Is there a useful, concise way of communicating community standards relating to personal behavior on SO? One that outlines what is expected, what is inappropriate, and what is not allowed or severely discouraged?
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The code of conduct is "Be nice."
There are reasons that this is not explained further:
It's up to the community to define it
The community is in charge of what's acceptable and what's not acceptable. We've been provided the tools to set the definition, and further we are allowed to move the line as the community adapts. It's changed significantly since the first year, and if we had set up specific rules then, they would be woefully out of date given the stronger international and cultural presence, and the much, much, much larger audience.
Any rules we set now, assuming we could craft a perfect set of rules, would, and must, change over time.
Defining it fully is impossible
We can't possible enumerate every bad behavior. We've also found in the past that by giving very specific "lines" people can use to determine if their behavior is bad, rather than using them as a guideline to stay away from, people start to run as close to them as possible. If a parent says, "Don't call your brother stupid" then the perpetrator will end up checking the thesaurus and calling their brother everything but stupid.
Trolls are great at toeing the line, and if we give them a line they will successfully craft posts and comments that we cannot punish them for because they are technically within the line, even though everyone agrees that they are obviously showing patterns of abuse. In addition this cycle leads to more rules, the rules have exceptions and complications, and eventually you end up with a rulebook that is impossible to read, and still doesn't define everything.
The act of definition would create an open wound that would never heal
Once we open the floor to writing a set of rules that can never be fully defined, we create a boiling pot of flaming tension which is never resolved. It will always spawn new suggestions, complaints, and arguments about what is largely subjective - what is good/professional/appropriate/offensive/trolling/etc behavior. It would never end. While I don't think it would engulf meta, let alone the network, it would be a continuing source of unhappiness and disagreement. There would always be several active topics about it.
I know it's frustrating, as programmers, not to have a well defined set of rules, but it's better to give the community the freedom to adapt and change over time, and to manage issues on a case by case basis.
I don't think you're going to find a question on meta that dissects every possible aspect of what it means to "be nice", and I'd guess that pointing rude users to it wouldn't be very effective - it would probably be taken the wrong way.
The best way to communicate the expected behavior and etiquette on SO is to exhibit it yourself.
While I didn't find the comments in this case as offensive or unprofessional as you may have, I'll still say that you did a good job of responding to it. When you stoop to their level, we all lose.
In my opinion—and I mean this sincerely; this isn't intended to be an ironic trolling answer to your question—any person who would be willing to read documentation of our community standards, and adjust their behavior, probably wouldn't have been acting like this in the first place.
As great as the internet is, for some people the anonymity allowed causes them to act like asses, and there's little we can do. Just flag it, and move on. If it becomes a recurrent problem, then, well, the mods are superb at banning people.