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I'm unclear as to how I should respond to a critic who commented on two, old, questions:

He added the words "how to" to the title of both, appears to have down-voted both of them, and posted a comment on both, cryptically suggesting that I learn how to ask questions on Stack Overflow. I'm certainly open to improving my questions, but I don't see how either of these violated "google results" or Stack Overflow's "How to ask questions", as my critic suggested.

I'm quite happy to dismiss this as serial down-vote by a disgruntled user (as has been discussed here on Meta many times; I'm not trying to reopen that conversation) and let it rest. But, this is the second time this has happened to me, so I'm open to feedback on how to improve my questions, if that is indeed the issue. Furthermore, I work hard to be constructive in my interactions on Stack Overflow to avoid offense, but if anyone thinks I stepped over the line, let me know.

Update: In retrospect, it appears that my critic believed that question titles must begin with "how to" (not to be debated here; see How do I write a good title?), and for some reason singled out two of my really old questions for disparaging comment and down-vote. Thanks to the assistance of many (especially the moderators), this now has been remedied.

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You need to be the gruntled one. But don't touch the other user! You'll kill us all! – Emrakul Jul 11 '13 at 7:02
Those edits are pointless and an abuse of the edit privilege, and I've rolled them back. – Josh Caswell Jul 11 '13 at 7:37
@Emrakul,All human beings are gruntled one sometimss. – senthil.Freelancer Jul 11 '13 at 7:52
+1 For starting this question's title with "How to" :) – Daniel Daranas Jul 11 '13 at 16:42
As part of an extended discussion I had with Mirdad (aka NamelessFellow), it seems like they thought you had advised them to word their questions like this (possibly in a different context) and then searched though all your questions ever to see if any did not follow your advice (possibly taken out of context) and downvote them + comment. Maturity, got to love it – Richard Tingle Jul 11 '13 at 16:45
@RichardTingle Perhaps, though I have no recollection of any such interaction (maybe he mistook me for someone else or innocently misread one of my other comments) as I don't have any strong opinions on that topic (as evidenced, as Daniel points out, by my title to this question). – Robert Ryan Jul 11 '13 at 16:53
I think Shog9 put it best here - – apaul34208 Jul 11 '13 at 17:05
@RobertRyan Seemingly this was the only thing coming close to contact the two of you had… It must have been mistaken identity then, it really felt like mirdad had something against you. Must be mistaken identity then (not that it was a rational response either way) – Richard Tingle Jul 11 '13 at 17:06
@RichardTingle Yeah, I think there are a couple of posts to which we've both responded (I'm active on the sqlite tag, as is he), but I don't recall interacting directly with him, and certainly not on the topic of subject lines. Perhaps someone down-voted him at roughly the same time I left a comment for the OP, and he assumed it was me. I don't know. (And it doesn't really matter at this point.) Ironically, I actually saw his answer there and consciously refrained from comments or votes for fear of exacerbating the situation. – Robert Ryan Jul 11 '13 at 17:48
@NamelessFellow I really wonder if people are down-voting because of the presence or absence of those two words in the title. I wonder if there were more fundamental issues. In answer to your question, I would not down-vote simply for reasons of the presence/absence of those two words; I only vote on the substance of the question. I don't even comment on stylistic stuff, unless it's so dramatic that the OP's intent was lost. BTW, you seem to have singled me out for some reason and I don't know why, but let me simply apologize if I offended you at some point, as that was not my intent. – Robert Ryan Jul 12 '13 at 3:55
@Arjan Sadly, my above response to his question only resulted in another round of personalized attacks and edits to my questions. A moderator cleaned it up again (those moderators are saints) and mirdad's account is now suspended. mirdad was, himself, a victim of a spate of down-voting, which I suspect contributed to his frustration and hair-trigger responses. I just hope we can put this whole ugly affair behind us. – Robert Ryan Jul 12 '13 at 14:18
"mirdad was, himself, a victim of a spate of down-voting" -- which, however, started after they started downvoting and trolling others, and might even have been downvotes for reasons of post quality, not some random voting. Also, I was not involved in that, though I was downvoted by mirdad. I wonder how the real Mikha'il Na'ima would have felt about all this. – Arjan Jul 12 '13 at 14:26
@Arjan Agreed, the down votes may have had merit and mirdad's bold claims about what constitutes best practice might incline people to look at his own activity. Nonetheless, an onslaught of down votes might incline him to adopt a siege mentality. That's why I refrained from retroactively commenting/voting on his old posts. – Robert Ryan Jul 12 '13 at 16:56
Agreed, Robert. Let's assume the 7 day suspension is enough to cool down, and they'll then reconsider getting their account deleted. – Arjan Jul 12 '13 at 19:50
up vote 21 down vote accepted

The only solution in this specific case: flag, and explain. Now that this Meta post is here, refer to it in your flag. The moderators will clean up, and already warned the user at least once, after cleaning up some comments:

Edits can be rolled back, any downvotes might be there to say, but who cares.

As for the (bad) reason: I'm sure at some point in time, maybe years ago, you commented something to this fellow. I had the same trolling on posts of mine, from the same user, apparently as a "thank you" for actually trying to help them overcome a post ban in April 2011.

(This ended up in him admitting he deleted questions to repost them. That heated up that discussion a bit, but even then, to me, still reads like attempts to help.)

The trolling on my posts were just downvotes, and copy/paste of parts of my own old comments, out of context, onto my own posts. Going through the user's comments you'll find some more, and more have already been removed.

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arjan,You are doing moderating job as a group very should ban that kind of users from stackoverflow. – senthil.Freelancer Jul 11 '13 at 6:54
There is a much easier way to have your account closed, Nameless aka mirdad aka Mikhail. You don't need anyone's help with that. – Arjan Jul 11 '13 at 7:04
I dont need anybody help.I understood your feeling through your angry.-). – senthil.Freelancer Jul 11 '13 at 7:08
I feel a ton of oscillation, here... – J. Steen Jul 11 '13 at 7:19
@steen,when I was using stackoverflow before 3 years,I did not know the rules really.I explained very well why I asked repeated questions after deleting the same.some users are taking it and speaking wrongly now for their purpose. – senthil.Freelancer Jul 11 '13 at 7:24
@NamelessFellow you appear to still not know the rules very well, certainly not well enough to be critiquing other users' (perfectly fine) questions. – Blorgbeard Jul 11 '13 at 7:28
thanks for all.As i have asked repeated question after deleting,that kind of bug has been fixed by stackoverflow.I have helped stackoverflow not to ask the same question again.-) before 3 years – senthil.Freelancer Jul 11 '13 at 7:38
hehe... and guess what I got shortly after the Nameless One read that pictured comment? – Andrew Barber Jul 11 '13 at 16:55
@andrew,why did not you give downvote for these questions.These has been asked as "HOW TO",Many people have downvoted my "How to" questions.please do the same all questions which are in stackoverflow – senthil.Freelancer Jul 12 '13 at 3:25
@Nameless It's none of your business how and whether I vote. Nor how anyone else votes. Don't harass people about how they vote. Or anything else. – Andrew Barber Jul 12 '13 at 5:40
@NamelessFellow, I realise I may as well be shouting at the wind at this point but; some not all questions are best phrased as "how to", just because a question is phrased as "how to" does not automatically mean its good and just because it doesnt contain "how to" does not automatically mean its bad – Richard Tingle Jul 12 '13 at 6:34
@Richard One nice thing about shouting at the wind is your tongue gets aired out! ;) – Andrew Barber Jul 12 '13 at 6:36

Ask him what specific thing you can do to improve your question or answer. Ask him in a way that promotes constructivism for a specific aspect of your writing. Let him point out what he expects from a good question or answer. Most importantly, listen to him.

If he doesn't reply in a constructive manner, then maybe you can ask him what did you do for him to act in that way. It might be better to create a chat room for you two.

Remember: a good conversation can only be achieved if someone listens.

BTW, from what I've seen, both the question and answer are much better formatted than 80% of the questions I've seen on stackoverflow. Good job. :)

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In this specific case, trying to talk to this very user has no effect. But in general: you're right. – Arjan Jul 11 '13 at 6:31
@Mark,you are a great have appreciated to me for altering questions in right must be in moderator group as arjan... – senthil.Freelancer Jul 11 '13 at 7:26
@NamelessFellow Moderators have diamonds next to their names, neither Arjan nor Mark Garcia are moderators – Richard Tingle Jul 11 '13 at 17:40
@richard,why are they doing moderator job without correcting their faults? – senthil.Freelancer Jul 12 '13 at 3:32
@NamelessFellow, stack overflow is supposed to be self moderating. What do you mean by "without correcting their faults" – Richard Tingle Jul 12 '13 at 6:08

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