Talk:The Straight Dope

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SSS link[edit]

I wonder how the crew that watches the SDMB wiki would feel about a link to my Snarkive page somewhere in the entry.

If you take a look you'll see that, despite the name, I give a pretty objective telling of "watershed moments". Also, as it icludes Michael's personal fav it might stop his trolling here.

I know this is an open-edit community but I feel silly just putting it up myself. Nominating it is as far as I can go. I'll leave it to the more regulars here to decide. And hopefully I don't screw up the page with this entry, Wikipedia is mucho not intuitive.

Forum Creation Order[edit]

A casual search on the earliest threads in CoSR turned up this thread, dated 1999-04-29

A similar search in IMHO turned up this post by manhattan, dated 2000-05-25, where he mentions IMHO as a new forum.

My search is based on last-post times, so earlier threads (based on OP time) may well exist. However, with the gap being over a year, unless the earlier CoSR threads were carved out of CoCC or GQ threads -- which I'd imagine would be a painful manual process and therefore unlikely -- it appears that CoSR was created well before IMHO.

I realize that a lot of dates got screwy when the board switched from UBB to vBulletin, but I really don't think that's the case here.

Edited to add: FWIW, the earliest GD thread found via the above method is dated 1999-06-07. As it turns out, the threadID really isn't a helpful indicator. For posts made before the UBB/vB switch (late April 2000, IIRC), there is no correlation between increasing threadIDs and later (displayed) timestamps. My gut feel is to trust the timestamps over the threadIDs, but I really don't know for sure.

  • As I recall, the original forums were: About This Message Board, Comments on Cecil's Columns, Comments on the Mailbag (later renamed Comments on Staff Reports), General Questions, Cafe Society (although that might have come a little later), Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share, and The BBQ Pit. Great Debates came later, following a period where some people were posting religious witnessing in the form of General Questions. In My Humble Opinion was the most recent forum added, as a response to a bunch of opinion polls being asked in MPSIMS. MK2 21:50, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

Yes, Cafe Society was created after Great Debates but before In My Humble Opinion.

On the Cafe Society being created before IMHO, are you sure about that?


also on creation dates[edit]

Not sure you can rely on the forum/thread numbers.

Here's the pit creation thread (started by Tuba)


(You certainly can't rely on thread IDs to turn up the threads. None of the above links actually work.)

SDMB on AOL[edit]

I just corrected the date for the first SDMB incarnation on AOL. However, it's unclear to me how exactly it came about -- in Zotti's announcement, he says:

4. Does this mean the end of a.f.c-a?

Of course not. The Straight Dope has no formal connection with a.f.c-a. It is a spontaneous efflorescence of wit and learning on the part of Teeming Millions, proving that our many years of selfless labor are finally paying off. Cecil is very proud.

So, did the Chicago Reader contact AOL to form a Straight Dope group? Or did Cecil's fans who were also AOL subscribers organically coalesce into a group there? If it's the latter, how did it come to be officially blessed by the Reader?

Answer: AOL came to Ed Zotti; back in the day, AOL paid for content. The Chicago Reader agreed to let Straight Dope content be reproduced on AOL. AOL threw in a message board as part of the deal. When the contract with AOL expired, the columns were moved to an online site the Reader had reserved but was not using at the time. Message boards were started on this site a few months later.


It would really be nice if this article talked about something beyond just the size and formal structure of the message board. It's hard to tell from reading this why anyone would care. Are there topics that are particularly commonly discussed on the board? Notable participants? Something? -- Jmabel | Talk 01:00, July 16, 2005 (UTC)

No. Nobody should care. Just more wanking on the part of SDMB posters that think their board is the end-all of the internet. WLight 08:24, 24 July 2005 (UTC)


Put in the slashdot incident so as to improve notability, :P.

Also trimmed the last para so it wasn't so advert like.


Straight Dope article[edit]

I think that this should form the basis of an actual Straight Dope article (currently a redirect). Cecil Adams is not the only person that does things there (the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board, for example) and I think it all deserves its own article. I think that this should then be part of a larger Straight Dope article. violet/riga (t) 12:09, 25 July 2005 (UTC)


I like how, despite the fact that the article has been running for at least 20 more years than the message boards, the message board section is more than twice as long as the section on the article. You don't even mention the date that The Straight Dope was first printed, for chrissake. (It was during the week of February 2nd, 1973, says the Straight Dope website.) Are you people even trying?

Congratulations, Wikipedia. Once again, you completely fail at not being totally parochial.


  • You're free to make any additions or changes, y'know.

"Wikipedia" does not write the articles, anon. People just like yourself, sitting at their keyboards do. So there's no one to blame. You evidently have more knowledge and something to contribute, so jump in and edit the page. Tragic romance 10:56, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Notability, really[edit]

Most of the section on the message board just simply isn't notable. Unless someone can explain why an encyclopedia should name and describe every subforum an unremarkable message board, I'd like to trim that section to:

"The Straight Dope Message Board (abbreviated SDMB) is a collection of forums inspired by The Straight Dope. The board is owned by the Chicago Reader, and operated mainly by volunteer moderators. It uses the popular message board software vBulletin and has over 56,000 registered members, of which ~3500 are paid subscribers as of August 2005. It is ranked 70th by in number of posts as of January 29, 2006.

The SDMB had its fifteen minutes of internet fame when the thread If LotR Had Been Written By Someone Else!? became a victim of the Slashdot effect. The thread garnered a little over 2000 replies and close to 420 000 views." 21:15, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

I agree that most of the text about the message board is/was not notable. Tskoge 09:23, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree as well. Do members of the "recent changes patrol" actually read the discussion section or the article's content or do they just make educated guesses based on the length of text removed? sheesh.
Sorry, it looked like blanking vandalism (especially as it was from an anon. user). I should have been more careful in this instance. Hynca-Hooley 16:40, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Relevant external links[edit]

It appears that there is currently a revert war regarding two of the external links in the article. In my opinion, these two links should be removed because they violate some principles in the Wikipedia style guide for external links, mainly item 1 in the section titled "Links normally to avoid" and possibly numbers 3 and 9 as well. The link labeled "History of the SDMB" links to a site called "Trainwreck Snarkives", which appears to be original research and does not seem to be a notable POV. The link labeled "SDMB anonymous snark pages" goes to a DeadJournal page called "SnarkPit", which is a discussion area for the Straight Dope message board which may or may not be notable. In fact, there is currently a thread on that page about this very issue. It seems that everyone who has either added the links or removed them has been an anon (except for me). What are everyone else's thoughts on it? --Cswrye 07:00, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

It's both non-notable and trolling. They should be removed. --Walachia 01:00, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Well, for that matter there's no reason to have the message board mentioned at all, or linked. It is after all a commercial operation with google ads and paid membership, so the link here is basically advertising. Best scrap the whole thing since arguing is the raison d'etre of the SDMB no good will come of it.

I agree that it's better to just scrap the content on the discussion board. It's only tenuously relevant to the entry, which is supposed to be about a syndicated newspaper column. I would link to the discussion board (the official one) and remove the other content and links. Skutir 20:06, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

After looking at the content of the links, I realized that they were not spam as I had originally thought, and they are related to the Straight Dope Message Board. However, I still think that they are not relevant enough to the Straight Dope column to merit inclusion, especially given Wikipedia's guidelines that generally discourage external links. The consensus seems to be that three out of three users believe the links should be removed. That's hardly an overwhelming number, so if anyone disagrees, feel free to voice your opinion. In the meantime, I'm going to go ahead and remove the links, although I predict that they will frequently be re-added by anonymous users. --Cswrye 16:08, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

The revert war over this issue appears to be unending. I would like to request mediation from both sides to resolve this matter. Is anyone else supportive of this? --Cswrye 22:22, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

I'll support mediation. The first link is entirely relevant to the message board which is relevant to the column. The second link is just an anonymous snark board that's marginal at best. ----Xploder12 20:38, 27 March 2006 (EST)

"The straight dope"[edit]

Shouldn't we refer to the idiom from which the name of the column derives? Ventifax 01:15, 20 June 2006 (UTC)


There should be a section for criticisms of The Straight Dope's accuracy. There are plenty of them. Tragic romance 21:43, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Are there any cites for these inaccuracies? Alastairward 10:33, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Recent deletions on talk page[edit]

I strongly oppose deleting large chunks of discussion from this talk page by User:Dhartung without consensus. 00:15, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

Hello, Please make yourself familiar with talk page guidelines, in particular:
  • Keep on topic: Talk pages are not for general conversation. Keep discussions on the topic of how to improve the associated article. Irrelevant discussions are subject to removal.
As the discussion pertained only to opinion about the accuracy of the subject, it was off topic. If anyone has a citeable source of the form "Alice Jones of Smith University disputed a Straight Dope answer ..." or "The Prolix Science journal ran an article summarizing some recent errors ..." that is different. Otherwise, please take such discussion to a forum or other appropriate venue such as Blogspot. --Dhartung | Talk 03:33, 24 February 2007 (UTC)
Hello, Dhartung. I am familiar with the guidelines. Unfortunately, quite often people have to discuss certain topics on talk pages before they find suitable quotations from reputable academic sources. Sometimes it is necessary to state a problem so that people become aware of it and eventually someone will come along with a source. Why blank the whole section? Why not ask the others' opinion before doing it? 18:36, 24 February 2007 (UTC)
I'll point out that the comment stating there are criticisms of inaccuracies ("plenty of them") and the comment asking for cites of these criticisms are still intact. Therefore, the "problem" has been stated so people are aware of it and can bring on the sources. Garfield226 19:29, 24 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't know about back then, but current guidelines discourage deleting anything from talk pages. So dom't do that again. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
The current WP:TPG guidelines explicitly mention removing off-topic chat: "Talk pages are for discussing the article, not for general conversation about the article's subject (much less other subjects). Keep discussions on the topic of how to improve the associated article. Irrelevant discussions are subject to removal." --McGeddon (talk) 09:14, 9 April 2008 (UTC)