I'm still a bit sore about the fact that one or two of my recent responses to SO questions were downvoted by others in the community because of the witty and/or ironic way I expressed myself.

Shouldn't wit and sparkling repartee be rewarded here on stack overflow? As programmers we are constantly fighting a stereotype of members of our profession being autistic, socially inept/retarded, logic droids and I feel that some acknowledgement of the fact that many of us are actually quite charismatic and droll is long overdue.

Would be interested to know what you think about this...

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    Where did you come from, reddit? ;) Sep 10 '10 at 15:57
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    Could you link to your answers that were downvoted despite (or because of) sparkling repartee? Sep 10 '10 at 16:08
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    On Meta wit and charm rules. On SO... Well we're professionals. Sep 10 '10 at 16:20
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    If this and this are the two recent responses of yours that you are referring to, then I don't really see any "wit or sparkling repartee" in need of rewarding. Sep 10 '10 at 16:39
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    Well said @Diago Sep 10 '10 at 20:45
  • @Gnostradamus - i think its fairly obvious to anyone with sense of humour that the two posts you linked to in your comment are not even attempting humour. But thanks for trying ;-) And for anyone out there who is of humanoid extraction, FWIW here's one comment I thought was at least mildly amusing. Marks out of ten please: stackoverflow.com/questions/2684364/…
    – 5arx
    Sep 13 '10 at 9:37

Votes express usefulness of a post. If you use wit and humor while still solving the problem in a good fashion, then it actually does tend to attract votes. It's the same with presenting a question, a little humor while retaining real content goes a long way.

But if the wit and humor overwhelms the actual valuable content of the post, then it's not going to be useful. And if the purpose is more to make the joke than to address the question, it is also not going to be received very well. Remember that if you are going to post an answer with a joke, make sure the answer is clear enough to find.

If you can't actually provide an answer but find an opportunity for a good joke, consider posting a comment. There's the Pundit badge awarded for getting at least 10 comment upvotes on at least 10 separate comments. This is a fairly acceptable way to share some good humor, and get rewarded for it.

  • Sounds fair enough to me. Accepted! I suppose it all boils down to what one finds funny. I don't consider myself a programmer by temperament - I worked in the creative arts before finding myself here amongst the maths and logic community and still have moments in the office where I realise that culturally I'm like a fish out of water ;-) To my mind this: youtube.com/watch?v=ZP6B1FjvGi4 is the kind of thing the typical programmer finds amusing ;-) PS. Thanks for the tip re: Pundit badge.
    – 5arx
    Sep 13 '10 at 9:45

I can provide some empirical evidence that, given the right wit, your answer might just become one of the most upvoted answers ever. I suppose it just depends on how well you express yourself and if you have a good, valid point...


The culture on Stack Overflow seems pretty accepting of wit---as long as it is, you know, witty---if it accents or improves a otherwise good post. Generally less so if you try to use it as a substitute for content.

The rant that The Unhandled Exception links to is a special case as it taps into the primordial frustration suffered by all Question Answerers on all Help Me! facilities since before Endless September.

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    That rant also begins with a strict fact (you can't parse [X]HTML with regex) and ends with a solution (have you tried using an XML parser). Admittedly, the whole part in between that opening and closing is why it has all those votes, but the important thing is that it directly and very clearly addresses the question that is asked. That's why it isn't just a humorous answer, but a good humorous answer.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Sep 10 '10 at 18:30
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    @Grace: Yes....that's true. But you have to read carefully to notice. Sep 10 '10 at 18:35
  • I'd argue that without the "you can't parse [X]HTML with regex", the rant would have not been a good answer and would not have been upvoted as much. The rant was used as a witty way to strongly say this is a really bad idea Sep 10 '10 at 20:23

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