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 '09 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/…) – Kyle Cronin Nov 16 '09 at 23:56
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    We can't let that happen. Bobby Tables Rules! – tvanfosson Nov 16 '09 at 23:58
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    It will get even more votes if more people (cough, cough) link to it :) – adrianbanks Nov 17 '09 at 0:10
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    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 '09 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? – DisgruntledGoat Nov 17 '09 at 19:31
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    Relax. If it got 1600 upvotes today, the guy got 200 rep for it today. The other 16K rep went into the bit bucket. – David Thornley Nov 17 '09 at 21:17
  • @DisgruntledGoat: the latter - it was 13something then – Kyle Cronin Nov 19 '09 at 4:11
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    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 '10 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!) – Stu Thompson Nov 17 '09 at 11:44
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    Rep points on meta are worth squat. – DisgruntledGoat Nov 17 '09 at 19:32
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    @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 '09 at 19:38
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    +1 for surfs... But beware the coming revolution! – beggs Nov 21 '09 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 '09 at 2:49
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    Fixed to represent the latest and greatest in rep-score research, thanks to Sam's efforts in notification. – Pollyanna Nov 17 '09 at 3:03
  • I thought step 7 was lemmings. – tvanfosson Nov 17 '09 at 3:15
  • No, that's step 0. No one ever mentions step 0! I blame our education system. – Pollyanna Nov 17 '09 at 3:24
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    also, it was already linked on Reddit and Metafilter even before I wrote about it. For the record. – Jeff Atwood Nov 17 '09 at 6:29
  • I should link this reply to Reddit / Wafflefilter. – Ólafur Waage Nov 17 '09 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 '09 at 11:22
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    My answer did not get accepted. Is that fair? – Ólafur Waage Nov 17 '09 at 11:40
  • +1 for bashing the regex cowboys. – Leonel Nov 17 '09 at 11:41
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    If I get four more votes, you get a Populist badge! Work it, Ólafur. Work it. – Stu Thompson Nov 17 '09 at 15:07
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    Go Go Gadget Gold Badge!! – Ólafur Waage Nov 17 '09 at 18:29
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    We did it! Yippee. (I too can work for a public radio doing pledge drives.) – Stu Thompson Nov 17 '09 at 18:41
  • Twitter love helped I think. – Ólafur Waage Nov 17 '09 at 18:51
  • Thanks for raining on my parade – Stu Thompson Nov 17 '09 at 19:43
  • Waffles, 'deed. – Caffeinated Sep 21 '12 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.

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    THE INTERNET IS SERIOUS BUSINESS – Troggy Nov 16 '09 at 23:45
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    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 '09 at 0:21
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    Shog I suggest you start here: w3schools.com/downloadwww.htm – waffles Nov 17 '09 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 '09 at 1:02
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    I think you should be more explicit here in step 2. – alex Nov 17 '09 at 10:59
  • I think there should be a way to see if Jeff or Joel upvoted you, so you can brag about it. – Ólafur Waage Nov 17 '09 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 '09 at 11:26
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    I think Jeff and Joel will never upvote me as long as I keep answering Java questions. – mmyers Nov 17 '09 at 15:20
  • @alex: Really? I though he was being too explicit – Aaron M Nov 20 '09 at 19:58
  • @alex, @aaron, daffy duck voice You're both explicable! /daffy duck voice – Pollyanna Nov 20 '09 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.

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    added another fact, for more impact – waffles Nov 17 '09 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.

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    "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 '09 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. – Stu Thompson Nov 20 '09 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 '09 at 17:58
  • Sadly, I think you're the only one. – GollyJer Nov 24 '09 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 Nov 18 '09 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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