The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
-- William Shakespeare, As You Like It

The financial world is full of costly nonsense. From overpriced products to folly to outright scams, the cost to investors and society is colossal. Parody, it seems, is the best way to deflate Wall Street's respectable humbug.

And so, every April 1st, The Motley Fool orchestrates an April Fool's stunt. Whimsical, incompetent, or vaguely nefarious, our hoaxes illuminate and debunk the many farces of finance.

Here's a collection of those pranks, the lessons they embody, and the funniest reader emails we received. We hope you enjoy!

2017: Motley Fool EchoChambər

Find your truth™.

Find your truth. Image source: The Motley Fool.

There are more ideas today than ever. But sometimes, there can be too much information -- information that's upsetting because it doesn't align with what we believe in. No worries: Motley Fool EchoChambər searches your entire internet history to block out ideas you don't agree with, and replace them with ideas you'll love.

You need never encounter another uncomfortable idea again. EchoChambər can help you find your truth.

The lesson? Human beings have a tendency to avoid information we don't like and to seek out ideas we already agree with, leading to overconfidence and poor decision-making in investing and everyday life. But none of us is right about everything. Each of us could do a better job seeking out alternative views and applying more skepticism toward what we believe.

Our favorite reader feedback

EchoChambər received 100% positive, glowing praise. (That's regardless of the exact text readers might have typed, as the comment section automatically put a positive spin on everything. Hey, solipsism cuts both ways! :)

It's things like this that make me wish i were you!

The Echo Chambər has given my life meaning again.

I never want to experience life outside of the Echo Chambər.

Being in the Echo Chambər gives me immense pleasure.

You truly are my favorite website!

best chamber EVER

See it for yourself:

2016: Motley Fools Rush In

Disrupt. Everything.™

Disrupt. Everything. Image source: The Motley Fool.

Looking for a new way to invest in hot start-ups before they come public? Try Motley Fools Rush In. Our matchmaking software makes investing quick and thoughtless: Swipe right or click the heart to invest in start-ups like Mary Jay (a marijuana multi-level marketing firm), Ironic Detachment Brands (overpriced stuff for hipster millennials), and The Big Hedge (a plan to build a wall around Wall Street). You can even use Fools Rush In to pitch your own start-up to investors!

The lesson? Don't invest -- especially in risky or non-public companies -- without deliberation. If you're going to invest in a young growth company, look for the six signs of a rule breaker.

Our favorite reader emails

I'm curious why a quick Google search for Park Slope Pizza, Sheboygan WI returns no results.

Who doesn't want to get into a Pyramid scheme at the beginning?

What exactly is your business?

Direct Selling Works. People want marijuana. What I want to know is if the stuff will be organic.

It's like Chipotle, but for buying dogs.

See it for yourself:

2015: The Kiddie Card

You can't become a millionaire without first learning to spend like one.

You can't become a millionaire without first learning to spend like one. Image source: The Motley Fool.

The Motley Fool is proud to finally offer a credit card for children. The Kiddie Card is easy-to-use, lucrative, and teaches your children to learn early by helping them to spend early. Plus, it's affordable: Your child's interest rate is only 7% plus his or her age!

The lesson? Beware of credit card tricks tricks and hidden fees, and teach your kids how to use cards responsibly.

Our favorite reader emails:

I really need, I mean he really needs it, to work in more international locations, especially the Caribbean.

I want Virtual pet bucks. I should be able to purchase a virtual house, food, toys, clothes, and pet sitter for Fluffy.

The $10,000 limit is way low. Tack on some zeroes, and make all infants heroes!

See it for yourself:

2014: Motley FoolCoin

The most esteemed and trusted modern currency

The most esteemed and trusted modern currency. Image source: The Motley Fool.

Digital currencies are all the rage. But a series of high-profile disasters have undermined trust in BitCoin. FoolCoin, by contrast, only lets trustworthy people use it. Designed by the genius Mandelbrot twins, FoolCoin is built to increase in value. Ride your FoolCoin to the top for guaranteed profits, or spend it on our sponsored financial products.

The lesson? Currency speculation -- especially in cryptocurrencies -- may be popular, but it's a risky game. If a financial scheme appears to be extremely complicated and unsafe, it probably is.

Our favorite reader emails:

As a trustworthy reader, I would appreciate a Fool Coin & would like the Hedge Fund Savant Beta.

I am mostly trustworthy.

It's just so difficult to choose a favorite between those two iconic, charismatic twins. I'd have to go with the one who so tastefully lets his chest hair rage out of his shirt.

The brother with the crazy hair! It's the great hair!

I hate you. But I hate myself even more for falling for this joke.

See it for yourself:

2013: Special Alert! The Hugest Bubble In History Set to Explode

Our secret Swiss source.

Our secret Swiss source. Image source: The Motley Fool.

Our secret Swiss source forecasts the market will collapse on April 17th. But there's no need to fear -- we can squeeze profits from the upcoming tragedy together. From our 3D-Printed Market Goggles to the ShadowFear Index to rare earth metals, the opportunities are endless.

The lesson? People have forever been trying to predict the future with little consistent success. You can ignore most market forecasts -- trying to time the market is a fool's errand.

Our favorite reader emails:

WHat?????????? What is the hell are you guys talking about ??????????

Invest heavily in toilet paper.......and shovels......

I want two (2) pairs [of Market Goggles]. I want green and blue. One stock I am interested in to play the bubble is Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).

Wait, is that a prominently featured bottle of Macallan? Aw yeah.

Check it out:

2012: The Motley Fool is Going Public

Greatest S-1 filing. Ever.

Greatest S-1 filing. Ever. Image source: The Motley Fool.

That's right, you can now buy shares in The Motley Fool. Just don't pay too close attention to the fine print. Our fake financial filing revealed conflicts of interest, overpaid executives, nepotism, poorly thought-out business models, dodgy accounting, and meaningless jargon.

Lesson: Look before you leap -- even into your favorite companies.

Readers respond

Over 18,000 people emailed to express interest in buying shares. Four people applied for our "Creative Accountant" job posting.

Check it out:

2011: ZippyTrade 2000

Hyperclick your way to wealth.

Hyperclick your way to wealth. Image source: The Motley Fool.

WikiLeaks outs The Motley Fool as secret day traders and incompetent jerks. In the name of transparency, we smoothly make amends by letting you buy the consumer edition of our internal day-trading software.

The lesson? Timeline and temperament are what separate investors from speculators. Buy stock in solid businesses, don't time the market, and buy to hold.

Our favorite reader response:

Dear Motley fools: Yuck. You sound like what you are, which is a bunch of liars and cheaters caught in the act. In summary, [expletive redacted] you.

Check it out:

2010: Motley Fool Long-Term Mortgage Management

You can profit from the mortgage bust.

You can profit from the mortgage bust. Image source: The Motley Fool.

Looking to make billions while profiting from the housing crisis? Our mortgage-backed-security investment scheme will save America and make us all rich.

The lesson? Don't buy what you can't afford. Don't buy what you can't understand. And don't buy Wall Street's too-big-to-fail status quo.

Check it out:

2009: The Motley Fool Gets a Bailout

Planes!

Planes! Image source: The Motley Fool.

A loophole allows us to pilfer $25 million in government bailout funds. We blow $24 million on personal extravagances and let you vote for which struggling investment banker we should donate the final $1 million to.

Ah, the good life

Ah, the good life. Image source: The Motley Fool.

The lesson? Our lavish spending mirrored how some Wall Street firms spent their final days. Merrill Lynch bought ornate office upholstery for its CEO, while AIG wasted billions on bonuses. Bailouts may be a fact of life for resolving the 2008-2009 financial crisis, but we can at least demand the process involve transparency, rationality, and common sense.

A typical reader email:

This is what is wrong with this country. I hope you choke on the money.

Check it out:

2008: Now's the Time to Stop Buying Stocks

Now's the time to start drinking scotch.

Now's the time to start drinking scotch. Image source: The Motley Fool.

Wall Street has been on a roller-coaster ride lately, and frankly, we are sick and tired of watching, analyzing, and writing about the day-to-day movements of the stock market. So in keeping with our long-term investing philosophy, The Motley Fool will not be covering the stocks or writing investment-related content of any kind for the next six months. Get ready for our new focus on whimsical and exotic topics.

The lessons? Don't panic -- accept that market downturns are a fact of investing. Moreover, down markets can offer long-term investors the opportunity to pick up stocks that have gotten cheap.

Our favorite reader response:

While I'm sure there will be great value in your spatulas guide, you just haven't convinced me this is your forte.

Check it out:

2007: The CEO Bill of Rights Act of 2007

CEOs are America's most unfairly treated group.

CEOs are America's most unfairly treated group. Image source: The Motley Fool.

It seems you can't go anywhere these days without some activist ninny ranting hysterically in the business media about overpaid executives. But policing CEO pay only hurts innocent shareholders. We've drafted legislation to protect America's business leaders, but we need your help to pass it!

The lesson? While CEOs fulfill very important roles, they should remember that they are employees, too. They must answer to shareholders and society instead of their own greed and hubris.

Our favorite reader emails:

How about respect for your readership?? Common sense?? Integrity?? ... Rather than waste any more time with The Motley Fool, I will concentrate my efforts on making others aware of this nonsense.

Since when does the 'underappreciated 100 times the average worker' CEO need your help? Are you serious?

See if for yourself:

2006: The Motley Fool Sues the Federal Government

PLAINTIFF'S CERTIFICATION

PLAINTIFF'S CERTIFICATION. Source: The Motley Fool.

The media is portraying Enron as a story of corporate mismanagement and greed. But in truth, Enron was brought down by a smear campaign of whistleblowers and prosecutors. Its maligned executives had worked tirelessly and creatively to save customers money and drive up the value of shareholders' stock. So on behalf of Enron's investors -- and anyone else who considered buying Enron shares -- we're launching a class action lawsuit against the U.S. government.

The lesson? Enron's management really was guilty as heck. And Enron's bankruptcy demonstrated how arrogant, cynical, and selfish management can be so dangerous.

Our favorite reader responses:

You should be ashamed. I think I just spent my last day at Fool.com.

The idea of a $100 billion lawsuit against the federal government by the hundred million Americans who were scared away from the stock market is frankly, kindergarten hour.

My first thought was the whole [thing] is a dumb parody/satire or bad joke or something. My second thought was (and is) -- if these guys are so whacked out to file such a stupid and inane lawsuit, why should I listen to anything they have to say about investing?

You are nuts.

Check it out:

2005: Motley FOOLottery!

Now there are more ways to win than ever before!

Now there are more ways to win than ever before! Image source: The Motley Fool.

For years, we've been stern critics of state lotteries, which prey upon the poor and ignorant. Today, we're running state lotteries out of business. FOOLottery offers larger purses, 110% odds, instant winnings, "Play now, play later" technology, and a "You'll have fun" guarantee.

The lesson? Lotteries are a blight on society. Players get hammered by a 50% loss of capital on every ticket, every day of the year. (That means $20 million wagered daily in the state lottery would turn into fewer than $0.02 within 30 days.) The net result for 99.99% of players is mounting losses, which can demolish hopes of a comfortable financial life.

Our favorite reader responses:

I never received my BUDDIBonus tickets. What a ripoff!

I couldn't believe it when I read about the incredibly unprofessional manner in which the lottery drawing was held. Hand-drawn characters on Ping-Pong balls? Can't tell the difference between an oh and a zero? Are you kidding? I thought you guys were different, but I now believe that I was wrong about you.

In response to your fool lottery, I can't believe you would risk your brand image with such a ridiculous stunt....Though I had considered subscribing to one of your services or newsletters on fool.com in the past, I can say now that won't happen. This stunt shows that your company is inept at the very least, and at most corrupt and fraudulent.

I was unable to find out the price of the tickets. What are the methods available to pay? How is this legal? I thought only states were allowed to run lotteries. Is this run offshore?

See it for yourself:

2004: Warren Buffett Buys Krispy Kreme

Yum

Yum. Image source: The Motley Fool.

Legendary value investor Warren Buffett was spotted purchasing a donut at a discount to its intrinsic value.

No discernible lesson here.

Our favorite reader responses:

Another coup for Warren!

I think Krispy Kreme is a well run organization and makes great donuts.

See it for yourself:

2003: Motley Fool Penny Pal

Penny stocks make cents.

Penny stocks make cents.

Yeah, we know. A penny stock newsletter sounds a little contrary to what we've preached in the past. But if you're a longtime Fool, you've seen our stock-selection strategies evolve over the years. This is simply the next step.

The lessons? Look for high-quality companies. Don't trust hype. Understand a company's financials. And don't rely on newsletters that are paid by a company to recommend its stock.

Our favorite reader responses:

THIS IS A TOTAL SCAM! "Fools" BEWARE! Also, those fools who do fall for this scheme should consider jointly taking legal action against Dave and Tom Gardner. Make no mistake about it, what they are doing here is absolutely immoral and unethical and will likely cost many fools their life savings. I am disgusted that the Gardner's would stoop so low. I guess they're willing to sell their souls for a buck.

I don't know how the Fool missed this company. Left Sock Industries (LFSI) is trading at $0.09. They collect all the socks that go missing in the world and strive to pair them up with other socks and resell them.

See it for yourself:

2002: Love.Fool.com

Hopelessly singe?

Hopelessly single? Image source: The Motley Fool.

Did you know that, according to recent studies, 70% of all relationships end because of money?

Yet every online dating service relies on the same failed principle: matching people based on their personalities and interests. We believe that financial compatibility is the foundation of every healthy relationship, which is why Love.Fool.com matches people based on financial criteria -- as opposed to love, emotion, mutual interests, or anything else.

See it for yourself:

2000: Shakespeare's Portfolio Discovered

A storied history

A storied history. Image source: The Motley Fool.

Newly found documents reveal that Shakespeare owned a stock portfolio. What makes us especially proud is that this entire investigation, and the unearthing of Shakespeare's bones, was initiated largely because of the efforts of one graduate student working full-time as an intern at The Motley Fool U.K. Early estimates report that Shakespeare probably invested the equivalent of $0.60 in 1585 and generated 6% annual returns, bringing the value of his holdings to $18.7 billion!

The lesson? Time and compounding interest grow wealth -- dramatically. So start now and keep investing!

Our favorite reader responses:

Alas poor capital, I knew you well, is this a mutual fund I see before me. Forsooth, what wit is there contained amid the foolish community, and such a motley crew as this shouldst claim merriment at expense of those too too gullible to notice twas the very awakening of the fourth month.

The Fool has fooled and foiled, that revenge is never far but twixt those who plot shouldst beware the wit of those befooled.

See it for yourself:

1999: eMeringue.com

The Internet's #1 meringue delivery service

The Internet's NO. 1 meringue delivery service. Image source: The Motley Fool.

The IPO market is hot. But unless you're an insider, it's impossible to buy shares before their first-day pop. That's why we're getting in on the inside by cooking up our first-ever IPO: eMeringue -- the No. 1 meringue delivery service on the Internet. Buy really early, and sell before the bad news hits.

The lessons? Never buy a stock just because someone else does. Beware of IPOs -- they're full of conflicts of interest, and only insiders can get in on the initial offering price. And remember that not all hot internet stocks will be winners.

Our favorite reader responses

My first reaction to the The Motley Fool's underwriting an IPO was one of betrayal. How could these lying, conniving, bunch of scoundrels cash in on the community WE HELPED TO BUILD.... So, I decided to do some snooping.... As it turns out, the domain name is registered to The Motley Fool!.... They have broken SEC regulations...  Looks like Dave and Tom will be trading in bell caps for prison garb. I'll give you update after I contact the SEC.

I specifically asked that my Pepsi-flavored meringue recipe be included on the website in time for the IPO. With a company the size of Pepsi behind your product, the stock is bound to go through the roof.

Hi there, I just got off the phone with the CoB of eMeringue, and he told me they are thinking about a stock split. The next BoD meeting is in April, and a split is on the table!

It is too late. Those shares are going to split 6 ways from Sunday tomorrow morning,

Down to about $20! This doesn't look good for the Gardners. My wife would've killed me if I had got caught up in this.

This is crazier than Priceline.com! People are jumping on this, and I don't even think they realize that you still have to bake a [expletive] pie. A lot of people are going to have egg on their faces.

Correct me if I'm wrong: Don't you still have to bake the [expletive] pie? They just sell the meringue, right? I'm at a loss to see that this has much promise.

Even more ominous, they have had over a year to fix it, but the eggulator on their website still can't do baker's dozen calculations.

See it for yourself:

1998: We Were Wrong: Actively Managed Mutual Funds are Great!

Whoops!

Whoops! Image source: The Motley Fool.

The Motley Fool has long used a simple, devastating statistic to blast Wall Street: 91% of all managed mutual funds lose to the market. But one of our interns -- subsequently taunted and fired -- noticed a little mistake -- we've been looking at the graph upside down. It turns out that 91% of mutual funds outperform the market.

The lesson? Sorry Wall Street, the vast majority of your mutual funds actually do lose to the market. High fees and a herd mentality -- buying stocks as the market rises and selling as it falls -- will do that to you. An individual investor who wants to invest in funds will usually be better off simply owning low-cost index funds.

Our favorite reader emails

You are complete idiots, not Fools. Pack it up.

It is perfectly obvious that you have discredited yourself completely. Upside down indeed!

"WHY... underscore WHY, would you announce this on April Fools Day?

I am impressed that you have not tried to avoid the issue, gloss over it or, blame others.

I have seldom heard the words "We were Wrong" or "We are sorry". Never in financial matters. It gives me comfort to know that you are honorable men who will "own up" when you discover an error.

What you should do is get out of the business. To be wrong is one thing--to be wrong for 4 years is another. To demonstrate the arrogance of firing an apprentice for being brighter than you is unforgivable. You have no place in our culture.... You should follow the Japan culture of rectifying your mistakes with Hari-Kari. You are all losers.

Good luck with the lawsuits, if you need some legal representation, call me.

See it for yourself:

We hope you've enjoyed this April Fool's Day collection. Until next April 1st... Fool On!

Ilan Moscovitz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.