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Is the "spirit of SE" being eroded on some of the smaller sites? By "spirit" I mean "don't ever be rude to anyone, ever" and "use the vote buttons, vote early, vote often."

See, for example (but I'm sure there are many more all over SE), some of the comments on Limit with nothing but x and triangles.

I'm sad that the thread is locked (meaning nothing can be voted down or flagged as abusive) but nothing has been deleted.

Should SE have a consistent "spirit" across all SE sites, or is it okay for them to go their own way?

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It's not absolutely clear, at least to me, what you mean by the "spirit of SE". There exists a faq post on HW that offers some guidance, but not necessarily a cut-and-dried position on these issues. – jonsca Sep 25 '11 at 10:08
Thanks for the link! By "spirit" I mean "don't ever be rude to anyone, ever"; "use the vote buttons, vote early, vote often"; eh, you know it if you see it. – DanBeale Sep 25 '11 at 10:15
Thanks for the clarification. I do agree that the commenter got carried away both in the question itself and the subsequent math-meta discussion. I think many people could, in theory at least, agree with the heart of his position on tests and homework, which is why I asked. It's impossible to say how the discussion would have gone if it didn't start out so polarized. – jonsca Sep 25 '11 at 10:24
So, "by so many different sites" does not mean "because there are too many sites"? Maybe rephrase that to "on some of the smaller sites", like you use in the first sentence? (While editing, please edit your first comment into the question too. Thanks!) – Arjan Sep 25 '11 at 10:28
Math.SE has reputation for more 'robust' discussion. Apparently mathematicians don't get offended if other mathematicians insult them. Good to know, but don't try this at home. – Benjol Sep 26 '11 at 5:35
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The “spirit of Stack Exchange” is defined by the about page and the FAQ page. These pages are identical across sites, except for the site name and description, and for the first section of the FAQ (which site moderators can edit). For historical reasons, the content is slightly different on the original Trilogy (Stack Overflow, Super User and Server Fault).

In particular, “Civility is required at all times; rudeness will not be tolerated. Be nice. (…) Be honest.” is in the FAQ on all sites.

Beyond that, when it comes to interpretation of these rules or to additional rules, each site has its own peculiarities. Each site targets a different community, which comes with its own cultural assumptions. This manifests itself in the attitude towards some topics such as homework or suspected non-disclosure agreement violations. It also manifests itself in the use of Stack Exchange features, for example some sites tend to hunt and delete obsolete comments while others delete comments only when they meet a high threshold of inappropriateness (Math.SE is in the latter category).

Without knowing the specific situation, I would guess that the question was locked to still the unending discussion in comments and kept pending resolution in the meta discussion. That discussion has been inactive for a long time, so I guess it's time to move on.

Note that you can flag locked posts; I've done so.

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