In this recent post by the official Stack Overflow account on Instagram, it links to a SO blog post called "Sing Me A Song of Stack Overflow: A Musical Tail Call Optimization" from back in 2019.

The caption of the post, aside from the link, was this:

Song marked as a duplicate.

 Screenshot of an Instagram post by @thestackoverflow. @thestackoverflow: Song marked as a duplicate. https://stackoverflow.blog/2019/07/02/tail-call-optimization-the-musical-bang-bang-con/ (or in bio) #devlife #devlifestyle #coderlife #developer #devs #coding #programming #dev #software #nerdlove #coder #codeaholics

Why, exactly, are we the marketing team playing into the tired old "let's mock duplicate closure" thing? It's enough of a struggle as it is to combat the negative perception of duplicate closure and how SO is so toxic for being quick to close duplicates; we don't need the marketing team from Stack Overflow itself giving more weight to "rawr stack closes everything as a dupe!".

Can we please at least be able to count on the company to not actively compound the negative impression of SO/SE's moderation features?


3 Answers 3


Self-referential humor is difficult; to be successful, it requires the jokester to possess a level of self-awareness sufficient to recognize and mock their own foibles as perceived by others. When a joke misses the mark, it can come across as an example of the very thing it seems to mock, or worse: as mocking someone other than the joker.

In this case, the joke is aimed at an external audience, one who probably cannot differentiate between SO-the-system and SO-the-social-media-marketing. For a member of such an audience, all that is required is that they are aware that duplicate-closure is a thing on SO.

NOTE: this doesn't make the joke funny. Which may be the bigger crime here...

Folks will overlook a lot of crude and careless behavior for the sake of a really funny joke. Generations of comedians have demonstrated this! But deprived of the LOLz, we're left to analyze the mechanics and accuracy of the joke... And this rarely ends well.

In this case, the joke is... Kind of a non sequitur; there's no real connection to duplicates here. The joke in the original song was that the programmer encountered a stackoverflow exception and went to Stack Overflow for help; it was a one-off pun in a 10 minute video, good for a quick chuckle... Anyone expecting to find a tie-in or riff in the article itself though will have been disappointed; despite numerous questions asked over the years about recursion-triggered stackoverflows in JavaScript and Tail Call Optimization in JavaScript, including duplicates, there are no relevant links, no attempt to make the joke tie the musical number into the actual content on Stack Overflow, no attempt to make the piece more than superficially self-referential.

And that's the crux of the issue here: the marketing folks don't review duplicates. They don't answer or curate JavaScript questions. They're outsiders to the systems they're referencing, and signal that fact by failing to include anything that a JavaScript regular might actually recognize, opting only to recycle a tired meme in hope that it will make up for the lack of familiarity that would have enabled true self-referential humor: this is a hallmark of hack comedy.

...and, after all, what could be more appropriate for SO than a pile of cringe hacks? 😏

  • " this doesn't make the joke funny. Which may be the bigger crime here..." To be fair, if bad jokes were a crime, prisons might be overflowing. Maybe my expectations about the originality and fun of marketing related activity is too low, but I found myself only mildly dismayed. Apr 30, 2021 at 5:43
  • 1
    I'm using "crime" idiomatically here as a euphemism for "mistake" or "carelessness", @Trilarion - see also word crimes. Note that the asker's complaint regards an Instagram post, not the video itself (which is cute and funny in a geeky way); as I note, said post has no real connection to the content of the video.
    – Shog9
    May 6, 2021 at 14:42

A programming themed song, with code karaoke, at the sound of retro computing music IS.JUST.BRILLIANT..! I mean, that's part of the reason I became an engineer - call me a nerd, I cannot disagree with such format.

Why, exactly, are we the marketing team playing into the tired old "let's mock duplicate closure" thing?

This goes parallel to @Makoto's argument (on a thread the OP referenced just recently). But while @Makoto's argument went along the lines of marketing "sending a clear message" and correctly "setting expectations", the argument in this thread is about the company not playing into the popular negative perception about closures.

I'd have to disagree with both arguments.

  1. First, from a marketing perspective calling users to the network broadens the user base and creates brand awareness - that's Marketing 101. (You're not going to educate on site usage during an advertisement or PR campaign. I'd been reading SO for years and it took me months to understand the key factors of successful participation when I finally decided to join.)

  2. Second, reinforcing a negative perception will probably not be the outcome of one sentence in a 10 minute video. It was performed at a specific venue for a specific audience that is likely to appreciate the humor (plus the entertainment value). In the overall volume of content production that's 1 sentence in tens of millions of posts, I think it's safe to say there are thousands of meta posts potentially more aggravating to random readers in general than anything in that video.

(In principle I don't appreciate mocking - it's generally cruel and a form of ridiculing. But I don't think the video intents on mocking, and that seems sufficiently clear. Is it the best marketing approach? Don't know, but I liked the performance.)


Well, this is funny for people outside of "our" loop, i.e. active members who actually do those closures.

This does add humor to otherwise humorless place, and might attract people to use Stack Overflow.

That said, I can't deny what you say. So it's matter of gain vs. loss and I can't know which has more weight.

Bottom line: this isn't as bad as you think, in my humble opinion. I'd say let it be, and keep doing what we always did regardless of mocking/criticism no matter where they come from, and if they're justified or not.

  • 15
    They might also get the wrong idea - and the concepts of duplicates is something that's gets memed somewhat derisively a lot. And well, how is the marketing team going to know how folks feel about that if we don't say it out? Apr 22, 2021 at 14:55
  • 13
    I doubt the marketing team would want people who had a negative reaction to one of their attempts at engaging with an audience to keep it to themselves. For every person that takes the time to give feedback, there are many others that have a similar reaction and don’t say anything. Besides, I thought we put that whole “active users’ concerns don’t matter because there aren’t very many of them compared to SO’s daily web traffic” thing to rest a while ago.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 22, 2021 at 15:32
  • @JourneymanGeek never said "You shouldn't have posted this question", just that I don't think the marketing team should stop doing what they do. And yeah, of course it's important to say what's on our mind. :-) Apr 23, 2021 at 16:07

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