13

This question already has an answer here:

I recently experienced annoying and imho exploitative behavior from a new user, which persisted after I tried to explain to him how SO works. The question is how to deal with this.

long-winded narrative: To start it off, he posted small variations of the same, badly formulated and ill-defined question again and again because he didn't receive answers as quickly as he'd wanted. Through a lengthy exchange of comments, I finally managed to get him to improve his question. I then invested quite some time to come up with a solution and posted a long and as far as I can tell comprehensive solution. He showed himself impressed and glad about the solution, and upvoted and accepted my answer. Shortly after, he asked an additional question, first as a comment on my answer, then as a new SO question, and asked me to answer that one, too. When I didn't respond immediately, he accepted another answer to the first question (thereby unaccepting mine), one that had been there before and apparently hadn't been the solution. I complained, he again accepted my answer, and again bugged me to answer his second question. When I didn't do that, he again accepted the other answer thereby unaccepting mine.

Don't get me wrong, I completely understand that it is the OP's prerogative to decide which answer is correct/best and therefore should be accepted. I never questioned an OP's decision before, even when I felt I actually deserved the credit. But, I think this behavior shows that the poster is not interested in marking the best answer, but uses acceptance like a carrot dangling in front of others, to push them to immediately and completely give him whatever he wants at the moment. I pointed out to him how SO is supposed to work, but he completely ignored those hints, so it appears he is utterly uninterested in the whole idea of "good questions, good answers". Moreover, I feel taken advantage of, because I put much effort into first helping to clarify the question and then answering it thoroughly, without lasting recognition.

My question is: How would you recommend to deal with such a situation? – Play the missionary and bug such a user with more comments pointing out the wrongness of his ways? Suck it up, because there will always be exploitative people and there's nothing that can be done about it? Just ignore questions that appear to predict such a pattern of behavior? Or go the flagging way ("duplicate", "unclear what you're asking") from the beginning without trying to help individually (I really don't like that, it feels rude to me)?

marked as duplicate by Martijn Pieters, michaelb958, gnat, Hugo Dozois, Flyk Feb 19 '14 at 0:31

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 8
    You flag a post of the user for moderator attention, you explain your findings and move on. – Martijn Pieters Feb 18 '14 at 19:32
  • 4
    @MartijnPieters I really need to ask, how did you read the whole post in 1 minute? – Nean Der Thal Feb 18 '14 at 19:33
  • 2
    @MeNoTalk: I can speed-read quite well. – Martijn Pieters Feb 18 '14 at 19:33
  • @MartijnPieters nice.. it is a really helpful ability in SE.. – Nean Der Thal Feb 18 '14 at 19:34
  • 1
    If you suspect a user is using accepts as blackmail, that's not really acceptable behaviour. If the user is doing that repeatedly, flag for moderator attention and move on. There is little point in engaging with an abusive user, there are plenty of more deserving users posting questions. – Martijn Pieters Feb 18 '14 at 19:35
  • 2
    @MeNoTalk You can pretty much tell that martijn's response is correct just from the title... – Servy Feb 18 '14 at 19:35
  • 1
    I would have moved on long ago ... you can see it's never going anywhere, just forget it. – Roger Rowland Feb 18 '14 at 19:36
  • @MartijnPieters, I checked, and I couldn't find a way to flag a user. So I just flag the question, explaining its about the users' behavior? – A. Donda Feb 18 '14 at 19:37
  • @A.Donda Just flag your answer, or the question. – Servy Feb 18 '14 at 19:37
  • 2
    @A.Donda: it's the same type of behaviour. – Martijn Pieters Feb 18 '14 at 19:42
  • 2
    Anyway, the morale of the story, don't spend significant time and effort trying to write a high quality answer (in particular, a fully coded solution) to a user who is continually posting very low quality questions. You fed the help vampire, and it bit your hand. I'm not surprised in the least. – Servy Feb 18 '14 at 19:45
  • 7
    "The poster is not interested in marking the best answer, but uses acceptance like a carrot dangling in front of others, to push them to immediately and completely give him whatever he wants at the moment. … How would you recommend to deal with such a situation?" Stop eating carrots. :) – Joshua Taylor Feb 18 '14 at 19:53
  • 2
    And if the questions are poor quality don't forget to downvote them. If she/he makes a habit of it the automatic question ban can then kick in. – Martin Smith Feb 18 '14 at 20:30
  • 2
    Thanks everybody for chiming in. Imho the most useful answer was provided by Martijn Pieters' comments, and I just posted an answer quoting that. I promise not to feed the help-vampires and/or eat carrots anymore, as far as I can help it. – A. Donda Feb 18 '14 at 20:33
  • 1
    @Adel It's far, far more common for someone to post an answer better than the accepted answer, or to find problems with an answer that was accepted, than to see this behavior. This is maybe the second time I've ever heard of this happening, in contrast to way more legitimate instances of changing an accepted answer than I could count that I've seen. – Servy Feb 19 '14 at 0:37
12

You say:

When I didn't respond immediately, he accepted another answer to the first question (thereby unaccepting mine), one that had been there before and apparently hadn't been the solution.

Woah woah slow down. You're letting this little guy bully you? The fact that he unaccepted your answer should itself have signaled to you to move on.

The issue is that some people will try to squeeze out of you whatever they can. Beware of them. And I also sometimes suffer from the tendency to give people the benefit of the doubt. But you want to establish boundaries. I would put in effort commensurate to what the user put in. i.e don't spend hours on a user who posts a 2-line question, and you have to extract info like it's a long tennis match.

All in all, I have to agree with what Servy is saying, he's just a help-vampire. And you were the easy target. Well.. it's Ok, but don't ever let a user bully you. If a user posts crap, and you unsuccessfully attempt to help them, run away fast!!!

  • 3
    But if a user posts fecal matter, why would you want to help them in the first place? – Frédéric Hamidi Feb 18 '14 at 19:52
  • Well, that happened after I put effort into this. After that, I just complained, got my accept back, and then lost it again – I didn't give him any more help. The only thing I did afterwards was post this question. – Also, as I commented above: I find it very hard to distinguish help vampires from disoriented and confused newbies. It could have been that he just doesn't understand the SO idea, yet. – A. Donda Feb 18 '14 at 19:52
  • 1
    @FrédéricHamidi - heheh words words, nice – Adel Feb 18 '14 at 19:52
  • @A.Donda - Whether he's a help-vampire OR a disoriented and confused newbies, run – Adel Feb 18 '14 at 19:54
  • @Adel, that's exactly the attitude I don't like about SO. If someone can't immediately and perfectly fit in, he should just be expelled? Sorry, disagree. – A. Donda Feb 18 '14 at 19:55
  • 2
    @A.Donda - Ok, compromise then. Give them 15 minutes. Don't give someone like that 2 hours. Guide, don't spoon-feed – Adel Feb 18 '14 at 19:57
  • 1
    Ok, that makes sense. – A. Donda Feb 18 '14 at 19:57
7

The most useful answer was given by Martijn Pieters in the comments, and since he voted to close the question I suspect he won't post it. Here it is:

If you suspect a user is using accepts as blackmail, that's not really acceptable behaviour. If the user is doing that repeatedly, flag for moderator attention and move on. There is little point in engaging with an abusive user, there are plenty of more deserving users posting questions.

  • The notion of "accepts as blackmail" strikes me as very nasty. I really think we need to do away with the loophole by makin accept permanent – Adel Feb 18 '14 at 20:53
2

I apologize in advance if what I will say sounds harsh.

The truth is, it is 90% your mistake, 10% his mistake. You could have simply ignored him, I do not think he was pointing a gun at you. To say this in another words, as much as he is exploitative, you are vulnerable to exploit. Otherwise you would have never been into this in the first place.

Finally, as everyone else is saying, ignore and move on :)

  • 1
    Well it is harsh, and I think undeserved. This is just part of the general SO attitude, "be perfect from the start or its just your fault". Yes, maybe I should've become wary earlier, when I saw the badly formulated question. But I don't see that there's something inherently wrong with trying to help someone who's presumably just new here and disoriented. True, this evaluation turned out to be wrong, but at least I couldn't have seen it ending that way. – A. Donda Feb 18 '14 at 20:12
  • @A.Donda I am really sorry, I did not mean to make you feel bad. Please let me know if you think I should delete this answer :) – Nean Der Thal Feb 18 '14 at 20:14
  • It's ok, when I posted this I kind of expected reactions like this, and the other answer, and the comment about carrots. Nothing compared to what happened when I posted my first question on Meta. SO can be harsh, Meta SO is harsher. – I would really like to know, though, what then is your idea about welcoming newbies to SO? Doesn't matter, we are about good questions and answers, if someone can't integrate it is their loss not ours? – A. Donda Feb 18 '14 at 20:23
  • @A.Donda I am great fan of being nice to new users, but this rules has one exception :) when new users are not nice, this rules doesn't apply, IMO. – Nean Der Thal Feb 18 '14 at 20:25
  • Absolutely, but as I explained, the "not being nice" on part of the OP happened after I already put effort into answering. I may be gullible, but I have that much of self-preservation to not help anymore after someone has become abusive. :-) – A. Donda Feb 18 '14 at 20:28
  • 1
    @A.Donda No, the OP exhibited plenty of problems before you answered. He posted multiple low quality questions surrounding the same problem, wasn't exhibiting effort spent trying to solve his own problems and was looking for someone else to simply do his work for him. You obliged him, thereby encouraging this undesirable behavior. – Servy Feb 18 '14 at 20:52
  • @A.Donda - My apologies if I was rude to you. I am sorry if I came off as such – Adel Feb 19 '14 at 0:31
  • @Adel, no worries. I don't like the tone around here, but it appears most people don't share that sentiment, so I guess that's my problem. – A. Donda Feb 21 '14 at 19:16

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .