Edit after voting on answers: Why does the Iliad start "in the middle"? has emerged as the favourite choice for the new example Tour question. I'm now tagging this meta post as in order to get the attention of those able to make this change.

Our site Tour features an example question to show how the Stack Exchange system works. Currently, it's set to the default post about preventing unicorns from eating daisies (spoiler: not a real Q&A). Moderators have the power to select an actual question from the site to be featured on the Tour. But ... there is a problem! But ... there is a solution!

We already discussed this four years ago, and there are still zero questions on the site that match the usual criteria for being choosable for the Tour ("the posts have to be short, with at least two short answers (<=400 chars), shouldn't have any crazy formatting, and should be open" - where "crazy formatting" include blockquotes, headers, and lists). On this site at least, most good answers are long and many of them include some kind of formatting. So we've been stuck with unicorns and daisies since 2017.

I've now been informed by a Stack Exchange CM that it's possible for them to manually override any or all restrictions, so we can technically put any Q&A we want on the Tour page. Among the standard restrictions, I think we can keep "should be open" (duh, we don't want to promote off-topic stuff there), and "at least two [...] answers" (this helps with the part of the Tour page about accepted answers), and the unstated-on-meta criterion of having at least one comment on at least one of the answers (again, helps with part of the Tour page). If necessary, we can remove either the length or formatting restrictions.

There's a Data.SE query which finds all possible questions satisfying the usual criteria (currently none). We can modify this query to remove any of the restrictions until we have enough questions to make a decent selection. For example, here's a revision which removes the no-blockquote restriction (all other disallowed formatting types are still disallowed) and the length limit on answers (length limit on question is still there), which gives 26 questions. If you think a different set of restrictions should be lifted/kept, feel free to fiddle around further with the original query to change it. Whatever list we come up with, in the end we'll need to choose a particularly exemplary Q&A set to be displayed on our Tour page.

Which question should we choose to promote in the Tour?

  • If they override the length limit, does that mean a) the area devoted to the answer gets bigger or b) they cut off the later parts of the answer?
    – bobble
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 14:55
  • @bobble I had presumed (a), but seems like the answer is actually (b), see PPCG's tour (question is truncated, not sure about answers but I guess the same applies).
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 15:10

7 Answers 7



The answer to the question, "Should I blame caching?" is, once again, "Yes!".

While I've been waiting for the "bug" here to get investigated, I ended up talking with animuson about the issue and he mentioned that the length of the answers also matters (for the characters) and that if it was 800 characters for the duration of my vacation (see below for the saga), then it wouldn't have updated.

I checked the history and, after puzzling it out a bit, we realized that it was only 800 for my vacation while one of the answers is over 1600 characters long, making it ineligible to appear.

That knowledge in hand, I changed the limit to 2000 characters and - since I hadn't cached the list of questions recently - was able to immediately update to the Iliad question without waiting for caches to clear.

So, in the end, no bug, only caching. Thanks for your patience and for listening to my saga, which seems more like the Odyssey than the Iliad.

A few weeks ago I updated the site settings here to allow more options for the mods to choose from for the tour page. I raised the post body length to 800 characters and enabled blocks so that quotes wouldn't prevent questions from being eligible.

This made about 15 questions eligible for selection. Unfortunately, it didn't make it so that your top pick (Why does the Iliad start "in the middle"?) was an option, probably because one of the answers is a bit longer than that - so I changed it to 2000 characters and it became an option... which I then picked... and still the Unicorn question remained, despite the admin page asserting that the question was selected.

Screenshot of "Choose question for Tour page" admin page which shows that the question about the Iliad is "currently selected".

So I thought, "Should I blame caching?"... maybe? Just to check, I picked a different question entirely (What does "Maybe it's a Big Horse I'm Morporkian" mean? - your second choice) and refreshed the Tour.

The Literature site Tour page with a non-default question "What does "Maybe it's a Big Horse I'm Morporkian" mean?" visible in the slot for a sample question and answers.

So I thought - what's different? Well... it has deleted answers and the Discworld question doesn't... so maybe that's a problem... Nope - found a question that has deleted answers but still shows up immediately in the tour. I can't tell you what about that Iliad question is a problem but... it is.

So, at this point I decided - I'm just going to use the override. Yeah. That's right. I have a magical tour question box that lets me say - screw these mod restrictions, just display the question I tell you to!!!!

It didn't work, either.

So, I asked the devs whether the override was supposed to always work or whether it still follows the same restrictions - the response I got was that it should always show but there is a 24 hour cache, so change it and wait a day and check.

Well, friends. I changed this site setting before going on vacation for three weeks and I'll tell you - y'all still had the unicorn default question when I got back on Monday.

So I created an internal bug report.

And that's where we are now. I don't know why that question won't show up but the mods have about 15 questions to choose from that y'all can use in the meantime. Apologies for the delay but... I'm not sure what's going wrong here. I'll update things if we figure out why this doesn't work or get it fixed but I'm calling this done for now.


Proposal: Why does the Iliad start "in the middle"?

An interesting question (especially for those who know the Troy story from retellings but haven't read the original Iliad) with two answers which answer the question from different valid points of view, exploring respectively the true topic of the Iliad and its context within other literature of the time.

Both answers are short, supported by links rather than long quotes or many-paragraph explanations.


Proposal: What does "Maybe it's a Big Horse I'm Morporkian" mean?

A nice question, and both answers are very short (the only reason Spagirl's goes over is the links, which is non-rendered length). However, perhaps we don't want an SF&F work as our Tour question, and the available comments aren't the best example of what comments are meant for.

  • In case it helps I’ve edited a few characters out of my answer to get it below 400
    – Spagirl
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 11:56

Proposal: Earliest second-person novel

A very short simple question, which is work-agnostic: not about any specific author or piece of literature, nor even any specific language. Maybe this is a good choice for the tour, not to give the appearance of placing any particular subset of literature on a pedestal.

The answers are medium-length, not very short, but even truncated to their first ~400 characters, they'd be decent answers: Tsundoku's giving specific stories with links and publication info, Gareth's starting from a general source listing many works of second-person fiction, even though he doesn't mention a specific story in the first 400 characters.


Proposal: Why was/is James Joyce's writing revolutionary for its time?

The question is very brief and contains no "crazy formatting"; it has exactly two answers. The answers are clearly longer than 400 characters but contain no "crazy formatting".


Proposal: What is the symbolism of Atticus killing the mad dog?

This is nicely on-topic, the question is terse, and there are two decent short-ish answers*, though both have formatting. Mary's comment on CHEESE's answer could be used for the example comment.

While the cutting-off is annoying, CHEESE's answer is still fine(ish) if it loses its last paragraph (bringing it to 323 chars), and muru's answer is only just over 400 chars. Or we could just edit muru's to make it 400 chars. (This isn't really possible for CHEESE's) I did:

It foreshadows the death of Ewell in a way:

  • When the dog, who has been around for years, becomes a threat to the children, Atticus's shooting skills, which haven't been seen for years, reveal themselves to deal with the threat.
  • When Bob Ewell, who also has been around for years, becomes a threat to the children, Boo Radley, who hasn't been seen for years, reveals himself to deal with the threat.

* I mean, longer answers might be better, but we need short ones for the Tour. The high votes are due to Private Beta.


Proposal: Does Othello have impostor syndrome, or any other problem because his background is different?

The question has no "crazy formatting" (just plain text and a link) and it has exactly two answers. However, both answers contain quote markup and one of them is clearly much longer and 400 characters.

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