I was asked to review this and this answer and found that they were totally not answers, there were a lot of upvotes each, however. They were deleted by a moderator, but is it allowed and encouraged to post non-answer joke to low-quality questions in MSE?

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    $\begingroup$ HAHAHAHA, oh my god. Will's answers can be so perfect sometimes. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander Gruber Mod
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 15:02
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    $\begingroup$ Could someone screenshot for the newbies who can't see deleted posts? :-( $\endgroup$
    – Szmagpie
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Szmagpie Title: 0.9999999999999999999999…=1 Body: Why?Why?Why? I don't understand. Answer: The sun shines to make the flowers grow. Then it sets so that we can fall asleep. $\endgroup$
    – Did
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 6:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Szmagpie Title: Golden Ratio Constructs: Is it not common courtesy to reference prior art? And how to establish priority by utilizing archive.org and archive.is. Body: [Too long to reproduce here.] Answer: Claiming priority: me scratching two dogs. [With photo of a guy on a lawn by a lake or a river, scratching two (beautiful) dogs (Siberian huskys, I would say).] $\endgroup$
    – Did
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 6:54
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexanderGruber I lost patience with most of Will's off topic answers a long time ago, BUT if he had crammed a golden spiral onto his picture, I would totally have overlooked this :P (And anyhow Will is a great guy and I really like his on topic answers a lot!) $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ I once had someone answer my question with a star wars related joke related to the dark side. I can't remember the name of the question but I learned to be more specific with my question details. $\endgroup$
    – Jon
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 21:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Did - as I recall, the answer was set as "community wiki" so that no reputation was gained. $\endgroup$
    – Joffan
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Joffan OK. Why are you telling me this? $\endgroup$
    – Did
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 20:06

3 Answers 3


Posting joke non-answers is not within the scope of the site, so we will delete them(1) when they come to our attention.

Typically, they don't do much harm, though, so usually the poster faces no dire consequences beyond having the answer deleted. But if somebody posts enough such joke posts that they become a nuisance, further consequences are on the table.

(1) When they're really funny, we will shed a quiet tear.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer. Would you mind asking one more minor question? How many are 'enough' jokes by your criteria? $\endgroup$ Commented May 31, 2016 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ There's no hard number. It depends on how many flags they cause (as a measure of how annoying/disturbing they are to the general community). $\endgroup$ Commented May 31, 2016 at 10:07
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    $\begingroup$ "When they're really funny, we will shed a quiet tear." Well that's something anyway - I had the idea that nobody here thought anything was funny, ever. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 17:33
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidC.Ullrich I always think I'm very funny. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ @choco_addicted It's not practical to set hard limits for stuff like this. If the policy said (for example) "You will get a temporary ban after $n$ instances of undesirable behaviour X" then some people will immediately go off & do X $n-1$ times. So it's far better to leave these things to the mods' discretion. FWIW, here's a famous joke answer on SO, which is preserved for historical (& hysterical) reasons: RegEx match open tags except XHTML self-contained tags. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 7:13
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidC.Ullrich counterexample(s): mathoverflow.net/questions/1083/do-good-math-jokes-exist $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ So I infer that either you consider this a joke answer (as opposed to a joke non-answer), or you hadn't encountered it yet? (I'd shed a quiet tear if this comment led to the answer being deleted :-) $\endgroup$
    – joriki
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 6:48
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    $\begingroup$ @joriki I'll defer judgement on that until it collects flags. After nearly five years, it's not exactly a pressing issue. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 10:13
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    $\begingroup$ If the proposal were accepted for a repository of the jokes, there would be no need for the tears (meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/22227/…). $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 4:15
  • $\begingroup$ @NoamD.Elkies, another one(prior to the that one you posted, in my view). $\endgroup$
    – user249332
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 11:50
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    $\begingroup$ @pm2ring That is not a "joke answer." It is an answer that contains a joke. Big difference. It is a complete and thorough answer to the question: "that cannot be done. <reasons why> <humorous demonstration> <suggestion of alternative>" $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 10:57
  • $\begingroup$ @CodyGray: Fair enough. Still, that kind of answer would probably not be acceptable these days (more's the pity). I suppose that it's one of the most highly-linked posts on any Stack Exchange site. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 12:01


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    $\begingroup$ Is this a joke itself? +1. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 10:54
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    $\begingroup$ I'd think of it as a playful answer. $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ And when quid is using MathJax for large and colored text, you just know that the apocalypse is nigh. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 8:16
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    $\begingroup$ @quid, I hope mods won't shed "a quiet tear " soon! :D I love the fact that they let the joke live for a while before killing it! First time they did so few weeks after an exchange with Asaf, left me wondering what's happening! $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ This is a joke. I can see the smaller word there. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ @ObinnaNwakwue but it is "absolutely not" encouraged, no joke there. $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 17:22

Allowed, maybe, but discouraged, I hope. If someone has the time to post a joke non-answer, don't they also have the time to post a bona fide answer? I think that if the question is so bad it doesn't merit a real response, then it doesn't merit any answers period. It should be deleted.


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