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I've noticed a bit of inter-site or intercommunity conflict going on. I understand that people are inclined to believe that their corner of the network is the best and they should think that to a certain extent, but I think it may be taking things a little too far when it spills out into openly trash talking other sites within the Stack Exchange network.

Admittedly there are sites on the network that I don't particularly care for. The topic doesn't appeal to me, or I don't really "get" the community norms there, but I usually just don't bother with those sites. They're doing their thing, if I don't like their thing, or the way they do it, I don't have to visit that community. I think the healthy, mature way to deal is to just acknowledge that not all sites are going to appeal to all users. While a site may not be for me, it is for someone, and it's really uncool for me to bash the community that someone else is committed to and personally invested in.

There's also a danger in the way openly trash talking other network sites can lead to users clicking through to those sites and behaving badly there...

So... With all that said could we try to make a little more of an effort to be nice even when we deeply believe that our site is better than some other network site?

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    I have to say, I can't actually recall ever having seen this. The worst I can remember is the PPCG / CR "conflict" when they were both in Beta, but that was nothing, and I have a feeling that's not what you're referring to. – Carcigenicate Nov 18 '17 at 17:37
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    Without some examples your question doesn't make any sense. – DavidPostill Nov 18 '17 at 19:03
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    @DavidPostill I'm guessing that linking to specific instances will lead to deeper divides, so I'm going to politely decline. – apaul Nov 18 '17 at 19:06
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    @DavidPostill I've certainly seen limited occurrences of this between sites with significant overlap such as M&TV and SFF or ELL and ELU. I wouldn't call it endemic to the sites but I've seen snippets of it at times. – Catija Nov 18 '17 at 19:21
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    @Catija: Seems like most of the ELU/ELL stuff has died down since several lightning rods deleted their accounts or got suspended. So it seems like this may just handle itself in the usual way. – Nathan Tuggy Nov 18 '17 at 22:43
  • @Catija Personally, over never seen it between ELU and ELL. Though admittedly while I’m very involved in ELU I only infrequently pop over to the ELL side, so I can’t say whether it happens there or not. But I’m with David Postill when he says chiding the community and asking us to “do better” with no examples of where there’s been an issue is ultimately pointless. – Dan Bron Nov 19 '17 at 15:08
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    +1. This is a serious issue between certain sites, and I'd love a nice clear meta post to point people to saying "don't do it" (cc @Carcigenicate). – Rand al'Thor Nov 19 '17 at 16:07
  • @Randal'Thor If this is a legitimate problem, then ok. I just haven't seen it. I also only regularly use like 1% of all the sites in the network, so if this isn't widespread, it's very possible that I've missed it. – Carcigenicate Nov 19 '17 at 16:09
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    @DavidPostill I'm with apaul here: I could find and link multiple examples of this behaviour, but doing so is only likely to antagonise people further. – Rand al'Thor Nov 19 '17 at 16:28
  • our community is better :) – Peter Haddad Nov 19 '17 at 17:13
  • @Peter Haddad Psh. Shows what you know ;) – apaul Nov 19 '17 at 17:15
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    I edited your title to make this look less like a rant at first glance. It obviously isn't a rant, of course, but maybe a more descriptive title will help it to get reopened. If you don't like my title, please do change it again. – Rand al'Thor Nov 21 '17 at 15:22
  • @Rand al'Thor Thanks, your version is probably a little clearer on first glance. – apaul Nov 21 '17 at 15:23
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Let's try and separate "trash talking" and criticism here, because it's not obvious where you're drawing the line.

Wikipedia defines "trash talk" as:

Trash-talk is a form of insult usually found in sports events. It is often used to intimidate the opposition, but can also be used in a humorous spirit. Trash-talk is often characterized by use of hyperbole or figurative language, such as, "Your team can't run! You run like honey on ice!" Puns and other wordplay are commonly used.

...while Urban Dictionary defines "trash talk" as:

In the course of a competitive situation putting down your opponent verbally or saying how good you think you are. Oftenly involving talk of moms or sisters.

So, the common factor here is competition and hyperbolic insults: if you're putting down Ask Different because you want to see Mac Q&A on The One True Site for All Computery Questions - Super User, you might just be trash-talking.

OTOH, it's not trash-talk to suggest that disallowing Hackintosh questions is a terrible policy; that's opinion, and in context may be a useful opinion that leads to a positive change.

A more recent example (and probably what motivated this post) is the conversation surrounding the Interpersonal Skills site. This blew up in a big way recently due to discussion in several chatrooms regarding a particular answer, and there certainly were plenty of hyperbolic insults... But there was also a large amount of focused, fair criticism of the answer itself, and the latter led directly to the answer's removal and some subsequent soul-searching and discussion by members of the site. Again, the former was unhelpful and an unwelcome distraction; the latter was beneficial to the site and its membership.

There's more than enough empty chest-beating to go around already; we don't need more. But constructive criticism is worth its weight in gold. Fortunately, these sites aren't sporting events; you can be members of or at least benefit from multiple sites without feeling guilty about your lack of loyalty...

So if you see someone talking trash, don't tell them to bite their tongue - ask for specific criticisms: what specific problems do they see, and how might we address them? And if you observe it in your own actions, do the same.

  • I'm actually not aware of the example post and subsequent chat about it... But I see what you mean about the difference between trash talk and constructive criticism. Honestly I chose "trash talk" because it felt like a censored version of "**** talk" which probably carries a less jovial/competitive connotation. – apaul Nov 21 '17 at 16:48
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Dukeling's answer is adequate for open trash-talking, but I've also observed a consistent issue with less open trash-talking, on which chat flags wouldn't be validated but which can still cause problems, especially when they occur in bulk. To deal with these, soft moderation is needed: words, not flags.

Moderators should discourage unnecessary bashing of other sites.

To say (for example) that all of the questions on Worldbuilding SE are opinion-based and should be closed, or that all of the answers on History SE are unsupported and worthless, implies by extension that the sites themselves are worthless, and that the time and effort put into maintaining those sites by their respective communities is wasted.

Now the occasional comment like this isn't necessarily a big problem - I'm not saying everyone who criticises another SE site should be suspended or even warned. But multiple such comments over time, especially from the same users or rooms, can foster a sense of hostility between entire sites, which is toxic and does nobody any good.

A good rule of thumb might be to focus on personal taste rather than objective quality. Saying "I don't use <site> because I don't like its policies/moderation/quality/etc." is fine. Saying "<site> has terrible policies/moderation/quality/etc. and isn't worth using", not so much.

If there's a consistent pattern of excessive carping at other site(s) from the same user, a mod might consider having a private chat with that user and asking them to tone it down.

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    So we can't make fun about LifeHacks.se then? – rene Nov 19 '17 at 16:40
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    @rene I'd tend to discourage "making fun" of another site, yes. Not constructive, not necessary, might be upsetting to people invested in that site. – Rand al'Thor Nov 19 '17 at 16:42
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    Okay, bring your sense of humor was valid 6 to 8 years ago, not so much anymore. Now it is called not constructive and I have a private chat with a mod... I'll keep that in mind, thanks. – rene Nov 19 '17 at 16:45

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