Soap box

So, I'm new here but, I've seen a lot of comments that are extremely rude. The most common ones are "RTFM" type comments placed as part of answers. I can understand the frustrations related to RTFM responses (or similar), but you are the one that came to Stack * in the first place. What's worse, people tend to promote rude answers in comments on said answers either by commenting their approval or up voting answers.

It appears I am not the only one to noticing this either. Does the Stack * community really benefit form such behavior?


Here is where the problem lies though.

Some answers are good answers, yet have rude/inappropriate comments toward the OP in them. It is hard for me to downvote the best answer on the page just because it has that kind of behavior in it. However, as far as I know, even if a moderator edits it the user is not necessarily punished for their behavior. It is also hard for my to up vote for the same reasons. To me, using up/down voting in this manner also goes against the idea behind them (getting the best answer voted up so that it receives attention in the future).

So, with that, I'm curious what you all think may work better to promote good behavior or punish users that a frequently found rude, innapropriate, or off topic in answers beyond simple moderation.


Why not just flag a post for moderator attention? If it's really bad then I'm sure they'll have a quiet word with the offending party via back channels. If even that does not help, they still have the option to put the offender in the penalty box.

Also if you've enough reputation points then you could just sanitise the answer by editing out whatever was rude or inappropriate. The system does generally work quite well in my experience.

  • 1
    I agree to an extent, but that doesn't really solve the problem. It is unlikely that A) a moderator will think all comments are worth the attention and B) that the user will learn their lesson (much less care). So it doesn't promote NOT doing it, it just stops the worst cases. – Kevin Peno Nov 5 '09 at 5:58
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    it does in fact solve the problem, since flagged comments are looked at by multiple moderators every day. – Jeff Atwood Nov 5 '09 at 7:23
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    No, it solves the problem of an existing "bad" post as determined by a moderator (or someone that is allowed to edit). It does not promote NOT doing it in the first place. – Kevin Peno Nov 5 '09 at 8:11
  • Kevin: This is not only about deleting rude comments, it is also about sending rude people to the penalty box if they insist. Here's an example: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/28496/trolls-on-stack-overflow/… – innaM Nov 5 '09 at 10:14
  • Flagging posts with moderators is the way to do this. If the mods see that a particular user has a habitual problem with rudeness, trolling, profanity and all sorts of other bad habits/deviant behaviour then that user will get sin-binned. Hopefully this will make said user pull his socks up and play nice. If they repeat offend then they're off for another trip to solitary confinement, but this time for longer. And when let out, if said bod breaks the rules yet again I guess it's a perma-ban or they get double-tapped. You make this happen by using the flagging tools. Trust me they work. – Kev Nov 5 '09 at 10:44
  • I''d up some of these comments as well, but cannot yet. Thanks for taking the time to reply though. – Kevin Peno Nov 5 '09 at 17:28

Each Person has a personal attitude, limits and feelings toward programming issues - for some people RTFM is a very good even funny answer, and I think that other than clear personal insults ("How Stupid can you be") there should be no limit on the answers styles.

This place is educational, but also a community and it should be fun to hang around, helping other people.

if one should always watch his language while trying to help, there might be less answers around.

We don't need to be over- sensitive, as there is no one rule for what considered good / bad behavior.

  • RTFM was a common example. Other comments are made as well that are similar to your quote. The problem I see is that, even after moderation (if it happens), there's nothing in place to promote better behavior. Thus, the user continues on without regard. All communities have standards, a system to allow the community to enforce those standards (by adding and removing rep) wouldn't necessarily run people off. After all, you can't go less than 0 rep. – Kevin Peno Nov 5 '09 at 6:31

Allow community users to approve/disapprove of general site conduct directly on a user's profile.


  • It is out of the way, so it will be used only when people feel it worth the time/effort
  • Anybody can add/remove rep from someone when they deserve it (outside of the answers/comments)


  • Possibility of abuse
    • Limitations could be imposed to prevent this (see below).
  • Users will fixate on the personalities and behaviors of other users. Cliques will form, warring factions bent mutual destruction. Users will be banned for participating in the banning of other users, comments will devolve into fierce flame wars consisting of little but dire threats and personal attacks. There will be wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
  • Reputation will lose what little connection it might still have to "positive site participation", becoming nothing more than a tool of oppression. New users, with no reputation to begin with, won't care; users with a little bit of earned reputation will find it taken from them for arbitrary reasons. Long-time users, their war-chests stuffed with reputation, will act with impunity, killing the reputation of other users at will.

Possible Abuse Prevention

  • Require comment to be left in order to set approve/disaprove.
  • Comments will be publicly displayed
  • Allow comments to be flagged for moderator review
  • 5
    do you have any idea how toxic this idea you're proposing would be? – Jeff Atwood Nov 5 '09 at 7:23
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    Actually I don't. Perhaps you could explain your concerns further by expanding the cons section? – Kevin Peno Nov 5 '09 at 7:58
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    I'd say Shog9's additions pretty well outline how toxic this could end up being. – John Rudy Nov 5 '09 at 15:32
  • I'm not sure where banning came from, but his second point does make sense. – Kevin Peno Nov 5 '09 at 17:25

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