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Updit: I intended this question about a particular comment's content, but the comments here tend to linger on the asker of the question in question and his/her behavior. While such discussion may be beneficial or necessary at some point, my purpose for asking here is to discuss our treatment, as a community, of other users. I believe that each comment on a question, examined individually - regardless of OP's responses - ought to be civil.

Disclaimer: above section was added after this question had a score of 19; those who voted may or may not agree with said section.


I found a question about jQuery where OP seems to have copied his/her code incorrectly, leaving out a paren. At the end of the question, OP essentially stated that the project came to a halt based on the error, and everyone commented/answered that the missing brace was the problem (despite OP's insistence that it wasn't).

There was one comment from a 31k-rep user that read, "if one missing brace is causing project to become stagnant... should look for different line of work." (The comment continues to say something valid about debuggers and IDEs)

At some point, OP posted in a (now-deleted) reply comment something along the lines of "what line would you suggest?", without any hint of satire or jest.

I saw this as incredibly rude, so I flagged it as such. Checking my flag stati, I saw that it was declined, but wasn't satisfied, so I flagged it as "other", with the following message:

This is a very poor representation of how we treat users, regardless of the quality of their questions or how they respond to comments. Please edit out the first sentence of this comment.

My flag was again declined. I don't believe I'm overreacting here; none among us has the right to tell a user to find a new line of work.

I'd like an explanation from somebody as to why this comment shouldn't be edited. If the moderator who declined it will explain, that's great; if somebody else can offer a reason, I'd be happy with that as well.

From the Behavior FAQ:

Civility is required at all times; rudeness will not be tolerated. Treat others with the same respect you’d want them to treat you because we’re all here to learn, together. Be tolerant of others who may not know everything you know

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    Because it's out of line. Who are "you," for all intents and purposes anonymous commenter, to tell someone to find a new line of work? – Trojan Dec 27 '13 at 10:47
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    The early StackOverflow podcasts were very clear that Joel did not want StackOverflow to turn into the Usenet newsgroups populated by old curmugeonly fuddyduddies who were bored answering the same old questions time and time again and who piped up with sarcastic comments every time a newbie coming across an old (to them) boring problem asked on the forum. One way to stop that happening is for us to have a culture of recognising that to the asker, every question is hard, and there is no way that a sarcastic response will be more helpful than a pointer in the right direction. – Jeremy Smyth Dec 27 '13 at 10:48
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    "Everyone loves to quote from the FAQ’s etiquette section, particularly the first “be nice” bit. But it’s the last section that has all the action items: Be honest. Above all, be honest...." (the role of “niceness” on a Q&A site) – gnat Dec 27 '13 at 10:49
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    @JanDvorak Employment, not employer. I don't see the thread as a whole as relevant; each comment ought to be civil individually. Especially one from a veteran user. There's no excuse for that. I'll put a link anyway. – Trojan Dec 27 '13 at 10:52
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    If the project really went stagnant because of a missing parenthesis, then that comment is the least of the OP's problems... – yannis Dec 27 '13 at 10:52
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    I'd do exactly as my flag message suggested: remove the first sentence. I have no problem with the bit about IDEs and linters. – Trojan Dec 27 '13 at 10:58
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    We are training the next generation of developers and, as @gnat already mentioned, honesty, not "niceness", should be our priority. I probably wouldn't have left that comment, but I won't pretend I wouldn't have laughed (hard) if a colleague came up to me and claimed one of our projects was stagnant because of a silly syntax error. – yannis Dec 27 '13 at 10:59
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    ...and if you were an intern or in an early stage of your career and went to someone for help and were bullied and mocked, with your mentors laughing (hard) at your newbie mistake, that would've trained you up as the next generation? – Jeremy Smyth Dec 27 '13 at 11:01
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    Personally I think being honest (and blunt) is being nice. I've encountered a lot of people in my career that could have benefited from a good critical comment early in their career when they are still young enough to do something about it. I also think our society cares too much about not hurting someone's feelings. Personally, if the person is a subpar programmer, I don't want them writing code for an application that I will be purchasing (or software that my life will depend on). – psubsee2003 Dec 27 '13 at 11:34
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    I think it's relevant that the OP in question has repeatedly denied that this was the problem, despite being given a fiddle which shows the code is working. It's one thing to make a typo - it's another to refuse to accept help when it's provided, insisting that the problem must be elsewhere. Admittedly that was all after the comment in question, but it's unclear to me that the OP really is cut out for software engineering. (The lazy text-speak doesn't help to give a great impression, either.) – Jon Skeet Dec 27 '13 at 11:41
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    @JanDvorak: No, "look for a different line of work" isn't suggesting a change in job; it's suggesting a change in profession. – Jon Skeet Dec 27 '13 at 12:06
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    @trojansdestroy: I'm torn on this one. You see, this isn't just judging someone as a potential interview/boss, but a potential colleague. Would you want to work with someone like that? I think it's reasonable to suggest somehow that the OP should really reevaluate their attitude and approach to problem-solving, but I agree that the comment in question was a step too far. – Jon Skeet Dec 27 '13 at 12:07
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    I've read the comments, and understood this comment as pretty innocent suggestion to switch to another IDE / workflow. And from OPs comment it really looks like IDE problem, so everything fits perfectly and I see no offence there. But maybe my english is not good enough to see it. – Mołot Dec 27 '13 at 12:07
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    @Mołot: That seems like a very generous interpretation to me. A "line of work" is generally a profession/occupation. A workflow/IDE is an entirely different matter. Additionally, the same comment suggests using an IDE, not switching which IDE is in use. It's possible that the commenter was using "line of work" in an inappropriate way, but the comment as it's written really isn't as innocuous as you're making it sound, IMO. Certainly if someone told me I should pick a different line of work, I'd take offence. – Jon Skeet Dec 27 '13 at 12:09
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    There are people who will never make it as a programmer. There are people who really need some one to break this fact to them gently and there are those who are so far in denial that they need to be told in no uncertain terms. But an open forum is not the place for it; it should be done with the door closed so that the hearer can preserve their dignity. Bad enough to have your plans kicked out from under you without having all the world part of the conversation. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Dec 27 '13 at 15:49
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if one missing brace is causing project to become stagnant... should look for different line of work.

I agree, that's insulting so I removed it. Being honest shouldn't be used as an excuse to be rude. We can give people constructive feedback without insulting them, even if they do use txtspk.

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