I asked a question today about WPF Binding, and then a user (55k reputation, so I assume a fairly active one) promptly answered my question. But he proceeded to leave comments like "Why don't you read the documentation next time and save us all the trouble?"

I eventually just got tired of the comments he was posting and deleted my question. So unfortunately, I don't have anything to link here. (Which by the way, can a moderator retrieve deleted posts?)

Ok, well I did read the documentation already and couldn't find the answer even after googling and searching through Stack Overflow. He probably isn't breaking any rules as he indeed answered the question correctly, but I'm wondering if it is acceptable to have this kind of attitude towards questioners.

By the way, I love Stack Overflow. Keep up the good work please!

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    can a moderator retrieve deleted posts? Yes. – yannis Aug 29 '12 at 2:24
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    You can flag comments as offensive. – BalusC Aug 29 '12 at 2:25
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    There's been an effort to get people to be nicer. I'm not sure if it's working though. – Mysticial Aug 29 '12 at 2:26
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    @Chichiray Yes I saw that and I flagged the comments as offensive but I'm wondering what the admins of stackoverflow actually do to the users. Is it just a slap on the wrist? Or something that actually makes the users think twice about what they write? – l46kok Aug 29 '12 at 2:28
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    @SokwhanHuh It depends. If the user keeps doing it, they can be suspended for being rude. Or, they could just get a warning. – simchona Aug 29 '12 at 2:29
  • In extreme cases (and I won't name any names), the user can be suspended. But a single snarky comment is nowhere near that threshold. – Mysticial Aug 29 '12 at 2:30
  • Mine wasn't just a single comment, but I was mostly wondering about how they handle situations like this. Thanks – l46kok Aug 29 '12 at 2:31
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    I can only speak to ELU, but if a user keeps getting flagged then they can be suspended. There are private mod messages that can be used to warn people as well. – simchona Aug 29 '12 at 2:32
  • Context (10k): stackoverflow.com/questions/12169816/label-databinding – sth Aug 29 '12 at 2:41
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    Hmm... If that is the question, I don't see anything extremely snarky. The comment by H.B. could be taken as snarky, but I wouldn't consider it offensive. Perhaps there was another comment that was deleted. EDIT: Oh, under the answer... yeah... I can see how that wouldn't come across too well... That's not a very nice comment. – Mysticial Aug 29 '12 at 2:47
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    You might want to look at the revisions of his answer as well. – l46kok Aug 29 '12 at 2:55
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    Yeah, I can see that revision. Not a very nice thing to say... I'm not active in C# so I don't know if the user does this often or was just having a bad day. But I'm sure a moderator will take a look into now that you have this on meta. – Mysticial Aug 29 '12 at 3:01
  • Hm, 55K rep and C#, was it this guy? ;P – yannis Aug 29 '12 at 3:18
  • @YannisRizos 51.5k actually, nice try though. :P – Mysticial Aug 29 '12 at 3:20
  • Do you want your question to be undeleted? I can do that as well as clean up the comments for you. The answer has already been edited to remove the snarky comment. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Aug 29 '12 at 7:13

The etiquette policy is codified in the FAQ:


Civility is required at all times; rudeness will not be tolerated.

Be nice.

Treat others with the same respect you’d want them to treat you. We’re all here to learn together. Be tolerant of others who may not know everything you know. Bring your sense of humor.

Be honest.

Above all, be honest. If you see misinformation, vote it down. Add comments indicating what, specifically, is wrong. Provide better answers of your own. Best of all — edit and improve the existing questions and answers!

When you stumble upon a comment you find rude / offensive, you should flag it as such and walk away. From your question I gather that you responded to the comment, and that wasn't really necessary, if someone is clearly having an off moment there's absolutely no need to continue the discussion.

If other users flag the comment as well, it's possible that it will be deleted automatically, if I'm not horribly mistaken it takes 3 "rude or offensive" flags. If not, the moderator responding to your flag will either delete / edit the comment or dismiss your flag, if (s)he happens to disagree with you.

Whether there will be any further action or not is completely up to the moderator, it's a judgement call and there are a lot of factors to consider, nature of the comment and past behaviour of the offender being the more important. Generally speaking the moderator has three options:

  1. Do nothing (a perfectly valid option in some cases),
  2. Send a private warning message to the offender, or
  3. Suspend the offender.

Regardless of what the moderator decides to do, the matter now is a private one, strictly between the moderator and the offender.

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    Oh right, you don't have 10k on SO. He did in fact respond to the comment saying he didn't have to be so rude. And the answerer responded with an even more rude comment. – Mysticial Aug 29 '12 at 3:08
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    @Mysticial I gathered as much from the question, but thanks for letting me know. I'd advice against responding to any comment you find rude or offensive, if the user is already in a certain mood, it can only get worse (imho). – yannis Aug 29 '12 at 3:10

I hope for you that you will stick around long enough on Stack Overflow to get to a point where you may better understand how someone could come to answer that way.

The thing is that the people who answer here (for free) generally do it partly out of altruism, but also because it's interesting to tackle new problems. But when the problem isn't new, because they've already answered it umpteen times, and people just keep asking it again and again, they start to get annoyed, frustrated, etc.

Obviously, that is probably the point at which they should step back from the keyboard, go for a walk, stroke their cat, or whatever.

Ideally, in this case, I'd have prefered your frustrated answerer to at least indicate where he was expecting you to have easily found this information.

That said, he did answer your question; he could have only left the snarky comment, so...

(Note: I'm not justifying, just explaining)

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    "partly out of altruism" is overstated. Easy to prove, just remove all rep-points and author links (just like in Wikipedia) and see how many answers we get in a year. I'm predicting more than 99% drop rate, literally. – Pacerier May 18 '15 at 16:38
  • @Pacerier, I think you'd be surprised... and even if people are doing it 'for rep', don't forget that rep isn't actually worth anything (much), so it's only a game. – Benjol May 20 '15 at 4:55
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    That's my point exactly. People are doing it for the internet points, not for free. – Pacerier May 20 '15 at 13:46
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    @Pacerier, what I'm getting at is that they're doing it for fun not for personal gain. – Benjol May 21 '15 at 5:27
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    I wonder how you could misread that. The motivation for answering questions is reputation, or prestige (at least, in SE networks). They may or may not be doing it for personal "fun", Yet that's irrelevant because the main motivation is rep. Remove the rep and author link+image and you can that the answer rate drops. – Pacerier May 21 '15 at 20:58

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