This question

What is your favorite "data analysis" cartoon?

Should really be closed, as it's sending a negative signal about what is allowed on the site, per the comment:

According to the tour, this question should be closed, since it is a question that has "too many possible answers" and since it is "primarily opinion-based". I'm not complaining, just surprised it has stayed open for this long. – Flimm Dec 9 '14 at 10:29

Per the blog:

There's also a direct analog with Stack Overflow, which used to have a "funniest programmer cartoon" question, as well.

  • 1
    Here's the funniest programmer cartoon thread: It's currently locked (for "historical significance"). – amoeba Jul 10 at 7:11
  • 12
    It's an anomaly. I don't worry one bit about the negative signal: good news that we have a sense of humour even if it's localised. It's needed to cope with the poor questions posted here in an endless stream. – Nick Cox Jul 10 at 8:05
  • 10
    It's so clearly anomalous I don't think it sends much of a signal at all about what kind of questions are considered all right here. On the other hand, locking it now wouldn't do any positive harm. – Scortchi Jul 10 at 13:05
  • 2
    Note that we also have somewhat similar in spirit and, both open. See also whuber's comment here…. – amoeba Jul 10 at 13:38
  • 1
    @Scortchi this twitter user pointed to it as an example of being treated unfairly here. so it is doing active harm. – Jeff Atwood Jul 11 at 8:59
  • 2
    From the twitter conversation, it isn't clear if they are talking about Stack Overflow, Cross Validated, or Mathematics. What was their actual question that was closed? Was it even on CV? I'm not sure that locking, closing, or deleting this thread will preempt the style of complaint proffered in the tweet. We regularly get off topic questions that are closed followed by whataboutisms. This is most commonly programming questions & then, 'but you have n-thousand threads tagged [r]'. We would have to close cartoons, the others @amoeba lists, & then thousands more just to hope to stop whataboutisms. – gung Jul 11 at 9:51
  • 1
    @gung: It's this (now deleted question): It was closed not because it wasn't a "real, actual problem", but because it wasn't about statistics/machine learning, not even remotely. – Scortchi Jul 11 at 9:58
  • 1
    OK, this is the closed thread: Smallest FIFA World Cup semi-finals yet?. Note that it is deleted, so users <10k may not be able to see it. At any rate, it isn't funny, so the cartoons thread is not a good analogy. Also, it isn't even remotely on topic. If we closed the cartoons thread, there must be tens of thousands of threads that are at least this close an analogy and still open for a motivated complainer to point to. – gung Jul 11 at 10:00
  • 1
    @gung To be fair, the FIFA question has clearly been misunderstood in the comments. OP probably has in mind the area of the smallest convex shape covering all four semi-finalists; not the sum of the four countries' own areas. I think it's in principle a good question but it is off-topic here; maybe it could belong on In any case, I 100% agree that it is not funny and has no relationship whatsoever to the cartoon thread. – amoeba Jul 11 at 10:07
  • @amoeba: It's ambiguous: "All those countries combined cover a small area of earth surface" suggests one thing; "draw a polygon that covers all of the semi-finalists" another. There's already an SO question on how to find a convex hull on the surface of a sphere - might also be on topic at Maths or CS. It's whimsical, I suppose, rather than funny - which wouldn't in itself be a reason to close a question. – Scortchi Jul 11 at 16:50

I think leaving the cartoon and joke thread open serves a useful purpose: there is a certain inevitability to people posting that kind of content, but new posts about jokes/cartoons/etc. can be closed as a duplicate of the existing thread. People who want to add their own joke or cartoon can do so.

  • 1
    This is related to your previous question (and answer in the same post)…. In my opinion, your answer here marginally conflicts with the main idea about that question; 'do something to reduce the widening gap between Q and A', because if we are going to keep accepting off-topic questions more noise (and grey area) there will be for us to reach a consensus about when to close and when not to close marginal/poor posts in CV. – Andre Silva Jul 10 at 1:13
  • @AndreSilva The good news is that these questions have answers, at least. – Sycorax Jul 10 at 14:58
  • 2
    Someone on Twitter pointed out that their "funny" Stats question about the World Cup was closed, but this "funny" question was left open -- even encouraged, per your text. So it is doing active harm. Closing it is the correct course of action. – Jeff Atwood Jul 11 at 8:58
  • 6
    @JeffAtwood I'm not interested in catering to the needs of the kind of person who shows up out of the blue, asks an off-topic question, and then complains on Twitter about the injustice of it all. We have help center to explain the site to new users, and meta for people to ask specific questions about how the site works. We have no obligation to help people acting in bad faith, and I do not think this user is arguing in good faith. – Sycorax Jul 11 at 18:05
  • 3
    I wouldn't impute "bad faith". I would just call the Twitter post a tantrum. The OP has a case in so far as they didn't receive a reason for closure that they understood, but nevertheless their reaction is just over the top. A person couldn't have got to 45K reputation without paying some attention to community practices and experiencing some decisions that look quirky or even wrong (who agrees with all the decisions ever made?). – Nick Cox Jul 13 at 10:02
  • 3
    In that vein there'd probably be a dozen more deserving injustices a day (where a post has a better "what about" to point to). Do we focus on this guy's complaint simply because he found a way to ping a network founder? How would that be equitable to the users who don't go on twitter and poke Jeff Atwood? It's not about stats and was rightly closed (by 5 highly experienced users). The guy's comparison is unfounded and if closing posts while leaving the comic one open lose us people who behave that way, we'll be saving a lot of drama. Responding to it would encourage people to hassle Jeff – Glen_b Jul 13 at 11:00
  • 3
    If he had a point, he could post here on meta -- and surely he knew that already; it seems like he already understood he was out of order. There may be some basis on which we should close the comic question, but that world cup isn't remotely comparable to it. – Glen_b Jul 13 at 11:12
  • 1
    @JeffAtwood I’d be open to closing the joke thread if it were accompanied by a concerted effort of users with VTC privileges to more aggressively close broad, vague and unanswerable questions. But the joke thread on its own is not the core problem that CV faces w.r.t. moderation — my recent meta posts outline my feelings there. But closing the joke thread solely because it’s garnered high-level attention isn’t how SE moderation is supposed to work either. – Sycorax Jul 13 at 12:57
  • 1
    Stated another way, if the joke thread a problem, we’d have many more joke-type threads opened. I can only recall seeing one other such thread, and it was immediately closed as a duplicate. But that’s not what our users tend to do. When CV users ask poor questions, they’re usually about debugging or asking us to do their job for them (“how do I analyze these data?”) – Sycorax Jul 13 at 13:01

I agree. And remembering closing does not mean deleting it.

Besides sending a positive signal about what is on-topic here, with 77 existing answers I doubt many people (if any) are reading all of them at once (which means that even closed, we can keep revisiting the post, read the other answers, and still have some fun).

For a site that is essentially populist it seems odd to close a topic that has generated so much interest and votes. It's also fun.

  • 2
    (Not the downvoter, but) there is a legitimate argument for closing the cartoon thread--it's not the kind of question that CV (or any of the SE sites more generally) is supposed to be about. It may help you to read the blog post (Good subjective, bad subjective) Jeff points to for the official SE statement on the matter. Moreover, analogous threads have been deleted from Stack Overflow (the flagship site). – gung Jul 13 at 20:18
  • 2
    There is a limit to the amount of populism that is beneficial for CV; other Q&A sites have existed that were more unconditionally populist & they've never coalesced the way the SE sites have. They've never built the high-quality repository of information we have. There's a reason for that. Ultimately, the constraints built into the SE system yield better content over time. That said, there is also some legitimate ambiguity over where exactly to draw the line. I believe the cartoon thread lies within it, or at least, this argument doesn't make a good case that it should fall outside. – gung Jul 13 at 20:23

Personally, I love the posts on favourite quotes/cartoons/jokes. They are some of my favourite posts to read on this site. It would be a real shame if they were removed. If it becomes a genuine problem with people complaining that these are out-of-scope (e.g., to argue that their question should be allowed in) then I would recommend adding a new category explicitly to keep these questions on the site, but make acceptance conditional on moderator discretion:


This tag is used for posts that solicit amusing or pithy material relating to statistical theory and practice (e.g., cartoons, jokes, quotations, stories, etc.). This category is created to allow a limited number of amusing posts beloved by the CV.SE community, that would otherwise by out-of-scope on this site.

Warning: Posts under this category will be closed by the moderators unless they are unique non-duplicated posts, and show immediate and lasting popularity on the site, as evidenced by high numbers of up-votes from CV.SE users.

  • 4
    BTW, no-one's (yet) proposed removing the cartoons post; just closing it - which would prevent new answers' being added. – Scortchi Jul 25 at 6:57
  • Oh, okay. That is a big difference. I misunderstood. – Ben Jul 25 at 10:04

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .