-8

Fun is Important™. Yet, we at Stack Exchange tend to hate it (edit it out, close it as not useful, etc.), unless it's in "irrelevant" places like chat and the comments section.

As long as it doesn't detract from the question at hand (meaning, the question minus the fun would still be valid) or otherwise impede the site's ability to function, why should we actively (or even passively) punish the programmer's/sysadmin's/whoever's sense of humor?

Some users (like myself) enjoy a small bit of humor in a question to break up the monotony. Dealing with the same boring flags in the VLQ queue is boring.


For the sake of argument, let's define fun as:

  • Our Lord and Savior, Jeff Atwood
  • [insert pop culture reference]
  • Hamsters (although this is a joke question itself, so it's slightly different)
  • Anything extra to make things less boring.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Jason C, Ward, S.L. Barth, rene, JDB Sep 12 '16 at 20:53

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 7
    What you mean by "fun"? Few example would help. In a nutshell, anything not relevant to the question is noise. And noise should be removed. – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Sep 9 '16 at 5:51
  • what do you mean not have fun? i still have problems with monsters in my nether regions and i know not to let people have TNT in minecraft now for obvious reasons – Memor-X Sep 9 '16 at 5:59
  • @ShadowWizard I recall him chipping in with an answer on MSO regarding the naming of Documentation (or something like that) not too long ago. – Jon Clements Sep 9 '16 at 6:00
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    I think you're misinterpreting the article the expression originates from: blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/01/stack-overflow-where-we-hate-fun – Bart Sep 9 '16 at 9:35
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    You seem to be referring to a question you asked on AU. I don't see how closing it as a duplicate was "hating fun"; from a quick review, it seems it was a duplicate -- if a question is a duplicate, it gets closed as a duplicate. That's how the site works. – hichris123 Sep 9 '16 at 10:46
  • Actually we don't hate fun as long as it involves unicorns and/or waffles. And maybe chat stars. – dorukayhan Sep 9 '16 at 19:05
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    Also, as an experienced user, I would think that you would realize "rep farming" is not appreciated. If you're going to ask a question (on meta or anywhere), please have a purpose, not just to gain rep. – hichris123 Sep 9 '16 at 22:42
17

The 'core' of a quality question is the facts - it's counter productive if the main issue on hand is overwhelmed by a bunch of unnecessary information or a tide of comments. I don't want to read your life story. I want the essential information so that I can answer your question, and hopefully get myself some lovely imaginary internet points.

If you write a question that's awesome and has humour in places which the target audience gets, it's likely to be better received. So, questions with minor jokes in them good. Jokes with minor questions in them bad. Questionable jokes with minors in them... No Just No.

It's pretty hard to write a question, like the one above as a joke

From my experience (and I have a reasonable amount of it), it's pretty hard to do.

Answers on the other hand have some room for humour, especially used for what's called a teaching moment. I've slipped in memes (which some users flagged. On a site where I'm a mod, and I chose to let someone else handle it - question deleted, for unrelated reasons), and done other funny stuff but even then no noise is good noise

So, we hate fun where it's in the way of the primary role of the site.

If you can write a funny question, with minimal noise, you're clearly on the way to a good many repcaps.

  • Too many people here end up like Thomas Gradgrind, obsessed with facts and forgetting how they relate to people. Without context 0.1 + 0.1 does not equal 0.2, as JavaScript figured out ages ago. – Peter David Carter Jul 22 '18 at 18:27
23

The simple answer is because most people are not that funny. The occasional antic or funny satire would be a nice diversion… if it weren't for the human compulsion for everyone to join in. That is how memes start. Once it gets started, it's hard to stop — and soon you have everyone trying to one-up the next guy.

Stack Exchange is supposed to be an information-rich resource, not an entertainment club. Personal flourishes, grandstanding, and pandering to the crowd have a tendency to draw attention (and votes) away from the actual content.

These distractions were eliminated from Stack Exchange from the earliest days (e.g. why we standardized user flair instead of allowing free-form signature blocks). It was an answer to traditional threaded discussion forums where it is all-too-easy for folks to wander off on a tangent — and maybe finally arrive at the correct answer somewhere at the bottom of page 11.

This high-signal, low-noise premise and architecture is central to what makes Stack Exchange "work". That is by design.

8

I think that canonical article thoroughly explaining these matters based on real experience of running Stack Overflow is The Trouble With Popularity by Jeff Atwood:

we discovered that these posts become so popular over time that they truly start to drown out everything else on the site...

  1. Broken windows. Every 'fun' post users see is an open invitation for them to participate in the fun by adding their own fun question or answer. The stuff spreads like kudzu! Pretty soon the entire site is overrun with nothing but that kind of fun. And even if you grandfather a few in, you'll enjoy neverending requests asking why their fun question or answer has to be removed, while this one over here is allowed to remain.

  2. Opportunity cost. Every minute spent participating in an entertaining 'fun' post is time that someone could have spent asking or answering a substantive question, something practical that solves an actual problem for hundreds or thousands of people. Entertainment, within reason, is by no means a bad thing -- but I experience almost physical pain when I think about a brilliant topic expert spending 10 minutes on one of our sites deciding which hilarious cartoon is their favorite.

7

Like @JourneymanGeek said, it just shouldn't get too much in the way of actual content. This site is a little bit (although certainly not quite) like a wiki. Can you imagine if Wikipedia was full of jokes all over the place?

I've found that people generally don't have a problem with a few jokes here and there. For example, the last sentence of this question at Biology SE. Nobody tried to remove that. Or this question from SF&F. It's the third higest scoring question in the history of that site. Those are just two of countless examples. People write jokes into posts all the time. As long as it doesn't take away too much attention from the actual post, it's usually not a problem.

Moreover, there's comments. Having fun is far from "hated" in comments. enter image description here Answer link.

People make jokes and have fun in comments all the time. Sure, sometimes they are deleted or moved to chat, but that doesn't prevent you from having fun while they're still there. And often, as in the example above, they get to stay.

So, people don't hate fun here. As a matter of fact, I think we generally rather like it. Just not if it gets significantly in the way of content.

-4

Getting to the top of the sites in reputation is work, and tremendous work. Not only a lot of work of writing answers, but also a lot of work to accustoming its standards and customs, what includes also a lot of network-building.

This results that the top users of most sites have a specific mindset, what is tuned for get to a high reputation fast. "High reputation" means here both the reputation as points, and the reputation in the sense of the acceptance of the other top users.

This results that the mindset of the top users of the sites have a surprisingly low diversity: talking to them, I had often the feeling that I am talking actually to the same person.

It is like if you would talk to a professional sportsman. You could talk with him a lot about his sport, but he probably wouldn't find your jokes about his sport funny.

They tend to be also highly protective, territorial.

Particularly in @gnat's answer can you see this: He feels himself in a world, where fun has to be forbidden, or the site will sink in the mess of fun.

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