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I have seen people comment very aggressively to bad users on SO, and even their legitimate programming questions get voted down or even closed.

See for example the comments and down votes on this question - see other questions by this user too.

I appreciate that bad users should be punished, but to have legitimate questions down-voted/closed and aggressive comments posted seems counter to the purpose of SO.

What is the "right" reaction?

How should one respond to the comments that demand that the user accept answers?

Edit: Guess I need to rephrase my question: Is aggressive commenting and down-voting and closing of (perhaps badly phrased but) relevant questions considered acceptable behavior on SO?

Please don't get hung on details discussing the specific bad user I linked to, he is not the only one.

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Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/20696/… –  Troggy Dec 16 '09 at 21:04
    
@Oded: you can get enough rep to post more than one link (and comment, and vote) if you link your meta and SO accounts -- you'll get +100 on each if you have at least 200 on SO. –  Ether Dec 16 '09 at 21:53
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Those with close powers on SO - please consider closing the referenced question ( stackoverflow.com/questions/1864472/… ) as "not a real question" - read my answer below or the comment on the question itself for the reasons. –  Adam Davis Dec 17 '09 at 0:12
    
Regarding your edit: examples, please. –  Shogging through the snow Dec 17 '09 at 20:42
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What should the community reaction to bad users be? Acid. Or burning oil. –  perbert Dec 17 '09 at 20:45
    
Jeff and Joel take them out back and..... –  Troggy Dec 17 '09 at 21:14

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I don't necessarily agree that the question you link to was a legitimate question. The user posted some code and said "I get this error" but didn't give other basic information like what line number the error occurs on or any description of what he is doing when the error occurs or what he is trying to do. I guess it's "legitimate" in that it is actually about programming. But it is not a well-written or informative question, and downvotes are intended to discourage those kinds of questions.


Update: I looked at the bottom 11 questions from that user (out of 31 total). Nearly all were, in my opinion, bad questions that deserved downvotes (questions were overly broad and/or very little detail was given). The only ones that seemed to be a reasonably well-worded, answerable questions with a clear problem description were this one and (to a lesser extent) this one.

What surprises me is that he hasn't gotten the hint about accepting answers, despite all the comments on his questions telling him he needs to accept some answers.

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I'd have linked more, but as a new user here, I don't have the rep to post more than 1 link. Look at his other questions. You won't see the legitimate ones that were closed. –  Oded Dec 16 '09 at 21:20
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I'm guessing that English is not his first language. –  Robert Harvey Dec 16 '09 at 21:59
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Additionally, on the linked question mentioned in the question, the questioner never replied to any of the comments /in the comments/ -- I suspect he/she never saw them, or doesn't know what to make of them, possibly due to the language issue mentioned by Robert Harvey. –  artlung Dec 17 '09 at 12:52

Some users appear to visit SO with questions that are so basic they shouldn't even be shown here, in my view. We answer them with code, they don't understand it, and a day later they're back asking how to fix the code you already gave them to do something else. Somewhere out there I bet there's an app consisting solely of code from SO answers. We should be answering some of them with links to online tutorials instead, I think, and gently pushing them to learn the basics first.

However, I feel that the repeated comments to people about their low accept rate is getting a bit aggressive.

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And yet some here don't like seeing LMGTFY links. It's an issue beyond SO's scope (and your means) to change, but you really should look into your acceptance rating... =) –  OMG Ponies Dec 17 '09 at 1:35
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And my question is about this agressiveness in comments - I don't like it and I don't believe it is conductive to SO. –  Oded Dec 17 '09 at 9:00
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I don't think "conductive" is the word you're looking for. –  beska Dec 17 '09 at 20:12
    
@beska: may be he was thinking of capacitive? –  perbert Dec 17 '09 at 20:43

Is aggressive commenting and down-voting and closing of (perhaps badly phrased but) relevant questions considered acceptable behavior on SO?

No, and when you see that behavior you should flag it for moderator attention.


Regarding the specific question mentioned:

In the instance you link, they are not downvoting the user, they are downvoting the question.

There isn't enough information to answer it, and thus the question itself is a bad egg in the SO google search results - and other users will come by searching for that error, find that SO sucks because it doesn't help them, and look elsewhere.

The question should be closed (and eventually deleted) as "not a real question" since the author has not improved his question, despite requests for specific pieces of information.

In fact, it's rare for people to associate a particular user with "this person is bad and should be downvoted" - there are thousands of questions posted to the site each day, and people rarely look at the user name and icon anyway. This is just another of the dozens of bad questions that end up on the site each day. Beyond that, there are 5 "ibrahim"'s on the site, and many more people with ibrahim in there name, so if someone really was keeping a list of users they downvote as a rule, they'd have to a lot more work to make sure it's the same person.

So if your question is about "the community reaction to bad users" then you need a better example of what you mean by 'bad user' and demonstrate that there's a problem. Otherwise it appears that it's working as designed.

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I have a mental list of a couple of users I won't make an effort to help. If I'm unsure, I check the OPs' other questions. Likewise, there are users I look for responses from because I respect their opinion. And I experienced a change in attitude when I changed my username - the street cred I had was gone. The community does recognize its members, otherwise there wouldn't be a Skeet/etc –  OMG Ponies Dec 17 '09 at 1:29
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"the street cred I had was gone" - and people started upvoting you again, until they realized it was you after all? ;-D –  Adam Davis Dec 17 '09 at 1:32
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God forbid they vote for content rather than who said it. –  OMG Ponies Dec 17 '09 at 5:21

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