Here is the post in question: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/2349378/new-programming-jargon-you-coined

According to Jeff Atwood's Stack Overflow: Where We Hate Fun, there are three things to consider when deciding what content should be allowed:

  1. Does this question match the criteria provided in the Stack Overflow FAQ?
  2. Is this question accepted by the community, as reflected in upvotes, favorites, views, and answers?
  3. Does this question teach me anything that could make me better at my job? Can I learn something from it?

I realize this definitely does not qualify for #1. But there is no question that the Jargon post meets qualification #2. I argue that it also meets qualification #3, and Jeff said, "As Meat Loaf once said, two out of three ain’t bad. It’s guideline #3 that ends up being the pivotal decision in most borderline cases." I think this borderline case leans towards the useful end of the spectrum.

While I admit some of the answers are frivolous and just entertaining, I also believe that some are genuinely useful.

In particular, the top-rated answer, "Yoda Conditions", is a phrase I heard used by a colleague before I even knew about that post, and found it to be a very useful description for a common idiom that previously had no good name. And, in fact, a google search for this phrase shows it being used in many places besides that post. There is some other very useful jargon* in this post, but I think "Yoda Conditions" alone qualifies this answer as useful.

To quote Jeff further:

I know that we’re all programmers, so we love thinking of the world in absolute, binary terms — either fun questions must never be allowed, or fun questions must always be allowed. Well, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but the world is more … floating point. We will sometimes allow fun questions that meet the three broad guidelines I outlined above, but even then, only a limited amount.

I believe this question meets two of the guidelines and qualifies for this "limited amount".

* Some other highly rated answers that I believe are more than just frivolous include "Heisenbug", "A Duck", "Doctype Decoration", and "Baklava Code".

For some back-discussion see Can we revive deleted content that does not follow the guidelines but nonetheless contains an abundance of community relevance? Basically in this question I was arguing that there should be some posts that should remain alive despite not following the FAQ guidelines, and used the Jargon post as an example; turns out Jeff Atwood already said in the linked article exactly what I was advocating for. This new question is specifically about the Jargon post and nothing else).

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    You're aware that that question, while quite amusing and entertaining, completely fails to comply with the FAQ? Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 10:35
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    @Bobby, Yes of course. I realize it does not qualify for #1 at all. But it definitely qualifies for #2 and I argue it qualifies for #3 as well.
    – Ben Lee
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 10:37
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    @Bobby, Jeff Atwood's line was "As Meat Loaf once said, two out of three ain’t bad. It’s guideline #3 that ends up being the pivotal decision in most borderline cases." I think #3 is towards the "useful" end in this borderline case.
    – Ben Lee
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 10:37
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    I updated my question to clarify that I understand this doesn't meet qualification #1.
    – Ben Lee
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 10:39
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    Note also that the blogpost you are quoting is over two years old, which is more than half the lifetime so far of stackoverflow. Policies change.
    – AakashM
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 10:44
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    But wouldn't you agree that the points two and three are completely moot without point one? I mean, do I need to drag out the Cake-Question? Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 10:45
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    Looks like the Wikipedia-like Deletionist lobby has migrated to SO. There goes the neighborhood. Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 10:50
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    @bobby, I'm not familiar with the Cake Question. Perhaps I am misunderstanding policy. In my other more broad question, someone pointed me to the blog post I quoted, so I assumed they were saying it was still policy. Has that policy become more strict?
    – Ben Lee
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 10:51
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    Undelete, maybe. I don't like deleting historically awesome questions like this, but maybe move them out. Reopen? No. The close reason sums it up very nicely. Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 11:03
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    Ah, OK :) An archive for old questions like this (as mentioned in one of your other questions) would be very swell. Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 11:06
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    The Cake-Question was the simple question "My boyfriend is a programmer, what should I write on his birthday-cake", it got heavy attention and upvotes. It's one of the main examples why good questions are not defined by upvotes, but by the FAQ. And yes, SO has grown up, without these strict rules it would turn into a garbagecan (not that there's something particularly wrong with garbagecans, they're useful and stuff and you can find great things in there...but most of the time they just stink and provoke and "eeeek" feeling). Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 11:29
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    One important question: how many incoming links are there to this page from other (non-spam) websites? How much traffic does it get from these incoming links? If the answers to these questions are non-trivial, at the very least we should provide a redirect to a place where this information is still available, e.g. Jeff's blog post.
    – jammycakes
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 13:34
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    The latest version in the WaybackMachine is :: web.archive.org/web/20120210110752/http://stackoverflow.com/…
    – Sled
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 14:44
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    This is ironic. (I would use a harsher word, but that would violate the “Be nice” policy.) This question was posted on Meta Stack Overflow in 2012.  In late 2013 / early 2014, Meta Stack Exchange was created, and all MSO questions were moved to MSE.  All SO-specific questions were then supposed to be migrated back to MSO; somehow, this question (which is clearly SO-specific) didn’t make the cut.  So it got closed because it’s now on the wrong Meta site, through no fault of the OP. … (Cont’d) Commented Nov 3, 2018 at 2:40
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3 Answers 3


Having gone through the (rather painstaking, actually) process of re-blogging the top 30 "answers" on this question, along with some meta-commentary, I have an opinion about this.

Mostly, I think it fails on the "can I learn something from this that will make me better at my job?" criteria. It's close, but it's not enough. For example, knowing that someone uses

// banana banana banana

as a placeholder comment is amusing, but it's not exactly setting my IDE on fire with new techniques.

Another problem with this question is that it invites people to contribute by making up their own terminology, rather than asking that they find support for existing terminology (even if their own) and providing examples of where that terminology could teach you things about your code.

That's why it has 386 answers, because it's an open invitation to … basically make stuff up for the lols.

(I'm not saying the top 30 answers aren't some good lols, and some of them you could actually learn from, but not reliably, and not enough. I liked it enough to blog it, but the point I'm also trying to make here is that it belongs on a blog, not on Stack Overflow.)

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    +1 but I'll be damned if I could explain why I upvote. I am strongly for deletion of garbage questions like coinedjargon (~4500 total downvotes at Programmers / year can probably serve as a proof) but your blog post made me want it back.
    – gnat
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 23:47
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    The question should be closed, not deleted. An inexperienced but smart enough "Jimmy" still has something to learn from a lot of those answers and comments. Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 6:39
  • I could argue that using the string //banana banana banana instead of proper comments is a very easy way to spot and fix "ninja comments". How about javadoc? It's easier (less embarrassing) to release undocumented code than to publish banana javadoc. Banana is an invitation to fix your comments after you are out of "the zone" and done with writing the actual code. Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 6:53
  • @mircea why would you need to use anything other than the plain old // todo for that? If the goal is maximum embarrassment I can think of some much more embarrassing things to put there than "banana". Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 14:59
  • //todo is great, but there may be times when a list of TODOs gets very big and in that case it wouldn't hurt to have something different. However, that was not my point. I was trying to point out that there may be useful information in those answers along with the amusement factor and that the question should only be closed, not deleted. Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 19:19
  • Not to be vain, but I submitted the "Heisenbug" answer and not "unknown" :)
    – Jacob
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 18:50
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    @jacob you didn't coin the phrase. Sorry. Re-read the original question. If you can find the original source of "heisenbug" let me know and I'll update it. Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 20:01
  • Too bad your blog post misses over 90% of the answers... There were some good ones that are gone forever now... Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 10:11
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    I disagree with your general approach which is why I rarely use Stack Overflow as a resource. You guys have not only missed some great opportunities to share knowledge, like this one, but you've basically become a place to replicate every manual or book or APIDoc ever written with the express goal of NOT adding any further information. It's really sad.
    – aybiss
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 21:26
  • If you had some integrity, you would delete that blog posts with all the gathered knowledge. Then, perhaps then, you would realize what others have been deprived of... It all boils down to that. The rest (your answer) is just the demonstration of the high quality persuasion you're so good at. A bet you could argue for the opposite claim just as well. But for some reason you don't... because you've missed the point. Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 17:00
  • @karoly get back to me when you've watched this in its entirety vimeo.com/44234748 Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 8:44
  • @JeffAtwood: done. great talk, Sir. how is your experiment of deleting the blog entry going? Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 10:08

There are nearly 400 answers in 13 pages. It's a great example of a question which is too broad for this format.

We're not saying it's a bad question at all - simply that it's not suited for the Q&A format here at Stack Overflow. If you can write a book about it, if everyone can submit an answer and none are more or less correct than every other answer - yet still different, then the question is more like a "Getting to know you" question than a "Here's a problem, do you have a solution?" question.

I could go on about whether point #3 is true or not, with examples of answers such as "When someone shows me a problem they are having and I don't have an answer for them, I just say "You're not holding the mouse right"." and "Not really a jargon, but I don't actually spell out "A-P-I". I just say "ah-pee"." and those are only on page five out of thirteen - they are among the more highly rated "answers" to this "question."

There are many, many other reasons to reject this question, but the bottom line is that it's not suitable for this Q&A format.

Since it can be obtained via the data dumps and is CC licensed, you are free to post it elsewhere - there are many sites where such content is not only acceptable but likely welcomed.

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    Deleted questions don't show up in the data dumps, do they? Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 11:20
  • Ok thanks. I must have just misunderstood the policy.
    – Ben Lee
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 11:22
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    @BoltClock'saUnicorn, there is this: stackprinter.com/…
    – Ben Lee
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 11:23
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    @Ben Lee: Neat, I hadn't seen that. Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 11:23
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn No, but a question such as this would have been around for a long time and shown up in data dumps prior to deletion. Not sure what Stack Printer is doing, though - it shouldn't have access to deleted questions through the API. It may be using caching (storing it's own copy of deleted questions) or it may be using data dumps rather than (or in conjunction with?) the API.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 11:33
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    @AdamDavis As I understand it, it's using caching, particularly on questions somehow identified as "likely to be deleted."
    – user149432
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 18:09
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    @Adam The deleted questions of Stack Printer is just a collection of cached questions that have been printed at least one time before the deletion. I remember that some months ago I've launched a script to print the most voted questions on each site of the network :). Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 20:47
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    that was one of the best content at SO. I really don't understand you people why you would not have it there. you're so narrow minded. open your mind and be a bit more flexible. SO is a great community but these kind of things will kill it! Commented May 7, 2012 at 8:08

Please undelete this.

There are sites that link to this URL. Having some stackprinter or archive.org is really not a good alternative to keeping this great question available for everyone. Has Stackoverflow gone mad?

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    Fortunately, somebody summarized it before it became unavailable on stackoverflow: umumble.com/blogs/Programming/321 Commented Feb 25, 2012 at 21:29
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    Thanks, Andre. This is what was needed. A link to some kind of rehashing of the thread. This thread is officially done now. Upvotes all around to all the fun people and boo all the "moderators" who hate fun. You're not going to convince us to not be fun. You're not special and no one cares about your hall monitor-type mentality. I hate to break it to you, but you don't really have any authority.
    – vbullinger
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 23:00
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    Well, I supported this meta.stackexchange.com/questions/122249/… but it was declined. I do think we should provide an official, supported "other place" for the deleted popular content to live. Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 22:42
  • Jeff, I think that you missed the point OP made. I came here from a google search for "Yoda Coding", the first hit on google had a link to the deleted question which led to a generic "This question was removed from Stack Overflow for reasons of moderation" page with no explanation. I do not understand why there is an option to delete non spam questions at all? Why closing them and removing them from search engine listings is not enough?
    – Artium
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 0:11
  • "Why closing them and removing them from search engine listings is not enough?" - I'd rather newcomers to the site not have a linkbaity "wrong" answer be their first/only experience of SO before asking a question or providing an answer. Removing the answer from search engines might help, but I came looking for it because it was linked from a comment on HN/Reddit/some other massive high traffic site. Search engines ain't the only way in, and they're not even the only high-traffic way in. Best get rid of the broken window before we attract more like it. Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 17:16
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    Last archived version is: web.archive.org/web/20120210110752/http://stackoverflow.com/…
    – Sled
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 14:45
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    @JeffAtwood, it may have been declined by the powers that be, but it was overwhelmingly supported by common man. Commented May 18, 2015 at 3:20

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