We've come under public scrutiny for not being welcoming at times and actually being hostile on Stack Overflow. This screenshot is one post of many.
While these points pertain mostly to Stack Overflow, it makes sense to post here, as the help centre forms the template for the help centres across the network. Besides going to the source of the problem - Stack Overflow meta is not going to help solve this. We need some sanity from the rest of the network to help resolve this. Besides Stack Overflow is the flagship of our network and how it functions affects the network.
This is an attempt to alleviate one area of this pressure cooker.
For the purposes of this discussion I'm assuming "... good intentions." of our community members and newcomers as advised in the Be Nice section of our help center. There will always be trolls and help vampires, but that's not what this post is about. It's about people trying to contribute to our community, new or old, and addressing the less favourable aspects of a group that can develop online or anywhere.
In the help section under What kind of behavior is expected of users?:
Above all, be honest. .../... Add comments indicating what, specifically, is wrong.
Which links to this page:
.../... When shouldn't I comment? Comments are not recommended for any of the following:
It is at this point I'd recommend adding in a blurb about piling on comments. When several users comment under a post, essentially saying the same thing, it can become overwhelming for the poster. It frequently results in the poster becoming defensive and, often rude, as from the poster's point of view it can feel like they're being bullied. We need to put ourselves into the shoes of someone coming onto the site and trying to make a decent question.
Understanding how the community works is not intuitive for everyone and the help section - is long and let's face it - we can pick and choose parts of the help section at times and use it as a weapon to bang over people's heads if we're not careful.
When a person comments on a post, is it necessary for others to flood in with similar comments or support of the initial commenter? Are we truly trying to achieve an optimum outcome for that post and poster or are we actually behaving as a group defending our territory? What can we do to improve this?
Disclaimer I'm not the best orator on meta, so I've probably made this as a clumsy attempt to help. I want to state clearly I do not believe the network is inherently flawed or particularly hostile, as that's online behaviour. I think it does a good job when compared across the many question and answer sites and the wastelands of social media. BUT we can do it better. We can be a source of good and positive online change. Let's keep raising that bar.