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Although I searched for it, I did not find a question that directly address this topic (not for a specific case but) in general. And I am genuinely asking to know the answer to make my own behavior compliant with what is expected in the network.

This is not a request in any form. Furthermore this question is exclusively about facetiousness and it does not cover other topics like being ironical or asking rhetorical questions.

In general, being facetious reduces stress and anxiety, boosts the morale and might increase the spirit of friendliness.

However, it also might decrease the legitimacy and seriousness, and/or reduce clarity, focus and concentration in general. Not to mention some time it can even be interpreted the wrong way!

I am wondering what the rules and/or your opinions are about being facetious and adding small lighthearted jokes, for:

  • Questions
  • Answers
  • Comments

I understand that it may always depend on the situation. And the type of the jokes and the degree of facetiousness are also important. Therefor using what is referred to by "common sense" might be a good measure.

However due to the nature of the network and its emphasize on seriousness on one hand and yet maintaining certain degree of welcoming quality on the other hand, I am interested to know more. Interestingly votes and answers suggest a division of opinions on the subject.


Fun fact.
I realized that after this question received a down-vote, one of my (relatively old) answers in SO, which was only voted up before, was voted down too. I am not sure how to interpret that but I can not help noticing , there is a slight humor in the answer in form of a code construct like:

B<A<float, 666> > possessed_object;
  • Since it's a network of question/answer-sites for professionals relying on quality content I'd say it's important to be professional, welcoming and patient, but as you state yourself being facetious might lead to that the answer/question is perceived in a less legitimat and serious way.. – iLuvLogix May 23 at 9:46
  • I agree and that is why I asked. I don't know the rules and I am not sure about my own assessments. I see different approaches from other persons (in comparison with each other for highly up-voted questions or answers). I am wondering if there is a generally accepted rule? – AKL May 23 at 9:51
  • For my own self alone you can take a look at an example and the joke that I made as a comment and tell me if that was appropriate or not? Thanks for all the answers – AKL May 23 at 10:13
  • There's nothing offensiv or in contradiction to the CoC in that comment and your 'joke' was perceived in a manner it was meant: in a friendly way - so I don't see anything wrong as long it's in the comments. But answers or questions in general shouldn't be formulated in a facetious way imo.. – iLuvLogix May 23 at 10:37
  • Thanks, that is exactly what I need to know (comments vs answers and other factors). Please post it as an answer! – AKL May 23 at 10:40
  • Tinkeringbell incooperated parts of my comments - I believe that should cover your question very thoroughly so you might want to accept his answer which I think complies with the community's consesus ;) – iLuvLogix May 23 at 11:22
  • @RobertHarvey "..a place for software development questions and answers, not serve as yet another spot to socialize on the Internet." & "When humor becomes a distraction to the main mission of the site, it's time to pull back." hit the nail on the head very well.. – iLuvLogix May 23 at 14:25
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From a random internet dictionary:

Facetiousness is a quality of joking around, or treating serious subjects in a humorous way. Your facetiousness might make it hard for your friends to take you seriously.

A stand-up comedian's facetiousness can be seen in her tendency to be sarcastic, or to playfully joke about serious issues. The facetiousness of a play might make critics describe it as a farce or a parody. Facetiousness can come across as lighthearted humor, but it can also be a little bit inappropriate or bitterly ironic. Facetiousness comes from the French facétie, "a joke," with its Latin root word, facetia, "jest or witticism." emphasis mine

Also, from the Code of Conduct:

Be kind and friendly.
Avoid sarcasm and be careful with jokes — tone is hard to decipher online. If a situation makes it hard to be friendly, stop participating and move on.

Joking around isn't blanket banned on SE, but people are advised to be careful, because at times jokes can be inappropriate, hurtful, badly received, or people might not even realize you're joking. It also can make people take you less seriously if all you ever do on SE sites is joking around.

You say you are asking "to make your behavior compliant with what that is expected in the network." I think observation here will be the best teacher.

Different sites have different standards, and I don't think there's one big Standard for the entire network here, outside the Code of Conduct. For example:

  • Mi Yodeya has a period for questions and answers on Purim Torah where answers are supposed to be playful and humourous.

  • MSE has tags for and , both come with their own amount of facetiousness in answers.

  • On more technical sites like Stack Overflow or Electrical Engineering, putting facetiousness in a post might be perceived as less professional and not valued.

  • On Interpersonal Skills, people come with to ask about their personal behavior in interactions with others, and facetiousness might be taken very personally, so it is not recommended to do so in answers or comments.

Take some time to read through questions, answers, and comments on a site, and you'll get a feel of the communities sense of humor there. If (almost) no-one is joking around, keep the fun out of your posts too. If the tone at times seems to be more lighthearted, go with it.

One piece of advice I can give you is to always avoid any jokes that make fun of a person or post, as those carry a huge risk of never being funny for the person on the receiving end. And, like Scortchi added in the comments: "be ready to apologize for & expunge facetiousness; rather than digging your heels in & berating those who take exception to it for not having a sense of humour."

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    (+1) And be ready to apologize for & expunge facetiousness; rather than digging your heels in & berating those who take exception to it for not having a sense of humour. – Scortchi May 23 at 10:12
  • Tinke - I feel that your answer covers far more than my two comments on the OP's question - feel free to add them to your answer .. – iLuvLogix May 23 at 10:47
  • @iLuvLogix Hmm. So regarding your second comment: answers and questions in general should never contain any facetiousness, or should not ever consist only of facetiousness? I think that's a hard claim to make, as this site has its fun and contest, and Mi Yodeya has a period for questions and answers about Purim Torah, where the answers are entirely meant to be humorous and playful. So I'm kinda hesitant to take that view into this answer... – Tinkeringbell May 23 at 10:56
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    I agree - so maybe with the annex that on technical sites such as SO, EE, etc. facetiousness in an answer/question might be perceived less professional? – iLuvLogix May 23 at 11:02
  • @iLuvLogix What about the latest edit? Does that help? – Tinkeringbell May 23 at 11:12
  • That should cover everything now ;) – iLuvLogix May 23 at 11:13
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    I think the asker would have been better off choosing a different word, facetiousness has some negative connotations: Collins Dictionary, Merriam Webster Dictionary - Your answer is good, there could be a place for skillful application of humor; but the focus should always be on offering the best questions and answers, and rarely on being the life of the party. Leaving an irrelevant joke until the end is much like offering a signature or a thanks - not to be encouraged. – Rob May 23 at 16:32
  • SO and MSO have entirely different culture towards facetiousness... – iBug May 23 at 16:37
  • @Rob as for 'the focus should always be', I hope I gave convincing counter-arguments of instances where this is not true in my answer already... – Tinkeringbell May 23 at 17:26
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Its worth remembering the goal of posting an answer is to share knowledge

I sometimes use humour in my posts - but I always try to remember that that needs to serve answering the question. Its tempting to be too clever but you're not as smart as you ever think you are.

When in doubt of how its going to be taken - its worth taking a fully serious, to the point voice when writing your answers first.

If an posts is so silly people miss the truth behind it, its pointless. If its so sarcastic people are hurt, its pointless. If humour helps folks get the point better, and helps people - it has an point.

Critically, you need to know your crowd

Posting should never be facetious. Humour used appropriately can be a useful part of the toolkit for posting great posts.

For questions - it gets trickier. It helps get eyeballs done right - but that needs a good deal of thinking and nuance. People need to see your question and not get distracted by how clever you think you are.

Comments are comments. Ideally they should help make for better main posts - and humourous comments - even the good ones - tend to get deleted.

Practically - you're taking a risk. You might get more impact - you might also get the wrong kind of attention. Humour is massively relative - and someone might get offended (or mock offended). Folks may not get it - and I've had to explain a few things to folks who have a different background.

If the focus of your post is humour, you're doing it wrong. Used appropriately it can be useful.

  • Thanks for the answer. You (like other answer/s) have my vote! However I am wondering how can you know "you're not as smart as you ever think you are"? maybe I don't think I am smart at all :) . Also I usually choose to joke to cheer down-voted posters up. Although I admit (maybe first and fore most) it helps me to better cope up with the reality (and the things that I mentioned in the question). – AKL May 23 at 12:56
  • That's usually ok. Basically you think very carefully about your choice of words and their impact. And least amongst geeky types, folks often try to be seen aa clever – Journeyman Geek May 23 at 12:58
  • I admit I am getting a taste of expected behavior in the network but still I am in the dark. I am thinking of updating my question in order to add few terms to it. I Do you think it is a good idea? – AKL May 23 at 13:00
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Nah, joking doesn't serve any purpose. Posts should be all serious. And complete and argumented, not some one-liner.

  • How about comments? – AKL May 23 at 18:34
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    @AKL I'm not sure if you're serious. But to be clear: I wasn't. My post here is, itself, a joke, but I'm not sure if it's going to stand or be deleted. I never did a joke answer, so let's say it's an experiment. In any case, if you were really expecting a serious response, I think non-aggressive jokes are ok in comments. – dim May 23 at 18:43
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    Also, if you actually were considering my answer as serious, this already tells us something: tone is indeed hard to decipher through the internet. – dim May 23 at 18:49
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    If this is a joke answer, it's a good idea to make that clear somewhere. Tone is hard to read, but can be made clearer that it's lighthearted. – fbueckert May 23 at 18:54
  • @fbueckert I thought the last sentence made it clear, since this answer is obviously not argumented. – dim May 23 at 19:49
  • It's definitely on the way there, @dim. I just don't think it's quite there yet. – fbueckert May 23 at 19:51
  • Sorry friend, just now I realized (how) it was a joke. It is also my fault too because (based on the votes on the question) I was expecting at least one answer to state such things and based on my pre-assumption I though your answer is the one. Thanks any way! – AKL May 23 at 20:07

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