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I know I am beating a dead horse, but that is because it is a topic that is so important to me personally but also the millions of us with autism that can nearly function in society.

I am having this conversation because I am trying to figure out a way to make a connection with neurotypical people that will allow us to function normally. Think of it as trying to force left handed people to use right handed equipment. There is nothing wrong with being left handed. There is nothing wrong with the way we think it is just different. And we do not want to be excluded.

I believe if I can solve this problem for myself, that this tool will help us to integrate with NeuroTypical people so we can make you feel comfortable.

I believe I communicate most effectively with analogies so I probably over use them.

But I am requesting that we make a change in the rules of SE to allow us to play golf at your country club using left handed golf clubs, even though there are not that many of us that are left handed.


I have a theory that I believe could be beneficial to the SE environment as a whole.

I exhibit common traits of people with a functional learning pattern. One of those traits is that we take comments directed at our username, as criticisms of ourselves personally. I believe that by simply removing the @Username from all comments we can evaluate those comments more objectively. And more importantly properly filter out the trash that neurotypical thinkers do intuitively.

I would suggest that when this option is active it is also important to remove the notification for comments directed at people with the filter enabled. Another common condition is a compulsion to deal with alerts like the inbox. I register that as a task that needs to be completed. As a result it begins to cause anxiety for me immediately when I see the notification. So the easiest way to relieve that anxiety is to deal with the notification, resulting often times in my feeling a need to reply to those comments. If you notify me I will infer the @Username in the comment many times.

Please note. This will not fix the comment problem. People who want to cause problems will still try to cause problems. But what this will do, I believe, is to reduce the amount of conflict visible on the site. I believe that will reduce the need for moderators to deal with those conflict flags. And will have a lasting effect of reducing this situational stress on the site as a whole.

What happens in my mind, and I believe this is common in people like me, is that we react to the acceptance of the perceived insult in the comment, by lashing back out in a way we feel is analogous to the slight we received. I know that I am doing it, but doing it relieves a certain amount of anxiety so I do it anyway. It is so habit responsive now that I often do not recognize I am doing it. Or forget that I did it when the problem escalates. And this problem builds until a moderator steps in. And I believe that is the intent of the argument anyway. Force the moderator to act. All because of something I am not equipped to deal with.

Yes this is irrational, and I am aware I should try to adapt, but all efforts thus far have failed, chances are I will take your attempt to help me solve my problem, that is probably obvious to you, as an insult and stubbornly refuse to even consider the possibility that you are right and I am wrong despite knowing full well that is what I am doing.

While I believe this feature would benefit me greatly. What it does is give moderators a tool to deal with people like me, who have the ability to contribute very constructively and positively to the community, but also become irrationally disruptive.

This is not an april fools joke... I have autism, I didn't make the connection that it could be percieved as one

If you think you understand what I am asking for please edit this to explain it in a way that does not sound like making excuses. I am trying to find a solution for people who don't fit in, to allow them to fit in. That is my goal here.

Food for thought: https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisprograms.com/historys-30-most-inspiring-people-on-the-autism-spectrum/

One last attempt to relate my issue to you.

  • I have a bug in the programming of my brain.
  • It is a bug that affects a small but significant number of (systems)people.
  • That significant number of people inadvertently create corruption of the data in stackexchange.data.(in the form of argumentative comment banter)
  • It is functionally impossible to completely prevent those people with those defective systems from accessing the site, and corrupting the data
  • Dealing with the corruption of the data takes takes an unreasonable amount of the site moderator's time, and causes corruption of the moderator.system too. (in the form of stress)
  • This patch will not fix the problem with the defective systems, but it will allow this site to greatly reduce the amount of data corruption. This will reduce the amount of time spent dealing with the corrupted data, and provide an overall more pleasant user experience, at the inconvenience of only those persons who take advantage of the defective programming to cause more corruption.

Expected results:

  • a subset of people who previously read directed messages as insults are able to read the messages objectively an respond in a more rational, and expected manner.
  • Other people who see these messages directed at other people and previously perceived insult, no longer feel the need to defend others whom they feel are being picked on. This reduces the overall conflict level of comments

Potential other benefits: - This optional feature could be turned on permanently for members who choose to be disruptive anyway. In this way it would limit the amount of comment discussions these persons can stay active in, because it will require manual following of each thread for updates. This will reduce data corruption. - removing the ability to create directed comments from individuals who have engaged in argumentative behavior will prevent them from engaging in a prolonged instruction. This provides incentive not to abuse the system, with out resorting to a ban hammer or gamification penalty that moderators are often unwilling to use.

Please note: This feature directed message notification is an important part of the SE workflow and for most people this feature is beneficial. Complete removal of this feature would, I believe, be detrimental to the site and is not being advocated for.

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    It's not clear to me what the actual request is. You mention disabling inbox notifications as "also important," but it's not clear to me what, exactly, the first thing you're asking for is. – nitsua60 Apr 1 '18 at 13:14
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    I admit not reading this three times as I should to really understand, but I want to maybe salvage this before it's too late. Do you mean by all of this that you want to be able, optionally, to disable notifications from comments that are directed at you? – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Apr 1 '18 at 13:15
  • Or is it hiding the comment on the page maybe? And what tool is it giving moderators? – nitsua60 Apr 1 '18 at 13:18
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    Well, let's start with: What is a NeuroTypical Thinker? – πάντα ῥεῖ Apr 1 '18 at 13:29
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    This boils down to "Can I disable notifications?" but reads like a Tumblr blog about how some kid sees there self as special and not like the others and should get special treatment because of how special they are. Can I have a feture where people don't waste others time with pointless hyperbole, rather than just stating their point? – Mark Kirby Apr 1 '18 at 13:54
  • Yanno, while I would probably not have an answer any more - breaking this down into a simple feature request, over a fairly long description of the original poster's issues might actually work well. – Journeyman Geek Apr 1 '18 at 14:16
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    "chances are I will take your attempt to help me solve my problem [...] as an insult" If you find answers to your questions insulting, then what on earth are you even doing here? That's the entire point of this place. Perhaps I'm misreading what you're saying. – jscs Apr 1 '18 at 14:20
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    This is way better then the Duck ... – rene Apr 1 '18 at 15:25
  • @MarkKirby - Thats only part of it. I do not want complete disable of notifications, only for thos comments directed with the at username. The other half is the masking of the /@username in the comment itself. – anon Apr 1 '18 at 16:11
  • Also I understand I probably over explained, but its because I was trying to provide an argument for the theory I was presenting. – anon Apr 1 '18 at 16:14
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    I don't want to come off as a dick here because I can relate to social dissorders but, like I said before, you come across like you should get some special treatment, so you can just carry on being hostile and over reacting to simple comments. "chances are I will take your attempt to help me solve my problem [...] as an insult" that is on you, not everyone else to make allowences for you, if you can't handel a simple notification, you should no be on the internet. The way you throw around "I have autism, look at me" is in stark contrast to how I know people with autism behave... – Mark Kirby Apr 1 '18 at 16:20
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    Most are reserved and don't want attention bringing to them. I don't see how you can expect others to change how things work because you might over react to a comment and even express hostility based on nothing. It is one thing to react badly, it is another to react with hostility because someone askes you for clarifycation. – Mark Kirby Apr 1 '18 at 16:25
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    Food for thought: if you expect all your cars to have shocks to get a smoother ride, you will prevent yourself from learning how to ride a bumpy road. But life will finally confront you with a bumpy road and a car without shocks. – user204841 Apr 1 '18 at 17:08
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    With all due respect, if you find yourself incompatible with the system, why do you keep coming back? Have you taken or considered taking time off the SE network? – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 1 '18 at 17:50
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    I used to be very shy. Like unable to interact with people. Hated it, but I couldn't see myself ever not being shy. But then I decided to actively work against it. Whenever I felt myself drawing inwards I'd actively turn outwards. It was immensely embarrassing and painful at the start, and it took years to get where I felt I had a "normal", average level of shyness. Yes, you can alter these deeply ingrained behavioral traits. It's not easy, and it never 100% changes, but you can work on it. – user1228 Apr 3 '18 at 17:18
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Sounds like you need a userscript, rather than trying to change fundamental mechanics of the site. Alternatively, you could use an adblocker to block some elements of the site - like the inbox.

Yes this is irrational, and I am aware I should try to adapt, but all efforts thus far have failed, chances are I will take your attempt to help me solve my problem, that is probably obvious to you, as an insult and stubbornly refuse to even consider the possibility that you are right and i am wrong despite knowing full well that is what i am doing.

I think this sums up precisely the problems with the proposal.

And this problem builds until a moderator steps in. And I believe that is the intent of the argument anyway. Force the moderator to act. All because of something I am not equipped to deal with.

If you cannot engage a community in a non confrontational way without having someone act due to it - I might suggest its best not to engage in it at all. If you're consistently creating situations that moderators need to step in on, well, perhaps you should stop.

Another common condition is a compulsion to deal with alerts like the inbox. I register that as a task that needs to be completed.

so, don't check on the inbox.

Quite frankly as a moderator, and long time user who's had to deal with folks who've expressed that they've had behavioural issues... I'd rather lean towards a combination of dealing with the real issues they face, and making sure they aren't sucking up an un-necessary amount of time compared to constructive users.

who have the ability to contribute very constructively and positively to the community, but also become irrationally disruptive.

Well if you're being irrationally disruptive, there's tools to deal with that. Quite frankly, if you're aware of issues, but want the world to revolve around you to help solve them, you arn't really getting anywhere with resolving them.

If you're going to throw toys at the other kids, we could take away your toys, or put you somewhere where the other kids are safe.

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  • I'd rather lean towards a combination of dealing with the real issues they face - This is not possible until they are willing to tackle the issues, The result of this method is the exclusion of a subset of people who have the ability to make great contributions. While this change would bring them into the constructive society at little cost. I can go away but someone a lot like me will come in and take my place. – anon Apr 1 '18 at 15:52
  • If you're going to throw toys at the other kids, we could take away your toys, or put you somewhere where the other kids are safe. - its a valid option and not one I think SE should ignore. But what is happening here is there is a certian percent of kids that are throwing toys but most of those kids are being left to throw toys and while they are not throwing them at me I am getting hit. That it wasnt thrown at me is beside the point. – anon Apr 1 '18 at 18:33
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I'm a non-neurotypical thinker too. Personally, I disagree with this request.

I have a theory that I believe could be beneficial to the SE environment as a whole.

While it is true that this feature request would benefit you and a few others as well, one thing that we consider when making decisions on feature requests is the amount of complexity the feature would add to the system. When you are considering a feature that benefits very few people but takes a long time to develop and increases the future maintenance burden on developers, it just doesn't make sense to implement it, seeing as 99%+ users are OK with it, including me.

I exhibit common traits of people with a functional learning pattern. One of those traits is that we take comments directed at our username, as criticisms of ourselves personally.

Personally, I find this very strange. This doesn't really come from any general pattern, but rather from personal opinion. The majority of comments replying to specific users aren't negative. I wonder how you came to this opinion. Have you received a lot of negative comments that were directed at your username?

Another common condition is a compulsion to deal with alerts like the inbox. I register that as a task that needs to be completed. As a result it begins to cause anxiety for me immediate when I see the notification.

Yes, this is definitely something I faced in my early days on Stack Exchange. I figured out that the simplest way to avoid this is to simply not open up your inbox. Turn off your email notifications and uninstall the mobile apps if you have to. Alternatively, just open the inbox and then close it...bam! Unread notifications cleared. Task completed.

This will not fix the comment problem. People who want to cause problems will still try to cause problems. But what this will do, I believe, is to reduce the amount of conflict visible on the site.

Again, the vast majority of comments directed at users are not negative. You're trying to fix one tiny problem: a small proportion of negative comments directed at an even smaller proportion of users who have trouble dealing with it. Getting back to the first paragraph above, this feature has tiny utility. This won't really reduce the amount of conflict that much, and the few cases where it happens can be flagged by other users.

What happens in my mind, and i believe this is common in people like me, is that we react to the acceptance of the perceived insult in the comment, by lashing back out in a way we feel is analogous to the slight we received. I know that I am doing it, but doing it relieves a certain amount of anxiety so i do it anyway. It is so habit responsive now that I often do not recognize i am doing it.

I can't say that this hasn't happened with me too in real life. I end up making similar mistakes in our chat room from time to time. But I use each mistake as a point to learn from, and help myself not to make a similar mistake in the future.


I know this is difficult for many autistic people, but you've also got to consider that the majority of people who are not leaving negative comments are asking you clarification questions that they're expecting you to respond to. If this feature were to be implemented, I feel that users who want extra clarification about something would feel like they are being given a cold shoulder. In other words, this feature could be off-putting for even more users than it benefits.

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  • The majority of comments replying to specific users aren't negative. I wonder how you came to this opinion. - Because I can be uncomfortable to deal with. I miss social cues. My coping mechanism is to take directed criticisms as warnings that I am violating social norms. But non directed criticisms I can evaluate in a standard way. Turning that off is like asking a blind person to cross the street alone while wearing noise canceling headphones. Yes I can do it but it causes more problems than it solves – anon Apr 3 '18 at 2:40
  • But I use each mistake as a point to learn from, and help myself not to make a similar mistake in the future. - You dont always have to learn from a mistake, sometimes it is better just to react rather than wasting time thinking about it... Thank you for helping me make that connection for myself. - And that is the thing... functional thinkers want to know why things work. This feature would facilitate that growth. – anon Apr 3 '18 at 2:46
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I would assume that most people want to be notified when someone responds to them in a comment. I know I would. I'm on SE sites to learn, and efficient communication helps a lot. Disabling comment notifications should not be a default feature.

Probably also those with a tendency to seek conflict want to be contacted. I don't think there will be a lot of users who would want to disable their inbox in order to reduce their own hostile behavior. I see very little to gain, assuming I understand what you're trying to say.

It is unfortunate that you seem to be unable to disengage from conflicts — at least you give me this impression. Trying to learn that would help much more than a feature like you suggest, I think. If you were to disable comments aimed at you, it would make you quite an unresponsive user, which would make discussion of content matter unnecessarily difficult.

I should add that the Stack Exchange Network is not for everyone. No online system is. If you find yourself incompatible with the system, there is always the choice of walking out — and it doesn't prevent walking back in later. I don't like all aspects of the network, but I recognize that what would be an improvement for me might not be so for others, not to mention that development isn't free. When I feel uneasy with a website, I take time off.

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  • I am pretty sure I said optional not default... – anon Apr 2 '18 at 0:53
  • @Chad I know. I answered the question more broadly than you asked it, in some respects. In the third paragraph I also argue why the feature shouldn't even be optional: you would be too hard to communicate with. I want to see comments addressed to me and those I send to go through. If that basic line of communication isn't open for some users, it would severely hinder my use of the network. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 2 '18 at 9:19
  • I am having this conversation because I am trying to figure out a way to make a connection with neurotypical people that will allow us to function normally. Think of it as trying to force left handed people to use right handed equipment. There is nothing wrong with being left handed. There is nothing wrong with the way we think it is just different. And we do not want to be excluded. – anon Apr 2 '18 at 9:49
  • I believe if i can figure out how to do that for myself, I can share that knowledge with the other outcasts, and we can integrate ourselves with you, in a way that makes you comfortable. Because we understand the anxiety that comes with feeling uncomfortable – anon Apr 2 '18 at 9:51
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    @Chad I have no intention to exclude or condemn you or anyone. My point was that the change you propose, even if the feature was optional, would undermine something important for the site. I should also point out that there are a number of people who seem to be unable to use the site constructively (many of which probably have no diagnosed disability), and they are routinely thrown out. That keeps the site useful. A site like this is easily crippled if we try to be too accommodating and allow people to participate unconditionally. Anyone is free to benefit from the site by reading. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 2 '18 at 10:21
  • Most people can intuitively filter out when someone else doesnt understand. Because that is the norm for me I can not. Doing so would be dangerous for me. It would not be respecting the dangers of my reality. It would be like driving with my eyes closed. – anon Apr 2 '18 at 10:28

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