C++ FAQ Celebrating Twenty-One Years of the C++ FAQ!!!
(Click here for a personal note from Marshall Cline.)
Section 27:
[27.6] Is the ?: operator evil since it can be used to create unreadable code?

No, but as always, remember that readability is one of the most important things.

Some people feel the ?: ternary operator should be avoided because they find it confusing at times compared to the good old if statement. In many cases ?: tends to make your code more difficult to read (and therefore you should replace those usages of ?: with if statements), but there are times when the ?: operator is clearer since it can emphasize what's really happening, rather than the fact that there's an if in there somewhere.

Let's start with a really simple case. Suppose you need to print the result of a function call. In that case you should put the real goal (printing) at the beginning of the line, and bury the function call within the line since it's relatively incidental (this left-right thing is based on the intuitive notion that most developers think the first thing on a line is the most important thing):

// Preferred (emphasizes the major goal — printing):
std::cout << funct();

// Not as good (emphasizes the minor goal — a function call):
Now let's extend this idea to the ?: operator. Suppose your real goal is to print something, but you need to do some incidental decision logic to figure out what should be printed. Since the printing is the most important thing conceptually, we prefer to put it first on the line, and we prefer to bury the incidental decision logic. In the example code below, variable n represents the number of senders of a message; the message itself is being printed to std::cout:
int n = /*...*/;   // number of senders

// Preferred (emphasizes the major goal — printing):
std::cout << "Please get back to " << (n==1 ? "me" : "us") << " soon!\n";

// Not as good (emphasizes the minor goal — a decision):
std::cout << "Please get back to ";
if (n == 1)
  std::cout << "me";
  std::cout << "us";
std::cout << " soon!\n";
All that being said, you can get pretty outrageous and unreadable code ("write only code") using various combinations of ?:, &&, ||, etc. For example,
// Preferred (obvious meaning):
if (f())

// Not as good (harder to understand):
f() && g();
Personally I think the explicit if example is clearer since it emphasizes the major thing that's going on (a decision based on the result of calling f()) rather than the minor thing (calling f()). In other words, the use of if here is good for precisely the same reason that it was bad above: we want to major on the majors and minor on the minors.

In any event, don't forget that readability is the goal (at least it's one of the goals). Your goal should not be to avoid certain syntactic constructs such as ?: or && or || or if — or even goto. If you sink to the level of a "Standards Bigot," you'll ultimately embarass yourself since there are always counterexamples to any syntax-based rule. If on the other hand you emphasize broad goals and guidelines (e.g., "major on the majors," or "put the most important thing first on the line," or even "make sure your code is obvious and readable"), you're usually much better off.

Code must be written to be read, not by the compiler, but by another human being.