This is a serious question. As this is the Software Engineering Meta Stack Exchange, please approach the answer from that point of view. Specifically, if the answer is "Yes", how do we produce automated algorithms sophisticated enough to gauge the quality of a humourous post or comment?

Humour is not always about fun or scoring popularity. As a genre of literature, humour has been a conduit for important change throughout history: Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" is the classic example of this for Canadians, but I am sure there are others[*]. Humour, at its best, requires people to see meaning in what they are doing, and gently brings them to realize that they may be overlooking something.

However in an era where automated algorithms rate the quality of a text, is there any place for humour? Are there examples where humour has improved the quality of a post? Or is humor just too ambiguous and too divisive to serve a legitimate purpose?

This is a serious question. It is an important question. There is no double-entendre in this post. I ask only that people post a clear yes or no answer. You may also post two answers, one for yes and one for no.

  1. Answer yes if you think humor has a place here no matter how small.
  2. Answer no if there is absolutely no place for it.

I am not being sarcastic, so please no down-votes. No up-votes for that matter either. Also please limit comments on this question, but feel free to edit the question to help generate high-quality responses.

[*] Other influential comedic writers can be found on Ranker


2 Answers 2


Your question leaves me wondering why you think we actively discourage humor here. Having said that, humor is difficult to get right, for the reasons that Berin Loritsch already stated in his answer.

The charter of Software Engineering is to provide a place for software development questions and answers, not serve as yet another spot to socialize on the Internet. Maintaining this focus is the single best thing we can do to insure that the site remains a useful resource.

When humor becomes a distraction to the main mission of the site, it's time to pull back. On Stack Overflow, the "Summer of Love" and its sequel "Stack Overflow Isn’t Very Welcoming, It’s Time for That to Change" pretty much guarantees that any comments that might even be the least bit offensive to someone are summarily deleted. I hate to admit it, but I think that this approach (and the unwavering commitment by the current crop of moderators to keep the flag queue at bay) has made Stack Overflow a better, more focused site.

It's interesting that you picked Huckleberry Finn as your example. There are legions of people that would gladly wipe that book off the face of the earth if they could.


Please note that humor is something that does not translate well across the globe. Much humor relies on idioms that are region specific, some classes of humor (such as sarcasm) just aren't recognized in other cultures.

I think we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously. But that's easier said than done.

Bottom line, is that many of the cues that indicate a phrase is meant to be humorous are body language--something that just doesn't exist in written word. I can't tell you the number of times something that was intended to be funny was misinterpreted by the other party.

So, no. I don't think that humor should be an integral part here.

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