Despite previous meta posts, there seem not to be a consensus, but rather a split, on what to do with joke "answers".

I am and have been very vocal in supporting the idea that jokes do not belong in the answer field, and for different resons, not last the fact that they can obscure the actual answers.

Despite this I see that some fun could be helpful to the community.

I would then propose the following. Joke "answers" are left in place if and only if:

  • they are posted as community wikis
  • the poster self-flags the posts alerting the mods saying "I posted this as a joke, please lock it" (and then a mod will pass by as soon as possible and lock the post).

Ideally, they should also be left with a score of 0, to leave them in a neutral position, but unfortunately there is no way to enforce that.

Would this compromise be acceptable? If not, can you please explain why?

Further reading:

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    $\begingroup$ Seems like more work for the mods to have to come along and lock jokes. But, hey, if a mod is suggesting it, maybe it's a good compromise :) $\endgroup$ – fooot Jul 3 '18 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ To the downvoters: you're not downvoting the idea, you're downvoting the discussion. I read it as you don't want to have this discussion. $\endgroup$ – Federico Jul 4 '18 at 8:54
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    $\begingroup$ Why do you feel there is not a consensus? Especially Can we delete this "humorous" answer? seems to have a clear consensus for "delete answers that are strictly humorous". The other meta discussions you linked do not actually pertain to joke answers. $\endgroup$ – Sanchises Jul 4 '18 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Sanchises to be clear, I edited in those links, just as a bit of context on this. They were not meant to back up the claim that there isnt a consensus $\endgroup$ – Jamiec Jul 4 '18 at 9:31

The downsides have been mentioned already a lot all over SE, and Aviation SE is not special. Jokes in comments are way better and the way it should be.

But I haz a photo...

URLs work just fine: example here -- the comment even has more votes than the actual answers (combined) at the time of writing this. So spreading happiness does work via comments. And it would have worked for the recently-deleted 'plane regurgitating a train' picture joke-answer.

[insert witty comment](URL for photo)

The poster to self-flag for lock

The moderators aren't present all the time, and sometimes they take breaks (deservingly so), so no.

Maybe leaving them up for a week? (@TomMcW)

A real (but not great) answer might get sympathy upvotes from HNQ visitors, and when the joke answer is finally deleted, and a better answer comes along, it will be of a lower score than the lesser one (skewing the scoring/review system), and it won't get the upvotes it deserves since the party will be over.

  • $\begingroup$ a better answer comes along, it will be of a lower score than the lesser one (skewing the scoring/review system), and it won't get the upvotes it deserves since the party will be over. That happens pretty much every time a question hits the HNQ queue. Are you saying that a joke answer makes the question more likely to become a HNQ? $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Jul 6 '18 at 23:47
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    $\begingroup$ @TomMcW - Exactly. The joke will likely turn it into a HNQ, and then the non-joke (but not good) answer will get sympathy upvotes to match the joke, and so on. $\endgroup$ – ymb1 Jul 7 '18 at 9:37

In my opinion, no, this would not be an acceptable comprimise for the following reasons

  • Whereas you might get some traction with regular users following this guidance, expecting new or casual users to know about arbitrary rules like this is unlikely to work.
  • Where do you draw the line between a humorous-but-valid answer, and a plain old joke?
  • This is not a big enough problem to have a solution. We might get one or two joke answers a week, if they dont answer the question they should be downvoted, VtD, or whatever the agreed process is. If they do answer the question, then there is nothing to do.

Basically, this is not a problem big enough for a solution.


I believe the No Fun Rule should be strictly enforced! Just joking :P

I can see both sides. They're best relegated to the comments. Usually they're just fine there, such as @mins comment on this question.

If they just don't work as a comment I suppose it wouldn't kill anything to leave them as answers. The only real problem I see is that they are bound to receive a bunch of upvotes and end up being the top answer unless the OP accepts one.

Maybe leaving them up for a week or so before pulling them down?


As the miscreant that posted the "regurgitated train" gag, I am sympathetic to the desire to keep the site from descending into chaos. I also understand that any rule proposed will be pushed to its limits by jokesters on one hand and parochial school teachers ready to rap knuckles with yardsticks on the other. hand.)

While every project can improve in some way, I have no complaints about the way people manage this site. Given the popularity of foolish things like helicopter mace I also think it would be a mistake to ignore that people need a break now and then.

It would not be good to have joke answers crowd out legitimate responses to serious questions. In the specific case of "train", the question was about a biplane photoshopped onto a WW2 rail gun, hardly serious. Also with the gag deleted there are now zero answers, so no crowding out. I think it is reasonable to ask where is the harm? If you are being consistent you should really delete the question. (I am not advocating that)

I think it will be difficult to make one simple rule that works everywhere. I think any solution that will give both sides something is going to require a judgement call, so I understand any inclination to ignore the whole thing and leave things as they are. However, if the No Fun Rule is to be relaxed I would suggest:

  • gags in comments are ok anytime, as ymb1 suggests, though I disagree that photos are well handled
  • gags in answers are ok if there is no harm, as I think was the case for "train"
  • gags in answers will be deleted immediately if there is harm to serious questions, but I think calculating integrals don't lend themselves to jokes so this might not be common
  • gag questions and harmless gags in answers will be left up for a week as TomMcW suggests, but left up if they are really popular. If you are against fun, letting jokesters earn reputation may represent a perverse incentive but it is somewhat balanced by the threat of impending deletion if the community doesn't really love the gag.

There would need to be some discussion about what constitutes harm and how much love lets a gag survive. There would also have to be some communication about what is allowed, to keep the line judges from being outraged.

The good thing about making it a judgement call is that if things get out of hand you can get more aggressive with the deletions without a big conference to change rules.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the answer :) Please don't be under the impression that the question is against you. That said, please allow me to correct a few misunderstandings that I see in your post. - gags in comments are already allowed - I think the question was a serious one, despite the photoshop in it - the reputation would be solved by what I proposed, community wikis do not earn reputation $\endgroup$ – Federico Jul 4 '18 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico I am fine with all of this and I think everyone does an admirable job keeping things working. I'd agree to half serious on the question.) Would you agree there was no harm? I have only been around a couple of months and don't recall ever seeing a community wiki. I have seen the Community user on questions moved to the top of the question queue. Are they used? $\endgroup$ – Pilothead Jul 4 '18 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ community user is a completely different situation, tomorrow if you pass by chat I might have a few minutes to explain. community wikis, we already used them once exactly for this, but then many people felt the jokes were too much. see here: aviation.stackexchange.com/q/13965/1467 $\endgroup$ – Federico Jul 4 '18 at 16:56

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