Apparently this jolly joke by the developers has been a hidden feature of WordPress for years but I only encountered it for the first time today – and it came as a nasty surprise.
Knowledge is forewarned so I thought I’d share it to avoid others facing the same unwelcome shock. Easter Eggs are intentional hidden messages or in-jokes in programs, web browsers etc.
The problem with this one is that it is exactly what you might expect if your WordPress site had been hacked or infected by malware…
Matrix Easter Egg – appears when you accidentally try to compare a post revision to itself…
If you edit a post you may see a pink message at the top saying “There is an autosave of this post that is more recent than the version below. View the autosave’. Click the ‘View the Autosave’ link and scroll down to the Compare Revisions section – here you can compare revisions to see what has changed.
The Easter egg appears if you make a mistake and select the Old and New radio buttons for the same revision instead of for two different revisions – an example is shown below:
Clicking ‘Compare Revisions’ does not just display an error message (you can’t compare a revision to itself) – WordPress developers obviously decided to have some fun and display the White Rabbit Easter egg instead…
WordPress Matrix Easter Egg
The Easter egg in WordPress now takes over the screen and displays a message “Self-comparison detected. Initiating infinite loop eschewal protocol. Self destruct in 3…2…1… Wake up. The Matrix has you. Follow the white rabbit. Don’t let this happen again. Go back.”
You can see this sequence in the video below:
How To Disable The Easter Egg
If you develop your own WordPress site it is probably enough that you have now seen the sequence and know what it is/when it happens. However, if you develop sites for others or have multiple authors/admins you may wish to install a plugin to stop this Easter egg from being displayed and avoid unnecessary worry.
There is a simple WordPress plugin here which replaces the irritating Easter egg with a no-fuss error message.
Now that you have seen it you can perhaps enjoy the joke – but it’s not so funny if you are maintaining/troubleshooting your site and haven’t seen it before.
This WordPress Easter egg could make people think their site had been hacked – if they didn’t investigate further they might even pull the plug and start restoring from backups…
WordPress developers – too clever for their own good?