Why you should avoid Stack Overflow

It has been a long time since the last blog post. This has been caused by various reasons, but the most important has been the fact that life is so much better without a site like Stack Overflow.


Having written that, there has just been an outstandingly silly thread taking place on Meta Stack Overflow. It seems to be applying for the same type of stand-up comedy prize as so many other on this “wonderful” site.

In short, there was a new user asking a question on Stack Overflow. Then, there was a new user answering that and along the line, adding new information and further code to the answer as desired; so far so good, yeah?

The new user asking the question then decided to delete the question instead of accepting the answer from the other new user who was trying to help. It is probably not nice just as well as demanding the question author to accept the answer even if it is not satisfying for the user asking the question. Now, the user who wrote that answer went to brainde..  almighty Meta Stack Overflow asking about this behavior and what to do.

Now, what has happened afterwards is havoc, really. A moderator, in fact a Stack Exchange employee (not joking), undeleted this thread. The user asking the question got -12 downvotes and the answer 144 upvotes. The question author then self-answered and self-selected that answer. Now, that answer is at -27. Not only that, some people have spent the last 3-4 days to downvote other posts from the user asking the question. What a waste of time, childish and unproductive behavior this is.

I will highlight a few interesting comments from this Meta thread:

stackoverflow.com/questions/29496325/fbx-transformations/… …and then he went, ignored @diego.martinez ‘s answer, answered himself and accepted it. Some people are just unbelievable – Daniel Parejo Muñoz Feb 23 at 17:18


What is so unbelievable about not being completely satisfied about an answer? What is so unbelievable about writing your own answer if you think that is helpful?

haha, what an absurd amount of upvotes to that answer. – CubeJockey Feb 23 at 17:19
I’m sure others disagree. Yes the guy probably shouldn’t have deleted the quesiton but … what stuck out to me is asking for the answer to be marked. Is asking “please mark my answer as the accepted answer” recommended SO behavior? Should I be posting comments under my answer “Please mark this as the accepted answer”? – gman Feb 23 at 20:11
Wow. The meta effect here is obscene – on both the question and the answer. – BJ Myers 2 days ago
@BJMyers yup, people are piling on and downvoting/upvoting the question/answer respectively, purely as an emotional response to diego’s account of things. how useful, reducing what should be a technical knowledgebase and voting thereon, to knee-jerk populism instead. is this a side-effect of the current car-crash election season? – underscore_d 2 days ago
The actual amount of upvotes/downvotes on this question&answers is ridiculous… Please stop upvote things you don’t understand, and downvote emotionally… – vard yesterday

There are people who actually recognise the “holy” meta brainfa… effect.

Now, one would think that a moderator, or actually a Stack Exchange employee, especially with community management roles in hand, would instantly stand up to resolve the situation. But.. the hilarious it sounds, not! What is happening instead is this:

Tim … “While we generally respect the prerogative of the question author to remove something” … “How nice of you”, as it were. It’s great that you removed the writer’s name from it – good policy – but it’s incredibly inappropriate to force writing to be kept around if a person doesn’t want it. As I say, a simple and clear solution is at hand. Since the answer is so terribly awesome, just post a one-sentence question (“transformation for openGL?”) and then answer it “wiki-style”. This solves all problems. – Joe BlowFeb 23 at 13:04
The “rights” of someone to NOT have their writing seen, far exceeds the notion that “I wrote a long answer and feel bad it’s not there”. The two aren’t even in the same category. In any event, as I mention a simple and effective solution is at hand. If the answer’s so incredible that Diego wants it on SO for all time, spend 2 seconds putting it in as a QA – which SO has the facility for an encourages. – Joe BlowFeb 23 at 13:05
what if the answer is incorrect or incomplete? 63+? just because he brought it up in meta? – OmarFeb 23 at 17:44
I agree @Omar, there’s an unnecessary amount of votes on that answer. – CubeJockeyFeb 23 at 18:52
Is it possible to add a link to the meta discussion from the question (even just as a comment)? As it stands, the question doesn’t look like a low quality question (it doesn’t seem particularly high, but I’m not familiar with it). Anyone visiting the question in the future will see -12 and think it’s a very very bad question, whereas it was probably just the community outlash from this meta post. – Tas2 days ago
I do think the meta effect from this is pretty out of hand on this. – Magisch2 days ago
Seriously? The questions is being downvoted and the answer is upvoted through the roof? Get a hold of yourself people 😦 – Gimby2 days ago
Just BTW “The answer you received is fantastic” it’s a shame this was written by an SO staff member. The answer is buggy and poor. If SO had written, say, “the answer shows a huge effort” that would make sense, and be appropriate from a moderator. “answer is fantastic” is an engineering judgement call in the specific field (and could be debated forever by technical experts). – Joe Blowyesterday
@Omar, I agree and it’s getting worse overtime. The upvotes/downvotes, at this point, are not justified and clearly do not correspond with the reasoning behind them (if you mouse-over the arrow and see the popup). – Leb2 days ago
Everything in4001 says here is utterly correct and rational. The whole situation is bizarre. – Joe Blowyesterday
@TimPost, you probably want to do something regarding people targeting the (disgusting I must say) user with downvotes (since it affects the content on the site not because he doesn’t deserve it!) stackoverflow.com/users/4759574/in4001?tab=reputation – gdoron 11 hours ago
Welcome to SO, where voting system is abused and misused. – Omar 2 days ago
I could continue pasting the comments, but it is clear that many users do not agree with what is going on here and in general on Stack Overflow when these things do happen.
Yet, one comment from the Stack Exchange employee, Tim Post, has to be mentioned in here:
RE: The ‘meta effect’ – not much can be done about it, I’m afraid – it’s an ancillary cost of having this kind of support channel. By the time I saw this, the link and all was out – just editing it out wouldn’t have worked any longer (I believe this was also picked up in chat). – Tim Postyesterday
I will interpret it: so, the person, who plays a significantly role in the operation of this site, expresses that it is all good. Heck, he even mentioned that it was a fantastic answer. Anyone with a little math and C programming language knowledge knows that it may be a good answer, although even that was questioned by a few people in the area, but definitely NOT a fantastic one.
He thinks that support can only be given through such madness. He explicitly claims that this nonsense is ancillary for supporting the site. He even further distorts the truth then:

I saw this, the link and all was out.

I do not get why he is not telling the truth. It is not nice from a community manager. He actually let the crazy vote hell going on after he had first answered in this meta thread.
Fortunately, but unfortunately for him, there are people with slightly more intelligence:
@TimPost Meta-Effect can be reversed, you can simply revert all votes from the time the question was posted on meta. Unless you (as well as community) don’t care about content quality. The question is on-topic, why all the downvotes? Meta-Trolls-Mafia is messing the site up with the authority they have for voting. – Omar yesterday
Not only did he not follow that suggestion, he even ignored this comment entirely without responding to it. I am sure that as a Stack Exchange employee with community manager roles in his hand, he does not have time for following this up and responding to the community.
Unfortunately, Joe Blow removed his answer, but that summarise my opinion well on the topic.
Viva la Stack Overflow, long live to the nursery, c’est la vie zero quality; you have been on the right track, for years now; congratulations!

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