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Clearly it isn't in the best interest of anyone to allow hostility to get out of control. A simple solution would be to have a mod come in and clean things up but this situation left me wondering how Stack Overflow itself could help diffuse hostility? Maybe you could look into implementing something similar to what Hacker News does by adding an ever increasing delay to posting comments as the number of comments increase.

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The OP was quite able to stand up for himself: "If people can't answer the question, they should not ask Why I need the function at first place. One should be silent and learn." – Henk Holterman Feb 13 '11 at 0:10
Just be glad it didn't get onto reddit, then there'd be a real mob. – Jeff Mercado Feb 13 '11 at 1:29
@Henk: I wouldn't characterize that as "standing up for himself" so much as insulting people who were trying to help him. – dmckee Feb 13 '11 at 2:16
I don't think there was any actual hostility in the question. Strong opinions, perhaps, but no hostility. Making this question.. kind of moot. – Jeff Atwood Feb 13 '11 at 5:15

This was a question about some very doubtful micro-optimization, and in the end there still is no clear use-case. The OP did throw in some totally unrelated (as it turned out) code, after many requests for clarification.

In the end, if I look over the comments (I guess I was in your "mob" as well), I see no unacceptable behaviour. Let alone hostile. Just a lot of good advice going unheeded, and an OP who is very insistent on doing the wrong thing, only reluctantly explaining the issue.

In the end, an SO "mob" just tried to rescue a very bad question.

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The specifics of the situation are irrelevant to the discussion on how Stack Overflow can help diffuse hostility. My discussion here is meant to be more general with a specific example. – ChaosPandion Feb 13 '11 at 0:24
@Chaos: Then I think you need another (better) example. Preferably more than 1, if you want to talk about a trend. – Henk Holterman Feb 13 '11 at 0:27
You seem to be taking offense to my use of the work mob so I've removed it. – ChaosPandion Feb 13 '11 at 0:31
I don't necessarily see anything wrong with the current system. If fact I think it is quite amazing. That doesn't mean it can't be improved in subtle ways. – ChaosPandion Feb 13 '11 at 0:45
@Chaos: But please, not yet another timeout thingy. – Henk Holterman Feb 13 '11 at 8:53

If you find an case of out of control hostility then flag it for a moderator. I don't think comments should be delayed, this would hamper needed clarification/communication even in cases where there were several comments.

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You seem to be the only person to get the point of my question. – ChaosPandion Feb 13 '11 at 5:18

Stack Overflow has to contend with a problem that afflicts all helping communities: annoyance and repeated stupidity. Or at least repeated apparent stupidity.

This question is a fine example. The OP asked about a micro-optimization that would in the vast majority of cases be deeply pointless. He didn't include a use case, and he didn't indicate why he though this was an important thing to optimize.

In theory none of this is a problem. But many people who read that question said to themselves "Again?!?".

Stack Overflow sees a lot of these, and most of them are asked by relative newcomers who don't really know what they are doing, or what they should be doing to optimize. Telling them not to bother, and pointing them at the reason why is doing them a bigger service than answering the question.

A really experienced poster would know to say "I know this is usually stupid, but I think it is important in this case because...".

To be sure, the OP hasn't posted a bunch of these before, but I'd give dollar to donuts that the users responding in the comment thread have dealt with a bunch of them. A tendency toward curtness is natural, though it should obviously be held in check.

Here is a place where a gentle comment could help both to remind the commentariate to be nice and to smooth the posters ruffled feathers. If it goes beyond that stage, flag for a moderator.

To analyze this particular case

The initial comments were polite, but of the "Are you sure you want to do this?" variety.

The OP responded with "I'm going to process a lot of data.", but still with no suggestion of why this seemed like a good idea. (He may have thought "a lot of data" was a reason, but that doesn't help his case.)

After that the comments get more strongly worded, but there are still helpful in intent.

The OP eventual gets fed up enough to post

@Vilx Well I expected a more professional treatment. If people can't answer the question, they should not ask Why I need the function at first place. One should be silent and learn. – Amir Rezaei


@Justin IMO when I asked the first version of question that should be enough. My question was. I should not need to explain why I need this conversion, even if many people thinks it’s point less. That is another question IMO. – Amir Rezaei

Frankly I find the OP's intransigence more troubling then the admittedly hot-n-heavy attempts to help the OP figure out if this was or was not a good idea. Scolding and berating people who are trying to help you is not a way to make friends.

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