47

Continuing with my series of questions to you - I've got one that's a bit lighter this week. We spent last week firing up our magic wand and changing things. This time, let's celebrate what exists.

I want to know about your favorite contributions (questions, answers, or comments!). These can be serious or funny, poignant or cavalier…

  • Do you have a favorite contribution that you have written on one of the sites?
  • Do you have a favorite contribution that someone else added? What is it? Why do you like it?

So many of you have weighed in each week on my questions, and I'm learning a ton. Thank you!

25
  • 13
    @Mithical Is it your unrivaled reign over the starboard in the Tavern?
    – Catija StaffMod
    Aug 4 at 17:10
  • 6
    @Mithical, i'm allowing for broad discretion here. But reserving the right to heckle if I think you go too far.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 4 at 18:25
  • 1
    @Philippe, as much as I like your title, we kinda have a policy to not put tags up there...
    – Luuklag
    Aug 4 at 18:42
  • 6
    @Luuklag To be fair, he started the tradition of using it in the title before the tag existed.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Aug 4 at 18:47
  • 1
    So we need a new tag then @Catija ;)
    – Luuklag
    Aug 4 at 18:49
  • 5
    @Luuklag- I have zero ego wrapped up in it; if we need to change it, change it. I would like to ask, though... why? You say there's a policy around it, and that's fine, but when someone gives that as a reason, I typically push a little and find out why that policy exists. If there's a good reason, great. If not, maybe it should be revisited so we're not complying with policy for policy sake, and so we can start citing the actual reason, rather than the policy. :-)
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 4 at 19:34
  • 1
    Redundancy, mostly, but also to prevent people tag spamming their titles. IMO the policy can be ignored in this scenario
    – Kevin B
    Aug 4 at 19:38
  • 3
    This is the policy, I think, but in this case an exception to the rule sounds preferable. Aug 4 at 19:38
  • 15
    @Luuklag In my opinion the tag is the problem, not the title. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to have an entire tag reserved for a subset of one person’s questions. A more useful tag could be applied to any of these sorts of open-ended questions asked by the company to get feedback from the community instead of just Phillippe’s.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 4 at 20:07
  • 6
    Fair point Philippe, and also I'm not looking to "enforce" any of that rule, otherwise I'd done so already ;) As to the why, the link @TheLethalCarrot posted explains. Mostly because it is redundant, and for that reason does not fit within the philosophy of SE; Just Questions and Answers, no distractions. ps. I love you asking for the why, rather then blatently complying or declaring the policy stupid :)
    – Luuklag
    Aug 4 at 20:14
  • 2
    @ColleenV, that seems reasonable to me.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 5 at 2:41
  • 3
    @Luuklag - I was the kid you hate. WHY? WHYYYY? BUT WHYYYYYY?
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 5 at 2:42
  • 1
    "Stack" is jargon from inside the company. Can you keep to the official names, please? Aug 5 at 10:33
  • 4
    It does kinda sidestep the Stack Exchange doing business as Stack Overflow problem 😁
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Aug 5 at 12:21
  • 3
    Philippe: I like that you are using Meta to ask the community help on getting insights about SE, but is it really necessary to include "Community VP" in the title of "all" your posts (strictly not all your questions have that... but it's becoming "a tradition") ? Since nowadays we have user tags for diamond moderators and staff, I'm wondering if instead of you being tagged as Staff use CVP or another short form of "Community VP" with a purple background and sparkles :D.
    – Rubén
    Aug 5 at 17:35

30 Answers 30

26

I don't have any contributions I'm really that proud of (enough to list here at least), but my favorite contribution from someone else (here, it's several people) has got to be:

Build a working game of Tetris in Conway's Game of Life (specifically the answers)

For reference, Game of Life is a simulation on a grid of living and dead cells. Each cell has eight neighbors, since corners count. If a living cell has 2 or 3 cells next to it, it stays alive; otherwise, it dies from loneliness or overcrowding. If a dead cell has exactly 3 living cells next to it, it comes back to life. This is actually able to compute anything computable, but is extremely difficult to manipulate. Yet, people managed to implement a real game of Tetris using such a simple system.

The question was posted in mid 2013. The answers were posted in fall of 2017. A team of people worked on this project throughout pretty much that entire period of time. The reason I like this so much is that in many ways, I think it reflects the nature of our site (Code Golf) - we're that one* weird site that doesn't do Q&A and instead has fun and does challenges for fun, yet even though it's oriented around competition, we have a really strong community, people love collaborating and helping each other on their competitive submissions all the time, and we're willing to put forth high effort for totally impractical things.

*actually we're not the only weird site; we're not even the only non-Q&A site, but I think we cause the most headaches in terms of our structure and needs (not in terms of causing trouble or whatever)

1
  • 1
    Omg that post is completely insane! Thank you for sharing this!!! Aug 12 at 7:35
21

My all time favorite Stack Exchange answer was posted by tchrist on ELU. The question is asking for a name to describe a body of water that is large enough to have a reasonable chance of containing fish and, therefore, be suitable for fishing in. The answer is a delight to read:

A piscary is a body of water natural or artificial (a piscine would only be an artificial one) under active piscicultural care to render it fit for piscation and related piscatorial—or simply piscatory—pursuits perpetrated by piscivorous piscators, at which point said piscose body will be perfectly pisculent — that is, it will be fit for fishing.

But I predict a potential problem if you go with pisculent and related terms.

Although all these words are of obvious meaning and attested by the OED, it is always possible that some petty pissants hearing such words will perceive them as presenting the pissants not with a piscary but with a pissoir, and perforce pitch a personal pot of puissant poison into your pretty poisson pond in a puerile act of piscicide instead of fishing it per your preference.

Pity, that.

There are 36 different words beginning with p there.

7
  • 5
    Perhaps this is potentially pretty pretentious, but personally I'm partial to pure, pristine praiseworthy prose (predictably)! Pray, is there possibly a particular reason this (s)pecific preeminent Perl programmer produced the post? (Translation: Was there any particular inspiration for the answer's choice of wording?)
    – HDE 226868
    Aug 4 at 17:39
  • 2
    @HDE226868 we'd have to ask him, but he is very much a language geek and is a professional writer as well as a Perl programmer, so the quality of the prose is not surprising. Tom's one of the main reasons the Perl documentation is so well written.
    – terdon
    Aug 4 at 17:41
  • 1
    Sounds like they may have just watched V for Vendetta before writing that answer :p Aug 4 at 17:42
  • @JonClements, Jon, Jon. V for Vendetta should be read not watched! ;)
    – terdon
    Aug 4 at 17:43
  • @terdon well... I've always had a soft spot for Natalie Portman so... :) Aug 4 at 17:47
  • I'm just horsing around, @JonClements. I liked the movie, I just really liked the comic which I had read many years before the movie came out so V for Vendetta will always be a thing to read rather than watch in my mind.
    – terdon
    Aug 4 at 17:49
  • 2
    @terdon - Preposterous!
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 5 at 2:43
20

Ooh, that's a tough choice. There are so many gems (less or well-known) in the network which deserve a place in the Internet Hall of Fame. I'll nominate the famous answer to why you shouldn't try to parse HTML with regular expressions. It's a unique work of art and truly shows what kind of things are possible within the limits of Markdown and Unicode. Alas, it's too short to win the Nobel Prize for literature...

As for my own contributions, I particularly like this funny comment where I'm trying to let one of the characters in the question break the fourth wall.

1
  • Hah- that answer checks out, for sure. :P
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 8 at 6:23
18

My favorite thing on Stack, while not precisely a question, answer, or comment, is probably the D&D group we've formulated over on Puzzling.SE.

None of the members of the group knew each other beforehand; we all met in Puzzling chat. We come from wildly different backgrounds; for a group made up of around six people, we've got quite the mix of countries, cultures, timezones, identities... who all came together to play a role-playing game and talk about dragons.

With the fact that the members were spread across the world I'd be starting a session at midnight and finishing at two–three in the morning. I learned the rules of Dungeons & Dragons, patiently explained by the other players. We named dragons after breakfast foods. Had dozens of sessions, spread across months.

We did have to take a break for now because some schedules changed and it's harder to find a time that works, but hopefully that won't be for long. (We've also got a Discord server for conversations that SE may not be the best place for.)

All in all, it's a perfect example of the way in which a platform like SE can be used to build community bonds and friendships in way that the people who designed the platform probably never imagined. (And yes, you can read transcripts of our sessions.)

3
  • 3
    If I upvote this, is that a conflict of interest? :) I love our queer group as well!
    – bobble
    Aug 4 at 17:52
  • 7
    I'll allow it :)
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 4 at 18:43
  • <3 to you too, Mith! Aug 7 at 19:30
16

What is "my guy syndrome" and how do I handle it?

My Guy Syndrome is a trap that has befallen many table top RPG players. Alex P explains in their answer:

"My Guy" syndrome is when — often unwittingly — you disclaim decision-making power and responsibility by acting like "what my character would do" is inevitable and inviolable, even if it gets in the way of actually having fun in the game or being able to play the game at all.

Alex P goes on to help us diagnose and treat the symptoms of My Guy Syndrome. For good reason, this is the highest scoring answer on RPG.SE - the experience is near universal, and Alex's answer equips us to deal with it head on.

2
  • 6
    I like that post a lot because it is accessible to both avid RPGers and folks with just a passing interest.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 5 at 15:01
  • 1
    I've referenced this post outside the context of tabletop RPGs as well - it's quite flexible and broadly applicable. Aug 5 at 23:01
13

This is a really tough question because, like everyone else, I've seen so many great posts over the years. One of my favorite answers is an analysis of the orbit of a satellite orbiting a ringworld, performed by typesanitizer. They wrote a really nice description of how a ring-shaped world's gravitational field would differ from that of Earth's, then wrote some Mathematica code to show how a satellite would follow an interesting helical trajectory:

Helical trajectory around a ringworld.

The answer stuck out to me for a few reasons:

  • I like it because the question is one that anyone can understand, and while solving the problem certainly isn't trivial, everyone can appreciate the answer regardless of their physics background.
  • The non-code bits aren't too long or jargon-y, a pit that's easy to fall into.
  • This was the user's first post on the site! It definitely takes a lot of courage to step up and immediately write such a comprehensive answer, and I tip my cap to typesanitizer for having the courage to make that jump.

I tend to be fairly critical of my writing, but my favorite post I've written might be this answer about future radio telescopes in the aftermath of the loss of the 300-meter dish at the Arecibo Observatory in late 2020. I had just started my PhD, and suddenly one of the two most important instruments to my work was lost. It was a difficult time for a lot of folks in the radio astronomy community, and I found it cathartic to think and write about the positive things that lie ahead for our field, even in the wake of tragedy. It was also great to see that the general public . . . well, cared. That honestly meant a heck of a lot to me.

1
  • Word. That's freaking awesome. I went and read the answer by typesanitizer, and it blew my mind. Sent it to my dad, who's a physics geek.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 7 at 12:57
11

There's no one particular favorite contribution I've made. Regarding someone else's contribution, though, there's Shog9's Meta question Stack Overflow 2020 Q1&2 Company Commitments Report Card. Even though he was let go by the company only about 6 months before, we were fortunate that he still put in a lot of time & effort (along with getting help from several "current and former SO/SE users", along with "Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, for inspiration and motivation") to write an interesting & quite detailed summary in the form of a report card about a lot of information, namely of the various company commitments (and the progress on them) over a period of half of a year. I think he did an excellent job summarizing everything but, regarding his grades, I agree with several other people that he was at times being somewhat generous.

This post also came at an important time considering the overall relationship between the company and community was just starting to improve after a disastrous second half of 2019. It helped to remind at least me, and I trust others as well, that the company had made various important commitments and were following through on them to various degrees. The post provided a good summary of these commitments, as well as to what extent they have been implemented so far, which could be used to refer back to when checking later on how much more progress had been made on them.

4
  • 1
    I wonder how many of those he'll do... I, for one, would like to see another.
    – Ollie
    Aug 4 at 21:13
  • 1
    @Ollie I would also love to see another one from him at some point. Aug 4 at 21:15
  • 2
    That was a great read, thanks for sharing. Aug 4 at 23:35
  • 1
    I was considering an answer with a link to just all Shog9 posts but I guess this better illustrates the value overall of his contributions.
    – rene
    Aug 5 at 11:02
10

When we found the Story where the number 3 is the monster?

Sci-Fi Stack exchange has a bit of a reputation for identifying stories, and really this whole post is about that. But the linked question is really an exemplar of that.

It sat unanswered for 4 years before somebody managed to post an accurate answer, get the accept and over 5k rep in bounties.

Until then it had been sort of the stack's white whale, never been able to be found:

Fantastic, Kyle! In case you didn't know, this is the single most famous unanswered question on the site: it's been referred to for years as "the big white whale of unanswered questions" and said to be unanswerable. Answering this will guarantee you instant celebrity and probably tons of bounties. A resounding welcome to SFF.SE!

~ Rand al'Thor

1
  • 1
    I love this! And it was his first post!
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 7 at 8:43
10

I guess I'm a bit late here, but...

CRIME - How to beat the BEAST successor?


When security researchers Juliano Rizzo and Thai Duong announced that they had found a major flaw in TLS - the protocol that secures communications on the internet - a flaw that allowed them to decrypt authentication cookies to hijack sessions, the infosec community was, understandably, both concerned and curious. What exactly was this subtle vulnerability that had been missed by all the security researchers and cryptographers for so long?

Someone decided to go ask on Information Security. Naturally, the first response they received was along the lines of "Dude, until those guys publish what they've found, what can we say?" And that would have been enough for most people. Not so for The Bear. Instead of sitting down and waiting patiently for the researchers to tell everybody what the vulnerability was, he went and (re)discovered the vulnerability all by himself, ten days before it was scheduled to be released to the public. And then he wrote a wonderful answer explaining how it all worked, so that even a relative newbie could understand. If that doesn't demonstrate the amount of talent and expertise that is present on the Stack Exchange Network, I don't know what does.

4
  • 6
    This. Is. Amazing. This may be one of the best examples that I’ve seen of the sheer intellect on this network.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 7 at 8:45
  • That is amazing. Steve Gibson may have a rival. Aug 7 at 10:07
  • @P.Mort.-forgotClayShirky_q I'm not sure if you meant that as a compliment or a snark. You see, most of the infosec community doesn't hold Mr. Gibson in high esteem.
    – nobody
    Aug 7 at 10:25
  • 1
    nobody - I very nearly posted that one as well - the fun as @pornin developed his answer, as well as the briefing I could give my organisation so we were prepared in advance of formal publication meant this was just an awesome piece of work.
    – Rory Alsop
    Aug 17 at 13:31
9

There was once a big storm. Dark clouds covered the skies. The sun was nowhere to be seen, and things were dark and gloomy.

People were shouting and crying for help, but their shouts caused the reverse effect of what they wanted to achieve.

And then it came.

Guiding hand, the voice of reason. Bridge between the two worlds.

Someone who understood the shouts for what they actually were, and was able to explain this to those above.

Think that's enough, and clearly I'm talking about this answer here on Meta Stack Exchange. This marked the beginning of the great change Stack Exchange went through. Maybe there were other forces at work, which I didn't see, but surely this was a great step towards changing the attitude inside SE management from "Let's get rid of Meta" to "Let's work with the people of Meta".

Also, in case I didn't say it enough I'll say it again...

Thank you, Yaakov!

13
  • 1
    i mean... did a change actually occur? or... did people simply move on. The policies around interacting with the community are the same today as they were before that post.
    – Kevin B
    Aug 4 at 17:50
  • @KevinB great change inside SE, from "Let's kill Meta" to "Let's work with Meta people". Aug 4 at 17:52
  • more like "lets kill meta" to "lets ignore meta but not shout it from the rooftops"
    – Kevin B
    Aug 4 at 17:53
  • 4
    @KevinB well can't change what you feel, but I really think these days Meta has real effect on SE roadmap. Still not ideal, still lots to improve, but they try, and that's a good thing. Aug 4 at 17:56
  • Hey, I deserve some credit for upvoting this answer first, when its score was -1! :D
    – user1035193
    Aug 4 at 21:25
  • 1
    @Hcaertnit lol, thanks! Come to Tavern and I'll give you coffee, for free. ;-) Aug 5 at 7:25
  • @ShadowWizardWearingMaskV2 The irony that one day after you posted this the SE devs destroyed the profile page with no community consultation whatsoever. Aug 7 at 12:44
  • ...in fairness, it wasn't Yaakov.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 7 at 12:58
  • @Philippe what wasn't Yaakov? The one who "destroyed the profile page with no community consultation"? I know. curiousdanni's comment isn't really relevant to this answer, but still, the change really really annoyed me, as you might have read in other answer that I posted. (In the "announcement" made by a dev after the change) Aug 8 at 7:38
  • I may choose to interpret this as a circumstance in which staff came to formally respond on Meta, which was a break from the convention at the time, which was welcome. This is only my opinion, but anything beyond that feels like a strong Mandela effect.
    – Makoto
    Aug 11 at 7:22
  • @Makoto formally respond implies it followed internal discussion within the company. I don't think there was such a thing in the case I bring in this answer. Yaakov acted on his own. Aug 11 at 7:46
  • 1
    I wrote that post on my own initiative. These types of posts were against what was (but thankfully, no longer is) company/department policy at the time, though I did run it informally by a few people (including at least one member of management) before posting it.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Aug 11 at 11:27
  • @Makoto see Yaakov comment ^ Aug 11 at 11:28
9

I'm going to answer this by talking about a type of post rather than a specific one - I love the posts that give our community members the opportunity to show how silly/creative/kind/awesome they can be - sometimes with the incentive of swag but other times just because it's fun to share. These opportunities for users to share a bit of themselves that isn't "strictly business" is something I've really treasured, both my own contributions and reviewing the many contributions of others.

Many of these posts come about as part of our annual Winter Bash event, while others are times where the company wanted to celebrate, such as the 10 year anniversary on Stack Overflow or reaching 10 million questions. Some of these posts are opportunities to showcase talent in a subject or an achievement in their non-Stack Exchange lives. And, well, some of these are my favorite things I've done on this site, too, since I've loved sharing a bit about my interest and my creativity on them, too.

Winter Bash:

NB: there are tons, so this is a subset

Event-based, non Winter Bash

Single-site, community-hosted

There are many that I'm certain I'm forgetting, leaving out due to space, or just don't know about but these sorts of posts are, to me, really special.

8

My favourite post that I've written has to be my Enigma machine, written in Jelly, a programming language specifically designed for code golf. (The input format for the one at the top is a bit weird, here's an easier way to use it if you want to try it). It took me an entire afternoon to create and was really rewarding to do so. Jelly is a very weird and unintuitive language, especially if you're used to Python, C, Java and similar, and this answer definitely made me feel like I was much more confident than I used to be with it.

I especially enjoy thinking about how much technology has changed over the years, and I find this answer to be a perfect example of that. 80 years ago, Enigma machines were huge, clunky machines. Now, the entire thing can be represented in fewer bytes than a Tweet (the original, not the new and "improved" ones). In my view, that's a truly crazy level of development.


As for my favourite contribution by another user, there's almost too many to choose from. There are countless answers on my main site (Code Golf) that are mind-bogglingly impressive (1, 2, 3, 4 just to name a few), and I could browse CGCC Meta and MSE for some of the more touching posts about people we trust stepping down and leaving (e.g. Shog, Dennis, and more) which I love simply because their very existence demonstrates just how much people care about this network, the sites and their communities.

However, I probably use chat more than any other part of the network, so I thought I'd choose my favourite message from there, one that always makes me laugh when I look back at it, this, which is just an image:

very smart people. waffles

8

How is y’all’dn’t’ve pronounced is both my favourite contribution, and sparked the best responses from others. The answers and comments never fail to make me smile when re-read.

8

I've contributed a LOT of answers on Stack Overflow, but I think some of the content I'm most proud of are some of the edits, where I took a complete trainwreck of a question and managed to put myself in the asker's shoes, figure out what they needed, and rewrite the question in a way that actually made sense. Sometimes I even went on to write a valid answer, but not always.

Next in the line would be SQL performance questions. I have a few answers where the OP came back and said via comment my answer took a query that used to run for hours or minutes and reduced it to seconds or milliseconds. The answer wasn't always even that great, in terms of composition, structure, or some finer points of code quality... but when it came down it, it got the job done in a big way.

7

One of the great unsung stories of Stack would be the chat contribution to PHP development in the PHP room. The craziest story there would be scalar type declarations (PHP 7.0 and later). PHP is an untyped language (this question on SO deals with what that means, albeit for JS, but close enough for the sake of argument), and will gladly coerce variables as needed. There were some who wanted to add strict typing to PHP, but (as is always the problem) there were competing standards threatening to derail the whole thing (there were three serious proposals running around at once). And people were still debating this at the 11th hour for PHP 7.0 features to be added. The winning proposal was on version 5...

Final vote: 108-48 (needed 67% and got 69%). Still the most voted on RFC in PHP history. Pushed over the finish line, partially due to Stack Chat providing a chat room.

6

There is a user named Jon skeet.

And there is a site called Stack Overflow en español...

And one of the users used to work on Stack Overflow (well, he is working again now... we can't follow him all around all the time!)

And we have a moderator there who is a super fan of his books...

And if this guy can have a selfie 15 meters away of Jon, of course we can have an autograph...

And of course, we want a video saying hi to the community...

And of course, magic happens here.

2
  • Jon Skeet excels once again, his UK dialect of Spanglish is L1.
    – bad_coder
    Aug 5 at 1:03
  • 1
    I love this! Thanks for sharing.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 5 at 2:58
5

My favorite contribution to Stack Exchange is Canonical Post #2: What is the perfect, and how should I use it? Perfect constructions in English are really tough for EFL learners to understand and difficult for a typical native English speaker to explain because most of us don’t really think about why we say “I have climbed the highest mountains” instead of “I climbed the highest mountains”.

StoneyB broke a giant complex topic into a beautifully written, useful reference full of clear examples and diagrams and essentially donated all of that work to the public. Now if we could just con someone into writing “Canonical Post #3: when to use which article”…

4
  • 3
    Oooooh, this is lovely. My mom taught English, and I just sent this to her.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 4 at 19:32
  • 1
    The perfect what? xD
    – Luuklag
    Aug 4 at 19:32
  • 3
    Present perfect is not perfect
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 5 at 2:45
  • @Philippe I had the song stuck in my head, and I was posting on my phone from work while my simulation was running and not finding what I was looking for…
    – ColleenV
    Aug 5 at 10:56
5

Ooh, this is a difficult one. So many good posts, in different ways on different sites, over the years. I can't pick out a single favourite contribution, but I can try to make a (short?)list for each of my favourite sites.

5

My favourite contribution is Eliah Kagan's Q&A about the change to the sudo program shipped with Ubuntu from version 19.10 onwards:

How does sudo handle $HOME differently since 19.10?

Before the change, Ubuntu had shipped a patched version of sudo that did something different to the sudo on most other Linux distros, such that it was advisable to take precautions when running certain commands with it. The Ask Ubuntu community at large held and reproduced the knowledge that one should not run commands like sudo graphical-application, though understanding about why this was so was uneven.

When Ubuntu decided to stop patching sudo in an idiosyncratic way and to come back into line with other distros with regard to sudo, there was a great need to explain that to our visitors and the Linux world in general, and also to educate the Ask Ubuntu community about the change so that we could provide accurate information and sound advice. A really high quality reference on the topic was required.

Eliah Kagan's post served those purposes, clearly explaining the difference between the old and new sudo and the reasons for the change, and also took the opportunity to detail the history of and rationale for Ubuntu's approach. It gathered material from many (and some obscure) sources to bring clarity to a situation that most likely had not previously been understood comprehensively by anyone.

Quote from a meta post also by Eliah Kagan:

I recommend thinking of Ask Ubuntu as a way to identify things you think should happen in the world and making them happen by doing them: "X should exist. I will make X."

4

One of the first Q/A pairs I read on Sustainability.SE is this one:

How effective is turning a car's engine off while standing at a traffic light?

The accepted answer links some great resources and discussion over on Mechanics.SE, but the thing I really like about it is this: It gave me practical guidance on how to live more sustainably, the goal of the site!

Now, whenever I'm in a drive through line, stopped for a train, or at a stoplight that I know (from prior experience) will take a while to change, I switch off my engine. Thanks to this answer, I know that this is the right choice, and helps to reduce my emissions and save my car at once!


Oh, and my favorite post of my own has to be this comment on English Language Learners, a joke that I couldn't believe no one else had made. It's my only contribution to that site, and if it were a post, would be my fifth-most upvoted across the network.

3

Best of CGCC*

While all of the nominated questions and answers there are amazing, the event itself is one of my favorite things about CGCC. It draws attention to posts by new users, posts that people put a lot of hard work into, posts with insanely clever tricks, and more. Though there are some self-nominations, most of the posts are nominated by other people, and it really shows our spirit of sportmanship.

* The site's name's used to be Programming Puzzles and Code Golf, but changed to Code Golf and Coding Challenges since then.

1
  • 1
    Maybe add a list of links with each year's post?
    – Adám
    Aug 4 at 17:59
3

My favourite contribution from someone else is quite hard to pin down and I’ll have to think about it some more. However, my favourite contribution of my own has to be my answer to Where did Rocket's repair tool come from? about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from SFF. It’s not really from anything I’ve written, which I have many answers I’m proud of, but how often do you get a reply from a director for a major film!?

It was a throwaway tweet made and I came back in the morning to see notifications all over Twitter and the tweet even made it to Reddit and became quite popular there! And thinking about it my tweet, and the question that prompted me to make it, could have even made canon to the film (or just made a fact aware to the audience)! How cool is that!?

So, a bit more unusual in that it isn’t really anything I’ve written myself but certainly my favourite for other reasons.

3

I think that both my own and others' contribution I'm most proud of is this question of mine and many of its answers:

Are there any objections to using singular they for everyone?

At the time there was a huge debate over pronouns, and the up and coming CoC. The CoC some people had some knowledge about (moderators etc.), and some people were guessing about what would be in it. It was also around the time of a moderator being removed, and tempers, emotions and posts were flying around heated.

At that time I proposed to just "be done with it" and why not use only one pronoun. Now admittedly that wasn't a great solution, as it didn't fix the problem. As some people would/could be offended by using that pronoun, and as it was too hard for other to wrap their head around. But what makes me proud of this post is that amidst all the heated debate we had a (mostly) civilised discussion. (I can't see deleted comments ofcourse.) People brought arguments forward on why my proposed solution wasn't right and there was next to no swearing and shouting involved.

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My all-time favorite contributions are probably these two community wiki self-answer style questions/answers by John Rennie on Physics:

As someone aspiring to be a physicist but has not yet a very detailed understanding of the concepts, it amazes me how these answers are simple (in that they are understandable without many prerequisites), but detailed at the same time. Both of these answers have cleared some misconceptions for me and are very useful to link in comments :)

For my own contributions, the one that I am most "proud" of is probably Visualizing wormholes without embedding spacetime – probably because of the many hours of confusion and research that went into this question.

My most upvoted post though is my answer to What do atomic orbitals represent in quantum mechanics?.


Also, if it counts, the MathJax basic tutorial and quick reference has been extremely helpful.

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  • Do you have a favourite contribution that someone else added? What is it? Why do you like it?

My favourite contribution is this Question / Answer by Gayot Fow.

There are several reasons I like it:

  • First of all, it's a self-answered question and whilst these aren't popular and some users find it hard to self-answer their own questions or even think that this isn't allowed, it proves that self-answered questions can be very successful
  • Secondly, I like how comprehensive the answer is and how it has an extensive list of FAQ's and serves as a complete FAQ for bank statements when applying for a UK visa and can be used to close most if not all questions relating to bank statements when applying for a UK visa
  • Thirdly, I like the diagrams that the answer includes to provide a visual representation to complement the text and are an excellent asset for people who prefer visual learning (like myself)
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This one's easy for me: this answer I wrote. (4000 upvotes now, whee...)

How do I break a string in YAML over multiple lines?

What a journey of discovery into the depths of just how crazy YAML syntax is, and how deluded is everyone who thinks it is "simple".

It's nice getting the comments from people occasionally about how this helped them, and it even inspired someone to make a website: http://yaml-multiline.info/

(I kind of wish I could turn off all the upvote notifications though, they get spammy.)

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Over on Arqade, it's hard to find objective questions that haven't been extensively answered elsewhere on the internet, so I'm partial to answers that display a great deal of effort and research by the answerer, especially for situations that don't come up all that often but are interesting to know about nonetheless.

As such, one of my favourite answers has to be this one about the order EVs are awarded in Pokémon Sapphire. The question is laregely theoretical in nature and not particularly important for players, since you can always avoid putting yourself in a scenario where such knowledge is needed, but the answer is so thorough and methodical that I can't help but be impressed.

Of my own contributions, my favourite has to be this list of rare endemic life in Monster Hunter World. Before starting this list, all information I could find was scattered and incomplete, and in some cases outright wrong. It is now the most comprehensive such list I'm aware of, having evolved over the span of several months and counting (at the moment) 145 revisions and 264 images. It has been a huge effort of finding resources online, confirming them in game with screenshots, understanding the rules of how these critters spawn, and lots of my own findings that I've never seen mentioned before.

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  • I don't know if it would be "the best of Stack" or "the worst of Stack", but some of those Arqade question titles are rather...odd...when taken out of context.
    – Mark
    Aug 5 at 23:28
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  • Do you have a favorite contribution that someone else added? What is it? Why do you like it?

This one How do I use installed packages in PyCharm?

There are 2 reasons why I like this question:

  1. I love using Python libraries/packages in PyCharm so the entire concept is beautiful.
  2. I close at least one question every day using this post as a duplicate target. Without such canonical posts SO would be a research nightmare.
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It is really hard to pick favourites from over 10 years of network history. I have seen so many great questions and answers from other people and also myself written so many posts I'm very proud of over the years, that this question seems almost impossible to answer, especially since all those posts are extremely different and uncomparable. However, I'll try to pick something broader pertaining to things about the SE network and specifically my usual home site of Movies & TV that make it stand out on the internet.


As to my own contributions, I would generally list my answers about Interstellar, not necessarily because these answers are so great or the best I've written (though, some of them I am indeed proud of above average, but maybe not all of them), but because the period when most of these questions were asked and answered for me marked not only the most productive period since the earliest days of the site but also the pinnacle of what the site's manifesto is talking about when it speaks of "...contributing to the appreciation of the film...".

Now the film sure impressed me a lot and that is certainly a subjective thing. But what really kept me engaged to it for weeks was that very site and its questions that furthered my delving deeper into some aspects of the film and related materials, driving me to answer some of the questions arising about it. And a lot of the questions were indeed really great too, it's not just that I like my answers to them. I even spent a good portion of a sunday evening trying to write my single only Physics answer.

And that is what the site is able to do, furthering the discussion of the things that move us, be that by posing engaging questions or writing interesting answers. It provides a platform to not only find and enjoy interesting information but also delight in writing about the stuff you care about yourself. And that all while hopefully "making the internet a better place" by filling it with useful information. (Also notice how I said "discussion", a word sometimes eschewed on SE when taken too literal. But it is this formalized and well-structured way of discussing things that the Q&A format enables so well.)


As to the contributions of others, the above mentioned problems with comparing and pinning down an exact best over all those years make this really difficult. So forgive me when again using another post of mine to point to another amazing aspect of the SE format. I am very partial to sanpaco's answer to a question of mine about a rather underrated film (Peter Weir's The Way Back, to be precise). You'll notice the question is about 4.5 years older than the answer. But not only was it a late answer, I had actually almost given up on the question. I already half answered it in the question and it also at some point got auto-deleted for inactivity.

But not only does it receive an answer almost 5 years later, it even gets an answer that provides entirely new insights I hadn't ever considered when having seen the movie a few times again since asking the question. It again absolutely "contributed to my appreciation of the film", but even more so it also showed that a question on SE is never really dead. Now fortunately our site's topic tends to be one where we can usually afford some patience for a good answer and as long as we have that, any time someone else might come around who does not only share your interest but who has the answer you've been waiting for for years.

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There are heaps of great contributions out there but my favourite ones are the following (most of them are written by Janus Bahs Jacquet):

and finally Why is the W silent in “sword” but not in “swore”? (I wrote it myself on ELL)

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