Happy April Fools' Day! - Plex Blog

Happy April Fools’ Day!

, | 01 Apr 2013 | by 32 Comments

As you all know, the first of April is the day on which people (and companies) play practical jokes. Some are quite elaborate and take quite a bit of planning, and we really think we’ve managed to take that to the next level.

Just over five years ago, we got together around a white board to plan the prank, and this is what we wrote:

  1. Acquire millions of users.
  2. Rickroll them.
  3. ???

We did some more brainstorming, and decided that the best way to acquire a large user base we could proceed to rickroll would be some sort of video streaming thing. We almost called it RickPlex, but we thought that might be too obvious, so we stuck with Plex, and started coding right away.

Fast forward 5 years, 263 blog posts, and dozens of releases across multiple product lines, we finally decided we had enough coverage for our worldwide rickroll. We enabled some code we’d written all those years ago, and then cracked open a beer and waited.

P43A0010  1

After we finally stopped laughing at all the tweets and forum posts, and – frankly – ran out of beer, we all took a collective deep sigh. All those year of planning had finally paid off. We’d just pulled off what was possibly the biggest rickroll ever. And it was time to move on.

To all our users, thanks so much for being a part of this! It was a fun ride, and we wish you luck in the future. We’ll be shutting down all our services over the next few days, and moving on to other endeavors.

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32 Comments so far

  1. Adam Balasis April 1st, 2013 3:19 pm

    *facepalm*

  2. jkristoph April 1st, 2013 3:28 pm

    I knew this was all too good to be true!

  3. Charlie April 1st, 2013 3:30 pm

    Pretty sure the biggest mass rickroll was the YouTube rickroll on April 1, 2008.

    http://techcrunch.com/2008/03/31/youtube-rickrolls-users/

  4. elan April 1st, 2013 3:34 pm

    @Charlie: Oh, #$%$%, so we wasted years of our lives for NOTHING???

  5. chris April 1st, 2013 3:46 pm

    Hahahahahahha. That is funny. well, i gotta give it to you. when you go in for a prank you go ALL in….. ;)

  6. chris April 1st, 2013 3:48 pm

    at least fix a couple bugs for me and make sure when your servers shut down i can still use my plexpass.;)

  7. Brian April 1st, 2013 3:56 pm

    Where is this rickroll supposed to be?

  8. Jasoco April 1st, 2013 3:59 pm

    @Charlie Don’t forget when Rick Astley himself Rickroll’d the whole country at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that same year. That was when Rickrolling officially died. Until Plex brought it back of course. ;-)

  9. JPer April 1st, 2013 4:17 pm

    Nice work!

  10. John April 1st, 2013 4:39 pm

    OH you bastards, at first I thought it was morganelli.

  11. n00tz April 1st, 2013 4:55 pm

    I actually deleted a whole series of TV shows thinking that my collection was bad. I was going to drop it in favor of a higher quality set, but the rickroll was the last straw…

    Good Job.

  12. Magnus Krantz April 1st, 2013 9:06 pm

    And I missed it!
    Hardly a day goes by that I don’t watch some TV show in Plex, but yesterday I decided to watch Firefly on BluRay instead…

  13. profplump April 2nd, 2013 12:26 am

    This is the sort of thing that will make me run you in a sandbox where you’re not allowed to know the time. I’ve already had to lock down disk access to protect against your security model, and that’s not something one should have to do with a “home” server product.

    You shouldn’t be fraking with your users at all. If you really can’t help yourself you could at least offer a clear “skip this stupid prank” button so the rest of us can get on with our lives with a minimum of fuss.

    I know you’re “just” trying to have a bit of fun, but you’re doing it at the expensive of others, and it’s not always harmless. You can’t expect people to actually use your products if you’re going to muck with those users for your own amusement — I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t buy a car that decided to randomly honk as you drove around on April 1.

    / Get off my lawn
    // But seriously, don’t muck with my playback

  14. George Hammerton April 2nd, 2013 6:00 am

    That is brilliant! Good work guys. :D

  15. Tim April 2nd, 2013 6:05 am

    Thought I had a virus or something. Panicked. Hell of a good joke!

  16. Andyreas April 2nd, 2013 7:02 am

    Ohh damn you! Damn you all. Here I thought i was going locko yesterday, strange thing i even thought about it being a april fools joke from u guys but then that thought disappered. Nice execution guys!

  17. elan April 2nd, 2013 7:53 am

    @profplump: A car that randomly honks is not funny, it’s a dangerous thing. A car that plays the first few bars of Rick Astley when I turn on the radio on April 1st is funny.

  18. James Messick April 2nd, 2013 7:59 am

    Sweet! I just haven’t felt right about watching all this free tv, but you guys just made it too, too easy. I look forward to a happy relationship with my local cable provider, watching commercials, and spending $100, or $200, every month for quality tv, along with unlimited garbage.

  19. profplump April 2nd, 2013 8:45 am

    @elan My problem is you’re applying your definition of “funny” to my life and use cases.

  20. profplump April 2nd, 2013 8:57 am

    @elan I’ve setup a PMS for use in a school where access to YouTube and other sites is forbidden. Instructors can add content to the PMS and easily access it throughout the school or even provide individual students with access, allowing them to bypass the Internet filters for pre-approved Internet content and acting as a local cache for pre-loaded local content.

    This is not a system where rick-rolls are considered funny or harmless. It’s the sort of system where rick-rolls will get the new system banned for the same reasons YouTube was banned.

    I know this isn’t one of the use cases you plan for. I seem to come up with those on a regular basis. And I’m really not trying to spoil your fun. But I continue to wish that Plex would have a bit more faith in its users, and empower them to do everything that’s practically possible with the tools you provide, rather than trying to funnel them into the specific uses you envision.

  21. AshTemple April 2nd, 2013 9:50 am

    Loved it! Great sense of humour! You guys rock!! Could do it like a google doodle and do a different one on random days!! Plex Plaything! Ha!

  22. Russ April 2nd, 2013 11:39 am

    Somehow I missed the rickroll, lol

  23. Jonathan Gourd April 2nd, 2013 1:55 pm

    I had just spent hours diagnosing and fixing network issues and a Plex server that refused to start up after an Ubuntu upgrade. The first video I launched was the new Doctor Who. The rickroll started and I ran to the server to verify the correct file was downloaded. It was in fact correct. Good job.

    One request: I would love to have a music videos section.

  24. Aaron Tolman April 3rd, 2013 2:11 am

    The other night, I broke the house rules and touched my wife’s computer… She hadn’t been feeling well so went to bed early and I hadn’t anything better to do, so I decided I’d try to set up her Mac to pull videos off the Tivo and then share them back out on the network with Plex. After system updates and several attempts to get the SAN mounted, I finally got PLEX up, running and scanning my media. Just one thing left to do before going to bed… what the…. Rick Astley? My wife is going to kill me! Good one PLEX!

  25. Reezy April 5th, 2013 7:27 am

    I removed a movie because of this.
    Got a movie from the web “Legally” of course.
    My Monkeys started to work put everything in place made popcorn 1L coke.
    Hit PLay and … awww chuckle chuckle I got Rick Rolled from behind deeply.

    Removed the movie because I though it was a fake.
    Nice one Plex

  26. DJLunacy April 10th, 2013 8:25 am

    profplump — Your complaining and analogy are flawed. Of course if somebody bought a car blah blah and ________ happened they would complain..

    THEY BOUGHT THE CAR.

    You’re using free software. If they want to rickroll you until the cows come home they can. Uninstall it and find something else.

  27. profplump April 24th, 2013 1:24 am

    @DJLunacy I’ve supported Plex financially every time they’ve asked, for both services (PlexPass) and mobile clients. I’ve supplied patches for the open-source portions of the project and helped with debugging. I contributed code to the upstream projects long before Plex ever existed. I’ve offered to provide fixes and enhancements for the closed-source portion of the product. I participate in the forums to provide support for other users. I publish my integration and administration tools to make Plex more useful for everyone. I add and curate data at thetvdb (and providing funding for that project) to keep Plex working with episodic content. And I’ve installed Plex in a number of places outside my home and encourage others to use it, helping bolster the user base.

    Exactly what else do I need to do before I can request that Plex work in a way I think would be? And how can the Plex team possibly know how their users would like the software to work unless we tell them? You can disagree with my thoughts on how Plex should work, but you don’t get to tell me I can’t have or express them just because the advertised price of the PMS is $0.

  28. Cory April 30th, 2013 12:00 pm

    @profplump – No but I will tell you that you can’t have or express your thoughts because you’re an ass. STFU

  29. Chris May 1st, 2013 9:04 am

    @Cory – I found your response to @profplump much more inflammatory than anything he every said in this thread.

    profplump had some valid criticisms of the April 1 rickroll and how it affected his particular use of the software.

    As I am also a financial supporter of Plex (PlexPass member and IOS apps), I can understand his point of view – although the rickroll didn’t affect me as I just use Plex for home.

  30. elan May 1st, 2013 10:08 am

    @rickroll ~ I totally understand how in the environment profplump is using Plex, the rickroll would be entirely inappropriate, and I’m sorry about that. That having been said, we’re not pretending to specifically make educational software, so it’s hard for us to anticipate this sort of thing in advance. We’ll definitely try to be more aware of all the different environments where Plex is being used before planning our next April Fool’s day :)

  31. Chris May 5th, 2013 11:17 am

    I’m not sure where else to put this :

    I’m not a big fan of how music is displayed in the android PLex pass app compared to the normal app. Plex pass uses a tile based list which to me feels un-natural. The normal list based title scrolling feels quicker and better to use, also it’s what people are used to.

    It would be good if you’d allow us to choose how we want to view the music list.

    Cheers. Keep up the good work.

  32. Dan May 15th, 2013 5:23 am

    I’m disappointed I missed the Rick Roll as I must not have used Plex that day.

    I love plex and have been a user for many years. I am eternally grateful for all the hard work Elan has put into this project over the years and am an enthusiastic supporter of the platform and a plex pass subscriber. That said, I do not feel that my financial support or public support of the program entitles me to criticize or to otherwise deride Elan or the plex team for building a practical joke into the code.

    Plex has always, to a large part, been about community and the fact that they now accept limited financial contributions does not give any of us the right to make demands. Indeed, the Rick Roll prank may have been inconvenient for some, but it was not profane, lude or otherwise inappropriate for any age group.

    Thank you Elan for all your hard work.

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