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Edit:
Okay, I think I get the point. I just got over 20 notifications overnight about this. You can stop commenting and answering now - I think I get the point that I may have made the question a little lot too terrible. :P


Look at the comments on this question. (10k only; see here for a screen capture taken when this question was first posted.)

Now take a minute to realize how they would feel to a new user who thinks SO is a forum.

Okay, so admittedly I made a new account and posted that question just to prove this point (I know it's a terrible question, that's the point - it looks like a forumer just came to SO and posted like he normally would on his forum), but:

Comments are (still[1]) extremely rude to new users!

People are assuming that the user is a troll, without even considering that the user may just have the wrong idea that SO is a forum! The question looks exactly like an average forum post. A real user could post something like it, and that's what would have happened to them.

Here are some of the comments (some have ▲ upvotes, even!):

  • This is a joke, right?
  • there are no words.....
  • (▲3) Excited to close....
  • Word record attempt at downvotes ? :P
  • (▲3) Never thought stack overflow would get trolls... at least try and sound authentic.
  • Think of that number getting less as the equivalent of brain cells...
  • have you heard of this small startup called google? i think they make a search engine or something. try that. something like "learn programming" would be a start
  • @[other commenter] That was a good one ;)

Now, this is supposed to be taken care of by flagging, but nobody is doing that.

How can we get more users to flag rude comments? (or stop posting them in the first place)

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21  
Wait, you've deliberately trolled the site and you're complaining that people bit? WTAF... –  AakashM Jul 31 '13 at 9:35
3  
For posterity's sake, since some of these will inevitably be deleted and it's hard to have discussions like this without specifics. –  Cody Gray Jul 31 '13 at 9:35
    
@Aakash Well I was trying to make it sound like a new user :P –  anon Jul 31 '13 at 9:37
2  
@Doorknob it looks like some either figured or at least suspected that this was a troll fake member. –  user226423 Jul 31 '13 at 9:39
    
@Damien That's the problem - we shouldn't assume that. Maybe he thinks SO is a forum - we don't want to make assumptions here. –  anon Jul 31 '13 at 9:41
    
@Doorknob don't get me wrong, I agree with you and your post (+1), this could be a reason (not an excuse) behind some of the hostility. –  user226423 Jul 31 '13 at 9:42
4  
I cast the final deletion vote. @Doorknob, I'm not sure you forging that post was a good idea, it looks like you went out of your way to make the questioner look childish / stupid (excited!). The responses you got are only representative of that post, I'm afraid. –  Frédéric Hamidi Jul 31 '13 at 9:44
    
@Frédéric Exactly - I went out of my way to make the post look like... Well, the average forum post of today. People are assuming that it was just someone trolling. That is not good. –  anon Jul 31 '13 at 9:45
8  
No it is worse than the average forum post we seen normally. That question clearly looks like from someone who deliberately want to spam the site, rather than from someone who is new to SO and thinking it as a forum. I don't like rude comments, and I agree some of the comments to the question are rude. But I think @Doorknob over acted his part. –  Krishnabhadra Jul 31 '13 at 9:53
17  
"People are assuming that it was just someone trolling." --- and they were right. You would make a better point if the example was an actual well-meaning post that got rude comments. –  Juhana Jul 31 '13 at 9:55
16  
That's a risk you take when you sound like a babbling idiot online. People might think you're a troll. –  Cody Gray Jul 31 '13 at 9:57
14  
But they were. Can't you really find an actual example that shows the problem? If not, I'd say there is no problem. –  Juhana Jul 31 '13 at 9:58
1  
Bottom line: if it looks like a troll, smells like a troll, and trolls like a troll, it's going to be treated as a troll. Troll. –  LittleBobbyTables Jul 31 '13 at 15:43
4  
This is the dumbest thing I've seen in a long time, and as I'm an idiot I see dumb things all the time. –  Won't Jul 31 '13 at 17:08
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If you actually think there's a problem with the reception of real new users who make a reasonable attempt to join in, the site will help you collect data. Hang out in the First Posts queue and record your observations of interactions. Trying to gin up a Gulf of Tonkin on the issue of rude comments is pretty close to just trolling Meta, especially when we've already had so many discussions about it (including one the other day), all with the same conclusion: rude comments bad, occurrences within acceptable limits. –  Josh Caswell Jul 31 '13 at 19:08

2 Answers 2

up vote 22 down vote accepted

I'm very much against rudeness and flag plenty of comments that I think are inappropriate. (Although I'll be the first to admit that I'm not perfect and I occasionally leave these types of comments myself.)

So yeah, occasionally people leave rude, inappropriate comments, and they should be flagged by other users for removal. Being rude to people is bad, whether they're new users or old pros. Blah blah blah. We've had this discussion before. No one really disagrees.

But trolls are an obvious exception. Please, remind me again why we (as a site/community) should be overly concerned about users who are not concerned about us (as a site/community). Because I have trouble following that logic.

Users have an obligation to inform themselves of "house rules" and to follow them. Sure, it's our job to make those rules simple, clear, and available. But it is not our responsibility nor is it possible to shove them down people's throats. Besides, if we could, wouldn't that be rude?

Users can disagree with those rules, and they can even argue against them publically. We provide just such a place for that: Meta. But until they carry the day with their argument, they are bound by the standing rules as long as they want to participate in the community.

I just don't understand all the hand-wringing over "rudeness" to someone who comes over to your house and takes a dump on the floor.

"Oh no! They might not come back!" Seriously? As soon as I clean this mess up, I'm going to be trying to figure out a way to ask them to do precisely that.


(I know it's a terrible question, that's the point - it looks like a forumer just came to SO and posted like he normally would on his forum

That's not what is happening. I feel like you're deliberately misconstruing the situation where, but I'm not sure to what end. To prove your point that rudeness is a general problem?

Yes, he referred to the site as a "forum". I know it's de rigueur here on Meta to jump on people who call Stack Exchange sites "forums" and correct them—"Ah, we're not a forum, but a Q&A site!". I'm not complaining about that, that can be very useful to new users. But at the same time, you have to remember that "forum" is just a regular English word, and Stack Exchange sites qualify under several different definitions. We are not an "Internet forum", which is a special term of art, but that isn't necessarily what people who are new to Stack Overflow mean when they say "forum".

And either way, whether or not you agree with my semantic quibbles, this user's behavior was far more egregious than simply assuming that Stack Overflow as a forum. What he did here is not even acceptable on any Internet forum that I've ever seen before. For the non-10ks, here's the question, in its entirety:

hi i am new 2 this forum! i am exited 2 start posting here.

i dont know how to program but i want 2 learn how.

i am very exited! plz tell me where 2 start so i can learn how 2 program.

i got a msg that said This post does not meet our quality standards. y is that? how can i fix it? i will just keep typing more until it goes away. i will just keep typing more until it goes away. i will just keep typing more until it goes away. i will just keep typing more until it goes away. i will just keep typing more until it goes away. i will just keep typing more until it goes away.

You're telling me that coming to a programming site (whether or not it's a forum) and saying

i am very exited! plz tell me where 2 start so i can learn how 2 program.

might not be trolling? I don't buy it…

But okay, what about the next part, where he just flat loses it. That looks hunky-dory to you as well? Or maybe your argument is that we should be sending him help, rather than closing his question. Unfortunately, we haven't the resources for that.

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See - even you are assuming that the post must have been trolling. It looks... Like a forum post. A user might think SO is a forum and post something like that. –  Doorknob Jul 31 '13 at 9:47
    
@Doorknob well, either way it's not a question and deserves deletion. The OP's name sounds trollish as well. –  Jan Dvorak Jul 31 '13 at 9:50
    
@Jan But then how would the OP feel? Like SO is full of rude users. –  Doorknob Jul 31 '13 at 9:51
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@Doorknob Covered that objection; see my edit. That's not how any forum I've ever seen works. They allow discussion in a much less structured format, but they don't just allow out and out nonsense. –  Cody Gray Jul 31 '13 at 9:51
    
@Cody Actually, some do, unfortunately. –  Doorknob Jul 31 '13 at 9:53
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@Doorknob Do you think the ones that don't have these discussions, too? "What should we do about all of our users who are rude to new users that think we're one of those forums that allows complete nonsense? I know we're not, but still, like, we should totally embrace those people because, you know, it's the Internet. And it's hard." –  Cody Gray Jul 31 '13 at 9:55
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@Doorknob: and we want one more user who's rude enough to post a "question" on a site for "professional and enthusiast programmers" that shows a clear disregard for all of the how to ask advice that was forced on him before he could post it? –  Wooble Jul 31 '13 at 12:13
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(by the way, congratulations on the Reversal badge :P) –  Doorknob Jul 31 '13 at 21:14

I care very much about keeping Stack Overflow a positive place for people to ask questions. I'm all for eliminating the rude comments and answers on questions. Even those which are poorly phrased and don't necessarily meet the quality bar.

But when it comes to people who are trolling the site then I don't really care all that much. I'm here to help people seeking help. Trolls need to just be banned + sent on their way. If we yell at them a bit on the way out it's a meh from me.

Now I would recommend people not negatively comment on trolls but for a very different reason than niceness perception of the site. Trolls are seeking attention and reaction. When you comment and make fun of them you are quite simply playing into their hands and giving them exactly what they wanted. If you want to actually annoy a troll then just close without comment. They'll eventually seek attention elsewhere.

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