There is nothing in the FAQ or here on meta that specifically says these questions cannot be asked, and I think some other sites like SO tolerate them to a degree, but perhaps the expert focus here should make us lean towards saying no to them?

Shall we close these as off-topic?

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Did you lose this yet: the score is 3:1? –  Evan Carroll May 15 '12 at 22:44
    
Is it a 'win or lose' thing? I didn't think so - the sum of all the answers and votes will be helpful to mods and high-rep users when thinking about VtC. For example, as things stand, I wouldn't again close an 'answerable' trivia question like yours, but wouldn't be surprised if the community did :) things may change as others vote, but that is the impression I am getting so far. –  Jack Douglas May 16 '12 at 5:41
    
so now I have to pay the price because you were wrong but flipped flop on the issue? Yea.. That sounds fair. –  Evan Carroll May 16 '12 at 10:38
    
It seems as if you keep losing this more and more, when do you admit that you were horribly wrong and un-close the question? –  Evan Carroll May 21 '12 at 16:04
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Seeing as it is in "discretion of the moderator community ... to make a judgment call" I'll exercise that discretion and re-open in this case. I made a very minor edit so I could reverse my downvote. –  Jack Douglas May 21 '12 at 16:20
    
Way to be democratic @Jack Douglas. Kudos on a job well done. –  Evan Carroll May 21 '12 at 16:49

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Acceptable in moderation

If the question is specific and answerable (i.e. passes the 'not a real question' test) and is on-topic per the FAQ then it would be on topic. One could probably envisage questions within these criteria that could be viewed as trivia in a subjective judgement.

However, the FAQ does not explicitly include 'database trivia' as being in scope, and the only redeeming feature of a trivia question has is that it's answerable. The PostgreSQL turtle question is certainly not within the definition of any of the major categories within the FAQ, as it is sociological in nature and discusses a cultural issue in Japan.

The important point is the cultural significance of the elephant motif, not the fact that the PostgreSQL team chose to re-brand the system in Japan with a turtle. It is almost completely immaterial to any technical database design, development or admininistrative concern.

The odd 'interesting' question is not going to hurt dba.se, although polls, code golf and various other types of populist questions are discouraged as they dilute the value of the site and provide opportunities for gaming rep.

I would consider occasional 'interesting' postings acceptable by the grace of the user base, but spamming populist questions should be considered disruptive behaviour at best, and rep gaming at worst. Spamming large numbers of poor quality or off-topic posts is widely considered to be unacceptable behaviour on the SE network (with good reason), and there is no reason for dba.se to be any more tolerant of that.

While interesting, trivia questions are not explicitly on-topic on the dba.se site, and sit in a subjective area where the discretion of the moderator community has some leeway to make a judgment call based on other qualities of the question.

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I think the key points here are whether the answer to the question would be interesting to many of the intended users of the site, whether it would be likely to not already be known to many of them, whether there it is indeed an answerable question, and whether such questions are posted in moderation. A site need not be dry to be useful. I've seen studies showing that breaks from dry content (in various forms) refresh the mind and improve people's problem-solving abilities. As long as it's the break and not the body of content. :-) –  kgrittn May 17 '12 at 21:45

Off-Topic

Let's make it a simple rule that 'trivia' is always off-topic on dba.se - even if this sort of question is borderline for SO and/or other sites on the network, we have an 'expert' focus and culture, and trivia is not going to attract the kind of contributors we need more of, and of course is unlikely to help anyone with their 'real-world' database problems


Please note this is not necessarily my personal opinion on the subject - I just feel that the community needs to be able to vote on this option

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Unacceptable

I think that questions that involve specific knowledge of a corporate or body politic (hereafter referred to as company)'s internal members ... should not be asked here.

If you want to know the internal decisions made by a company, such as "why did the company choose this license type", that question can only be answered by the company, and we should refer those questions to the company in question. Of course, if the company has gone out of business, then it may be something that would be welcomed on Wikipedia.

If an employee of the company wants to answer the question, they should be able to point to publicly available company documentation that explains the trivia, and if the company chooses not to make such decisions public, then that means that no official stance can ever be known. That only leaves subjective answers, in my opinion.

Acceptable

I think that questions of code or application or framework nature are perfectly welcome. The reason for that is because trivia of code can still be tested, or demonstrated.

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I think this meta question was the result of the "PostgreSQL turtle" question. With PostgreSQL there is no company which controls such decisions; the members of the affected community can choose to promote PostgreSQL as they like, and the Japanese community chose to use a different symbol. The fact that they made such a decision and that no corporate approval was needed might, on it's own, be interesting to DBAs, as an insight into the nature of the product; or possibly to DBAs with some other cultural issue who might want to do something similar in their own community. –  kgrittn May 18 '12 at 11:49
    
You're too hung up on my use of the word corporate when I specifically called it also a body politic, hereafter company. My point is that there had to be some discussion or news thread or something that can be referred to to make it factual. Since we aren't just a directory of links, those are not super helpful, and that's my personal opinion. –  jcolebrand May 18 '12 at 19:18
    
The odds are that the decision was made years ago at a user group meeting or over beers at a pub local to a conference. It's not that I feel all that strongly about including questions like that here, it just seems like some seem to be making assumptions about database development, support, and DBAs that don't hold for all products; so I'm trying to clarify a bit. If you want to build PostgreSQL and brand it with a different name and sell it commercially with your own logo you can. Less extreme, if a group of users wants to put up a PostgreSQL-related web site and use a new logo, they can. –  kgrittn May 18 '12 at 21:57

JUDGMENT CALL

Isn't this kind of like ? It can be very tough to draw the line and determine that a question was intended to be trivia even if it sounds like trivia.

I don't think there is a way to make a blanket policy that all questions that seem like trivia to one person should be closed. Let the community decide, or have a bar (ridiculous trivia vs. borderline).

There are other types of questions that are much more obvious as speculative or not valuable - for example the question about the SQL Server 2012 release date. If the question was asked today, "When was SQL Server 2012 released?" - would you consider that trivia? What if it had extra context (like my developer said he did such and such in February in production, and that couldn't be possible because SQL Server 2012 wasn't released yet)? What about the codename for SQL Server 2012? There are all kinds of things that could look to you like trivia but serve a more important purpose to the OP and to other curious readers (e.g. someone searching to compile information about SQL Server code names or release dates). These are things that are interesting to a DBA, in a different way than Ferraris and sushi are interesting to a DBA.

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I agree it's always going to be a judgement call - but it's useful to have guidelines thrashed out her on meta so mods can at least have an idea of what the community think. Also you are right this other meta question is related –  Jack Douglas May 14 '12 at 21:24

ACCEPTABLE

Unfortunately, this is not a Democracy, and Jeff says so. Trivia questions are permitted. Game over debate.

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Did you notice I linked to that tweet in the question ;-) –  Jack Douglas May 13 '12 at 15:42
    
So you already knew the answer, and you figured that by answering it in the question you'd exclude dissent from the body of answers... Clever Mr. Douglas, but I do think you're a troll. –  Evan Carroll May 13 '12 at 15:43
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I believe you know perfectly well I was trying to be fair :-) and just to be clear, I will be guided by votes here as to whether I close questions - not sure whether that is 'democratic' or not but it is me doing what I signed up to when I stood as moderator. –  Jack Douglas May 13 '12 at 15:50

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