Earlier, I asked people what their favourite dad joke is on the main site. It gathered some interest form the community, a few upvotes, an answer and a few comments. One of these comments asked for the question to not be closed and received 3 upvotes.

It quickly made it into the hotlist and started gathering some more views. A bit later it was, understandably, closed by a mod as a primarily opinion-based question. (Though there are definitely precedents for opinion based questions being accepted on a Stack Exchange site.) I had a talk with him in the chat and after some discussing he suggested I bring up the issue on meta.

My argument for leaving this question has been made before and I doubt I'll make it better. I'm talking about Stack Overflow: Where We Hate Fun by Jeff Atwood (which I recommend you read right away). He argues that questions should be judged by 3 criteria:

  • Does this question match the criteria provided in the Stack Overflow FAQ?
  • Is this question accepted by the community, as reflected in upvotes, favorites, views, and answers?
  • Does this question teach me anything that could make me better at my job? Can I learn something from it?

The question he is talking about is Strangest language feature.

He judges that while this question doesn't fulfil the first criteria, it does fulfil the other two.

It is unclear wether the community accepts this question (though initial evidence did point towards it), hence this meta post, to ask you: do you want this question to stay open?

As for the third point, which Jeff Atwood argued was the most important one:

As Meat Loaf once said, two out of three ain’t bad. It’s guideline #3 that ends up being the pivotal decision in most borderline cases.

I would argue that you can learn something from reading dad jokes as told by fathers (or mothers) or as fondly remembered by children. It shows us how even the silliest things can have a great impact on the relationship between a parent and a child. (especially if the dad jokes come straight from the heart.)

I'll close this post the same way Jeff Atwood did his blog post:

On Stack Overflow, contrary to popular opinion, we don’t hate fun. But only a certain amount of fun will be tolerated, and always with steely, businesslike frowns. :)

  • 3
    To answer directly: Yes. Nov 6, 2014 at 23:06
  • 1
    No. The question should be closed.
    – DanBeale
    Mar 18, 2015 at 1:19

4 Answers 4


I've been around SO and parenting.se for quite a while now and I sometimes just know which questions will be closed. I know the rules and know the community well enough.

That question was one of those which don't actually strictly fit the criteria of parenting.SE, like ... usefulness. But it doesn't violate any rules and closing it as "primarily opinion based" ... Well, there's no opinions here. And yes, I know the question is about "best" questions, but it's just a phrase - it should be "what dad jokes do you know" or sth opinion-less like that.

The question (and its answers:) was fun, no harm could come out of it, and it was definitely parenting-related. Hence my plea to leave the question open.

I believe in our community's common sense. There are rules, sure, but the rules are there for a purpose. If we stick to the rules while forgetting their purpose bad things can happen (many people sentenced by various courts around the world know that).

To sum up: let's leave the question open:)

  • I think another thing to keep in mind is that it seems unlikely that this question will spawn a bunch of other off-topic questions trying to imitate it, should this question be succesful. So as you said, this won't likely damage the community.
    – overactor
    Nov 6, 2014 at 15:05
  • 1
    Why do you say that's unlikely?
    – Joe
    Nov 6, 2014 at 18:45
  • But it does violate rules. It doesn't have a definitive answer. Imagine a question on Stack Overflow like "What's a good Java library" You might learn useful libraries, but there's no real problem to solve.
    – corsiKa
    Nov 12, 2014 at 23:46
  • @corsiKa while technical questions often do have definite answers, most parenting issues brought here do not. A great example is Should I monitor my child's internet usage?. It's opinion-based, subjective, has no definite answer. And it's still one of the higher-upvoted questions on this site.
    – Dariusz
    Nov 13, 2014 at 8:08
  • Sure, and even SO allows subjective questions. But there are certain conditions subjective questions must have that "give me all your dad jokes" just doesn't meet.
    – corsiKa
    Nov 17, 2014 at 15:34

I don't think it should be open. Whether it's interesting or not, it's simply not the type of question that's appropriate for this site, because it's asking for a list. On some sites that would be sensible - like on Sports.SE when a question is asked about whether something has occurred, and you get 20 answers - but here I don't think that's in keeping with what this site is or should be about.

Specifically, looking at the Tour:

Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do.

This site, ultimately, is about helping people solve parenting issues. This question isn't about parenting issues; it's about jokes. It might be appropriate on http://jokes.stackexchange.com if that existed, but I don't see it fitting here.

Out of Jeff's list of 3 points, it fails two: it doesn't meet the needs of the FAQ, and it doesn't really teach you anything that would make you a better parent. That's 1 out of 3, and that means closed to me. No, I don't think seeing a list of Dad Jokes teaches you anything. If you need to learn that silliness has a place in parenting, there are good places to do that, but not a list of jokes.

If the question were something more like "I can't figure out how to make my two year old calm down. How can I do that?", then answers of "Hey, try some Dad Jokes, like ..." would be reasonable. But as the question stands, it's not a question that will likely help anyone with a problem.

My suggestion: take it to chat. We don't use chat here much, and we should. If you want to discuss Dad Jokes, that's a great place to do it.

  • 2
    There're many valid "list" questions, so that's not really an argument. Some of my own (them I remember): parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/14664/…, parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/10533/…. In general, I agree that this question is against the rules, and I think it shouldn't be closed nonetheless.
    – Dariusz
    Nov 6, 2014 at 19:17
  • 3
    I'm not explicitly saying any possible list question should be closed. Your two are both appropriate, and good examples for this, really: because they start with a problem that needs to be solved. This one doesn't: it is solely a list of interesting things. Reddit, yes, StackExchange, no.
    – Joe
    Nov 6, 2014 at 19:38
  • I agree with Joe: the question is fun, but not helpful: Nothing in there would make me be a better parent. There's no problem being solved. Therefore it has no place here. Take it to chat, or to Reddit. Nov 9, 2014 at 16:18
  • 1
    Since when does humor fail to make you a better parent??
    – sbi
    Nov 9, 2014 at 18:28

It should be closed (and deleted).

  1. It is contrary to StackExchange's entire philosophy of the fact that a question should be answerable with answers that an expert in the field can look at and decide "correct" or "incorrect".

    Joke list questions by definition don't have "incorrect" or "more correct" answers - all the jokes are equally "correct".

    Please note that contrary to other answer's note the rule is explicitly NOT against "list" questions per se - lists are OK. It just happens that a vast majority of "list" questions are indeed of this bad "no correct/incorrect answers" variety.

  2. Allowing this just one question as exception as was suggested by a mod is bad policy.

    I was around on SO to observe the issues this causes, with people resnting that these specific popular questions violating the rules are allowed, but THEIR questions aren't.


I'm okay with it, in this one case. However:

  • It should be community wiki.
  • It needs a comment similar to the lock notice that it's not an example of a typical on-topic question, and that similar questions should be cleared in meta first.
  • We should consider actually locking it after a period of time.
  • 2
    I agree fully with your two last points. I've heard that Stack Exchange is trying to move away from using CW as a way of allowing edge cases though. In the future it would probably indeed be advisable that the meta question comes before the main question.
    – overactor
    Nov 6, 2014 at 16:52
  • These are really good suggestions. +1 Nov 6, 2014 at 20:06
  • What would community wiki achieve, other than soothing those begrudging the OP the reputation gained from the question?
    – sbi
    Nov 9, 2014 at 18:30
  • Look here for one way to deal with a question that asks for a list: stackoverflow.com/q/388242/140719
    – sbi
    Nov 9, 2014 at 18:35
  • 1
    No, no, no, simply no - Community wiki is not an excuse for bad questions.
    – corsiKa
    Nov 12, 2014 at 23:47

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