Belongs on meta
I've been using Stack Overflow for most of the private beta. Since the site went to public beta on Monday, I have detected a distinct decline in the level of civility. Some of this is due to new users coming in and posting spam and other nonsense, but the offtopic and downvote buttons are doing a pretty good job of keeping this under control.
Unfortunately, a lot of this is coming from more experienced users, and the site's built-in moderation system is not (and probably cannot) handle this very well. Folks are rushing to pound new users down with "this belongs on uservoice!", "this is offtopic", "this is a duplicate!" and "read the FAQ!". All this, of course, is accompanied by a flurry of downvotes. This is not very welcoming to new users who don't know about uservoice, or what is offtopic, or the unofficial FAQ.
Now I am not proposing that we just allow offtopic, uservoice, or duplicate questions. However, I think we could be gentler in the way we express these sorts of things. Explain what uservoice and the unofficial FAQ are and provide useful links. Just using please and thank-you when asking folks to read the FAQ or post something on uservoice would be an improvement. I also think we could rein in the downvoting a bit. Not that we shouldn't vote stuff down, but unless a new user's post is clearly spam, voting it down to -1 or -2 should be sufficient to send a message without piling on.
I like Stack Overflow and I want it to become a resource for everyone, not just an elitist site for people who were in the private beta.
Edited to add: Exhibit A for what I'm talking about (and what inspired me to actually post this) is this question here. A guy asked the reasoning behind a design decision and he gets voted down into oblivion, called stupid and a whiner, and one person even flagged his question as offensive. Honestly, I wouldn't even vote his post down. A quick explanation and a link to the FAQ would suffice.