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How do we deal with this behavior, and what is the term for it?

[POSTSCRIPT: this post is not about any one individual question, or answer, or comment, or downvote, all of which are irrelevant, as am I and any average individual SO user. It's about the widely-repeated pattern of behavior I see every day when I look at SO; specifically can it be changed, or if you think it can't be changed, how much it degrades the quality of posts on SO. This MSO post currently has +15/-24 votes, so quite a few people out there agree with me. Feel free to disagree, just stay civil; disparaging comments and flames will be flagged as such.]

It all starts with this question

I post a valid answer which is arguably better than the third answer for the reasons I state (for what it's worth, I independently found random.choice() in the doc before it was posted). Then one of the other answerers picks a bogus argument with me claiming "using objects is not OO", which is not a relevant criticism, and frankly as obnoxious as it is condescending. I object, then mysteriously my answer gets downvoted within at most 15 min later. Not wanting to get into downvoting wars. (My query about why the user thought they should use random.seed() stays unasked; I prefer not to rush out an answer to 'Give me teh codez now' questions until the asker clarifies what they actually want. Sure if I had simply rushed out an answer and hoped it approximated what they wanted, I would tactically maximize my chances of getting the thumbs-up, without clarifying their thinking, and clogging up SO. But back to the answerer.)

As to the other answerer's behavior, this sort of hit-and-run nonsense degrades SO, how do we deal with it? Why should I spend my time addressing the OP's question if my only reward is this? If anyone wants to back up the claim that my code 'uses objects but is not OO' (or that OO is undesirable on this task), I'm still waiting for it. I guess we could develop a blacklist of users who react like this. It's simply destructive behavior. I mean sure I could flag the comment, but then it goes away, and all that's left is a downvote.

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But didn't you do the same thing when you commented on F.J's answer in the linked question? –  Goran Jovic Dec 1 '11 at 20:49
Whatever happened there, do you really want to play the 'fastest gun' game? I don't answer to give meh teh codez question at all, because of stuff like that. –  Goran Jovic Dec 1 '11 at 20:52
@Goran. No, I think you're getting confused between the two answerers. My comment was simply F.J. gave a good approach. –  smci Dec 1 '11 at 20:52
@smci "I give an OO version of this below..." That was you, right? –  Bart Dec 1 '11 at 20:55
@The 2 people who downvoted this question so far (and 1 who upvoted), please tell us what etiquette is correct. I genuinely don't know, that's why I asked you MSO people for suggestions. –  smci Dec 1 '11 at 20:57
@smci: It's not very OO to start calling random.seed()... implying that the question has a flaw and diverting attention to your own. You did the same thing, you were just nicer about it. –  Goran Jovic Dec 1 '11 at 20:59
See, here's the thing. I don't believe the commenter was saying your answer was not OO. On the contrary, I believe he was challenging your implied assertion that yours was the only only OO answer. To me, it seemed the commenter was saying the higher-voted answer was both OO and simple enough for his own personal tastes. You could then explain why you think your answer is better as far as OO, and either reach an accord or just agree to disagree. –  Anthony Pegram Dec 1 '11 at 21:09
@smci The "sarcasm" comes from the confusion between your statement "you're getting confused between the two answerers" while he was initially pointing at your comment on F.J.'s answer where you say "I give an OO version of this below". Which in turn I find a not very polite way of attracting attention to your answer. But that's just my opinion. –  Bart Dec 1 '11 at 21:17
@smci: And you could have included all of what you just said to me in your answer on that page, instead of reacting rather emotionally on meta. –  Goran Jovic Dec 1 '11 at 21:21
@smci: That's exactly why I first told you: do you really want to play the 'fastest gun' game? Do you really value your time so little to waste it answering a question from an OP who doesn't really care about it. You can win the race by not participating it. The prize is your time and satisfaction. I usually answer well phrased and well researched questions - they are much more likely to value invested effort. –  Goran Jovic Dec 1 '11 at 21:30
Based on your massive over-reaction to an absolute non-issue, I think that, were there a blacklists, a lot more people would have you on it than had the down-voter. "How to deal with this behavior"? The "behaviour" you're describing is somebody disagreeing with you. Get used to it. Never mind that you're assuming that a comment and a downvote which occurred 15 minutes apart are related. –  meagar Dec 2 '11 at 13:27
@smci Yes it is a non-issue. There is nothing wrong with disagreement or downvotes. They are both completely fine, and an integral part of SO. The comment was not particularly uncivil, the problem is with you taking offense and calling perfectly normal behaviour "hit and run nonsense". There is nothing else wrong here. –  meagar Dec 2 '11 at 20:01
@smci "What you're saying is 'SO is a cesspool. Get over it'." I thought I was pretty clear in what I was saying: You are the problem. Get over it. –  meagar Dec 2 '11 at 20:13
This comment thread is long and confusing. I strongly recommend anyone thinking of responding here instead write an answer or take it to chat –  Shog9 Dec 2 '11 at 22:36
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2 Answers

I think you're reading into the comment more than what was said. I think you are assigning blame to the commenter for the downvote, to which you have no proof. And I think you're talking both the comment and the downvote too personally.

If you feel you are wrongfully downvoted, ask for an explanation. If one comes that satisfies you, great. If you can learn something or perhaps reach an understanding with the downvoter, that is a good outcome. If an explanation (satisfactory or otherwise) does not come, well, just move on.

This site is cold and impersonal. We upvote what is good and useful and downvote what is not. Sometimes, people operate outside those boundaries, and we simply live with it (unless it strays into suspect voting patterns that algoritms automatically detect and correct). Our votes are not statements of value for the answerer, but for the answer. When a vote does not go your way, learn from it where possible, and move on to the next opportunity to assist another petitioner.

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No I'm not assigning blame to the commenter for the downvote, I'm saying the one created the destructive context for the other. As I say I could have been the first answerer with the six upvotes, in which case this would not have happened. "If you feel you are wrongfully downvoted, ask for an explanation." - As you can see I already had, an hour ago, and didn't get any. The 'using objects is not the same as OO' comment is in this context obnoxious and irrelevant. –  smci Dec 1 '11 at 21:01
"We upvote what is good and useful and downvote what is not." - I'm not asking about how you or I or reasonable people behave, but how other people do. –  smci Dec 1 '11 at 21:02
Let's rephrase it then: "We upvote what we perceive as useful and downvote what we perceive as not"...as in, I see no evidence of bad intent or maliciousness. But let's assume you're right about all you say. I would say "Step away from the question". You have done your best, obviously think you're right. Now it's up to the OP and the community to value it. Perhaps if your answer was brilliant, but does not get valued, it's the community's loss. Focus your energy and kindness on positive things. There's IMHO not much point in arguing about this. –  Bart Dec 1 '11 at 21:09
Bart, do you not find the comment obnoxious, condescending, irrelevant and destructive to the discussion, all in one (where is the justification for his claim)? it's meaningless to equate the number of votes with the usefulness of the answer - the winner is simply in a race to 'Give me teh codez' first, and as I said that's damaging to SO. –  smci Dec 1 '11 at 21:15
"There's nothing theoretically wrong with this solution, but practically it's far more complicated than F.J's. And for what benefit?" ... obnoxious, condescending, irrelevant?.... no, not really. It's a comment/question, and in my opinion fairly politely stated. You can address it. You have done so. Walk away. –  Bart Dec 1 '11 at 21:20
@Bart, the offensive part I called out as objectionable is 'Using objects' is not the same as 'object-oriented'. which in the context of my answer manages to simultaneously be untrue, obnoxious, condescending and irrelevant, all in just 9 words. This is the programming equivalent of starting a comment with "Beating your spouse is a crime." –  smci Dec 1 '11 at 21:42
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this sort of hit-and-run nonsense degrades SO

Now that you've brought more attention to your answer, it appears others also agree with the criticism.

It would have been better if he stated, "Writing a class to wrap the random.choice might make sense in some cases, but in this particular instance it doesn't appear to provide any benefit, but does make the functioning of the program more difficult to understand." You should ignore his claim about whether it's object oriented or not - that's a subjective argument neither of you will agree on, so you should dismiss it and get to the meat of his comment.

Beyond that, you have to treat the occasional downvote as noise. Even great answers will sometimes get a downvote. They aren't always downvoted by the people who leave negative comments, and people who downvote don't always leave any comments.

It is complaints like this that make downvoters avoid leaving comments - even if they are trying to help you improve your answer, or trying to help future readers understand the complications someone's answer creates.

Ignore spurious downvotes.

Post good answers.

Don't worry too much about it.

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I agree with him, however. Wrapping a function inside a class doesn't make it object oriented any more than wrapping a function in a macro would. But again - this is my subjective view, and while I wouldn't encourage people to downvote it, I certainly don't think it's worth upvotes unless the OP specifically asked for a solution that involved classes and/or wrappers. –  Adam Davis Dec 1 '11 at 21:17
Adam - you've entirely missed the point! It's much more than "wrapping a function inside a class", which would be cosmetic. The hidden danger is the reference to len(list)-1. Every time you make the reference, you've got to pass the len() of the correct object, AND not forget the -1. If you fail to do this, eventually the code dies with an IndexError. That's OO. –  smci Dec 1 '11 at 21:46
Also, did you miss the part about it's not deterministic (=> not verifiable) to make calls to random() between data structures ? –  smci Dec 1 '11 at 21:48
For both those reasons, I disagree with "unless the OP specifically asked for [such] a solution". But in any case we already commented multiple times that the OP's question was unclear and had not responded to clarification an hour later. –  smci Dec 1 '11 at 21:50
As to "complaints like this that make downvoters avoid leaving comments", nonsense: in this case the downvoting was not based on any reasonable criticism. If there is a reasonable criticism, noone has yet managed to articulate one. As I commented, it happened within 15 min of the other answerer dissing me. I love how one person wrote the disparaging comment, then I get the downvote, and somehow they're a victim and I'm an aggressor! Pure SO! –  smci Dec 1 '11 at 21:53
"reasonable criticism" If you believe the criticism you've received is unreasonable, then you will never understand the answers to this question - which is too bad. You should have stated up front that you weren't interested in criticism, but merely wanted people to agree with you - it would have saved a lot of people who are trying to help you understand a lot of time. I'm sorry to have wasted yours. –  Adam Davis Dec 2 '11 at 1:13
Adam, less condescension pls. It's not a matter of what I 'believe'. Despite providing heaps of reasons why OO is better, noone has yet contradicted it ('more complex' is bogus). But that's not even the point: there was no useful discussion in the original thread, that's not what the answerers were interested in. You can all disagree with me all day long if you actually they have arguments to back claims up. Anyway this all supports your and other people's observations about Fastest Gun in the West Syndrome. –  smci Dec 2 '11 at 10:50
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