I've been participating in the SO chats for some time now, primarily to improve my coding in a more active community. Some of the users in chat act very boorish towards me when my code isn't exactly up to standards.

I'm talking about outright insults. There are a few specific people that make statements towards me that I find offensive. For example, here, here, and here. The first part of this second message was removed, but it originally read "congratulations, you've won the stupidest statement of the day award."

I know this is the internet, so don't tell me I'll never find a community where people are always nice. This is Stack Exchange, a community-oriented Q&A network. I'd expect a lot better from those who participate in this community, especially the high-rep users that have no manners.

This is a learning community, and I'd like to actually see that. I come here to be a better programmer and the insults don't help.

  • Potentially related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/100414/…
    – sarnold
    Dec 9, 2011 at 3:38
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    I appreciate that you don't want to call anyone out, but without links, there's no proof. Meta doesn't like not having proof...
    – John
    Dec 9, 2011 at 3:44
  • @John: All right.
    – Someone
    Dec 9, 2011 at 3:45
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    You can flag chat message and they can be removed through enough flags or by a moderator (and the user can be suspended from chat for a while).
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Dec 9, 2011 at 3:47
  • @AnnaLear: There were about 8 other people in this specific chat that didn't seem to care...it wouldn't have worked.
    – Someone
    Dec 9, 2011 at 3:48
  • @Purmou Even a single flag will summon a moderator. No guarantees, obviously, but it's always worth a shot.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Dec 9, 2011 at 3:49
  • @AnnaLear: Thanks for the info, that's good to know, but I'd like for this blatantly offensive behavior not to happen in the first place.
    – Someone
    Dec 9, 2011 at 3:51
  • A single flag summons not just a mod, but any 10K's who happen to be on chat.
    – John
    Dec 9, 2011 at 3:51
  • @John: I added some links. I'll gladly add more over time.
    – Someone
    Dec 9, 2011 at 3:59
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    Don't add links to this post over time; flag the offending chat messages. That is the method for having them dealt with properly. That is also the only way to address the behavior long term. Dec 9, 2011 at 4:08
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    I should add that having read the chats at/around the times of your links, I'm not sure if I would agree that what was said was offensive. Also, you were sort of egging the user on with the way you were talking to them, IMO. Dec 9, 2011 at 4:21
  • @AndrewBarber: I admit I got a bit out of hand myself, but that was just because it had happened before...and maybe I find it offensive because I'm younger, but I don't see what that would have to do with it.
    – Someone
    Dec 9, 2011 at 4:23
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    Don't get me wrong, but...if you find that offensive, please never go to Slashdot! Also, I can hardly find anything offensive in these three messages. Sure, Teresko could have handled this differently, but as far as I can see the first real insult comes from you saying that Teresko is dumb. Otherwise I only see a frustrated user which fails to tell you what s/he means. Dec 9, 2011 at 9:52
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    As someone who spends a lot of time in JS chat talking to Raynos, tereško et al., the best advice I can give you is to take it like a man. It's kind of a running joke in there to be very blunt and I can see why a new user may think it's harsh, but try to remember that there's nothing malicious and it's not personal. If they're telling you your code sucks, it probably does and the most appropriate response would be, "Then teach me how to write it better".
    – Andy E
    Dec 9, 2011 at 14:23

2 Answers 2


NB: I am not active in the JavaScript or PHP rooms

That's a bit rude, but their tone sounds to me like they're explaining to you stuff that they explain 10 times a day, and that you're just not getting it. Understandably, they may be a bit frustrated with you.

More importantly, I saw several comments like

@Purmou , it's the rage... don't take it personally :D

What that says to me is that they throw around insults a good deal and never really mean anything by them.

I don't mean to sound rude myself, but another case is that you might actually be asking stupid questions (granted, I could never find an actual question around the links you posted). You said in a few places that you weren't going to give any code. How do you expect help if they don't know what they're helping you with? That's another situation they deal with often with new users who ask questions on the main site and forget(?) their code.

I find it effective to mention my general problem, post (a little!) code, then go into specifics and actually ask for help. I find that if people see code in front of them, it's a natural reflex to fix anything wrong they see.

My personal advice is to take it all with a smile (or at least a ":P"), try to learn as much as you can from these encounters, and stick with it. If you seem to be improving and not asking them the same questions every day, they should eventually initiate you into the room (which usually means they're a bit nicer to you, although over at The Bridge, we insult each other regularly :P).

If you feel you really need to take more drastic measures every chat user page* contains an "Ignore This User" button. Personally I feel that's a bit too drastic, but if you don't see what you perceive as insults, you won't get mad and insult back, so ignoring can help prevent additional gas from reaching the fire.

And last but not least, flagging. Don't hesitate to flag, but don't expect every flag you cast to be approved. In this way, you can learn the norms of the room in what is accepted by others and what is not (Note that, even with a diamond, a user cannot see who flagged them and they can't act on flags on their own posts).

*Example: Your own chat user page

  • Hey, good argument all-in-all, but don't say "stupid questions"! Dec 9, 2011 at 4:49
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    @Adel Why not? I didn't say he was asking stupid questions, I merely brought up that possibility, which is something he might not have thought about. I make no judgement on what he asked because, like I said, I couldn't find what he asked. :P
    – John
    Dec 9, 2011 at 4:51
  • Thanks for the answer. A lot of the time I really did feel offended though, especially by teresko. Again, I don't want to use names, but he's the primary source of this discussion...and it's been so long since I ever decided not to give them code. The last few times I entered those rooms, I linked to jsfiddles containing my stuff. And the stuff that goes on in the Bridge is just friendly humor--not much like what I'm talking about.
    – Someone
    Dec 9, 2011 at 5:02
  • @Purmou If you're really offended, flag it. I was unaware that you had changed your mind about giving code, but a lot can change in two weeks (which is why if I were you I would've only posted ones from today, as they most accurately represent the situation as it is now, as you just demonstrated). Friendly humor or not, I have felt genuinely offended in The Bridge and so I flagged. Guess what? The times someone is actually being malignantly insulting, the flags usually result in a time out for them. I have seen flagged (and therefore suspended) chat users, when they came back to chat,
    – John
    Dec 9, 2011 at 5:16
  • @Purmou (continued) literally say, "Well I guess I'll add X to my list of things not to say here". Flagging works.
    – John
    Dec 9, 2011 at 5:17
  • @John: I didn't know that you had been offended by some messages in that room. I'll start flagging offensive messages. Thank you!
    – Someone
    Dec 9, 2011 at 5:19
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    @Purmou Everyone gets offended. It's a part of life we all deal with. The thing is how you deal with it. :)
    – John
    Dec 9, 2011 at 5:20
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    @John Moderators can't see who flags chat messages. We get pretty much no information on chat flags beyond the message and the room.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Dec 9, 2011 at 6:48
  • @Anna Oh. Huh. I'm fairly sure the gaming mods can see who flagged (because there was an incident when a few users learned that the mod couldn't see who flagged him) so I assumed that applied here too. My mistake.
    – John
    Dec 9, 2011 at 13:28
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    You might not be a regular in JS chat but you pretty much hit the nail on the head.
    – Andy E
    Dec 9, 2011 at 14:24
  • This video sums it up well. Some people are more than happy to take something trivial, use it to play the victim, and then use their victimhood as a weapon. Its disgusting.
    – user1228
    Jan 13, 2012 at 14:59

I used to be active in chat. A lot. (I'm still the #5 most active user ever even though I haven't chatted in 180+ days) So I think I'm fairly familiar with what goes on in chat.

In general, people like to have fun and blow off steam. Try hard not to be offended, people don't typically mean to cause offense and are generally just being playful. For example, this message:

congrats , @Purmou , you managed completely ignore the point .. maybe you should change the hobby .. try politics

Can be read in multiple ways. Of course, he's trying to tell you that you're not understanding him and he's frustrated, but—the way I read it—he's also taking a jab at politicians, not at you. He's saying that you should try politics because politicians don't ever understand the point.

Looking at raynos' message you linked to:

@Purmou nope, its just verbal abuse flung around at leisure

and then one guy taking it personally and making a fuzz about it

He's trying to tell you that they're just playing around, and please don't take what they said so personally. In fact, it looks like you were getting a bit upset and borderline insulting yourself:

@Anfurny I'm here to learn. I don't learn from assholes. Who does?

this is a goddamn learning community...yes you can't force cleanliness on the internet but the people in the community should act like they are in a learning community, for god's sake i've taken crap on the internet

If you're genuinely offended by something that someone says to you, flag the message. Tell them politely that you found that offensive and ask them nicely to please behave themselves. Don't call people "assholes" and talk about the "goddamn learning community", that will just upset people, escalate the situation, and make you feel worse.

But really the best advice I have for you is to let stuff roll off your back. Don't let yourself be bothered by people in chat. This is probably easier said than done for someone your age since this ability sometimes comes with age... But just remember we're all here to have fun and blow off some steam. And when you feel people are out of line, flag away...

  • 2
    I think it is the classic dog chasing its own tail: He gets offended by what they say, and they get offended by what he says because what he thinks they are saying. As you say, it's better assume they are joking, than starting a fight for something that is supposed to tease somebody.
    – apaderno
    Dec 9, 2011 at 14:38
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    "politicians don't ever understand the point" They understand the point just fine. They choose to ignore it.
    – sepp2k
    Dec 9, 2011 at 14:44
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    @sepp2k Sadly that's true. Don't get me started on politics! Dec 9, 2011 at 15:11

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