Is humour permitted in questions?

I have tried to have some fun with serious questions, like I am captive pleasehelp (10k only).

I understand that "help" is not allowed in titles because of my other MSO post, Unable to use "help" in a question title

I'm not complaining about blacklisted words here. I do want to know if it's okay to make fun questions with humour.


I would recommend avoiding any attempt at humor until you've mastered more English.

I honestly could not tell that was humor, and besides, as Oded correctly noted, such "only a joke" questions are not allowed on Stack Overflow or for that matter anywhere else on the Stack Exchange network.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Me neither Jeff....then I looked at the title :) – Adam Rackis Jan 23 '12 at 20:45
  • 5
    Aye; Humor is very often difficult to detect in a text-only medium even when both writer and reader are fluent, native users of English. – Andrew Barber Jan 24 '12 at 0:53

Humour is allowed, so long as it is not the whole point of the question.

That is, if you are just making a joke or a joke question, then no, this is not allowed.

However, if you simply use joke variable names, or such code, that's fine.

| improve this answer | |
  • 17
    foreach(waffle in waffles) {waffle.eat(); /* yum */ } – waffles Jan 23 '12 at 20:41
  • 3
    @waffles - Yep, was going to add something about comments being OK, but I got distracted by waffles. – Oded Jan 23 '12 at 20:42
  • 16
    @waffles I'm rather frightened by the idea of waffles that have the ability to eat. – Michael McGowan Jan 23 '12 at 21:28
  • 6
    @Michael Not just eat... cannibalism! – Andrew Barber Jan 23 '12 at 22:02

Humor is allowed, but dangerous. The problem with humor that it is very subjective, and difficult to use effectively.

Is your message actually funny? You may think that depends on you, but it actually depends much more on your readers. If your audience doesn't "get" your humor, then your posts may seem unprofessional, off-topic or even offensive.

Using humor on Stack Exchange sites is harder than using humor in "normal" life. SE reaches a worldwide audience, and humor does not translate well across cultural boundaries. SE also depends entirely on written communication, so there is no way to use tone, inflection, timing or other verbal cues that frequently indicate humor.

In short, the chance that humor will cause problems is much greater than the chance that it will generate a positive response, unless you have a very firm grasp on the overall personality of your audience.

| improve this answer | |

Humor is fine, so long as it's tasteful, and not overbearing.

I think the problem with your question was that it was very, very difficult to determine what was being asked. I know English is your second language, but the text of your question made is almost impossible to understand; I honestly couldn't even tell where the joke was. Ok, your title was pretty funny. Figure out how to clearly ask your question, and you should be fine.

| improve this answer | |

Humor is not allowed on the technical SO sites unless it is made explicit and falls within acceptable humor levels.

The following rules will ensure your humor is clearly indicated. It will minimize negative votes or having your question closed by moderators.

Announce that a joke is eminent or immediately state that what was written was intended to be humor: "I will take a quick detour from the topic to add some humor." "WARNING: JOKE" "Just kidding" "All kidding aside" " Duck! Joke!"

You can also put the word joke within enclosing delimiters using ASCII or ideally UNICODE so that those who use alternative scripts may be aware of your humor. EBCDIC has been deprecated and is not supported. joke (joke) -joke-

Emoticons can be used, but given their ambiguity and possible parsing issues with programming language syntax, they are not recommended.

In addition to these rules, always read your humor and ensure the humor level falls within an acceptable range. If your humor causes abdominal pain, it can be flagged and removed by moderators. Please be advised that using a very high level of humor can pose a chocking hazard, since some users may be eating while reading your humor. If you cannot determine the humor level, err on the side of caution and omit the humorous portion.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .