16

The question, though you'll need deleted-viewing rep to see it: https://serverfault.com/questions/679847/is-there-an-alternative-to-windows-server-since-it-is-being-discontinued

For those that can't read it, it was a April Fools' Day post asking for alternatives to Windows Server now that MS has announced that it wasn't going to be supported anymore. The top comment to the question pointed it out as an AFD joke, as well.

There has been a bit of offline discussion about the value of keeping these questions around. It was an obvious April Fools' Day joke, but do those kind of things deserve to stay around?

Here's a summary of where I think it's ended up

Reasons to keep but lock

  • Lighthearted holiday fun is encouraged on SE sites (hats, StackEgg, contests, etc)
  • Poking fun at rival OS/platforms is part of the SysAdmin culture
  • Locking the question puts a large notice that it is not considered a normally appropriate question and that it is maintained for hysterical raisins.
  • Locking the question already removes any ability for further comments/votes/answers

Reasons to delete altogether

  • It was the top Google result for "windows discontinued", leading people to believe it if they didn't read the comments/answers
  • It allowed participating users to receive upvotes for a topic that didn't actually solve a problem
  • It makes the site look unprofessional
  • Users would still point to it as a reason to post similar questions.
  • Shopping list questions are off-topic

At the behest of a friend, I posted this because I think there is value in learning the community's thoughts on posts like this, and what value (if any) they bring to ServerFault.

18

April Fools only lasts till 12:00 midday in $localTimeZone and everything beyond that makes you the fool. We're well past 12:00 midday on 1st April (in any time zone) so just like mid winter festival hats it should all be put away in it's box till next year.

I would vote for closing and deletion.


It also creates a precedent. This year we had one, it gained some popularity and a few people gained some useless internet points. Next year there will be more especially if it's left to stand. The power of UIPs is huge.

  • I can see people lining stuff up already - A new system administration paradigm called DevOPs ... ;) – Iain Apr 2 '15 at 16:11
  • Thinking about it, there is the added danger that a yearly precedence for comedic questions is quite a bit more obtrusive than a single "this is a joke" question with lots of answers. As it might possibly swarm the front page on April 1st. While this year only one person really made one (and a quite great one at that) next year there might be dozens... – Reaces Apr 2 '15 at 16:37
  • s/might/will especially if they are allowed to remain. – Iain Apr 2 '15 at 17:05
  • 3
    Yeah I can agree with this, I had a feeling it would get deleted but it was nice to have fun while it lasted. I didn't really care about the fake internet points, but I had some real fun with people online, and even irl as well. A friend of mine who is a sysadmin read the question on my phone and started freaking out, all b/c of the power of the upvotes. – MDMoore313 Apr 3 '15 at 4:58
  • I don't see the harm in giving out the few extra rep points. A user isn't going to be vaulted into the higher realms of SF privilege because of that. – Andrew Schulman Apr 4 '15 at 12:08
  • tbh it wasn't even funny while it was april fools. It takes quite a lot of skill to pull off a good one and for each of those there seems to be at least 100 lame attempts. – JamesRyan Apr 13 '15 at 11:02
8

It would be useful if that kind of questions would be saved/stored in Wayback Machine before they get removed, so they can be easily accessed for future reference, as not all of us have high enough reputation to see it and I'm finding that kind of posts interesting.

So before removing it, just go to: http://web.archive.org/https://serverfault.com/questions/... (copy&paste url) and click on 'Save this url in the Wayback Machine' and it'll save the URL immediately. It just takes few seconds. Maybe there is some way of automating it for all sites, but I don't know what you think about it.

For example I did the backup of the current page (just before posting these images):

WayBack Machine: This page is available on the web! WayBack Machine: Page saved as

And copy of it was done and available immediately at the following url:

http://web.archive.org/web/20150402225720/https://meta.serverfault.com/questions/8033/how-does-the-community-feel-about-deleting-the-april-fools-question.


UPDATE:

To archive the page manually, just go to:

http://web.archive.org/save/http://full_url

or just the curl:

curl -s http://web.archive.org/save/http://full_url | tail
  • The Internet Archive may not crawl a URL for months after first learning of it. This isn't really a good strategy, I think. – Michael Hampton Apr 2 '15 at 22:55
  • 2
    @MichaelHampton That's why choosing option 'Save this url in the Wayback Machine' would make the backup immediately available. I've added image to be clear. – kenorb Apr 2 '15 at 23:00
  • Oh, that's a new feature. I've never seen that before. – Michael Hampton Apr 2 '15 at 23:06
  • @MichaelHampton Me either, found it by chance, so I thought I'd share it:) – kenorb Apr 2 '15 at 23:07
  • Man, that's cool, and so useful – Journeyman Geek Apr 3 '15 at 5:34
  • Related meta: How about archiving deleted posts in Wayback Machine? – kenorb Apr 21 '15 at 21:52
7

Looking around at most of the stack exchange sites, it looks like ServerFault has the least humorous examples. Superuser has a toaster question (clearly upvoted for comedic value), stats has a comic page, stackoverflow has a joke page.
And these are just the ones I already knew about, I'm sure there are plenty out there.

But I couldn't really find much on ServerFault (nor have I come across any despite being pretty much solely active on ServerFault).

I'd prefer locking it, and creating a disclaimer at the top that it was in fact an April fools joke. (to prevent confusion)
Personally I don't think rep is that important to delete one of the few humorous questions on our otherwise somewhat over serious site.
However, if this would end up the main reasoning for closing it, perhaps the question could find a home on Meta?

  • 12
    That SU question about the toaster is real, and completely legitimate, FYI. Developers... – HopelessN00b Apr 2 '15 at 15:25
  • 1
    @HopelessN00b I know, but I'm putting it up as an example because it's probably upvoted for comedic value, not as much for relevance or quality. (and because it is the most upvoted question on SU, despite being mostly humorous) – Reaces Apr 2 '15 at 15:26
  • SO had this one last year, which is now closed + locked: stackoverflow.com/questions/22780466/… – chue x Apr 6 '15 at 1:09
  • See also Purim Torah. – TRiG Apr 8 '15 at 13:39
5

If we want to keep it--I'm not saying we do, I'm just saying if--I think it needs to be clearly labeled as "April Fools." With a tag, perhaps. (The rule being that you have to come back and retag your question on April 2nd, or get bahleeted, maybe.) But only if we decide that we really do want April Fools questions.

I thought it was cute, but I wouldn't want anyone to actually be led astray by it.

  • 1
    +1 for the tag, by the time I tried to add it, Mike Hampton had already locked the question. – MDMoore313 Apr 3 '15 at 5:01
  • 3
    I think a danger is that you're relying on people to police their own questions, a year from now. Based on some rule maybe mentioned in a meta post. If you open the floodgates, tag or not, a lot of questions will survive April 2nd. And you can't expect the active community to clean up other peoples jokes. – Reaces Apr 3 '15 at 6:52
  • Yeah, it's tricky because tagging it "april-fools" kind of spoils the joke... unless people aren't reading carefully. – Katherine Villyard Apr 3 '15 at 14:02
5

On superuser we tended to delete April fools day questions right after april fools day. We did it for two years (we forgot this year :/).

Last year we decided the questions had historic value, if nothing else for when its referenced on chat. I ended up creating a meta question, similar to the many memes of meta, and added a screenshot from firefox to the question

There should be no expectation of survival for a AFD gag, but really there's no reason it should be consigned to the dungheap of history.

2

I can certainly see the value of such posts - and the arguments for deleting them or locking them.

Personally, I think that one of the main reasons for deleting the posts altogether is the associated rep - in my case as one of the participants on that thread, and a lower-rep user than most of the others, the rep gained was a noticeable proportion of my total rep, which would be unfair to leave as such - that is to say, it makes sense to me that there should be no reputation credit (or penalty) for such posts.

The other major point in my opinion is that of Google results - without having a banner similar to those present at the top of Canonical questions to clarify that it is tongue-in-cheek, I think it's reasonable to remove the post.

That said, I definitely think that there is an argument to be made for keeping a record of the post - perhaps a screenshot of the thread or similar to keep for posterity's sake, somewhere like here on the meta site? That way the community could still enjoy the thread without any of the negatives mentioned above.

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