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I posted a question about an Easter egg where a moderator almost immediately closed it as off-topic.

I've been around on here long enough to know that my question isn't a lone exception, and that both SU and Stack Exchange have had their fair share of fun, on-topic questions, but even if that wasn't the case, why? I mean, I get why - because the rules say so - but I just fail to see the purpose of taking such a stringent interpretation of the rules.

It reminds me of Microsoft's archaic, overkill attitude to Easter eggs, but for a company whose userbase is primarily made up of non-technical, corporate users, their stance is at least justifiable. On a site where the vast majority of the userbase are technical users that enjoy the occasional laugh on a workday, I believe there's far more loss to be gained than there is benefit from taking such a hardline stance on this.

The moderator in question, David Postill, responded with:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face... If you can convince me you have a real problem to solve I will happily reopen your question.

This is demonstrably an overly-stringent interpretation of the rulebook that is, at best, applied selectively on SU. Applying it evenly to all of the site's questions would render a good portion of its most highly-voted, on-topic answers as being off-topic. Some are purely informative on a theoretical level, some are a little bit of fun, some are both, like mine. Here are just a few examples from SU that I've managed to find in the last 10 mins, not counting the many, many more I've come across and lost count of on both SU and SO in my time on SE.

Why does Windows think that my wireless keyboard is a toaster?

Ping faster than light

Why does pinging 192.168.072 (only 2 dots) return a response from 192.168.0.58?

What exactly does the Avast "remind me next century" option actually do?

Difference between .bashrc and .bash_profile

If 32-bit machines can only handle numbers up to 2^32, why can I write 1000000000000 (trillion) without my machine crashing?

Directory vs. Folder

Why are we still using CPUs instead of GPUs?

What are the Windows A: and B: drives used for?

Such questions would only be asked by technical users; as per the common sense definition, they're ostensibly on-topic for the site. They add to users' experience of it, informing them. Just because a question makes users laugh shouldn't make it inherently off-topic. If the rules dictate that, or leave it to the interpretation of moderators to do so, then for consistency, the rules need to be amended, or all such questions considered off-topic and deleted so the site is no longer able to benefit from them.

  • While you could, loosely, call this "interesting" it is not really an easter egg in that it is not hidden in a program on your computer. One of my criteria for this would be whether it is repeatable by anyone with the requisite software at any time and this is liable to disappear at the whim of the owner. It is also not really about a "home" computer hardware or software problem, it's about how a set of computer servers on the internet are set up. Saying "hey, isn't this neat?" (your question) is different to asking how to set this sort of thing up. – Mokubai Aug 14 '17 at 23:06
  • @Mokubai - Pedantry over the definition of an easter egg is irrelevant to the question - we're discussing whether fun questions in general are allowed on the site. Again, take a look at the many questions I linked above, and then apply your arbitrary list of criteria to each one of them, and report back on how many of them are "off-topic". This has become SE's MO as of the last few years - the selective, arbitrary implementation of rules just broad enough to be useful whenever a moderator should fancy doing so. It's hypocritical and disingenuous. – Hashim Aug 14 '17 at 23:14
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    Fine. In that case I would have to say that "fun" is perfectly fine if it is within the spirit and on-topic rules of the site. Your question is essentially "What is $RANDOM_THING$?" with no explanation of what that thing is. At that point "bad.horse" could be anything at all, and I could easily answer, it's a song from a TV miniseries and close it as off topic or form being unclear. Websites and webapps are off topic here and this really has very little to do with your local computer beyond being able to run the command locally, it is more about internal website setup. – Mokubai Aug 14 '17 at 23:24
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A moderator almost immediately voted to close it as off-topic. Why?

I am the moderator in question. The help pages clearly state:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

Source What types of questions should I avoid asking?

If you can convince me you have an real problem to solve I will happily reopen your question.

the vast majority of the userbase are technical users that enjoy the occasional laugh on a workday

You should come and join us in Root Access (the SuperUser Chat room) if you want an occasional laugh 😃

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If something is off topic, it should be closed immediately.

With a quick look, most of these actually do have some practical use (also, personally I find lists of "But you left these open" annoying - in this case though, eh, looks like my fellow mods or on the case). You've literally just documented a bit of fun - along the lines of project blinkenlight's ASCII starwars. It has literally no bearing on your day to day use of a PC, or even anomalous use of your PC, which many of the questions you link have.

  • If anything but "you left these open" often results in that list of questions being closed if they are truly not on topic so it's not a great defense. Your actions are your own. – Ramhound Aug 15 '17 at 8:29

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