Why was this answer to a very popular question about the --> operator in C++ deleted? It seems to me that it provides good sarcasm and references to solve the question.

Here's the answer (for those < 10K):

enter image description here

In the context, the two different parts refers to the -- operator and the > comparison operator. Which is exactly the answer to that question.

  • 1
    Note that the total number of votes an answer gets are roughly proportional to the number of views a question gets. A typical Stack Overflow question might have a few hundred views; this one got a hundred and thirty thousand.
    – user102937
    Apr 25, 2013 at 15:15
  • 8
    It's worth noting that we don't consider popularity very much when moderating, since it has been shown to be not a very useful metric in that regard. Also, I'm amused that you seem to think sarcasm is a valuable quality that should be taken into consideration when moderating answers.
    – user102937
    Apr 25, 2013 at 16:05
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    @RobertHarvey, that post is funny and it made me smile (also answering the question). And it's a quality that I would awarded with a +1 myself. Apparently this website doesn't give that much credit to the community/majority as I thought.
    – Shoe
    Apr 25, 2013 at 16:20
  • 6
    If by the community you mean the unwashed masses that come here from Reddit who don't actively participate unless they find something amusing to talk about, then yes, you're right; I don't pay those folks much attention.
    – user102937
    Apr 25, 2013 at 16:24
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    @RobertHarvey I value sarcasm. I'd be sad if Tony the Pony went away, too; I think there's value in leaving some of that around for posterity. IMO if it had links to the two operators it'd also be a 100% valid answer. Apr 26, 2013 at 0:19
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    @DaveNewton: 999 upvotes on an answer like that is just embarrassing. What message are we sending by leaving it there? That humor is more important than getting real answers? It should have been a comment in the first place.
    – user102937
    Apr 26, 2013 at 0:21
  • 5
    @RobertHarvey But it is a real answer, just not a spoonfed one. The message? Humor is funny, and even when it's not precise, it's still valuable. It had more than half the votes of the accepted, highly-upvoted, better answer. I don't see it as substantively different than stackoverflow.com/questions/1732348/…; go delete it-humor is not important. Or add links, and preserve something that others have clearly valued. Apr 26, 2013 at 0:38
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    @DaveNewton: That question got Reddited also, and we locked it to clearly indicate that it was an aberration. Parsing HTML with Regex is something that someone asks about every couple of days or so, and that post makes the point eloquently. All we need now is one for the PHP folks who like to concatenate strings in their SQL statements.
    – user102937
    Apr 26, 2013 at 2:37
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    @DaveNewton: For a really good time, see here.
    – user102937
    Apr 26, 2013 at 3:49
  • @RobertHarvey: that was very good May 2, 2013 at 0:10
  • this bit would look perfectly as a comment with 999 upvotes
    – gnat
    May 2, 2013 at 1:29
  • @Robert Gah, it's back. I'm flagging it now.
    – Doorknob
    Aug 6, 2013 at 12:26
  • @Doorknob: Looks like somebody fixed it to make it a real answer, and it's CW, so meh.
    – user102937
    Aug 6, 2013 at 15:34
  • @RobertHarvey You say votes are roughly proportional to views. Okay, so a post with negative score has negative views? I mean, did the post viewed someone instead of getting viewed? Apr 26, 2014 at 18:29
  • @AwalGarg: The total number of votes (both upvotes and downvotes) is proportional to views. Thanks for reminding me of this bikeshed question. People get obsessed over the weirdest things.
    – user102937
    Apr 26, 2014 at 18:45

3 Answers 3


Just as a reality check, if we're picking nits about what's actually an answer to that question, this is the only answer that actually answers one of the questions asked.

At the time of that answer, there were four sentences in the question that ended with a question mark:1

  • "What is the name of this operator: "-->"?" (the title)
  • "Where in the standard is this defined, and where did it come from?"
  • "On a more subjective note, I've never heard of this before, had anybody else?"
  • "Is it worth using?"

If this were a serious question (it wasn't, see edit), then sure, it's not the best answer. It could've linked to the standard or quoted it. It could have answered every question asked. It could have even explained the joke. But hey, satire in, satire out.

If the question is "Where is this defined?" then "It's defined in section XXX." is most definitely an answer.

Whatever else this answer might lack, it can't reasonably be deleted on the grounds that it doesn't attempt to answer the question.

1 Since then, the last two have been dropped, but "Where is it defined" is still there.

  • @GManNickG The other person who really has a horse in this race is Kirill since it's his answer (though I don't know if he actually lost rep as a result of this, as the answer had been around awhile before deletion). Maybe he'll stop by to weigh in on matters.
    – blahdiblah
    May 2, 2013 at 0:50
  • Ironically enough, by that standard, this answer doesn't answer OP's question. (Though of course I'm upvoting anyway.) May 2, 2013 at 2:21

Because... it was not an answer. It basically said "read the standards."

That should be in a comment if it should be anywhere at all. The "answer" does not even answer the question. Essentially, the only thing in that answer is "Read the standards," which is certainly not an answer to any question.

If I was a mod, I would have deleted it. If I found it now, I would flag it for deletion. It is not an answer; it is a comment.

  • 17
    And it was flagged as "not an answer".
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Apr 25, 2013 at 2:03
  • There are a couple of other choice answers in there worthy of deletion... ;)
    – animuson StaffMod
    Apr 25, 2013 at 2:05
  • 1
    @animuson Then flag them!
    – Doorknob
    Apr 25, 2013 at 2:05
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    I don't agree. It does answer the question quoting the exact paragraphs of the standard that refers to two different operators which is exactly what all the other 43 questions did. It cannot be compared to a "RTFM".
    – Shoe
    Apr 25, 2013 at 2:06
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    @Jueecy.new I'm sorry, I don't see a single quote anywhere in that answer.
    – Doorknob
    Apr 25, 2013 at 2:08
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    @Jueecy.new: As far as I can see, all the other answers actually explained what it did, not just direct a user to read the manual and then not even link to those manual pages. That answer was worthless.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Apr 25, 2013 at 2:09
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    @Jueecy Which is about the same quality as a link only answer - except it doesn't give you the link.
    – user206222
    Apr 25, 2013 at 2:09
  • Ok, thanks for the explanation everybody.
    – Shoe
    Apr 25, 2013 at 2:12
  • 2
    If that answer quoted from the document, then it would have been a brilliant answer.. Instead it just referenced to the document (not even linked them).. Apr 25, 2013 at 3:57
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    Since there's so much consensus about that answer needing to be deleted, maybe this question should read "Why was this deleted answer voted +999?" Apr 25, 2013 at 8:38
  • 1
    @DanielDaranas Two reasons. 1) It's old. 2) Reddit.
    – Servy
    Apr 25, 2013 at 15:23
  • One answer where a flag option/description of "NOT EVEN A LINK!" would be apt. Apr 25, 2013 at 15:25

Because sarcasm is perhaps not as welcome on StackOverflow as some of us would like it to be.

I'm not saying we should put up with lots of sarcasm all the time, but that answer made me smile, and the +999 score indicates that it made others smile, too. Moreover, sometimes I think it's good to give "hints" rather than totally straightforward answers, and in this case it provides the necessary breadcrumbs to lead you straight to the answer.

EDIT: I'm not saying we should prefer answers like this to answers more like, well, the accepted answer from the same question. I'm just saying that I don't see why we need to delete answers like this that, in my opinion, make the site a more interesting place without actually interfering with its functionality.

  • 2
    Ah, controversy! Excellent. Apr 25, 2013 at 4:51
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    Yes, but this is a question and Answer site, not a question and hints site or a question and sarcasm site. A bit of fun in an answer is fine, provided it actually answers the question too.
    – JonW
    Apr 25, 2013 at 6:09
  • True, but is it necessary to delete answers like this? It's not as though the existence of such an answer makes it harder to find the accepted or highest-voted answer. Apr 25, 2013 at 6:15
  • You're all a bunch of killjoys! (Though, I have to admit, I am too -- I also agree the answer should have been deleted).
    – Ben Lee
    Apr 25, 2013 at 6:54
  • I'm the 999% too
    – Shoe
    Apr 25, 2013 at 13:00
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    @KyleStrand: any "borderline" answer that is left around will be used as an argument: "but that answer was not deleted, so I must be allowed to post my <strike>crap</strike> answer." Apr 25, 2013 at 13:09
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    +1, I am so tired of going to Stack Overflow and finding solutions to my problems instead of smile-inducing sarcasm.
    – Shog9
    Apr 25, 2013 at 16:29
  • @JoachimSauer: is that really such a problem? Answers that are just "crap" will ultimately be deleted anyway, regardless of whether the people posting them use these "borderline" cases as evidence. Apr 25, 2013 at 20:47
  • @Shog9 I am in no way convinced that this is an either/or proposition. Apr 29, 2013 at 19:49
  • It's obviously not, @Kyle - as this answer demonstrates. 999 folks smiled at the answer, after which it got out of the way. A good joke doesn't overstay its welcome.
    – Shog9
    Apr 29, 2013 at 19:55
  • @Shog9 so SO is a good place for jokes as long as they're deleted in a timely fashion so that we don't run the risk of too many people seeing them? The nature of a wiki is that no content should be on a "first-come, first-serve" basis. Either the answer was appropriate for SO or it wasn't. Apr 29, 2013 at 19:57
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    Unless you read every revision of every wiki page (and no revisions are ever culled), you're almost certainly not seeing the same thing that first-comers do, @Kyle. Folks need a bit of humor now and then; does that mean every question should be clogged with joke answers and "funny" comments as every wag on the site tries to outdo one another? Hell no. Does it mean that you can enjoy an answer like this without feeling guilty (as long as it's cleaned up in a reasonable timeframe)? Sure.
    – Shog9
    Apr 29, 2013 at 20:02
  • I realize that, but the goal of a wiki is to ultimately work towards producing a unified whole that is the best final product the community can create (though of course there's no real sense of any version being "final" on a wiki). Again: either the content belongs there or it doesn't. In my opinion, answers that improve the site as a whole belong there. I'm not talking about clogging the site with jokes. I'm talking about a very specific kind of answer, one that "provides the necessary breadcrumbs to lead you straight to the answer." Apr 29, 2013 at 20:11

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