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So I find that I can be a bit of a smartass sometimes. Maybe that's a bit harsh to myself, but basically I use sarcasm to, what I feel, is great advantage. Here's a couple examples of the kinds of comments I would make (not answers, mind you, because they aren't answers.)

To a question about Javascript, I might say

No matter how many errors you take out, it still won't work right in IE.

In a question about how to do something complicated in SQL, and someone says this is probably too strong for SQL to handle, I might say to his answer

If SQL isn't getting it done, you're not using enough of it.

One of these I've actually said - someone flagged it and had it removed. Now, I feel that a comment is not intended to be an answer. And, these comments (can) prompt the user to consider the experience of others. For example, who has worked in Javascript and not got frustrated that IE just isn't working for them when the rest do? And, how many times has someone said "this can't be done in SQL" only to find out not only can it do it, it does it very well.

Maybe the humor is a little crude. Maybe it's not entirely on topic. I'm okay with that.

My question is, how far is too far? Is it really hurting anything? What happened to "bring your sense of humor"?

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18  
If I couldn't post sarcastic, occasionally humorous comments on Stack Overflow, I think I'd get bored very fast. –  James McNellis Mar 12 '11 at 1:34
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As long as your comment isn't "This question is so exciting I'm taking my pants off", I don't see how it can be that crude or offensive. –  bobobobo Mar 12 '11 at 2:08
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@bobo, I can't take them off because I didn't even put them on yet this morning. –  Nick T Mar 12 '11 at 2:24
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For the record, I earned my Pundit badge by talking crap. Take a look: (my ID is 106224) data.stackexchange.com/stackoverflow/s/540/… –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Mar 12 '11 at 4:40
    
@shelby I wouldn't say I asked for a hard and fast rule, but I will admit that the answer I chose did not answer the question I asked. However, it addresses the problems ("It just happens that they didn't get your humor" and "All things equal, less noise is better"). I also have to say that I disagree with the other answer's "rule". I feel it's a foolish decision to be positive when someone is doing something bad, and that if you can lighten the mood with some humor it can defuse the situation. If they ignore you with humor, they would've ignored you without it too. –  corsiKa Dec 8 '11 at 17:04

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Your first example was either deleted by the community flagging it into oblivion, or by a moderator removing the noise comments. I was checking the flags, but by the time I got to the post, your comments (and some others) were already gone.

Unfortunately the tracking is spotty with respect to comment deletions, so it's hard to tell what actually happened.

I don't have any problem with humor in comments, especially if it's good humor. But sometimes people get defensive if you attack their favorite browser. :) In your particular scenario, it seems that people didn't know you were joking.

All other things being equal, less noise is better. That said, I will admit that flagged comments often get a pass from me if they are genuinely funny, and are not mean-spirited.

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IE is someone's favorite browser??? O_o –  Ullallulloo Mar 12 '11 at 1:18
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@Ullallulloo FLAGGED –  bobobobo Mar 12 '11 at 2:01
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I tend to react adversely not because I love the browser, but because I'm tired of hearing the same lame meme all the time. Hating IE's shortcomings is like hating global warming. Every civilized human being feels the same way about it, has heard about it a million times, and is becoming bored of the endless repetition... That said, I would never flag such a comment. Either provide an acidic reply, or do nothing –  Pëkka Mar 12 '11 at 2:11
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@Pekka "The same lame meme" is a REAL meme. –  belisarius Mar 12 '11 at 2:39
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Making fun if IE6 is like making fun of a crippled kid. It's just not cool! –  Gabe Mar 12 '11 at 3:52
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@Gabe Hey now, let's not be insulting those that are disabled. No one deserves to be compared to IE. –  Adam Davis Mar 12 '11 at 5:54
    
Making fun of IE6 is like making fun of a crippled senior who used to be an athlete decades ago. It's just not cool! –  GolezTrol Mar 12 '11 at 7:28
    
@GolezTrol - I dunno... it's more like making fun of a guy who was a really promising athlete at school, but then just as he was getting good he gave up running and is now a morbidly obese 20-something with no friends and nothing to show for himself apart from a bunch of medals he won once at a school sports day.... hmm... yeah, you're right... maybe it's not so cool to make fun of him. Lets just ignore him instead, eh? –  Spudley Mar 12 '11 at 13:02
    
Some really good comments here, especially Pekka's. I am not here to say 'Boo hoo my comment got sacked' I'm just trying to gauge at what point is the signal to noise ratio too low. I also see that as being subjective in the eyes of whoever looks at the issue, which makes a definitive answer difficult to gauge. –  corsiKa Mar 12 '11 at 15:49

The exact same thing happens with any kind of question that focuses on a negative aspect of, say, a language or a tool. It is guaranteed to be seen by a programmer that is heavily invested in such a tool, is proud to master it in spite of its quirks and uses it to get his job done. He just doesn't like to see his skill and knowledge to be dismissed like that. The question quickly gets closed.

Same goes for negative comments, no matter how funny they are. Make positive funny comments and give everybody a good time.

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