just shouted some more instructions: “Hey rock star, kindly roll out the garbage can as you faithfully do every week.” Keep up the good work – this is a great site. And I learned today that I can embed Youtube videos inside my slideshows. Very useful indeed.

  31. Jonathan Boutelle

    Jon
    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    There was no security breach. We inflated all the numbers (at the web page level itself) without regard for whether they were private or public.

    We’ll be rolling back the inflated statistics shortly: will keep you posted.

    I agree that the statistics are kinda sacred, and messing with them was a little wonky. We should have thought this through better.

  32. jon

    Jon Hansen,

    “One final note: I have a number of secured documents re papers which can only be accessed through the utilization of a tightly controlled password. Unfortunately, it would appear that SlideShare deemed these documents to be a target as well as they are showing a higher level of reads than warranted by internal verification. I hope that someone from SlideShare will get back to me to let me know that it is indeed part of the prank and not a more serious security breach within their system.”

    Yes… your secured documents are absolutely fine, just like public ones. They will get their real view count in a few hours… dont worry…

    Sorry if our prank upset you… we love you as a slideshare user!

  33. Power Point Slide Shows

    Well thats a fantastic joke by SS team even i have received an email by SS team with subject of “You’re a SlideShare RockStar” and then i just moved on my slidespace and watch whats going on my shows but this is just a joke but really amazing

    Thanks SS Team for expressing all of us

  34. Jon Hansen

    Thank you for clarifying re the secured documents . . . a questionable prank is still better than a true security breach.

    I guess the curse of today’s Internet (i.e. Twitter, e-mail etc.) is the speed at which information is disseminated to a potentially large audience.

    I have already been in contact with those clients with whom I had shared the exciting statistics from earlier today, and apologized as well as indicated that I was still trying to get my deposit on the Brooklyn Bridge back.

    All-in-all, it wasn’t lethal, but maybe you could tone it down a bit next year?

  35. Frank

    People, have a sense of humor. Its April 1st. You knew that every email today, every news announcement should be treated as suspect. I was taken in as well, but laughed out when I realized the joke and came to twitter.

    Its a joke! On April 1st. Period

  36. Brian C. Smith

    I get enough email. Don’t waste my time. Scrib’d seems better to me now.

  37. ashwan

    @angela: If your re-upload failed, you should be able to check it from this page (when logged in): http://www.slideshare.net/my-slideshows

    Try re-uploading it again and it should work this time.

    Your view count, comments, etc are all preserved until you choose to delete the presentation.

  38. JJ Halans

    @Rashmi I found it funny, but have to join sides with people saying they put serious stuff on and weren’t amused.

  39. Simon Pascal Klein

    All I feel worth adding is that I think SlideShare has learned a lesson from this. Out of possible mess-ups or undesired consequences from some action, this I think others would agree would fall into the more milder categories—that is not to say that there probably are a few professionals out there that have seriously embarrassed themselves in the last 24 hours.

    Thanks for apologising to those that raised complaints regarding this issue.

    —Pascal

  40. peacepunk

    guys

    why so serious about a prank…it was april fools day and someone got at us… the community needs to realise that we ought to give it in sometimes….

    but slideshare team… you did it… i think you could have picked a more burning issue and used our energies… we could have all made the worlds longest ppt deck… everyone would have contributed, you wouldhave been on guiness book of records and we all woudl have become more close… I will be wary of a friend who plays pranks without understaing my sensibilities.

    you guys rock.. but for the rest of the days of april you will get enough hate mail to sulk
    happy foold day to you

  41. srinin

    Good to know u hv a sense of humor!!!! As i hv been away from ss awhile i did not get to ‘see’ the prank. But one of my staff who is a memeber came up this morning and sd she has been declared a ‘rockstar’. Well she is a rock already. :) So becoming a star was not far away, i thought! The after a while she came up and said it all AFD prank!

    Keep up the fun!

    merci/gracias/danke

  42. Ron

    I would have thought most would have understand the April Fools prank. I’d be interested in statistics of how many people did add the #bestofslideshare hashtag. Please let us know!

  43. srinin

    Looking at all those postings makes me wonder….

    In this internet shrunk world we dont quite grasp that 24 hrs extends to 48 hrs actually from east of east to west of west.

    Sorry if i sound to some of you pompous bcz that is not my intention…. but it is a kinda reflection on human nature that we measure our self esteem by how many view our slides!

    i guess we all need to take our little egos a little less seriously…

    I am prepared get trashed on my views here… you are trashing a view; not me!!!!!!!!! :)

  44. Beth

    Yeah, ok, April Fools, ha ha. I think the zeros add are fine, I never even look at those things, I just put the presentations out for the curious who know me, so it’s fine with me. But did you have to send me an email too, encouraging me to blog it? I didn’t like that part of the game. Blech on you, SlideShare.

  45. David Barnes

    It felt good yesterday seeing all those views. Today it doesn’t feel so good. Especially after all of the bragging I’ll have to retract now.

  46. Jake

    @ Sean Nash

    > and it was played on NATIONAL JOKE DAY.

    Which nation is this?

    Anyway, I’m going to stop using slideshare and I’ll be sure to tell all my friends and colleagues to not use it.

  47. Jon Hansen

    Epilogue to a bad joke . . .

    For those of you who fell for the SlideShare “prank” I thought that I would share the apology I issued to my clients (and readership) upon discovering the true nature of the view activity.

    I am doing this for two reasons, the first is to show that there is no shame in being duped when dealing with what you believed was a trusted source of information.

    The second is to perhaps help SlideShare to recognize the real consequences associated with their actions now that they are a bonafide Web 2.0 service provider and not a boutique platform. It will hopefully help them to also see that an unconditional apology without qualifications, in which they take full ownership for their actions, will likely go a long way to winning back the serious business user.

    I am only glad that my original sharing of the false information was wrapped in my usual self-deprecating manner (i.e. with reference to being a rock star I informed my readership that the e-mail initially made me suspicious as my vocal talents are a cross between Slim Whitman and a howling coyote). I however cringe when I think about those unfortunate individuals who saw the “increased popularity” as a validation of their work.

    That said here is my apology:

    “I want to take this opportunity to personally apologize to you for this morning’s e-mail regarding the “tremendous” numbers relating to the recent download activity for the “Riding the Crest of a New Wave” white paper.

    As it turns out SlideShare, the platform in which a great number of professionals and businesses post papers and presentations admitted to “doctoring the numbers” and then sending an e-mail to an undetermined number of users informing them of the outstanding performance.

    While the actual download activity has been respectable, it has certainly not been at the 20,000 mark.

    While I am obviously a little embarrassed for having fallen for the prank (I am also going to have to ask that my deposit on the Brooklyn Bridge be returned), I have always believed in facing the music so to speak rather than sweeping it under the proverbial carpet.

    And while one would not expect an organization such as SlideShare, who is viewed by many as being the leader in terms of the services they provide to take such liberties, it nonetheless proves that even the most seasoned professional can be fooled some of the time.”

    One final note, SlideShare has teamed-up with LinkedIn, which is a serious business network. I wonder how that organization and its members will view this in the proverbial morning?

  48. Jeffry Pilcher

    The #1 featured presentation on the front page of SlideShare should be a humble and contrite apology acknowledging the issues and concerns of its user-base. One look at your home page and someone might easily assume you folks are ashamed, embarrassed and hopeful that this goes away quietly. You should embrace your mistake, not try and hide from it.

    Don’t fool yourselves into thinking this was a stunt with a 50/50 hit/miss ratio. It was not a “partial success with some people.” If any marketer ever does anything that annoys, frustrates or angers as many people as you have, the idea was an outright, unmitigated failure. The fact that there are some people who think others need to “lighten up” or that your prank was “a good one – haha” does not absolve you, nor does it diminish the need for you to take every step possible to express your regrets and apologies.

    If this blog thread is the only place one can find an apology or explanation, SlideShare will have failed at handling a failure — a double fail.

  49. rashmi

    Folks, we are listening and discussing this internally and deciding on the best way to move forward. Unlike the April Fool’s prank (which we thought up in a day) we are taking time to think things through and decide how we communicate with our community our this incident which has made us think deeply about what SlideShare means to our users.

    For those who are saying that we did not respond enough, many of our team members have done nothing else but respond to our users for past day and half. You can see this on Twitter (under our various team accounts), on blogs, and in many personal emails. Remember, we are a small company with two people who do community work. There is no PR / marketing agency.

    Please stay tuned…

  50. Nina Krympenko

    Thanx! I had a good laugh at myself because realized where these two zeroes popped up from only next morning… Completely forgot about this Fool’s Day. ^_^ TIt was really cute and funny

  51. Brian Kelly

    Hi Rashmi
    As I said in a blog post on “Have Slideshare Avoided Their Ratner Moment?” (http://ukwebfocus.wordpress.com/2009/04/02/have-slideshare-avoided-their-ratner-moment/) I do feel that you are aware that, for many (but not all) Slideshare users you made a mistake.
    However I do appreciate the effort you have made in responding on various blog posts. And I also admire your ‘finely tuned antennae’ which helped you spot the negative feedback you have received and respond appropriately.

  52. Jeremiah Owyang

    Thank you for the apology, this shows the integrity of the company that misteps, listens, apologizes and moves on.

    I’m still going to be a slideshare user, thanks!

    supportive, Jeremiah

  53. Melissa

    It’s cool. April fooled maybe but hey the boss was happy with the numbers! Could you fool me a few more times so I can forward the numbers. HA HA :)

  54. diabetes camps

    Guys, Great article and very very interesting blog. That’s one thing I’m really looking forward. Looking forward to reading more from you next week.