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Today I viewed this question which seemed appealing. But once viewed the PHP code I began to cry like there was no tomorrow. The code made use of __get and __set magical method in a situation where the was no real need and made it somehow recursive to the point that even the PHP error message didn't make much sense.

I've hardly seen a code worse than that one in at least 3 months, so my first reaction was to comment with:

My eyes are bleeding.

After a while I came back to the question and noticed that my comment was gone. I thought about it and understood why it was deleted: it was not constructive (even though I'm most certainly positive I've seen exceptions to this rule multiple times). And I totally agree with that action.

So I reposted my comment in the form of:

My eyes are bleeding. No, but seriously: [about 3 lines of comment explaining why he shouldn't have used __set and __get in the first place].

So that it contained an hint on how bad that code is and the explanation as to why.

Surprisingly enough I was linked back to that question and noticed that my comment was edited: the first part was completely removed leaving the comment as:

Seriously: [about 3 lines of comment explaining why he shouldn't have used __set and __get in the first place].

Here's my question: is this considered going too far into "fixing" comments? Should I avoid anything that is not extremely constructive (if so, should I flag every "Thanks" or "RTFM" comments as well as variation of "My eyes are bleeding", "My brain hurts" and such?)?

  • well, I understand the comment was removed as offensive. – John Dvorak Aug 10 '13 at 17:24
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    "Should I avoid anything that is not extremely constructive" .. that would certainly help. And when it comes to flagging, "Thanks" is pretty much too chatty or not constructive. Nor is a comment that literally says "RTFM". If it however says "Actually, that's explained quite well in the manual: LINK", there's no need to flag. – Bart Aug 10 '13 at 17:24
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    "is this considered going too far into "fixing" comments?" No, this is great! You provided useful information in a comment, along with useless insulting noise. A lazier moderator could have just deleted the comment outright, but then the useful part would have been lost. So instead, they edited out the unnecessary part. You already agreed that "My eyes are bleeding" didn't add anything important. I'm not sure what you're complaining about here. – Cody Gray Aug 10 '13 at 17:25
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    Is this worth a meta debate? That part of the comment was clearly nonconstructive, and unnecessary. Someone flagged it, they had a reason to do, weak but they had one, just move on. – millimoose Aug 10 '13 at 17:25
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    And I say that as someone who does, on occasion, do "RTFM: [link]", and get into arguments over my tone. At the end of the day SO is about content, so if someone nukes the tone from comments while leaving the content intact, that just means flagging works. – millimoose Aug 10 '13 at 17:28
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    I personally think if someone has to flag "my eyes are bleeding" then they have a problem. But then, if you have to complain it was removed... just let it go. – ɥʇǝS Aug 10 '13 at 17:42
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    Wasn’t even necessarily flagged. I take those out in passing. – Ry- Aug 10 '13 at 17:42
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    Any hints of personality are being removed from Stack Overflow. This is sad. – Adam Rackis Aug 10 '13 at 17:49
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    I don't think bleeding eyes is a hint of personality. It's a sign someone needs to see a doctor. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Aug 10 '13 at 18:41
  • Don't take it too personally. Yesterday, I responded to "What wrong with the way I'm asking this question" ( meta.stackexchange.com/questions/192679/… ) literally by posting an answer outlining a suggested correction to the first word of the question title and it got down-voted so quickly, I deleted the answer (now undeleted). I later tried to edit the question to fix the title and my fix was rejected. So.... comedy, everyone! – JoshDM Aug 10 '13 at 21:08
  • Think of the children (and some adults), @Jeffrey! The imagery of bleeding eyes is horrific and might cause psychological trauma to certain parties, hence the removal. Hope you understand. Might I suggest a tamer metaphor, like "This code makes me weep"? Oh wait, I don't think that'd work either – Old Checkmark Aug 10 '13 at 22:09
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So this is a tough one. There are two issues here at play, highlighted by a comment made by Adam Rackis:

Any hints of personality are being removed from Stack Overflow. This is sad.

First, these "My eyes are bleeding" and "My head hurts reading your code" and "I want to poke my eyes out" type comments are all old and tired. Part of personality is coming up with something new every once in awhile, but that's a different issue altogether.

Before I address your issue, let me begin with this: We don't want Stack Overflow to be humorless. Most of us can agree with that. But humor isn't why we're here. You probably allow humor in your workplace too, but again, it's not why you're there. Humor must never be the primary goal or we fail in our mission.

So knowing that humor is okay, the problem in this case is that you drew unnecessary attention to yourself with your first comment, which provided absolutely no value whatsoever and only seemed to exist so you could take a stab at the asker's lack of PHP knowledge. On a site that exists to help people learn and solve problems, there really isn't a place for that type of "personality".

Now, your second comment was also removed. It contained the same eye bleeding material from the first comment. At that point, you already drew negative attention to yourself. You made it clear that the only reason you're posting your comment is to make that eye bleeding statement stick, to just try to be funny. This makes your second comment seem less genuine and authentic. The part about helping the asker by explaining what was wrong, well, it would seem that you only did that to prevent what you considered the more important part from getting deleted, the part where you announce that your eyes are bleeding.

Consider that if you had made your comment with the intention of helping the asker, you would probably still have been able to inject a little sarcastic humor along with it and let the asker know that you're blinded by the low quality code he or she posted. In other words, you would have been able to say "my eyes are bleeding" and chances are no one would have though otherwise. Most of us have injected some sarcasm or humor in our comments, including me, but it isn't our primary reason for posting them.

It's debatable whether or not the comment in its second form should have been left as-is, but again, we keep coming back to the question of why you are here. If your only purpose in commenting is to make a funny, then you're in the wrong place, but if you happen to make a funny while also providing professional value, then that's probably okay.

Keep in mind many people use this site in their daily work. It's a professional resource used by professional people. Sure, some humor is okay, but think of Stack Overflow like you would your job and everything should work out. The moderators should keep doing what they do acting as exception handlers taking care of bigger issues, and the community shouldn't feel like it's being overly censored. Everybody wins.

  • Since you quoted me by name, I'd just like to chime in and say "I agree" - completely. +1 – Adam Rackis Aug 10 '13 at 18:43
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    @AdamRackis - I highlighted your comment because it's an important issue, and it's one people could easily disagree on if terms aren't defined, so I thought separating "personality" from "pointless noise" would help us all to come to a more amicable consensus. :) – jmort253 Aug 10 '13 at 18:52
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    Hmm. "My eyes are bleeding" is not offensive towards anyone. It's offensive towards the code. It's like saying "That code is bad". So if you consider a comment like "You code is bad" as offensive (especially when the "offender" addresses the reasons) maybe you shouldn't ask anything in the first place. – Shoe Aug 10 '13 at 19:54
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    @Jeffrey I think that misses the point. His point wasn't that it was removed because it was offensive. As he said, if the second version had been posted in the first place, it probably wouldn't have been touched. His point was that the "constructive" part of the comment was clearly added for the purpose of resurrecting a non-constructive comment--and you admitted that in your meta question. If you were a mod and you deleted a non-constructive comment, then saw that it was reposted with obligatory content added just in order to prop up the deleted part, would you handle it any differently? – Adi Inbar Aug 10 '13 at 20:15
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    @AdiInbar, I didn't said I added the comment to resurrect the older one. I understood why it got deleted and I felt the need to add additional information as to why it got my eyes to bleed. And as it stood was acceptable. It should have shown that I understood my mistake and tried to fix it (as it really was). And I, as a mod, would taking that into account and appreciate it. – Shoe Aug 11 '13 at 0:03

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