David91 won the contest today (July 5, 2012).

But his only question that is "eligible" is basically general reference!

Who is the President of Earth at the end of Season 4? <-- You can find the answer to that easily on Google!

How are the winners of the contest determined, and if it just by random:

var possibleWinners = getAllQuestionWithVote >= 3;
var winner = random(possibleWinners);

Then how do we deal with when the random winner is "disqualified", if the case may come to happen?

  • 1
    Ugh. That did stand out as a poor question to me when i saw it. Forgot about it in the flood. Just DV'd and VTC'd it. Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 16:16
  • By the way, when you discuss a specific question on meta, please post a link to the meta discussion as a comment on the question.
    – user56
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:36

4 Answers 4


Despite the temptation to slightly increase my chance to win something, I don't think we should disqualify someone after the fact. If he was eligible to win at the time of the draw, then he won. It's our fault, not is, if he was allowed in the draw while he might shouldn't.

This would lead to frustration and an impression of unfair treatment for the winner.

  • Hmmmm my flag was declined for some reason....
    – Naftali
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 19:42
  • 1
    Also I do not agree with your answer. If the answer is the disqualified, the prize should be disqualified, it happens all the time in contests where people are disqualified even after they thought they had won.
    – Naftali
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 19:45
  • @TheDoctor Mods don't respond to flagging a question that should be closed. They prefer to let the community close things. As Gilles has told me many times, "flagging is for things normal users cannot do themselves, or for emergencies." Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 19:58
  • @GabeWillard I can't do for myself. I cannot vote to close yet on scifi.se.
    – Naftali
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:02
  • @TheDoctor Then I recommend pointing it out in chat. Plenty of +3k users in chat that can VTC. I'm just saying, mods are typically going to ignore flags for "this should be closed." Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:13
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    @GabeWillard No, it's fine to cast a flag for closure. Moderators may or may not close the question when they see the flag, depending on how much they agree with it. If it's an open-and-shut case, we close immediately. If the closure is clearly not warranted, we decline the flag. In between, we mark the flag as helpful and wait for more regular votes, comments, talk it between ourselves, discuss it in the public chatroom, etc.
    – user56
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:27
  • 2
    @TheDoctor This one wasn't me, but I think your flag was declined because “it's googlable” is not generally a reason to close a question on Stack Exchange. The general reference close reason is more specific: there has to be an easy-to-find authoritative answer (as opposed to some random site of dubious reliability which may vanish at any time, which is what Google searches tend to return).
    – user56
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:29
  • 1
    @TheDoctor Which Google query did you try, and what hit did you consider sufficient? When I search now, the question on SE comes as #1 and #2 (!) on google.com/… And I can't find a query that obviously confirms that it's Nixon (except the SE answer) within the first page of results.
    – user56
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:35
  • @Gilles I just searched futurama president on google, and the first hit was the Wikipedia article on Politics in Futurama Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:43
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    @Gilles Well, the google search text under the result (whatever that's called) says, "The animated science fiction show Futurama presents a satirical look at ... Futurama's fictional president of Earth, the preserved head of Richard Nixon in a jar." As for in the wikipedia article, it's in the section on the Presidency. Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:48
  • 1
    @GabeWillard The article discusses his being elected, and remaining in office through some subsequent episodes. Where does it say anything about his being in office at the end of season 4?
    – user56
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:50
  • 1
    @Gilles By simple exclusion: it doesn't mention that anyone else became President in the running of the show. The article for the American Presidency doesn't explicitly say that Obama is president at the end of 2011, either. Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 21:02
  • 1
    @Pearsonartphoto Even if it's not by the wikipedia article, it still is in the sense that someone who actually watched the show would know it. Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 0:10
  • 3
    @GabeWillard "Actually watched the show" at this point means having dedicated over 100 hours to watching the show. It's not unreasonable for a question about a background recurring element in such a long work to be acceptable IMO. I've seen every episode multiple times, and I found gnovice's answer to be interesting, as it sheds light on Earth politics in Futurama that I hadn't realized before.
    – user1027
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 0:44
  • 3
    meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/a/330/98 is the best explanation of general reference I've ever seen. I think using that flow chart, it shows the question is not GR. Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 2:43

His prize has already been ordered, so he's not going to get his prize taken away.

If there's enough of an outcry about this from people, we can award double winners on another day or draw another winner from that time frame.

The rules only state that a question be open to be considered for the prize, which the question obviously was at the time of the drawing. It won fair and square; the rules said nothing about the question remaining open (true, it wasn't a problem that we foresaw having either). If we need to amend the rules to reflect what the community decides, we can.

That being said, the contest is already halfway over and it's for a $30 prize package.

  • 1
    Ok. That makes sense since you already contacted the user. But the Answerama rules and prizes page says that the winners will be contacted on or around July 12th, 2012, and July 5th (today) is nowhere near that date ^_^
    – Naftali
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:06
  • @TheDoctor Well, oops. Nope, users are being contacted the day after they win, just so we don't have to handle ordering 14 prizes all at once (easier to do it daily). Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:08
  • 1
    That makes sense, but you should reflect that in the rules. That is one of the reasons that I asked the question -- I thought the winners would not be contacted until later...
    – Naftali
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:09
  • 1
    @TheDoctor Yep, working on changing that now. Pure accident. Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:11
  • We are changing the rules now? hmmmmmm time to create the most awesome futurama question ever :-P (naaaaaaaaaahh) ^_^
    – Naftali
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:13
  • Also what is with the downvotes? My answer is pretty much just asking for the solution that the community wants. Downvoting it doesn't give me a solution to work with. Are you downvoting the fact that I'm letting the community decide? Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:13
  • 1
    @TheDoctor What are you talking about? I'm going to change the language to reflect that we are contacting users the day they are awarded the prize. I'm not changing the rules. Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:14
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    Sorry, before it implied that the users did not really win until on or around July 12, 2012. They were announced, but did not "officially" win. Now they win officially right away. At least that is how the wording looks to me. I could be wrong.... :-\
    – Naftali
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:15
  • @TheDoctor What do you think the difference between announcing winners and those people "officially winning" is? It seems like you're just arguing semantics; those two are functionally the same.
    – Laura
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 14:25

Full disclosure... I did answer the question in question, but admittedly at the time I was on the fence as to whether it should be closed. On the one hand, it seemed a little trivia-like in its wording. On the other hand, Earth had seen a couple of invasions and someone who hadn't caught all the episodes might not be sure if Nixon was still President. I chose to answer then watch what the community thought. The fact that the question got a few upvotes and no close votes (until recently) made me think "OK, I'll just leave it."

As other answers have mentioned, the user won based on the rules as they were laid out from the start. Changing them retroactively and rescinding his prize seems unfair. At the time of the drawing, his post did meet the criteria. Maybe these rules should be refined for future contests, but it wouldn't make much sense to do it for this one, because there is a larger can of worms this opens up...

We've focused here on a case where the user only had 1 valid post, but let's consider a hypothetical case where a user had 10 valid posts, which would give them 10 entries into the drawing according to the rules. If they win and then one of those posts gets disqualified in some way, should their prize be rescinded? Should there be a do-over drawing? That one extra entry could have made all the difference between them winning or not. We have no way of knowing if they still would have won with just 9 entries.

The dynamic nature of the site means that posts, and how the community perceives and reacts to them, can change over time. Even if we wait until the contest ends to draw the winners, and then a post gets closed/deleted, we would still probably have the same argument about whether we should disqualify winners or redo the drawings. This is the issue you face when you place a cut-off point on time-varying data. I don't think retroactive disqualification makes sense because you would technically need to do it for every change in vote totals or closed/deleted status for every post made within the contest window.

  • I totally agree, and I think your answer saves this question. It's wording makes it clear that it's just like so many poor-quality trivia questions that the site was recently flooded with, however by outlining the basic answer along with points of interest that are relevant, your answer makes the question more worthwhile.
    – user1027
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 0:46

An actual question that follows the board rules, rather than one that should have been closed, should also be drawn.

Don't take away the extant prize (since it's already ordered), but award a prize as well to someone who didn't cheat.

And by not following the board submission rules, yes, the current winner did cheat, intentionally or in ignorance.

(and for reference - I have no dog in this fight. I didn't participate in it.)

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