Which rules (if any) make this answer:


Invalid, or, at least, wrong ?

Just shocked to get 3 downvotes so quickly for a perfectly correct (IMO) answer. If anything is wrong, please show me what !!! Thanks if you do.

But maybe, just maybe, this is just an example of this site (very) biased reaction.


The comments (which will probably be erased) say:

  1. The answer is not incorrect

well, since you ask, this answer seems like it pretty much only copies solutions from earlier answers, without attribution, at worst identically and at best with minimal changes. Now, I'm not sure if doing that's forbidden as such, but at least it doesn't seem too useful. That might explain some of the downvotes. (Or it might not, it's hard to tell what people think.) – ilkkachu

If the answer only copy other answers, and those answer were upvoted, the copies are valid answers, not wrong.

  1. There were new solutions included:

The xxd solution (the main reason to post) is mentioned nowhere else. For the ordering I decided to use that went to the middle of the list. Hmmm: the alternative with \u is also new and finding for which versions of the shell each solution works demands research. Is that also "a copy". I disagree.

The selected answer started with just one simple command echo $'\x40'. If just one solution makes an answer valid, mine, which added at least two new solutions should make the answer valid.

  1. But the problem is not with the validity of what was said, or with any mistake. It is just the result of a subjective value judgement.

no, I don't like answers that don't bring anything new. I won't say the P-word, but it did come to mind. Don't mince my words, there's enough reason in what I actually said. (Someone else seems to agree too.) The one with '\u40' goes into the "minimal changes" category, and doesn't seem to have any upsides compared to \100. The xxd one wasn't there before, I'll give you that. Not that I see any upsides to that one either. But the first, fourth, and seventh ones, plus man ascii are pretty much literally from earlier answers, so that's what, half of this answer? – ilkkachu

In short: I don't like

That pretty much proves the point:

 this site shows (very) biased reactions
  • 4
    At first glance, I would say that your comment on that answer isn't going to attract any fans.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Aug 19 at 21:59
  • Your comment here doesn't sound productive, well intented, or positive. If that is the attitude of a mod, what should be expected of a simple user? @JeffSchaller Mod
    – ImHere
    Aug 20 at 1:36
  • It appears that the comments on that question explain why people have downvoted it.
    – Chenmunka
    Aug 20 at 12:42
  • 2
    @ImHere As Jeff said, being sarcastic in a comment will not likely convince a downvoter to undo their vote. Doing the same thing here is unlikely to help either. It's not necessary to provide a reason for a vote (see e.g. here).
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Aug 20 at 12:51
  • @Chenmunka Downvotes (3) where given before Any comments.
    – ImHere
    Aug 20 at 14:31
  • @Kusalananda Then, what should I do, what should be done if Jeff, being a mod, sets a negative tone right at the start ? Agree with it and take it in? No, there must be a way to complain and that you mods listen, not you helping to complicate further more the problems. In any case, No, I don't expect downvotes to be removed, in my experience, they never are.
    – ImHere
    Aug 20 at 14:36
  • Kusalananda Is it a positive behaviour that an user (ilkkachu ) tells the OP which answer he must select (unix.stackexchange.com/questions/665326/…) ... which directed the OP to select another answer (unix.stackexchange.com/questions/665326/…) despite this one being his preferred one (unix.stackexchange.com/questions/665326/…).
    – ImHere
    Aug 20 at 14:45
  • @Kusalananda Yes, it is not necessary to provide a reason for a vote, but it is uncommon that 3 downvotes get collected in a very short time, That made me wonder if actually something was very wrong with the answer, which was not. Nothing said is incorrect, nor misleading, not even negative in any sense, yet, someone works tirelessly to trash it.
    – ImHere
    Aug 20 at 14:49
  • 5
    All I see here is a bunch of unfounded allegations. Biased? Against what? How? Who? "Negative tone"? What exactly was negative about this comment? And: even if it were negative, whoever said that comments on Stack Exchange are not allowed to be negative? By what standards are this negativity measured? "an user (ilkkachu ) tells the OP which answer he must select" .. to quote said user: "you're free to vote and accept as you like". So here we have you writing outright lies. That, if nothing else. is incorrect, misleading and negative.
    – muru
    Aug 20 at 15:42
  • @muru Which lie? That comment also said: but I'll just note that A.B.'s answer had exactly that something like 4 hours earlier, 10 minutes after your question was posted. hinting the user to accept such answer, which he finally did.
    – ImHere
    Aug 20 at 15:50
  • @muru You are seeing only the side you like, fine, be happy, just another example of biased reactions. Have a nice day.
    – ImHere
    Aug 20 at 15:52
  • 3
    @ImHere, I don't expect you'd value anything I say very highly, but I have to note that you asked what was wrong with your answer, and Jeff answered that by pointing out one possible issue. I don't know about your experience, but I've understood that it's often useful to consider feedback received against one's own behaviour, instead of turning around to complain about the people giving that feedback. Just because you keep repeating that everyone is against you doesn't mean that your own behaviour wouldn't... have its own faults too.
    – ilkkachu
    Aug 20 at 16:18
  • @ilkkachu Would you stop nagging me. Or you just like the confrontation?
    – ImHere
    Aug 20 at 16:20
  • If you want to complain about moderation, please use the contact link found at the bottom of every SE page. That will let you escalate an issue to Stack Exchange.
    – terdon Mod
    Aug 20 at 16:25

I can't speak for others, but there were some points that struck my eye in that answer.

In itself, there wouldn't be anything wrong in that answer. But answers aren't posted in a vacuum, and that answer was posted to a question that already had three or four answers, and it duplicated solutions given in at least three of the already-existing answers. Without attribution.

Where I come from, copying without attribution is called plagiarism, and people tend to take a dim view of it. Even the CC BY-SA 4.0 license that SE contributions are licensed under explicitly says (emphasis mine)

You must give appropriate credit, [...]

Now, we could of course discuss if the existing solutions to such a straightforward problem are creative enough to be protected by copyright anyway, but that doesn't make unattributed copying morally any less wrong.

Now, I don't know what the SE policy for that actually is, but I think it's a rather cheap way to collect rep. And, honestly, in my opinion, that sort of plagiarism should be enough to not just get downvotes, but to have the answer deleted by the moderators.

Then there's the fact that the answer didn't bring much new to the table either. Most solutions presented in it either existed already in earlier answers, or consisted of minor changes to such. (e.g. using hex vs. octal with printf.)

Now, you noted that the reason to post the answer was the solution using xxd, and you're right, that one didn't exist before. If the answer had contained only that answer, it wouldn't have been nearly as bad. (It still wouldn't have been too useful since a POSIX-compatible solution was already given, but at least it wouldn't have been plagiarizing.)

Then, Stéphane noted that \u0040 might also work on a non-ASCII system, which is also a valid point (for the minority that uses such systems). But if EBCDIC-support was your point, it would have been well to actually say that in the answer.

Also, you noted that you dug up the shell versions where the various features used were introduced, which is also fine and all, but not very useful when a widely-supported POSIX-compatible solution was already presented...

  • Where is your attribution for the perl solutions you posted?. Are those new and original? No, they are not, they have been posted innumerable times in the web before you decided to copy them.
    – ImHere
    Aug 20 at 16:13

I reckon the answer would be totally fine had it not reproduced previous answers. Was \u40 still not mentioned? Go ahead and add it as an answer. But omit the half of it that was already present in other answers.

Finding for which versions of the shell each solution works demands research.

Indeed, but in this case I would edit the existing answer to include that additional information instead of adding it in a new answer, since it is not critical. A positive consequence of such procedure is: No duplication of content, less time wasted by readers trying to filter unique content and decide which to use.

Furthermore, that becomes a problem if you apply the principle of universalizability. Look at what happens if several visitors use a considerable part of previous answers in their answers, but also add some alternatives or extra information:

UserA's answer:

echo $'\x40'
printf '\100'

UserB's answer:

echo $'\x40'    #Version 9180 of Bash
printf '\100\n' #Add a newline for style
man ascii

UserC's answer:

echo $'\x40'
printf '\100\n'
man 7 ascii     #If you have the Plan9 ascii program you need the 7
sed --version |grep bug-sed|cut -d : -f2|cut -d d -f2|cut -d g -f1

The Matryoshka doll effect is definitely something to avoid.

  • Thanks for a reasonable point of view.
    – ImHere
    Aug 21 at 17:10
  • 1
    Got the time to edit the answer, hope it is better now, thanks.
    – ImHere
    Aug 22 at 17:37

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