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Is there really any need for moderators to delete answers, such as this one that are obviously tongue-in-cheek but which are also entirely in keeping with the spirit of the programming language about which the question was asked, e.g. Python?

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  • Subjective and argumentative?
    – jmort253
    Apr 10, 2011 at 7:17
  • @sampablokuper, what makes you think that user is a moderator?
    – Ivo Flipse
    Apr 10, 2011 at 7:28
  • 1
    @Ivo: Are you referring to Robert Harvey?
    – user541686
    Apr 10, 2011 at 8:07
  • 28
    The problem is not that your answer is humorous or clever. The problem is that it's not an answer. It's not valuable to anyone because it doesn't impart any information on how to solve their problem.
    – Cody Gray
    Apr 10, 2011 at 8:28
  • 1
    @Mehrdad, I couldn't see that image when I first read the question, so I thought he meant that a mod left a 'clever' answer but there were none visible for <10k users...
    – Ivo Flipse
    Apr 10, 2011 at 8:39
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    What @Cody says. A humorous answer that actually answers the question is pure gold. But a non-answer is fair game for flagging and deletion, that's the way it is. Jokes that are non-answers belong in the comments, and are usually very well received there.
    – Pekka
    Apr 10, 2011 at 9:33
  • 2
    As a comment you get a +1 for that. As an answer, you get it deleted...and I'm ok with that.
    – tvanfosson
    Apr 10, 2011 at 15:12
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    There are way to many SO users that are gunning for flag weight points to let an answer like this go unflagged. It's pretty out of control with more than a thousand flags per day, clearly a mod doesn't have much time to do anything beyond picking the easy way out. Many cooks make a bland stew, like the front page lately with thousands of newbie users blocked. Apr 10, 2011 at 15:31
  • @Cody: sorry, that's the most blinkered response out of the lot. There's more than one way of assessing value :)
    – user136089
    Apr 10, 2011 at 21:40
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    @Cody - +1 on your comment from me, it hits the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned.
    – Rob
    Apr 10, 2011 at 22:12
  • @Rob, what is this, a stable?
    – user136089
    Apr 10, 2011 at 22:27
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    @sampablokuper: I disagree. As others have pointed out, it's a perfectly acceptable comment. I leave humorous (or attempting to be humorous) comments all the time, and I have a pretty low standard for how related-to-the-topic they have to be. I don't, however, leave them as answers. Your "answer" doesn't help me with the task I asked about or was searching for information on. Thus, it's not an answer and it's not useful. It has nothing to do with my being of limited mind or humorless. There is and should be only one way of assessing value for answers. The upvote tooltip spells it out.
    – Cody Gray
    Apr 11, 2011 at 7:50
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    @Hans: I didn't realize you yearned for the "excitement" of newbie users with poorly articulated questions. I have no complaints about the flavor of the stew; the mods are doing an excellent job.
    – Cody Gray
    Apr 11, 2011 at 7:51
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    @sampablokuper, I'm not quite sure what you're implying by your comment. To sum up my opinion, stackoverflow is a question & answer site, not a question, answer and humerous thing that purports to be an answer but isn't site. As others have said, comments are for things that don't answer the question, not answers. Also, there's no reason to not include humour in an answer, as long as it answers the question. (continued)
    – Rob
    Apr 11, 2011 at 8:02
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    ... By posting this question on meta, you've asked for peoples opinions, if they're not the ones you wanted that doesn't make it ok to make comments like "most blinkered response out of the lot"..
    – Rob
    Apr 11, 2011 at 8:03

6 Answers 6

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I've thought that the stackoverflow community might benefit from a separate place to post humor associated with questions and answers. Every so often, you see something that just cries out for a joke.

This would have to be some sort of in-joke paradise, accessible only to people with a certain amount of rep -- a sort of parallel universe. The virtue is that it would soak up a sort of energy that otherwise spills into inappropriate comments and answers. The bad news is that it would facilitate snearing-at-the-newbies.

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  • 1
    Ummm. Meta? or chat?
    – tvanfosson
    Apr 10, 2011 at 15:25
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    Or twitter. Or blogs. But really, I don't think the question in question was crying out for a joke; it was a perfectly ordinary question, which is part of the reason that the joke answer is so totally out of place.
    – Aarobot
    Apr 10, 2011 at 15:36
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    @Aaro I completely agree that this was a lame joke hardly justified by the question at hand.
    – Rosinante
    Apr 10, 2011 at 15:43
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A joke answer here and there, well-crafted and on-topic, is tolerated, even appreciated. But, and I'm sorry if this seems like an attack Sam, where's the funny? Is a joke about large, scary reptiles appropriate for every Python question?

In general, though, I'm happy to see an occasional, good, and relevant joke. Gotta earn those get-out-of-deletion-free cards.

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  • 1
    Jon Skeet doesn't need to earn those cards, he lends them out to the SO community on a limited basis. Gotta earn them.
    – user541686
    Apr 10, 2011 at 8:06
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    And it has to be an actual answer to the question. If it's not answering the question, it should be a comment.
    – tvanfosson
    Apr 10, 2011 at 15:16
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    Exactly what @tva said: The key phrase here is on topic. Funny answers are fine, but if it's not actually an answer then it is essentially trolling, funny or not.
    – Aarobot
    Apr 10, 2011 at 15:25
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    I also have to concur with "where's the funny" here - I couldn't even muster a chuckle. That's exactly the sort of dull, witless pun that people use to clear the room when the party's over.
    – Aarobot
    Apr 10, 2011 at 15:32
  • @Aarobot, I guess you're not a fan of, say, the Goon Show? Pity. I might not be up to Spike Milligan's standard, but I admire him for his (as you would call them, "dull, witless") puns.
    – user136089
    Apr 10, 2011 at 21:43
  • @Michael, given that Python docs encourage people discussing Python to use Python-esque (read: surreal; potentially inappropriate to an audience not in on the joke) asides, I think the answer is yes. This isn't .NET.
    – user136089
    Apr 10, 2011 at 21:45
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    @sam, give it up already. It's not on topic, and it's not funny. Not everybody is good at working subtle humour into everyday situations. Stick to what you're good at... whatever that happens to be.
    – Aarobot
    Apr 10, 2011 at 22:15
  • @Aarobot, posting on SO isn't an everyday situation for me. Nor did I claim to be good at inserting subtle humour into everyday situations. Yet you've the gall to accuse me of being off-topic. Riiight.
    – user136089
    Apr 10, 2011 at 22:23
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I can't see what was deleted, but it must have been inappropriate to someone. Keep in mind that the mods hear complaints if they don't take action and they hear complaints if they do.

This is a professional Q&A site with thousands of users with different beliefs and opinions, and the moderators are responsible for responding to content that is flagged.

Thus, it's not personal. You can please some of the people all of the time but not all of the people all of the time.

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  • It was a joke answer, by this question's OP. Apr 10, 2011 at 7:33
  • FYI - a screen shot for that
    – YOU
    Apr 10, 2011 at 7:37
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    Thanks for the screenshot. It sounded like something the OP did that led to this question. I would have deleted it too. It's not a real answer and adds no value here.
    – jmort253
    Apr 10, 2011 at 7:44
  • Gee jmort253, you sound like a regular Handicapper General. I'm not sure anyone even flagged my answer, and yet you'd be ready to delete it!
    – user136089
    Apr 10, 2011 at 21:49
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    in this case the moderator made the right decision. If every one of us decided to just write whatever we wanted instead of real, actual answers, we wouldn't have much of a Q&A site, and it would be much harder for people with problems to quickly find the answers to their questions.
    – jmort253
    Apr 11, 2011 at 4:50
  • @jmort253, I disagree. Mine was a real, actual answer. (Is there such a thing as a real answer that isn't actual, or vice versa? Is it possible to post non-real answers on SO? What would that even mean?) You might not have liked it, but that doesn't mean it needs to be deleted. I'm not saying you should have upvoted it, though. I would have been perfectly happy for it to stick around with a low score and for it not to be the "accepted" answer. Essentially, I'd like some moderation in SO's moderation; less censorious extremism.
    – user136089
    Apr 11, 2011 at 15:40
  • @Sam, "not an answer", from the answer flag dialog: "This was posted as an answer, but it does not answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether." Fits pretty well. Apr 12, 2011 at 1:58
  • @Michael, it answers the question: provides a way to use python to get date string...
    – user136089
    Apr 12, 2011 at 4:32
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    Of course it does, @Sam, of course it does. Apr 12, 2011 at 5:03
7

Normally, moderators delete those because someone report that as "not an answer" or "low quality answer".

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  • 3
    Indeed, it's not the moderators it's the community who is humorless. :) Apr 10, 2011 at 7:24
  • 2
    or Flag Weight farming
    – YOU
    Apr 10, 2011 at 7:27
  • 5
    It's ok to have a little humor if it's on topic. The public speaker starts with a joke to break the ice before discussing her topic, but she doesn't just make her whole speech about the joke.
    – jmort253
    Apr 10, 2011 at 7:49
  • And I surely flag answers like that.
    – Arjan
    Apr 10, 2011 at 7:50
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    Indeed, @jmort, even the most upvoted humorous answer, starts and ends with an actual answer.
    – Arjan
    Apr 10, 2011 at 8:25
  • @Arjan - lol, somehow I knew the regex answer was where that link would go. The person submitting the answer was using humor to add to the point that regex was the wrong tool for the job. I'll never forget that answer. It will stick with me. It's a great example of witty humor that helps make a point.
    – jmort253
    Apr 10, 2011 at 20:23
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Part of being a mod is giving up the ability to tell users they are butthurt whiners, that they need to get over the fact that their language of choice is a disaster, that the dumbest questions come from Android devs, that "42" is not an answer to anything except "how can I prove I'm the lamest person on the internet," that english-as-a-2nd/3rd/4th-language does not excuse the fact that your question is so off-topic I want to punch you through the intertubes, that nobody cares if you are offended because your very existence offends us all, that it is clearly obvious from your question that you shouldn't be let near a computer let alone a software project, that your question is roughly the equivalent of "want drive fast how maek car," and that in all likelihood even your mother thinks you are ugly and smell.

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  • 2
    +1 - And this, ladies, gentlemen and droids is an answer that is not only an answer but also humerous. I'm sure that given the question it's answering that may constitute a circular reference, oh my.
    – Rob
    Apr 11, 2011 at 14:34
  • you sound like a very angry chap. Not in a good way.
    – user136089
    Apr 11, 2011 at 15:42
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    @sampablokuper: And apparently you don't have a sense of humor (ironic, given the question). Glass houses, anyone?
    – user1228
    Apr 11, 2011 at 16:35
  • Glass houses are great places to ̶b̶e̶ ̶n̶a̶k̶e̶d̶ grow plants!
    – user136089
    Apr 11, 2011 at 20:08
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At first I thought your comment was hilarious; I was LOL'ing out loud (yes I know that's redundant).

Then I clicked your link.

Turns out, it wasn't so funny. Maybe I just didn't "get" it, but it seemed completely random. The OP wasn't asking something like "How can I debug Python?" for the answer "Tranquilize it first" to make any sense... "pulling out the teeth" made simply no sense as an answer to a question about regexes, as funny as it stood on its own.

(IMHO, it would've been better if the pun was on something related to the question, not just the subject.)

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  • At the very least, I'm happy that I made you laugh! :D
    – user136089
    Apr 10, 2011 at 21:38
  • @sampablokuper: lol
    – user541686
    Apr 10, 2011 at 21:48

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