Regarding this question:

Where did the notion of “one return only” come from?

What should be done with it?

  • Nothing
  • Close
  • Delete
  • Wiki lock
  • Something else
  • 9
    Is it causing trouble? – Robert Harvey Feb 16 '16 at 21:15
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    @RobertHarvey I only mentioned it because it popped up on my question feed after a user edited one of the many, many answers on the question. – Ampt Feb 16 '16 at 21:16
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    @RobertHarvey nope, just came up in chat so I thought I would make a permanent record of the discussion (well, chat is permanent, but The Whiteboard has many threads of whiskey and coffee intertwined with these discussions). – user22815 Feb 16 '16 at 21:16
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    as of now, it's 85K+ views and open => Atwood's cleanup wouldn't hurt – gnat Feb 17 '16 at 7:15
  • FWIW I commented on answers that appear to repeat previous ones - here and here. Would appreciate if somebody else takes a look to re-check after me – gnat Feb 17 '16 at 19:46
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    @gnat I agree. I also went through and downvoted answers that fail to answer the question as asked: specifically, where did that idea come from, not the merits (or lack thereof) of the idea. – user22815 Feb 17 '16 at 20:12
  • this is a good observation! I commented on some answers that look tangential to question asked, eg here (could have missed some). Glen also pointed to this issue with the answer in comments here – gnat Feb 17 '16 at 21:03

I see no reason to do anything about it.

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    @gnat I have no idea what you are trying to say. It would help if you used words. – yannis Feb 17 '16 at 9:49
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    @gnat Still no idea what you are trying to say. Do you think the question in question is off topic? If so, why? Do you think some of the answers need to be improved or removed? If so, which ones? – yannis Feb 17 '16 at 10:32
  • you tell me? Atwood's guidance is for diamond moderators, not for regular users – gnat Feb 17 '16 at 12:55
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    @gnat Already told you: I see no reason to do anything about it. If you disagree, please tell me why. Preferably, by using your words. – yannis Feb 17 '16 at 13:12
  • it would help if your answer was more explicit about this. Like, you checked all 22 answers in that question and found that none of them falls under guidance about Atwood's cleanup – gnat Feb 17 '16 at 13:17
  • @gnat I'm answering the question, not your comments. Btw what you call "Atwood's cleanup" isn't really a thing. It's just Jeff answering a tangentially related MSE question. – yannis Feb 17 '16 at 13:23
  • we're discussing one of the all time top 50 open questions, how is this MSE guidance tangential? "How aggressively should we maintain and improve very popular questions? " – gnat Feb 17 '16 at 13:33
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    @gnat No. We are discussing the ProgSE question "Where did the notion of “one return only” come from?". In the course of that discussion, you keep linking to a tangentially related MSE discussion without ever bothering to explain how & why you think it relates to the actual discussion, or what your thoughts about the aforementioned ProgSE question are. – yannis Feb 17 '16 at 13:41
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    @Yannis I think gnat is trying to say you should delete some of the crap answers because us regular users would only be able to delete a tiny number of them on that question. – user22815 Feb 17 '16 at 15:28
  • gnat is a prolific flagger @Snowman. I'm sure he's perfectly aware of how to ask moderators to delete answers. – yannis Feb 17 '16 at 17:10
  • @Yannis there is nothing that I as a regular user could flag there. As I already mentioned Atwood's guidance is for diamond moderators (per my reading, a bunch of answers there may fit his deletion criteria) – gnat Feb 17 '16 at 17:35
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    @gnat As a regular user you can vote, edit, comment and flag. You can also share your opinions in Meta. These features, if used correctly, are all you'll ever need in dealing with popular questions. At your rep level, you could also focus at earning the next set of privileges, that comes with sweet, sweet answer deletion votes. – yannis Feb 17 '16 at 19:30

I suggest a wiki lock.

This question and its top answer dig into historical details that may not be commonly known. Specifically, there is a programming mantra still around that has its roots in a type of programming that many modern programmers are not familiar with. The top answer provides very clear and useful information to explain the origins of this mantra and why it used to be a good idea but anymore is not necessary. This is specifically the type of resource one could link to for concrete evidence to prove one's point.

As the question is already a community wiki, a wiki lock's only effect would be to ensure the question is neither closed nor deleted. As I believe it has value to the community, but others have suggested closing or deleting it, I vote in favor of keeping this one around.

Sort of a later follow-up: question was further cleaned up and 14 answers that didn't attempt to address the question and/or were repeating prior ones were removed by moderator (one or two answers were deleted by their authors per discussion in comments).


The question looks generally good to me, it appears to be reasonably clear and focused and rather difficult to misinterpret.

Though some answerers managed to "leak through" minor slippery points in wording. Granted, some of them dumped their stuff in first several hours prior to revision 4, while text (and especially title) of the question were leaving bit more room for misinterpretation.

Prior editors did pretty good job of cleaning it up but there still seem to be some corrections worth considering, especially now that question apparently gained huge popularity and has got to our all time top 50 open questions with over 85K views.

I would particularly recommend the following changes:

  • Add tag. After revision 4 main focus of the question has been very prominently shifted to this and lack of the respective tag looks really confusing. Not to mention that this makes it harder to search.

  • Note about ternary operator that "gets even less love among Java programmers etc". It probably fit well into trollish / ranty mood of the original text but in current form, it looks rather poor fit to the rest of the question. I would replace it with more neutral explanation, about like this:

    But that's only because code snippet was made as simple as possible to clearer show the idea, the question is about more realistic cases where ternary operator is not an option.

  • Closing words "why do people adhere to it rigidly?" are worth removing. These are just a leftover of original rant and really have no place in the question. Actually, words like this are usually enough for me to vote close as opinion based / too broad but prior editors did a really good job of making it clear that it's tangential to the question (except for maybe the most rigidly careless answerers).


Cleaning up the question may be good, but we would better take care of tangential answers as well.

Even now, visitors probably find these confusing and wonder how these are related to the question. But very attentive readers can at least re-check the question text and say, "ah, this answer exploits <such and such minor point of the question>, I understand".

But if the question is cleaned as suggested above, these answers will become really harmful, telling tens thousands visitors, "hey, it's okay to totally ignore what is asked about and just drop into answer box whatever comes to your mind".

  • 1
    I edited the question to clean it up a little bit: I removed the last vestiges of ranty language; I made it more language-neutral since the history has nothing to to with Java; I made the note about the ternary operator less prominent while also adding language focusing on the history to shift the focus to the real question. – user22815 Feb 18 '16 at 16:11
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    @Snowman re-checked your edit in rev 9 - looks really good, and covers all that I wanted to correct. Thanks! – gnat Feb 18 '16 at 16:16

I suggest closing.

The question is unlikely to be deleted, and impossible for the roomba to delete. This would serve as one less question for users to use as an example of an off topic but still open question.

I agree that there is value in this question - but it is rather large and has many, many answers, some of which are in need of pruning off. A close would serve to preserve it as it sits today, while preventing people from piling additional answers onto the already thoroughly explained question.

  • 3
    How is the question off topic? – yannis Feb 17 '16 at 9:32
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    To me, the question appears to be primarily opinion based. While the current answers provide plenty of history and valid reasoning on why Single Entry/Single Exit is good, the question of why people stick to it so rigidly is, at it's core, opinion based. – Ampt Feb 17 '16 at 14:22
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    Care to elaborate on why you think this is primarily opinion based? Several of the answers are build around technical reasons (current or historical), nothing primarily opinion based about that. – yannis Feb 17 '16 at 14:34

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