I came across this answer the other day, which immediately seemed strange due to the use of the term "mix mash", so I read on.

Upon reading the whole thing, it seemed like the answer qualified as "Not an Answer", because it was not an actual attempt to answer the question, but instead a long, sarcastic joke of a posting. I noted that this user has a habit of making such sarcastic remarks in comments because, well... it takes one to know one :P ... but it seemed too much to do so in an answer. The discussion in this Meta question seemed to back up my feeling.

I felt that especially since this was posted as an answer to a first-time question-asker, and judging by the comment, the OP seemed to be taking the answer seriously. Plus, the answer actually got two(2) up votes, suggesting others also took it seriously (or were just up-voting because they liked the sarcasm).

I won't turn this into a dissertation by trying to support the idea that the post is an exercise in sarcasm rather than a real answer, but it does take some close and (slightly-)educated reading to realize that fact. It was actually crafted quite "well" to appear as a serious answer and... maybe it is, and I'm just wrong!

(There's a ten-millionth time for everything, or so they say!)

I do understand that there is a line between "factually wrong" answers, and that flagging is not meant for such answers; that's what voting and commenting are for. I am liberal with both. My thinking in flagging this is that it was not an attempt to be an answer in the first place, and that that is the difference, here.

But where I may have gone wrong is in even attempting to make such a distinction in the first place.


So, my next step was how to flag it. I knew that a simple "Not an Answer" flag would likely be rejected, because the answer "feels" serious without really reading it. So I flagged "Other" and briefly explained that while it had the initial appearance of a "real" answer, I concluded that it really wasn't.

Obviously, I would not be here if my flag had been deemed Helpful... it was rejected with the "should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies or wrong answers" reason.


Question(s), then, for my education!

  1. Am I wrong in my conclusion about the answer's quality? Am I missing some facts here?

  2. Even if I'm right about the quality, am I wrong to have attempted to guess that this was meant as sarcasm and not as useful information?

  3. Even if correct above, am I incorrect that sarcastic, intentionally-false answers should be flagged for deletion? (and should instead be down voted/commented, instead)

If I was incorrect with my thinking on one of these points, then I'll be glad to know how and why, so I can avoid unnecessarily flagging this way in the future! If I'm just all wet all over about this, the answer could stand to have a couple up-votes to counter my down vote for all the effort it represented... I guess ;)

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the question your link refers to, is gone. Guess it is visible only to 10Kers / diamonds now. If it was your flag that helped a moderator to decide on question deletion then it would be wrong to decline it –  gnat Apr 26 '12 at 17:33
    
Could you quote the answer so us mortals can see it too? –  Dennis Apr 26 '12 at 17:33
    
Oh my, a book meta question that links to a book joke answer. Should I really read all of this? –  animuson Apr 26 '12 at 17:34
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It should be noted the question was closed and deleted, too. I could quote, but as @animuson notes, it is long. –  Andrew's a Unitato Apr 26 '12 at 17:34
    
@BoltClock Question deleted. Mod, copy of answer please? –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 17:34
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@gnat: It was deleted by three users, no moderator. :) –  animuson Apr 26 '12 at 17:36
    
@animuson in that case I guess flag message text would be helpful to decide whether mod's judgement of a situation has been "quick, competent and independent" –  gnat Apr 26 '12 at 17:40
    
My flag message text was brief; likely too brief. I am on tablet now, but it was basically, "I know this appears to be an answer, but it's really just a joke" –  Andrew's a Unitato Apr 26 '12 at 17:43
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Looks like a mod got fooled by the post's appearance. I am glad to know I wasn't losing it! Or, that this wasn't evidence of me losing it... –  Andrew's a Unitato Apr 26 '12 at 18:21
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3 Answers

up vote 17 down vote accepted
  1. Am I wrong in my conclusion about the answer's quality? Am I missing some facts here?

    No. It's a couple hundred words that could have been put into something infinitely more useful, like an article at The Onion.

  2. Even if I'm right about the quality, am I wrong to have attempted to guess that this was meant as sarcasm and not as useful information?

    No. In fact, I assert that it's not really a question of right-or-wrong here.

    I'll agree that it can sometimes be hard to tell, especially with elaborate fabrications like this one. But if you look just a little closer, the unfunniness tends to jump right at you.

  3. Even if correct above, am I incorrect that sarcastic, intentionally-false answers should be flagged for deletion? (and should instead be down voted/commented, instead)

    Discussions from previous generations had apparently settled on just downvoting and commenting on such answers instead of flagging them:

    But these days I'd rather see them moderated into oblivion altogether, if they don't add anything of value and serve only to distract and mislead. Given the growth of Stack Overflow and the resulting volume of answers, I feel that noise has become a real issue. We have enough trouble with useless one-line-linkers, and most existing joke answers now remain merely as historical artifacts. We don't need any more of that stuff.

    You can try to be clever, but if you're not trying to be helpful with your cleverness, you're probably going to make yourself look stupid.

    Then again, I'm a young, immature moderator, so it's patently obvious that everything I say and do regarding moderation should be taken with a grain of salt (or none at all).

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It's not that there's anything wrong with humour in answers, then or now. The point is that deletion is a risk you take when trying to be funny. There are so many users with so many different senses of humour that it's very likely a lame or unusual attempt at humour will get flagged. (Also, proud that my name appears as one of the users who voted to delete both of the last 2 questions you linked.) –  Cody Gray Apr 26 '12 at 18:15
    
I wonder why the teen-mods post was deleted.. The answers raised some good(useful in the future) points, even if the question was ranty (disclaimer: I lost 100 reps there, so maybe i'm just whining :p) –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 18:18
    
Bleh! You know how I feel about that last link's claim, I hope! And #3 is what I was thinking, especially given the illustration ofthe new user taking the answer seriously! Sounds like a mod just got tripped up by the post's appearance of seriousness. –  Andrew's a Unitato Apr 26 '12 at 18:18
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@Manishearth: Personally I'm happy to see it go, but I shall not elaborate on why... –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 26 '12 at 18:20
    
@Bolt alright ;-) –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 18:23
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@Manishearth: When you post a rant, it's almost inevitable that it will be deleted. Yes, sometimes the answers are pretty good and contain some useful content, but that's a loss I'm willing to suffer in light of the larger problems presented by the question. –  Cody Gray Apr 26 '12 at 18:25
    
@TheE yeah, I see now. Thanks :) –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 18:27
    
@Manishearth: Don't worry. You're just a little over 5000 rep away from seeing the posts again. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 26 '12 at 18:28
    
@Bolt 5000? Beeg beeg number :O –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 18:34
    
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Here is the answer in question, posted here as CW due to its length. It was in response to a first timer question to the effect of, "what is the order of execution of a web page? And what should I do to improve performance?"

Lest this be ironically and correctly flagged as not an answer, I'll say I'm answering that this quote proves I was right. :0


  1. I'd make a mix mash of nested asynchronous requests. I'd definitely start by loading a bunch of CSS with @media conditionals that quickly interfere with each other. This makes animation smoother since it requires no javascript, which is slower (CSS happens on a lower level with DOM elements).

  2. I'd override all default events so that you can re-dispatch them in the order you'd prefer. Really, when dealing with events it is more a matter of adhering to the chaos principle for accurate numerical predictions. Your results are likely to be more accurate and less time-biased if you sample them more randomly, producing a more even spread. I'd look into real random number generators. There are a few services you can subscribe to out there to get around the whole pseudorandom problem found with computer random algorithms.

  3. Avoid executing script when the DOM is ready. Try to execute it beforehand. This saves time for users so they don't leave.

  4. The best way to call functions is not directly like myFunction() but with setTimeouts. Calling functions directly is silly since it does not give you timing control. I always ALWAYS set a global variable like _targetY right before doing setTimeout( beginAnimation, 1000).

  5. A goodly designed website will use many redirects, both on the server side with 403's and also with js window.location and top.location. This will increase the understanding of users back buttons with relation to content.

  6. iframe's are a good way to control how content looks. You can show and hide them with javascript, even change their size, so they are a good alternative to or compliment to CSS. In terms of timing, this gives you control over when other content should get loaded since you can execute more code when the other document's DOM is ready (or before if you were successful with step 3). I would use a separate iframe for meta navigation, content inspection and each image so they load in the natural order).

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It's sarcastic junk. Your flag was valid. –  Robert Harvey Apr 26 '12 at 17:41
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Flagging as not an answer. This doesn't answer the question regarding the merit of the flag you speak of. (Someone had to be that guy!) –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 26 '12 at 17:45
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Lol... I originally posted without the message about this being an answer, completely oblivious to the irony! @bolt –  Andrew's a Unitato Apr 26 '12 at 17:47
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Yeah! Its clearly obvious that this was a joke answer and wasn't real. I mean, anybody could see that! I wonder who that mod was... What a dope! –  Won't Apr 26 '12 at 18:00
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The quoted post made me laugh and cry at the same time :( –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 18:15
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I don't blame the mod here, the trolling is very subtle (though it increases with each point). Well done, actually :P –  Matthew Read Apr 26 '12 at 18:16
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If you want to post a joke, make it obvious that it is thus (well worn example).

If a joke is not obvious, flag it to oblivion. It can be misleading to the newbies. Deletion is a risk taken by all jokes, even on MSO.

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How can you possibly joke about such things as parsing HTML with regex? That is NOT a laughing matter! –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 26 '12 at 18:29
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Somewhat ironically, the very example that you give has not been universally understood as a joke. The evidence for this lies in the revision history. Lots of people trying to "fix" what they think is a "mistake". See revision 5 in particular. –  Cody Gray Apr 26 '12 at 18:29
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@TheE wow.. It's kinda funny how he managed to fix it without adding stuff, just removing. I guess its always hard to judge jokes on the Internet (no body language). –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 18:37
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