Today at about 2PM, Jeff wrote an article about him thinking how parsing HTML with regexes is a bad idea. In that post, he links to this answer to a question in SO.

Nine to ten hours later, the answer has 1600+ votes.

Wow. 1600+ votes. I don't know of any other answer that has so many.

How come? The answer is long, where it could be 15 times shorter. It is badly formatted, it contains a long (way too long!) joke. And yet, 1600 guys think it deserves their vote. And after those 1600, more are coming in, thinking that value is not high enough, and are increasing it even further.

It makes me afraid that after 1600 votes, this guy's reputation might give him powers that allow him to mess with the site. That's more reputation than many users that have been answering questions the proper way.

What do you think about this? Is it Jeff's fault to post a link to a question? Should the users be more careful about voting? Should a mechanism be set in place to avoid such things ? Am I being stupid?

  • 60
    Something is wrong on the internet. We must fix it.
    – tvanfosson
    Nov 16, 2009 at 23:55
  • Wow, as of now it's only 24 votes away from being the highest scored answer of all time (here's the current lead: stackoverflow.com/questions/84556/…) Nov 16, 2009 at 23:56
  • 4
    We can't let that happen. Bobby Tables Rules!
    – tvanfosson
    Nov 16, 2009 at 23:58
  • 4
    It will get even more votes if more people (cough, cough) link to it :) Nov 17, 2009 at 0:10
  • 14
    – Pollyanna
    Nov 17, 2009 at 3:31
  • 1
  • 9
    I think you need to spend some time away from your computer. Perhaps you might try becoming deliberately stuck in traffic, its a great exercise in tolerance.
    – Tim Post
    Nov 17, 2009 at 11:29
  • @Kyle: uh, that one only has 1393 upvotes as I post. Have a bunch of people downvoted it since you posted the link? Or maybe the regex answer wasn't 1600 when you posted? Nov 17, 2009 at 19:31
  • 13
    Relax. If it got 1600 upvotes today, the guy got 200 rep for it today. The other 16K rep went into the bit bucket. Nov 17, 2009 at 21:17
  • @DisgruntledGoat: the latter - it was 13something then Nov 19, 2009 at 4:11
  • 1
    The upvotes and linking are mostly more due to the funniness of the answer. OTOH it just fuels the regex are evil meme, and it's only as true as every generalization. <- ha
    – mario
    Nov 18, 2010 at 23:55

14 Answers 14


You've earned some 80 reputation points here on meta so far with a very uniformed opinion about the whole matter. Is that 'fair'?

  • The answer is more beautiful than you can understand. As Marc Gravell says, "A true work of art; I weep at the poetic beauty."
  • The answer has not catapulted bobince from a nobody to a moderator overnight
  • There are mechanisms in place to avoid launching a serf with a single popular answer into the moderating nobility
  • The avalanche of votes was not solely Jeff Atwood's doing
  • Wow. The correct answer? Is this "fair"? (More sarcasm!) Nov 17, 2009 at 11:44
  • 6
    Rep points on meta are worth squat. Nov 17, 2009 at 19:32
  • 3
    @DisgruntledGoat: I'd argue that rep points on any S[OFU] site plus 50 cents will buy you a daily newspaper. :)
    – John Rudy
    Nov 17, 2009 at 19:38
  • 2
    +1 for surfs... But beware the coming revolution!
    – beggs
    Nov 21, 2009 at 9:36
  1. It's a good reply
  2. It had a lot of votes before Jeff (Couple of hundred iirc)
  3. The Joke is hilarious if you've had to answer these regex cowboys before
  4. He had over 10k rep before that post
  5. 200 rep cap per day, so he didn't get a fraction of those votes in rep (according to this profile, he's gotten 530 rep for that answer)
  6. ???
  7. Waffles
  • 14
    Step 7 is most certainly waffles ...
    – waffles
    Nov 17, 2009 at 2:49
  • 1
    Fixed to represent the latest and greatest in rep-score research, thanks to Sam's efforts in notification.
    – Pollyanna
    Nov 17, 2009 at 3:03
  • I thought step 7 was lemmings.
    – tvanfosson
    Nov 17, 2009 at 3:15
  • No, that's step 0. No one ever mentions step 0! I blame our education system.
    – Pollyanna
    Nov 17, 2009 at 3:24
  • 14
    also, it was already linked on Reddit and Metafilter even before I wrote about it. For the record. Nov 17, 2009 at 6:29
  • I should link this reply to Reddit / Wafflefilter. Nov 17, 2009 at 11:00
  • This answer blatantly discriminates against pancakes. I'm e-mailing Jeff right now and posting a new question on meta to complain.
    – Tim Post
    Nov 17, 2009 at 11:22
  • 2
    My answer did not get accepted. Is that fair? Nov 17, 2009 at 11:40
  • +1 for bashing the regex cowboys.
    – Leonel
    Nov 17, 2009 at 11:41
  • 1
    If I get four more votes, you get a Populist badge! Work it, Ólafur. Work it. Nov 17, 2009 at 15:07
  • 1
    Go Go Gadget Gold Badge!! Nov 17, 2009 at 18:29
  • 1
    We did it! Yippee. (I too can work for a public radio doing pledge drives.) Nov 17, 2009 at 18:41
  • Twitter love helped I think. Nov 17, 2009 at 18:51
  • Thanks for raining on my parade Nov 17, 2009 at 19:43
  • Waffles, 'deed. Sep 21, 2012 at 0:30

The Internet is unfair, because every page does not link to every other page. I vote we abolish the entire mess and come up with something more egalitarian.

  • 4
    – Troggy
    Nov 16, 2009 at 23:45
  • 4
    I agree! I killed my blog because it had no traffic. No one would link to me, and that was grossly unfair when digg would link to trivialities like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I DEMAND JUSTICE!
    – John Rudy
    Nov 17, 2009 at 0:21
  • 3
    Shog I suggest you start here: w3schools.com/downloadwww.htm
    – waffles
    Nov 17, 2009 at 2:34

Is it fair that a post in Jeff’s blog will send your rep over the roof ?

Yes. It is the super-upvote people keep asking for, but has only been granted to Jeff and Joel.

However, just like nearly all other moderator powers, you too can obtain this super-upvote merely by increasing your reputation among your peers. It's an easy three step process:

  1. Become as popular as Jeff or Joel in the programming field via blog/twitter
  2. ???
  3. Ponies!
  • 1
    OMG! Upvoted!!!
    – Tim Post
    Nov 17, 2009 at 1:02
  • 1
    I think you should be more explicit here in step 2.
    – alex
    Nov 17, 2009 at 10:59
  • I think there should be a way to see if Jeff or Joel upvoted you, so you can brag about it. Nov 17, 2009 at 11:12
  • Or, you could just answer questions to the best of your ability while forsaking the slashdot 'first post!!!' mentality and ignoring that "xx new answers have been posted" box when you know your answer is correct? First come, first serve. Welcome to life.
    – Tim Post
    Nov 17, 2009 at 11:26
  • 2
    I think Jeff and Joel will never upvote me as long as I keep answering Java questions.
    – mmyers
    Nov 17, 2009 at 15:20
  • @alex: Really? I though he was being too explicit
    – Aaron M
    Nov 20, 2009 at 19:58
  • @alex, @aaron, daffy duck voice You're both explicable! /daffy duck voice
    – Pollyanna
    Nov 20, 2009 at 21:29

Anything that helps people realize the evil that regex does with html is a good thing. My favorite comment was on metafilter; paraphrasing:

did somebody leave the <cthulhu> tag open?

Fact: points mean nothing. Zip. Nada. Nix.

Fact: it was popular already.

Fact: it has been on twitter by multiple sources.

Fact: it is a great answer; sometimes delivery is at least as important as content - this reply has good content, but fantastic delivery, that is memorable, funny, quirky, and entertaining.

Fact: I wish I had more upvotes to give.

  • 1
    added another fact, for more impact
    – waffles
    Nov 17, 2009 at 12:07

Did I not notice something really important before asking this question?


bobince`s awesome answer only got him 720 reps Jeff's less than awesome question got him 660 reps which represents 68% of his reputations and brings him one step closer to editing rights!

What do you think about this ?

Mehhh, waffles

Is it Jeff's fault to post a link to a question?

Jeff has many faults, what he lacks in talent he makes up with intensity.

Should the users be more careful about voting ?

If Bush learned me one thing it would be dat.

Should a mechanism be set in place to avoid such things ?

There is already a mechanism in place the caps reputation you can get per day. This mechanism has its flaws but seemed to work alright in his case (he only got 720 reps from that answer) Skeet wants a rep cap per answer... that is never going to happen. Joel will keep on getting 500 reps for a -20 answer and Jeff will keep on getting 1000 reps for one liners. The reputation jackpot is a feature. In the big scheme of things its rare, so nobody is up in arms about fixing it.

Am I being stupid ?

Stupid, no. But repeat this after me:

Reputation != "A for Effort", there are anomalies all over the system, subjective is the top upvoted tag due to the bike shed effect.

Just because someone has a bigger reputation than you does not make them better, smarter or more super-ultra awesome.

  • 4
    "Just because someone has a bigger reputation than you does not make them better, smarter or more super-ultra awesome." They were that way long before they demonstrated it with a larger reputation.
    – Pollyanna
    Nov 17, 2009 at 19:27

You should be thinking, as I'm sure many now are, about how you too can get mentioned in Jeff's blog.

Hmmm, maybe you already did?


You just don't understand.


The answer mentions ponies.

Therefore it deserves + ∞

  • It's all about the ponies. Nov 20, 2009 at 13:35

Do you also complain and feel resentment when standing in line after waking up late for something? What a world this 'internet' has become.

Advice: Life is a spectator sport, up until the point that you decide your participation is warranted (often, you'll call it needed). Others may or may not share that view, welcome to the world.


No, it's not fair. But that doesn't make it inherently wrong either.

Jeff liked it, he linked it, it got attention. If a different high profile user (say Scott Hanselman) were to do this, I would expect to see similar results.

This guy got lucky by constructing an answer that got noticed by Jeff Atwood. But I guess technically, everyone has the same chance to write an answer that gets unfairly noticed. So at least the unfairness is fairly distributed.


Yo jjinguy...
I know you're asking a question...
and I'ma let you finish...
but bibince had the greatest answer of all time...

  • 2
    +1 because somebody has to get the joke.
    – mmyers
    Nov 18, 2009 at 17:58
  • Sadly, I think you're the only one.
    – GollyJer
    Nov 24, 2009 at 0:34

Yes, it is fair — I just checked using a special device. Hope that helps!

The most interesting side-effect of the insane over-rating of this answer, for me, is the way anyone editing the tags immediately grants me gold badges.

  • I noticed that - I also noticed you don't seem to be getting the corresponding silver badge though.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Nov 18, 2009 at 11:43

The jeff-said-so tag kinda covers it... Don't ya think?


Depends how much you paid him ;-)

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