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Frequently Asked Questions
What is an "Easter Egg"?
In the context of software (get that Cadbury Bunny out of your head!), an Easter Egg is a hidden feature or novelty that the programmers have put in their software. In general, it is any hidden, entertaining thing that a creator hides in their creation only for their own personal reasons. This can be anything from a hidden list of the developers, to hidden commands, to jokes, to funny animations. You'd be surprised just how many things contain Easter Eggs... just look at the list that has accumulated here!
A true Easter Egg must satisfy the following criteria:
Now that you have the idea of what an Egg is supposed to be, it might be easier to narrow things down by listing some types of hidden, entertaining things that would NOT be considered Easter Eggs.
Sometimes examples speak louder than rules. Here are some examples of genuine, indisputable Easter Eggs, and you should use them to guide your gut feeling about what is or isn't a true Easter Egg.
By definition, Easter Eggs are intended to be entertaining and harmless. If someone hid some destructive code in a piece of software, that would be considered a "virus", or a "trojan horse", and certainly not an Easter Egg.
However, an Easter Egg might be accidentally harmful. For example, maybe there was a bug in the programmer's Easter Egg code, and in certain situations it might crash the program, or even the whole computer, forcing you to reboot. I should note that I am not aware of ANY Easter Egg that has caused any harm like this, but I certainly admit the possibility, especially since Easter Eggs don't go through the normal testing process.
Everyone has their own reasons, so there is no easy answer. But we can offer some theories:
On this site of course! Seriously, the best way to find Easter Eggs is to come to a site like this one and see if others have discovered them first. Many eggs are almost impossible to find on your own, so check the archive first.
How are most Easter Eggs discovered originally? There isn't a lot of hard evidence, but our guess is that the information is often leaked by the people responsible for the Egg. They tell a few friends, who tell a few more friends, and eventually the information ends up here.
Of course, some Eggs are discovered accidentally or by piecing together detailed background information to uncover an Egg. Some people have accidentally stumbled across the right key combinations to activate some software Eggs. Also, people who happen to know a lot of background on a particular director might spot Eggs they have hidden in their movies. But usually you need some "inside information" to discover an Egg.
If you are determined to hunt down some Eggs on your own, here are a few tips:
Most companies don't allow Easter Eggs, and claim that they will remove any Easter Eggs they find and discipline the programmers who put them in. These affairs are internal to the company, however, and we have little data to confirm or deny this stance with many companies. Indeed, some companies (like Microsoft) seem to have had passive approval of Easter Eggs in their software, considering the many elaborate Eggs they have produced in the past. Although it is rumored that Microsoft has become very hard-line against Easter Eggs in its own software, Office 2000 still managed to contain a great Egg. You go, Office Team! Fight the power!
We hate to tell you this, but you're probably stuck with it. Since Easter Eggs are usually smuggled into the software in the first place, there is almost never a "remove" button. Sometimes companies will remove Eggs in later updates of the software, so your best bet is to wait for a service release, update your software, and see if the egg is gone.
However, usually Eggs take up very minimal resources, and their presence is virtually insignificant (see the next question).
It's hard to give exact figures, but usually it is a very small amount, so small that it is insignificant in comparison to the size of the program itself. Otherwise, it would be more easily noticed in the QA process.
Even eggs that seem gigantic in size usually take up very little space. Take the Excel 97 Flight Simulator: It contains a few simple texture images, some text, and a simple terrain grid of points. None of this is very big (probably a few kilobytes), and even the "Flight Simulator" code is probably a few calls into the DirectX graphics system, which is already on the system anyway.
Bottom line: don't worry about the disk space being wasted by Easter Eggs. The old emails in your Inbox are probably wasting more space than those Eggs.
Again, this is hard to answer because it is internal to a company and there is no hard data. However, being programmers ourselves, we don't think it is that much time or money. Programmers often work long, hard hours to put out a good product, and if one developer takes a couple of hours to whip up a simple Easter Egg to blow off a little steam, I don't have a problem with that. And while some of the more elaborate Eggs seem very complex, they also come from very large teams (like 500 people). Probably a few guys spent a few evening coding it up in their spare time for kicks. Again, a relatively insignificant cost in the whole software development life cycle.
Liability, however, is a different issue. Once the product is released, the company is responsible for the consequences of that product. If an Easter Egg is discovered that contains offensive or illegal content, the company may be held responsible, and even face lawsuits. And they may suffer from a "percieved quality" perspective. After all, if an elaborate Easter Egg slipped by their testing team, goodness knows what else might be lurking in there, right? So it is understandable why companies frown on Easter Eggs, simply because they don't go through the normal channels, but yet the company will be liable for the results.
Yes. A programmer at Maxis was fired over an egg he hid in Sim Copter. There have probably been others, and many who have been "disciplined" if not fired. Again, these are internal company affairs and not usually publicized.
We don't know of any lawsuits that have come forward over Easter Eggs. If anyone knows of a lawsuit, we'd like to hear about it.
Cheat codes are hidden and entertaining, but the argument can be made that they are intended "features" of games, even though they aren't documented. And they often lack any sort of "personal" reason for their existence. Our policy on this site is that we will accept cheat codes only if they are either particularly personal and entertaining or as comprehensive lists of all known cheat codes for a game, which are titled "Cheat Codes (NOT AN EGG)". This is a compromise, since most games have some cheat codes that are hidden and entertaining to many people, but this is an Easter Egg site and we don't want to get too caught up in keeping track of cheat codes for every game out there. There are already plenty of good sites that do this.
This is a tough judgement call, and must be decided on a case-by-case basis. Our general rule is that the reference must be either extremely subtle or extremely well hidden to be considered an Egg. Basically if even a die-hard fan or "expert" is unlikely to find or catch the reference, it can be considered an Egg. Also, it helps if you can identify some personal significance behind the reference.
We get tons of Egg submissions that people claim are Eggs, but that fail these criteria. Some examples: Subtle references in "The Simpsons" are almost never Eggs, since the Simpsons is all about making subtle (or not-so-subtle) jokes and references. References to actor's previous movie roles are almost never Eggs, since they are put there explicitly for the purpose of being recognized by fans. References to other movies in the same series or genre are almost never Eggs for the same reason.
Cameos by actors (even uncredited cameos) aren't considered eggs, since they are put in to be recognized by viewers, especially avid viewers. The exception would be cameos where the actor is uncredited AND either disguised so you probably wouldn't recognize them, or hidden in some background shot where again you wouldn't likely spot them.
Cameos by the director usually ARE eggs. Few people know what the director looks like, and if he makes an uncredited appearance in his own movie, people aren't likely to recognize it.
Yes, they certainly can. However, because of the constantly changing nature of the Internet, and the huge volume of web sites out there, our policy is to not list Eggs in web sites. We do make a few exceptions for really popular big-name web sites, but that is the exception, not the rule.
We do accept "hidden tracks" that meet certain criteria - they must either be in the "negative space" before the start of the CD (you put the CD in your player and then rewind from the beginning), or they are at the end of the CD after a LONG pause (so you probably wouldn't find them unless you left the CD playing accidentally). We do NOT accept any tracks in the middle of the CD, even if they aren't a listed.
Many CDs have hidden tracks, and you could argue that they aren't that unique, hidden, or personal. We agree, but they're about the closest thing to an Egg you can have in an album. Plus, lots of people enjoy discovering hidden tracks they didn't know about. We found out about hidden tracks in several albums we've owned for years from this site, so we feel it's fun, useful information that fits in fine with the Easter Egg theme.
Legitimate, intended backward messages are Easter Eggs. However, a common problem is that people looking for backward messages seem to find them in lots of songs, but when others listen to the backward message, it's very questionable whether it was intended, or just a coincidence where you have to allow a LOT of leeway in pronunciation to hear the "message".
The best way to get a "backward message" egg submission accepted is to include links to sound clips for both the "forward" and "backward" direction, and we can make a judgement call. Otherwise, our general policy is to have you post your "backward message" submission in the Discussion Area, and if others confirm that the backward message is genuine and intended, you can submit it to the main archive (with a note saying it was confirmed in the Discussion Area).
Please note that "The Easter Egg Archive", "eeggs" and "eeggs.com" are all trademarks of this site and Wolfsites LLC. All content on these pages is the property of this site and Wolfsites LLC. Copyright 1995-2001. All rights reserved.
Legal Disclaimer: All of the Eggs on this site have been submitted by users. While we do make a best effort to eliminate false and harmful instructions, Wolfsites and The Easter Egg Archive do not give any warantee, expressed or implied, to the correctness or safety of any Egg in the archive. We are not responsible for any damage caused to you or your property by anything on this site. Follow the egg instructions at your own risk.