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I try to stay as constructive as possible when answering questions in StackOverflow. Especially ones that I think are worth answering.

Recently, I've answered this question, discussing it in the comments as well. The original poster commented on my answer with the following (bold added by me here):

It's fun to see the people who are assuming I'm stupid telling me how C compilers work (hint, I've written one) when the question is on the spec for objective-c. The objective-c spec is really fluid these days, and the C spec was all over the place when objective-c was forked in the early 80's. So it seems reasonable that a smart programmer would make sure before assuming everything is the same.

I did not, in any way mean to come off as belitteling in my answer. True, reading my answer again I don't think it's the nicest ever, but I don't imply anything about OP other than that his assumption about the expression talked about is wrong.

I don't want to be a jerk to users, especially to new users. I think one of the things that make this community good is the fact it's so constructive.

What have I done wrong? How can I avoid these situations in the future?

I thought that maybe I should use words with stronger positive connotations, I honestly don't know. I think my English is decent but it's my second language - what did I miss here?

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Pretty sure the comment you quoted was referring to a comment by another user, "@DanWesnor Get rid of that "Xcode" word. Xcode does nothing to your code, at best it passes it to the compiler. The parser pass in the compiler is what evaluates the expression. And now go read how booleans are represented in C, and you will see why 1 == 1 == 1 is true, so is 1 == 1 == 1 == 1, etc. – H2CO3 5 hours ago" –  Blorgbeard Jul 8 '13 at 5:38
I wouldn't let this ruffle you up. –  Makoto Jul 8 '13 at 5:44
Your answer is as constructive as it can get. The comment was most surely not aimed at your answer nor comment. –  Fabrício Matté Jul 8 '13 at 5:46
You comments were fine. Also it's a fact that Dan's comments do not reflect careful thought, including his charge that people assumed him to be stupid. Someone who has written A C compiler really should be able to realize that the Objective-C spec cannot change the meaning of the C expression 0 == 0 == 0, regardless of any fluidity. –  Jim Balter Jul 8 '13 at 6:04
@JimBalter: Your comment is unnecessarily aggressive (and would add to the problem)...I think Dan and H2CO2 were talking about two completely different things, a == b == c and 1 == 1 == 1. At least that's what I can make out from the question and here posted comments. –  Time Traveling Bobby Jul 8 '13 at 7:26
@M.NightDemonbobby My comment is correct and appropriate regardless of your opinion of it. And your substantive comment is completely incorrect ... all the examples of X == Y == Z are about exactly the same thing ... the expression is evaluated as (X == Y) == Z, which is a comparison between a boolean value (an int with value 0 or 1) and Z, whatever it is. –  Jim Balter Jul 8 '13 at 7:27
I think it's hilarious that a comment thread about a comment thread in which people are taking offense about comments has led to people taking offense about comments. –  Ernest Friedman-Hill Jul 8 '13 at 13:07
@ErnestFriedman-Hill My head asplode. –  Andrew Barber Jul 8 '13 at 13:54

1 Answer 1

up vote 18 down vote accepted

We communicate over a medium where facial expression, voice inflection and all other benefits afforded by three dimensional space are lost. Occasionally, someone is going to misinterpret something that you write as pedantic, condescending or outright rude when in fact that was not your intention. This happens to native speakers of any language, I don't think your English skills were the problem here.

The only defense against this is to be oddly, if not eerily specific in everything that you say, which is sub optimal because it optimizes for exceedingly rare cases instead of the majority of your audience. One thing I like to do is read a post out loud prior to submitting if it's beyond a trivial length, just so I'm certain that I've been coherent and can be understood without the things that normally assist language.

If you discover that someone has misinterpreted something that you've said, simply apologize and explain that something was lost when your thoughts were converted to bits and transmitted. Then, edit the post to provide clarification. That's all you can do, and that should be all that you need to do.

There are some that are easily offended, some of which hold a grudge indefinitely. There's simply nothing you can do about that, any more than the neighbor that won't speak to you because of the color of the car parked in your driveway. As long as you make a genuine attempt to be professional and rectify such misunderstandings quickly and to the best of your ability, there's nothing else you need to worry about.

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Hey; I told you that magenta was the only color they had in my chosen model at the dealership! You won't let that go, will you?? ;) (See what I did with the winky-smiley there?) –  Andrew Barber Jul 8 '13 at 13:53
I see how interaction over this medium is ambiguous and I value your opinion as an experienced user who has probably been in the situation several times before. Thanks for answering this complicated social question. –  Benjamin Gruenbaum Jul 8 '13 at 13:55
@AndrewBarber (: –  Tim Post Jul 8 '13 at 13:55
@Tim why is your head upside down? –  R. Martinho Fernandes Jul 8 '13 at 14:27
@R.MartinhoFernandes BEWARE THE RETURN OF THE RCHERN!!!!! O: –  Manishearth Jul 8 '13 at 14:28

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