There's a pretty straightforward question about whether every item in Skyrim has a use:

Can every item in Skyrim be used for something? I find a lot of objects like ruined books, embalming tools, etc. that I haven't found a use for yet.

However, an answer with (30!) upvotes has been posted that completely avoid the question's premise (whether every item has a use):

If you can pick it up, you probably need it.

enter image description here

But seriously? Unless it has no interesting value, leave them be. You'll get one when you need one.

The answer provides three things:

  • A claim that you "probably" need an item if you can pick it up, with no supporting evidence.
  • A copy-paste of a comic, without any attribution to the creators (i.e. Penny Arcade), that lampoons the idea that picking up everything has a use (contradicting the first point)
  • An instruction to not pick up everything unless you need it, which misses the point of the question (which asks whether everything is, in fact, needed at some point in the game)

When flagged as "not an answer", it was declined as not having evidence to support the flag.

Why is this an answer to the question?

  • 10
    That answer is far too contradictory for my liking. It sounds like we have another case of "Ooh colors! Skyrim! Upvote!" Jan 5, 2012 at 22:22
  • 4
    Personally, I upvoted that answer not for the comic, but for the last sentence, which is entirely correct, and really all that needs to be said on the matter. While some items, such as Ruined Books have unexpected uses, there is nothing that you can't get a hold of later when you need it. Jan 5, 2012 at 22:25
  • 1
    If you do post a graphic, you should do your best to attribute it.
    – CyberSkull
    Jan 9, 2012 at 4:49

3 Answers 3


I think the answer is technically valid due to the last sentence, but it is a bit misleading and the punchline wasn't delivered well. The very first sentence in the answer is meant to be tongue in cheek but it is absolutely the wrong answer when taken out of context. If you just read that before looking at the comic or what follows (the big graphic tends to push things off of the screen so the last sentence may not show up1), you can arrive at the wrong conclusion.

IMO, the punchline works better if it was left in the end:

Some items in Skyrim are there for immersion and flavor. If it has no immediate interesting value, leave them be. You'll get one when you need one.

However, this possibility always exists: enter image description here

There's nothing wrong with a bit of light hearted humor, and people appreciate that by giving upvotes. It just shouldn't get in the way of having a correct answer and I'm glad to see that the correct answer in that question was accepted.

1Just to illustrate, this is what I see by default when I click on the question. Basically, only the wrong answer shows up without scrolling.

enter image description here

  • 22
    "and people appreciate [light hearted humor] by giving upvotes" -- people should not be upvoting cartoons, they should be upvoting well written, complete posts that answer the question. This sort of thing, if done enough, distorts the reputation system into something grotesque. Really think about what is being rewarded here, and the message that sends to everyone that sees it. Jan 6, 2012 at 9:53
  • 2
    @Jeff I totally agree, but if there are 2 equally valid answers, and one is more humorous than the other, I don't see whats wrong with preferring it over the other answer.
    – l I
    Jan 6, 2012 at 22:15
  • If edited to your suggestion, it'd be a bad one, but it'd at least be an answer. It doesn't resolve the attribution issue (or the copyright issue, for that matter, but that's a different can of worms), though: I think just linking to the comic would be preferable (i.e. "However, the possibility always exists.").
    – user3389
    Jan 6, 2012 at 22:30
  • @yx what about when the less informative one is getting all the upvotes?
    – tzenes
    Jan 9, 2012 at 16:20
  • @Tzenes, I don't see how that answer is less informative. It hits on all 3 of the key points. Horses are marginally faster, they can sprint much longer, and they can go up slopes that you normally cannot do on foot. In fact, the picture illustrates the key point, the biggest time saver for a horse that I've found is being able to cut straight across the terrain by going up and down slopes on horseback.
    – l I
    Jan 9, 2012 at 22:08

Disclaimer: I am the poster of the contested answer on gaming.se. I am also not a native English speaker, so I might not get all the connotations behind every word or sentence.

Good question, or should I say, good questions? Your post actually touches so many subjects it almost seems to consist of lots of different questions, all lobbed together. Since you also only pick one example, it kind of comes across as if you were attacking that specific answer, instead of touching a more general matter.

Still, the questions in themselves are valid:

  • Should every image (or more specific, comic) used in an answer be properly attributed?
  • Is using an image as an answer acceptable?
  • Is irony/tongue-in-cheek a valid way to construct an answer, or should the first/last paragraph summarize in all seriousness so no possible misunderstanding can occur?


Should every image (or more specific, comic) used in an answer be properly attributed?

While the particular image in question was non-modified and can easily be tineye'd to the original, and most gamers know what Penny Arcade is, I still think a few guidelines about images could benefit our community. Some proposals:

  • Always make a duplicate of the image, as to not hot-link to the site itself and 'steal' its bandwith, unless the site explicitly states hotlinking is OK (as for example XKCD).
  • Always make the image clickable, with the href going to the page where the original image is found
  • Always add a footer text, explaining where the image comes from, on what date, and (if applicable) that the image is copyrighted.

Is using an image as an answer acceptable?

Sometimes, an picture is worth a thousand words. On a question about MySQL injection, the XKCD Bobby-Tables comic really makes a strong point. Where needed, a few accompanying lines could be added to explain the comic (as was the case in your skyrim example).

As yx demonstrates: when another answer gets accepted, the image answer becomes just "additional" information - not even above the fold on the printscreen you can see. So the community and the owner can regulate: if there is a better answer, thanks to the StackExchange way of working, it will be shown first.

Is irony/tongue-in-cheek a valid way to construct an answer, or should the first/last paragraph summarize in all seriousness so no possible misunderstanding can occur?

This is a hard one. Irony is riskier when using a written medium, because much of the ways to communicate the irony are not available: tone of voice, facial expression... still, when brought well, I think in some cases an ironic/funny answer can be easier to grasp or remember than a neutral straight-to-the-point answer. On a question like "Should I use telnet to connect to [email protected]", an answer stating "Sure, if you want to make it easy to the world to see your root password and take over your box" might get the point accross.

One might argue that a last paragraph explaining that the post was meant ironic, could help the answer. Still, anyone can add another answer with this contents, or add it to the existing answer should it be accepted. In your example, the "But seriously" aims to make this clear - but maybe it was not clear enough for you?

  • 1
    To be clear, this is specifically about your answer and why it hasn't been deleted. While it might be fair use to copy someone else's work in whole, it's completely unacceptable not to attribute them for it. It's plagiarism and without any citation, you endanger the CC license under which all content here is placed: you don't have any right to relicense their work by passing it off as your own. This is all in addition to the question specifically asking if every item has a use, and the comic (nor the rest of your answer) does nothing to address that other than to vaguely lampoon the idea.
    – user3389
    Jan 6, 2012 at 22:26
  • 1
    I've tried to address each issue on its own, so we as a community can discuss about your negative feelings about my post. Still, I see a lot of downvotes without any explanations as to why it was downvoted, or suggestions about what would be the right way. I think it might be a good idea if you answer your own question here? What do you propose?
    – Konerak
    Jan 7, 2012 at 11:59

I feel that the comic illustrates that you don't have to pick up all the items (if you just want to get on with the core of the game like Tycho) but "if you can pick it up, you probably need it" (if you want to be a total completionist like Gabe) in a fairly effective and humorous manner.

Sure, the answer doesn't answer the question directly, but it does in a way, so it's still useful, memorable, and humorous. From what I've found on the SE network, the quality of answers doesn't really correlate that well with the number of votes beyond a dozen or so. It's all just popularity.

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