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The Programmers Paradox starts by asking a question about the halting problem but then goes on to talk about stackoverflow

There are lots of overly zealous programmers running around "scrubbing" the questions and shutting down what they don't like. The rules are ambiguous enough that the real enforcement is left up to the individuals, always a dangerous practice. If SO was a library, out front there would be a raging pile of books, feeding an eternal flame. And librarians toasting marshmallows on sticks.

I thought it was interesting enough to post here, and to ask what people thought about it.

For those with more than 10K rep here is a link to the question.

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tl;dr. Seriously, is that War and Peace or a blog post? – Ian Elliott Aug 9 '09 at 22:58
OMG! That is the longest block post on Earth. It should be made into a book. – Dexter Aug 10 '09 at 1:55
If you can read at 300 WPM it would still take 15 minutes to read. – Dexter Aug 10 '09 at 1:57
Summary version: "The halting problem is neat and famously unsolvable. Until Microsoft solved it by implementing ''slow script'' detection in IE. I posted about this to SO but my question was voted down and closed. Now I am bitter. If Galileo had posted on SO about the moons of Jupiter, he would have been voted down and the scientific revolution would have never happened. SO should be more like a communal blog for everyone who likes programming." – John Fouhy Aug 10 '09 at 4:45
I hereby declare Paul W. Homer dead to me. May his whiny, self-righteous blog posts never again grace my screen. – Eric Aug 10 '09 at 5:02
hmm, seanyboy... what is the question you are asking? – waffles Aug 10 '09 at 5:40
My summary: "People didn't like my funny. They deleted my question. What do all yous'e have against discussion type questions you Microsoft fanboys. Questions should never be deleted" – waffles Aug 10 '09 at 5:55
Because their contemporaries tried to delete their stuff too: – Paul W Homer Aug 28 '09 at 22:03

I liked the bit:

Removing spam is one thing, removing stupid and ugly questions is quite another.

I'm struggling to think of good reasons (or even just one) to keep "stupid and ugly questions", except as a reminder of what not to do; which can be done better in the FAQ. (edit: by this, I'm talking about the unsalvageable posts).

The dross about morality, burning books, etc, is just daft. Godwin's law at its worst.

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If stupid = newbie, I could understand keeping around dumb questions and such like that. If it is just completely mind-bogglingly retarded and serves no genuine purpose, yes get rid of it. – TheTXI Aug 9 '09 at 23:58
The real SO way I think is to take the question and modify it to be useful. – EBGreen Aug 10 '09 at 0:04
or modify something useful into a question! – Kent Fredric Aug 10 '09 at 0:15
He, Marc, what comment did you leave that was then deleted? – jjnguy Aug 10 '09 at 2:58
I called Godwin's law, then I deleted it, deciding better to keep my discussion here. – Marc Gravell Aug 10 '09 at 4:23

The questions are limited towards just the things that can be retyped out of manuals. Discussions are restricted towards just simple facts.

Step 1:

Repeat this after me 1000 times, stackoverflow is not a discussion board.

Step 2:


If you have a REAL programming problem that you can clearly articulate and has a solution then stackoverflow is a good place for you.

If you are trying to discuss why Microsoft chose MaxScriptStatements of 5 million. Well the only people to ask are Microsoft employees, its a discussion type question with no clear answer.

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"stackoverflow is not a discussion board." Right. Meta is :D – Daniel Daranas Aug 10 '09 at 7:03

SO has a "system" for eliminating unpopular opinion [posted as a question, ed.]. [... T]he truth is that anything with even the slight bias towards a statement gets shutdown real fast. [emph. mine]


Discussions are restricted towards just simple facts.


It's a good place to ask some simple questions, but it was probably a very bad choice as a place to try and communicate with any fellow developers.


For all I know, the majority is correct and [my] question sucks. Badly written and obnoxious.


There is much buried behind things, that sometimes even the most trivial fact is the gateway to a vast new understanding.

Exact... eh, what?

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@balpha, that last one sounds like a timothy leary quote – waffles Aug 10 '09 at 6:11
@Sam Saffron: To me, it felt more like a "to boldly go where no man" etc. kind of openening title voice-over. Not sure I'd watch the series, though. – balpha Aug 10 '09 at 6:26

Is it just me, or is Meta getting a lot of posts this weekend that make absolutely no sense or have no question/suggestion/anything in them?

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No, the correct answer is five, because of the red cotangents. – Kent Fredric Aug 10 '09 at 0:16
Programming is all about knowing when to boil the orange sponge donkey across the phillipines with an orangutang gorilla crossed with a ham sandwich to the fourth power of twelve across the nile with an awful headache from the previous night when all of alfred's naughty jalapeno peppers frog-marched the nordic elves across the loom-lined geronimo induced swamp donkey over and above the fortran fortified kilomanjaro fence past the meticulously crafted anti disgusting sponge cake scenario where all the hats doth quoteth the milk which is not unlike the super werewolf ... duh! – Jeff Atwood Aug 10 '09 at 1:01
@Jeff - I have no idea what you just said, but I like your style. – Margaret Aug 10 '09 at 2:44
@Jeff, I couldn't agree more...I think. – jjnguy Aug 10 '09 at 3:08
Perhaps you should just delete them all. That would keep Meta nice and clean, and make the world a beautiful place. The more we delete, the less there is to worry about. – Paul W Homer Aug 28 '09 at 21:55

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