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Only when the comment is indeed intended to be a sarcasm. If you want to mark the comment sarcasm you have plenty of methods, e.g. </sarcasm>.

For years and years writers have been able to employ sarcasm and dark wit without resorting to blatant labels tipping off the reader, "Joke ahead!"

Why now is this linguistic bludgeon required?

When I read your comment I agreed. After reading the many comments down-thread which missed rather obvious sarcasm, I reluctantly disagree.

I hate to be all "in the old days", but, really, threads on HN didn't used to be full of snark and jokes, which obviated this problem. I miss that.

Perhaps we should all start assuming that any blunt, snarky comment is really meant as a piss-take. E.g., if you read "Apple is a bunch of blatant design thieves", assume that no one could intend that at face value, so it's really facetious joking meant to express the opposite.

We'll all feel a lot better, and the blunt and snarky will realize that their posts are having the reverse effect expected.

OK, well, we'll at least all feel better.

Because most people don't have the ability to write clearly enough to express their intent, and also because there are so many literal minded people out there. Labels and smileys serve the same purpose as laugh tracks on TV programmes, they tell the stupid how to react.

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