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I ran into this answer to the question "What lasts longer: Data stored on non-volatile flash RAM, optical media, or magnetic disk?":

I vote for stone tablets. They survive thousands of years.

Modern equivalents are engravings on hard material like metal or plastic or even wood.

People are doing projects such as engraving or etching books on a metal disc like a modern rosetta stone. Individuals are engraving their bitcoin addresses on small bricks of tungsten.

I personally just print using impact printers or dot matrix printers, on inkjet and on laser printers, put them in a folder or envelope, then stuff it in my filing cabinet or drawer. Paper lasts a lifetime too.

If you're storing anything more dense than a novel, then I would go with the hard drive method, and moving the data to newer hard drives in the future, keeping the old as backup.

I would say the question is not constructive, but this answer seems satirical of the question. Are such answers appropriate? Should they be flagged?

15

This question could have been slightly rewritten to be more constructive and a little less open-ended. I think the question is definitely salvageable, and would suggest editing it rather than closing it.

The answer wasn't mean-spirited, but portions of it are certainly off-topic. It was funny, though, and also contained a serious answer near the end.

In the specific case, I don't think it deserves deletion or downvoting, but in the general case I don't think we want to encourage people to post snarky answers--we get enough of that anyway, without enshrining it as an acceptable practice.

So, what should be done in this specific case? Here are my recommendations:

  1. Leave it alone. I think there are more posts out there worthy of spending moderator or editing time on than this one.
  2. If it can't be left alone, then edit out the funny bits and leave the rest. I can see the logic of an edit to enforce site norms, but not of a deletion in this individual case.

It probably took longer to discuss the issue than to do something about it, but I'm glad that SU takes a deliberative approach to these sorts of things. Yay, community!

9

"You don't go to CNN for dick jokes; don't come here for hard hitting journalism."

I'm not a starry eyed early adopter of StackExchange (and judging by rep and account age distributions, I'm not minority). On yet another day of Googling "quick questions" I didn't know how to answer, I found SO and realized what a helpful resource a well-organized, well-moderated site with logical, consistent, comprehensive style and content rules which are being followed is. I don't really see it as a community in the social sense, I consider it more of a public medium for enthusiasts to share knowledge with each other.

I come here when I have a question, and I want it to be answered with, for lack of a better word, minimal bullshit. No advertisements from a company trying to sell a cheap knockoff of an open source program for $39.99, no crazy forum trolls with an axe to grind spinning yarns about god knows what, no incomprehensible babble that's barely even English, just sane, rational, level-headed advice from sane and rational people. Importantly, consistently sane advice from consistently sane people.

When I want cute nerd humor, I go to my RSS reader and dive in my humor feeds, or hop over to my favorite techie hangout forums. Nerd humor isn't hard to find. What would be annoying, though, is if half the time I excitedly clicked on an SO result from my search I found, to my disappointment, that it was only a cheeky joke and there's no actual solution to my problem (which I've probably wrestled with for hours, exhausting my patience). This would very quickly move SE sites to my mental blacklist.

The SE sites provide a very valuable, much-needed service (sober, quality, reliable Q&A) and do so very well. I don't see the point of branching off into an oversaturated market (nerd humor), and I while there's the occasional gem, I don't think the SO community consistently produces exceptional humor (and besides, we can agree on what is a good solution to a problem, but how can we agree what is funny and whose taste is right?). There may be such a thing as wisdom of the crowds, but I find the notion of a "sense of humor of the crowds" to be... Well, humorous.

Speaking of bad humor, the example is both a terrible answer (exactly the kind I hope to escape by coming here!) and not very good humor (I didn't laugh, I didn't smile, I finished reading and realized he forgot to add a punchline to his attempt at a joke, and regretted the time I spent reading it). The question clearly asks for a comparison of digital media, which certainly does not include stone tablets. It even goes on to list the particular digital media that the asker is interested in. Imagine that after much frustrated searching and tinkering, you asked (or found on google) a question about whether you should use a Windows or Linux as your development platform given your specific need, then I walked in and suggested MacOS or Symbian or something else ridiculous. It would feel like a slap on the face and waste everyone's time; worse, it would dilute the primary usefulness of the site.

And if you agree that humor should not be encouraged, you also should agree that it's very important for it to be discouraged. The reason is this: It is a lot less work to come up with wisecracks than to solve problems, even when the "solution" is writing down something you know, because you must think carefully about how to express your knowledge, whereas humorous quips "come to you" in a moment. Moreover, most people don't know the solution so are not qualified to try and answer it, but practically everyone can make a -good or bad- witty remark. People will also tend to judge solutions on their merits, while there always seems to arise a large crowd who thinks the "vote up" button means "lol tru dat mate haha". All of this combines to make it very easy, once it becomes common place, for humor to overwhelm genuine contributions.

  • 1
    fwiw, I browse SU daily, and I can count the number of wisecracks I've encountered on one hand. While I agree with your sentiment, that entering the over saturated market of nerd humor is a bad thing, I don't agree that SU is in danger of doing that. I also believe, for better or worse, that as @Journeyman posted, the community will take care of it. There is a social aspect to the community. There is pride. There is a sense of responsibility. Those two things, I believe, are the best bulwark against losing the aspects of the site that you enjoy. – JoshP Sep 26 '12 at 19:14
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Let the community handle it. I see two scenarios - people will upvote the hell out of it (though there will be comments to the satirical nature of the answers) or downvote the heck out of it.

I can't find the question off hand, but the question where someone asked how to type 1/2 in a mac was a good example - the most highly voted answer was satrical (but a copycat got downvoted into deletion). The selected answer, however was technically correct.

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