Hi everyone. A cautionary tale for you all...

So I asked a question on SO earlier today, where I wanted to know if there was a correct industry standard way (like ISO approved) to write the /* and */ symbols used in the C language. (Thinking more of typography than ASCII code points.) It may seem an eccentric thing to ask, but I have my reasons.

It was quickly closed off as "not programmer related". Seemed strange to me, a question about a programming language is not about programming? At first, I went though the motions of calling for it to be reopened, but I looked again and decided I could have asked the question in a more general way, so to be more useful to the community and not look quite so eccentric.

I could have just changed the text to ask the question differently, but my then the question was closed and the answers already given wouldn't have made any sense with my reworded question.

So, I changed tack and clicked the delete button. By now, it was too late and I needed four more votes. I changed the question text to just "Please delete this question" in the hope that people would come along and help by also clicking the delete button. Only problem there was that other people came along and kept putting the original text back. (For well meaning reasons, I'm sure.)

So now, I'm in the situation of being voted down (and losing rep points?) for something I don't want and have tried to delete. sigh

Question in haste, repent in leisure.

  • 2
    Do note that with 5 upvotes and 9 downvotes, you actually gained 32 rep =) Mar 14, 2010 at 21:57

4 Answers 4


Go on then... we try to keep as much genuine content on-site as possible, but in this case I think I'm sold that we won't miss it. Consider it toast. Let me know if you want a recalc along with that, but from a previous reply you may actually be quids-in on this question (so a recalc may reduce rep - but then it might have done that anyway ;-p).

  • 1
    Thank you. Please do recalc if I've gained by asking that question. (Feels dishonest to keep it.)
    – billpg
    Mar 14, 2010 at 22:28
  • @billpg - done. Mar 14, 2010 at 22:42

The quickest thing to do will probably be to click the "flag" link below the question and send a message to the moderators to close/delete it for you. Once your question is deleted, you can request a Rep recalc from the moderators and any Rep you gained or lost on said question will be nullified.

  • Done that, even emailed the SO team. I didn't include this in my saga with it being a Sunday evening, as it would be unreasonable to expect action when the team and moderators have their own lives to live rather than clearing up after me.
    – billpg
    Mar 14, 2010 at 21:50

Sounds like it's typography related. The C standard does not include specific requirements for the number of points for an asterisk, nor the angle of the foreslash. Section 3.4.9 contains the sum total of all the requirements for the comment block.

Therefore your specific query is not programming related. This information is not needed to write a C program, nor is it used in any C programming tools - they use the character set provided by the operating system.

If you want to re-write the question, you will need a very good reason as to how it applies to actually programming, rather than merely being a tangent to programming.


Once upon a time, there were commonly used tools called 'pretty printers'. They took source code, yes, even C source code, and formatted it typographically. In fact, 'vgrind' is still in stock linux distros.

So, asking about how to make code look nice when printed in a book can be programming-related, insofar as people write programs to do it.

  • I'm leery of arguments that include "can be programming-related". Mar 15, 2010 at 19:06

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