the question came up to me when seeing following answer: https://academia.stackexchange.com/a/90807/74774

This is edited by the mod Eykanal, removing over half of the (I admit, quite funny) post. I do understand the reasoning, as the sarcasm didn't add anything and last portion of that post looks like an answer.

But I'll be honest. If this was on stackoverflow, I'd have voted to delete the answer for being not an answer. Especially because even after removing the sarcasm part it doesn't really give an answer on the question OP asked. Which was how to solve the issue (emphasis mine). On SO this should be a comment, not an answer. But different house, different rules...

This made me wonder how strict one should be when evaluating answers. Should it specifically answer the actual question asked, or is it allowed to leave a more general comment on the nature of the problem?

2 Answers 2


Thanks for posting this question. This is a constant struggle on these sites.

On the one hand, people in a community setting want to enjoy themselves. That involves conversation, jokes, sarcasm, poking fun, off-topic comments, the like. Those things are very important for a strong community; no one wants to participate where it's just a bunch of dead fish in a room.

On the other hand, the goal of the site is to be informative, helpful, and easy-to-use. This necessarily means that much the off-topic stuff should be removed, because someone visiting the site from the outside (1) may not get the jokes and (2) has to wade through inane stuff to get to the useful stuff.

Most of the time, this isn't a big issue. Conversations take place in comments, and after they're done—or after two days, whichever comes first—we move them to chat. People make jokes, we laugh, and then make sure it doesn't affect the answer itself, editing if necessary.

This is one of those unusual cases where (1) the joke was integral to the answer, (2) the joke was potentially confusing to new visitors, and (3) the question was on the Hot Network Questions list. With all that in mind I took the rather drastic step of heavy-handed editing and then sat back and waited for someone to ask about it. I appreciate your doing it politely :) I would love to hear people's thoughts as to whether I did the right thing or not.

  • You're welcome. Thank you for putting so much effort in the academia site. I'm happy I sumbled upon it, this is great.
    – Joris Meys
    Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 13:01
  • @JorisMeys off topic here, but maybe in chat you could tell us if there is anything that we can do so that SE/SO users do not need to randomly stumble upon us.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 15:31

I personally feel that our community has expressed little patience with sarcastic questions/answers. This means removing that part of the answer, especially on a HNQ post, in a timely manner is important. I also believe that the answer probably should be deleted as NAA. As mods, there is a big difference between editing an answer where everyone can see what we have done and anyone can roll it back and deleting an answer. As the answer has 21 up votes and only 1 down vote, I would want to see a well discussed justification before deleting the answer.

  • in this particular case, I agree the answer can't just be deleted. The edited answer got a lot of upvotes and I don't really advocate its removal as it stands now. My question was more on the initial action in similar cases. Which you answered in the first part, and I agree :-)
    – Joris Meys
    Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 15:17

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