If someone asks for advice on something, and someone replies with a humorous story about what they did in a similar situation, it may get more upvotes than any other answer, not because it's good advice, but because other people were amused by it.

This can lead to a false sense that this is the general consensus of what the appropriate action is, especially if the OP doesn't understand that the votes were for mere liking an answer rather than agreeing with it.

I don't have a great idea on how to solve this. My only idea is having three options for each category, upvote for you agree it's a good answer, downvote for you think it's a bad answer, or "like" which doesn't mean you think it's a good or bad answer; you just were amused by it. This may over complicate the issue and create even more confusion, I am not sure. But I think it is a real issue I wanted to bring up.

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    Examples? (or it didn't happen)
    – user27414
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 16:43
  • @Jon B programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/14827/… highest voted answer says As a salaried employee, I refuse to work more than 40 hours per week Is it really good advice to refuse to work overtime? I don't know, do most people really refuse overtime, or do they just like the idea of it? I am not sure.
    – JD Isaacks
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 16:48
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    @John - in that particular case, I think Upvote == "Oh, wouldn't that be nice". :)
    – user27414
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 16:52
  • 1
    I kinda wish you hadn't pointed me to that discussion... Ugh.
    – user27414
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 16:57
  • 2
    @John you have cut the quote in the middle and it's missing an important part of it ... I refuse to work more than 40 hours per week unless there is a very exceptional circumstance to account for it. He's not saying we should refuse overtime work, but that it should only be acceptable if it's under exceptional circumstance.
    – HoLyVieR
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 17:53
  • Much better example (10k only): Regex to tell difference between O and 0
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 18:10
  • @Aarobot Why do I need 10K to view that question? Is it because it was deleted? Can you quote it?
    – JD Isaacks
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 18:31
  • Yes John, it was deleted (probably because the whole thread got so silly). Unfortunately it's not very easy to quote in a comment box without losing context. Suffice it to say that somebody submitted a joke answer and it received 160 upvotes, nearly 4 times higher than the second-place answer.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 19:01
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    This returns true.
    – Pops
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 21:32
  • I asked a similar question before
    – bobobobo
    Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 0:38
  • @Aarobot: As one of the people who voted to delete, I can tell you my reasons. It's that the question was utterly useless. Arguably people voted to delete because of a silly thread, but given a question like that it's hard to come up with a non-silly answer. We're better off with that question deleted. Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 13:46
  • Don't really care that this happens, but saw it the other day @ what can you do in c and not in c++ with the answer hoist the C manual overhead in one hand repeatedly. Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 13:55
  • @David: I wasn't suggesting otherwise, merely citing it as one of the better examples of mindlessly-upvoted answers.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 14:20
  • meta-example of upvote-on-funny on this page itself. Of course, it's a comment--but you get the idea :). Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 16:05

4 Answers 4


There does seem to be a bandwagon effect where highly rated answers get more upvotes just because they are already popular as well as downvoted questions/answers getting dogpiled with even more furious downvotes.

  • Very true. A simple answer of mine to a simple question is my current highest on physics. It first got a few votes and then suddenly got a whole bunch, which left me scratching my head. On the other hand, some of my favorite answers have 0 votes. Meh. Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 16:03

I think the question that you have linked is a very opinionated question and does not really have a correct answer. I think his answer is valid in my eyes, as this is my methods to cope with employers also.

I am not sure there is a perfect answer to that question in general.

I have seen this issue though, but I think that on a question where there is a clear answer even if someone gets a lot of upvotes from "entertaining" answers, the accepted answer will still be an answer that helped. On that note, I am not sure there is a perfect answer to this other than do not upvote entertaining answers that do not help.

A little humor keeps a community together though, right?

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    Sure, humor is great - in comments. Joke answers do not actually help anyone and should not be upvoted (they should actually be deleted).
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 18:07
  • @Aarobot: I completely agree. However, I don't believe the answers in the examples were simply jokes. Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 13:41
  • In the example I found the first answer to be an honest answer.
    – Kortuk
    Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 20:45

The tooltips over the voting arrows explain how we think of it. Just hover your mouse over the voting arrows to see.

This question is useful and clear (click again to undo)
This question is unclear or not useful (click again to undo)
This answer is useful (click again to undo)
This answer is not useful (click again to undo)

Beyond that you can interpret it however you like.

  • I see there's no "This answer is not so much useful as it is something I can relate to". So yeah, the system's not proken per se.
    – MPelletier
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 23:25
  • Why do questions need to be clear but not answers? Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 10:34
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    @peter unclear questions lead to many bad answers.. garbage in, garbage out Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 12:22
  • @Peter: An unclear answer is, by definition, not useful. I don't see the need for verbosity in the tooltips.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 14:21
  • Aarobot that's my point - unclear is a subset of not useful in both cases - why is it verbose for one but not the other? Commented Oct 29, 2010 at 12:26

As for the examples....

The first is from programmers.se, and in that forum the question is at least borderline appropriate (since other professions get pushed to work long hours as a matter of routine), and the answer is appropriate. In p.se, opinions are solicited, preferably with facts or reasoning or experience to back them up.

As far as the deleted question goes, the only possible confusion the OP could have had is typographical, and suggesting a typographical solution is at least not too far off.

I don't think this is a problem, and I won't without real examples.

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