9

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Part of the long-term success of StackOverflow has been the ability/allowance for occasional on-topic silliness. Letting new users relax and get involved with a light thread helps introduce them to the community here without any burden on them.

One of my successful threads there (with 535 up-votes and 260 answers) is: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/182112/what-are-some-funny-loading-statements-to-keep-users-amused

I propose that every weekend we have a few less serious community wiki threads. Of course we don't want to go overboard (too frequent or too silly) but regular and predictable. And they would have to be Ubuntu-related.

I thought I'd lead by example on this one: https://askubuntu.com/questions/3553/if-apt-get-from-2020-existed-what-one-project-would-you-install

If you think it's a rubbish idea, downvote the thread (it doesn't cost you anything to dv a community wiki IIRC) and pending a negative score (or a stern talking to from our mods), I'll delete the thread and we'll say no more on the matter.

11

I think this is a bad idea, and here are a few reasons why:

(1) Increase in Noise. I believe the Ubuntu Forums have become the de-facto place for that sort of discussion in the Ubuntu community. In fact, the Forums are so full of silliness that I don't find them useful anymore. This quote from the six guidelines for great subjective questions expresses it well:

Most forums and chat rooms have a scale problem. As in, they don’t. The more people that join the discussion, the more noise each of those connections bring. So the forums get progressively noisier and noisier, and suddenly one day … you stop learning.

Ubuntu Forums is no longer a place for learning. People are lucky to get an answer to a serious question there because their voices quickly get lost in a flood of chatter, redundant questions, games, and other noise. On its own, the StackExchange system can only slow the progress of noise; moderation is still necessary to eliminate the noise that inevitably creeps in.

(2) Decrease in Signal. Likely a result of #1, it seems lots of the people who know what they're talking about have stopped checking in at Ubuntu Forums. There are still knowledgeable people there, but I believe ensuring Ask Ubuntu is an on-topic, learning-focused atmosphere will make it the easiest to find and keep knowledgeable people around.

(3) Monkey See, Monkey Do. It will probably be the case for a fair while that the majority of Ask Ubuntu users aren't yet used to the StackExchange system and don't understand why it's set up the way it is. More for-fun-only posts means more dilution of the message about what kinds of questions should be asked (especially when moderators and those with high reputation participate). This will likely result in an unmanageable portion of Ask Ubuntu users thinking "…hang the rules. They're more like guidelines anyway."

So, am I saying Ask Ubuntu should be completely serious one hundred percent of the time? Absolutely not! Humor is vitally important to human interaction. What I am saying is, let's encourage humor and whimsy as a part of a good question or answer, but discourage and remove posts when it's the substance or focus of a question or answer.

  • 1
    BTW, I think the question Oli linked to on Stack Overflow is a good example of using a light-hearted approach without being noise. The core topic or issue is wanting to make it more bearable to the user when waiting for a program to load. So at its core, the question fulfills a useful purpose. – Firefeather Oct 14 '10 at 18:00
2

Why not move the humour to meta?. I hope that way, we can enjoy here the community building side of it, while at the same time we keep the main site clean.

While forums are a nice option they are not going to help to build a subcommunity here. They are too crowed.

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