You provided us with some really helpful feedback on our first draft attempt to expand our 'Be nice' policy into a formal code of conduct, and we're extremely grateful for your time, patience and insights. This was not an easy discussion to have and we are extremely proud of the civility and insight that everyone brought to the table.

We'd also like to thank the folks who took time to provide us with insight off the stage and out of the spotlight through email, in-person interviews, surveys and other research channels. Your voices were positively critical in forming a well-balanced code that aims to represent all reasonable needs.

Together, you helped us to form a Code of Conduct that reinforces our expectations of civility, charitable intent, mutual respect for individual feelings and the emotional labor that helping strangers entails, and our commitment to always learn and improve.

Please, have a look at the second draft (Google Doc | GitHub PDF), and tell us what you think.

There are some notes that we'd like everyone to keep in mind:

Major changes to the document have settled.

Based on hundreds of hours of feedback (on both your part and our part), we've incorporated all major changes that we felt strengthened the document and ensured that it met as many needs as possible. At this point, we're considering all major construction done - what we're looking for are things like small sentence tweaks, accidental loopholes, grammar fixes, opportunities for brevity, and similar improvements.

Any feedback that needs to be evaluated prior to the new CoC being implemented must be posted on or (ideally) prior to Friday, July 27, 2018.

This document is designed to evolve.

Implementation doesn't preclude improvement, it just means that we have to arrive at a point that looks sound enough to test in the real world for a while, and then see what (if anything) needs to be changed.

We will be opening periodic surveys to solicit feedback on the efficacy of the CoC, and will make adjustments based on the results. Similarly, you can suggest improvements to the CoC by creating a or with the tag to raise any concern. Please open all discussions here, on Meta Stack Exchange, so that everyone interested can find them in one place.

Try not to worry, well, not too much.

In case you didn't hear us, we're extremely proud of you, and thankful that we've even gotten to this point. We want to make sure that we remain a relevant tool that our kids will use one day, and we know that we will.

Teachers have to talk to everyone in the class, even those sitting at the front looking annoyingly over their shoulders at the concealed spit-ball launching arsenal behind them; I learned that in my second year of college.

When you're speaking to something like a code of conduct, you must be extremely clear, it applies to everyone, and we're not making any exceptions.

With that said, we don't expect most folks reading this to find themselves in a precarious place due to enforcement; the worst most might expect is seeing a hastily-written comment that was uncharacteristically insensitive removed unceremoniously by a moderator in flag-processing mode.

You're here talking to us because you care - these aren't easy conversations to have and we get that. You, the folks that put a sincere effort into helping us shape this code are the people that understand why it's so important to embrace the intent of the document, and the ones most likely to learn from mistakes, however unlikely they might be.

The need for this stinks, but embracing it sends a strong signal that we care about everyone enough to commit to not being demeaning and honestly listening to them if they feel like we got that wrong. While that might sound trivial, like something we do every day, it's a major thing for an online community of this size to achieve.

Over to you.

See anything? Let us know. Do you have further questions? Let us know. Please be respectful, try not to assume the worst in folks, and keep in mind that having these kinds of problems is also a sign of lots of other stuff going right - let's not lose sight of that.

Thank all of you again, so much, for your time and patience here. I'm not sure what yet, but we're going to have some kind of decompression festival once this all gets put in place.

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    A common question I've seen: Do you expect anything to change in day-to-day moderation? Is this intended to change behavior, or just codify the rules we already enforce? – Undo Jul 19 at 16:41
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    @Undo This just codifies the rules that we already use, moderation is still at the discretion of the individual moderators, and we've clarified that in this revision. – Tim Post Jul 19 at 16:43
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    @YvetteColomb See sentence right above the "Try not to worry, well, not too much." header – Undo Jul 19 at 16:45
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    @Dragonrage I'm not sure the SE network gets any welcoming by punishing chatty chat puns with 30 minute chat bans. So I wasn't sure. – Mast Jul 19 at 17:26
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    The caution about joking is more strongly linked with jokes that are touching on subjects that are sensitive, @Mast . I've been in many chat discussions and explosions that were centered around someone flagging a joke that was taken out of context... and the problem there isn't the person lacking context, it's that the joke is about something that is a sensitive subject to others and probably better suited to a private chat off site. – Catija Jul 19 at 17:33
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    @Mast the sway some people have in meta. A post with no downvotes and then there's one comment, misunderstanding the posts intent and wording it in a way to derail, rather than clarify, and then all the downvotes pour in. I hate it. There's no chance to rectify, clarify or explain. There's a condemning comment and that's it. There's many aspects of meta I really dislike. – Yvette Colomb Jul 19 at 17:52
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    @YvetteColomb If it offers you some comfort... I've been in a similar situation on MSO. My answer was nicely gathering upvotes... then Jon Skeet (himself!) commented and only appeared to disagree. Suddenly it started raining downvotes and no amount of explanation seemed to help. It's indeed not a pleasant thing... but you're not alone, I think many of us have been there at one time or another. – S.L. Barth Jul 19 at 18:14
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    Why did you put an image in the GitHub PDF instead of a proper PDF file with text in it? – Gaurang Tandon Jul 19 at 18:17
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    @Mast Puns should be dealt with harsh punishment. – Draco18s Jul 20 at 1:16
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    As I commented on a loss of trust in the last update. I would like to just say that this post (and the changes) feels like a step in the right direction to me - and I hope others. I'm still worried about how it will applied to chat (see @AndrasDeak comment above) and SE as a whole but the tone of the post and changes made in light of the feedback, really help to reassure about SE's direction. – JGreenwell Jul 20 at 16:01
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    You could Google this in 5 seconds. Isn't posting a zero-effort question a lot worse than this kind of a response? – EJoshuaS Jul 20 at 20:43
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    @PushfPopf You predict correctly. Broken windows theory. TL;DR: Having a lot of a bad thing around tends to make people think that bad thing is okay, thus generating more. Cuts both ways - if there are a lot of snarky comments around, you could get the same effect. Aside from the horrendous issues around defining "illegal", dropping question closure would encourage bad questions and drive experts away. – Undo Jul 23 at 21:48
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    @PushfPopf: If you want a site that is not Stack Exchange, you are welcome to find one. But Stack Exchange's ability to close and delete bad questions is so deeply embedded that removing that would make the sites into something utterly different. It's not quite on par with a suggestion to have democracy without all the messy voting by members of the public, but it's not far short. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 24 at 4:09
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    @Undo: "Bad" unanswered questions won't drive anybody away. Mean responses drive people away. I have this fantasy that people who are having a problem can come here and ask their question as best they can, and get help or at least be benignly ignored. – PushfPopf Jul 24 at 12:51
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    "This question does not appear to be about the software that powers the Stack Exchange network within the scope defined in the help center." wut – Kevin B Aug 9 at 16:14

67 Answers 67

Don't worry if others give feedback about your question -- they’re trying to make it helpful to as many people as possible.

This needs to be made clearer. It's not a "don't worry", it's a "be receptive" (you've used "be generous" later on). If people are just not worrying about feedback, questions aren't going to be improved.

No subtle put-downs or unfriendly language.

Just no put-downs, no matter how subtle. Perhaps it goes without saying, but I think the CoC should be clear here. It has been pointed out that the Be Nice policy covers this.

“Thanks for improving my question. I’m happy to provide any other info you’ll need to answer it.”

We really don't need askers thanking us for every edit we make. It's unnecessary, distracting noise.

No bigotry. We don’t tolerate any language likely to offend or alienate people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion -- and those are just a few examples. When in doubt, just don’t.

This is much better! The discrimination list from the previous version was too long and impossible to enforce. This is easier to digest, has clear guidelines which can be enforced and (without sounding bigoted) doesn't ooze of identity politics.

Chat TL;DR;... Avoid jokes and sarcasm -- tone is hard to decipher online.

This is a bad rule - chat often has jokes and sarcasm. Taking the jokes out of chat will take the people out. As suggested in the comments perhaps ”Be careful with jokes...” would make this clearer.

"Feedback"

You've used the word "feedback" a lot. It doesn't sound quite right. I imagine you're using it to encompass both positive and negative feedback, but I'm not sure people need to be told to "Be generous in... accepting feedback" when that's positive. On the other hand, we probably do need to be told to be generous in giving positive feedback.


As an aside, thank you for taking the time to really think about what the active members of the community need. Nobody wants this network to fail because all the experienced users ended up alienated. But we also don't want to be missing out on potential experts for silly reasons. I think this new CoC clearly expresses this.

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    I prefer the subtle in no subtle put downs. The unsubtle ones are easy to deal with, and clearly fall afoul of the entire Be Nice concept. It's the subtle ones that give more trouble since mods often don't feel sure how to deal with them. So mentioning subtle put downs specifically is probably a good idea. – terdon Jul 19 at 17:08
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    Would this work? No (subtle) put-downs – rene Jul 19 at 17:13
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    I'm with you on the jokes and sarcasm in chat but I'm a bit afraid it will create a double standard. And we have seen enough chat is different, chat has no rules, this chat room has their own culture drama's. But chat still should be a third place were interaction is a bit more relaxed? It needs enforceable definitions of what goes and what doesn't go in chat. – rene Jul 19 at 17:19
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    Jokes and sarcasm are a staple of human socializing. Since chat provides are more direct conversation channel between participantes, some exchanges with a more social nature should be expected, especially in chat communities with a set of regulars who know each other. This doesn't mean that all types of jokes or sarcasm are acceptable (e.g. racist one clearly aren't), just that this rule is overly strict in the general case. Maybe a qualifier like "avoid jokes and sarcasm if others are likely to misinterpret them" would help. – hoffmale Jul 19 at 18:21
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    I can understand that they included the jokes and sarcasm avoidance because they are problematic because the nonverbal component is missing, it was even known in the Usenet era. But a hatred of jokes and sarcasm are an indicator of ideology. Every dictatorship/ideology persecutes jokes without mercy because laughing undermine the sacredness of the rules. The inability to judge humor with rigid standards makes it so dangerous. So I really hope it is just to avoid fart jokes and snarcasm, it really, really depends on the moderation. – Thorsten S. Jul 19 at 23:55
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    Instead of Avoid, how about "Be careful with jokes and sarcasm -- tone is hard to decipher online." – jkdev Jul 20 at 2:09
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    How about, instead of "negative feedback," you use "constructive criticism"? – FoxElemental Jul 20 at 14:38
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    We really don't need askers thanking us for every edit we make. It's unnecessary, distracting noise, while that's true, i don't think it's such a noise. Furthermore it is not only being polite, it is also amark that the work you did has been acknowledge. Finally I think it can be perceived as rude to just reply to the comment "thanks are noise" to someone. I mean just imagine every time you thanks someone that he would answer that, that doesn't sounds welcoming. – Walfrat Jul 20 at 14:48
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    @jkdev wording that reads "be careful with... sarcasm" feels a bit risky (oh I was very carefully sarcastic about user123456 dumping their homework at us). Although I personally appreciate sarcasm I also feel like I can live without it: "Be careful with jokes and avoid sarcasm..." – gnat Jul 20 at 16:16
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    I think we're likely to go with "avoid sarcasm, be careful with jokes" .. but nothing is carved in stone yet. We can't take jokes away, a chief complaint is that the site isn't human enough. So we should probably just be more specific that we're afraid of disastrous jokes by just cautioning folks to be careful .. but we'll see. Thanks for chewing on that, I wasn't quite happy with the wording either. – Tim Post Jul 20 at 16:54
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    I agree 'be receptive' is better than "don't worry." Being receptive is a positive rule, vs don't worry means to ignore something - the wrong message/connotation. For the same reason, it's better to hear "you're welcome" than "no problem." The latter implies the person sloughs you off - ignores you - rather than positively accepts the relationship/work/etc. – AnneTheAgile Jul 20 at 21:41
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    Rather than "Don't worry if others give feedback about your question" I'd rather be more active: "Expect others to".... We should also point out that part of education is learning how to ask questions better. I'm not sure how to phrase that without being repetitive: "Expect that others give feedback about your question -- part of learning is learning how to ask questions better." (that sentence is entirely too awkward, but you see where I'm going?) – Tom Limoncelli Jul 23 at 19:26
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    @TomLimoncelli that’s a good start. How about “Expect others to give both positive and negative feedback. Be receptive; part of participating on this site is learning how to ask better questions.” This sentence is starting to get a little too long, but again - something along those lines?). – Tim Jul 23 at 19:32
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    One problem with the feedback is that answers, for example, are a sort of feedback. Don't worry if someone answers your question... – Artemis Fowl Jul 25 at 12:23
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    "No subtle put-downs or unfriendly language." should be reduced to just "no unfriendly language". Rationale: anything can be turned into a "subtle put-down", e.g. the whole idea of having a CoC is quite down putting, and very subtly so, IMHO (I thought we are all adults, having a CoC pretty much tells us we're just children who need to be told to follow someone else's rules, or else). Indeed, can it get any subtler than this? Please accept my apologies in advance if this comment offends anyone. – miraculixx Jul 25 at 20:30

Please replace "learning" with "knowledge-sharing"

(or with something else that doesn't feel like obscuring that Stack Exchange is about questions and answers - say, "learning site community").

This Code of Conduct helps us build a learning knowledge-sharing community...

We’re committed to building a kind, collaborative learning knowledge-sharing community

I (and probably vast majority of site visitors) come here for help with our questions. We type our questions into web search which shows links to Stack Exchange pages where we can get answers we're looking for.

If our searches will start showing learning exercises instead of answers, that will be very disappointing. Quoting self, I don't want my search results polluted with useless solutions to homework dumps.


Besides above, please consider two relatively minor spelling changes to the text:

We created this Code of Conduct because it reinforces the respect our community members expects expect from one another. Also, having a this code provides us...


Also I would like to emphasize concerns regarding word "help" laid out in details in this answer. In order to address it, please consider replacing this word with "answer":

to get help answers...

to help others provide answers

Since answer referred above appeals to experience of two smaller and rather special sites in the network, it is worth pointing that folks at Stack Overflow appear to share similar concern:

The primary purpose is to build a repository of questions and answers. By its very nature, of course, that is going to help people, and that is the rationale behind creating the site... but it is not the rationale behind using it.

If you make the primary purpose "helping people" (with the implicit "at all costs" that goes along with it), and let "build a repository" be the secondary purpose, the secondary purpose is going to get forgotten and SO will devolve into a shitty Experts Exchange clone...

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    or knowledge base?. I agree with premise. – Yvette Colomb Jul 19 at 17:03
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    @YvetteColomb "base" would probably be even better but won't blend well with word "community" that follows. That community word probably can be thrown away from the first part I quoted - "This Code of Conduct helps us build a collaborative knowledge base" - but is likely necessary in the second because it appears to focus on "kind" (knowledge base can't be kind:) – gnat Jul 19 at 17:08
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    yeh I agree, I wasn't 100% with your or my suggestion. I still gave you an upvote, as the learning needs to be removed. IMO – Yvette Colomb Jul 19 at 17:14
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    Or just entirely scratch the learning? I mean, it's referred to as 'the community' throughout the rest of the document and the second sentence already explains that it's about people asking questions and sharing what they know: 'Whether you’ve come to ask questions or to generously share what you know,' – Tinkeringbell Jul 19 at 17:53
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    @Tinkeringbell this sounds like a worthy alternative. I tried to imagine how it would read and word community alone feels a bit like missing something but extended to "site community" seems to blend in really well. Maybe even better than first version I proposed, although I haven't yet fully made up my mind on that – gnat Jul 19 at 18:09
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    @Tinkeringbell ...I am still not completely sure mind you but your idea really seems too good to be buried in comments so I made an edit to explicitly incorporate it as an option to consider – gnat Jul 19 at 18:31
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    That's okay, I thought it wasn't self-sufficient enough to be another answer, so I put it in a comment thinking it would get upvoted enough if enough people liked it to not be buried. But this is an awesome alternative too! :D – Tinkeringbell Jul 19 at 18:34
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    This answer highlights what I see as the main disconnect between power users and neophytes. The former want to define this site as a knowledge resource akin to perhaps WikipidiaDotCom. This group sees poor questions as unwelcoming and hostile. They want to solve things by improving questions. The latter see this site as a QnA resource akin to AnswersDotCom and are shocked that their seemingly benign question is met with apparent ire. As neophytes they likely just never participate again, though if they did they would likely frame respondents as the problem. There is a huge disconnect here. – JonSG Jul 19 at 21:29
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    @JonSG interesting that "power users" appear to vastly outnumber "neophytes". For example traffic stats for Stack Overflow currently say "9.8m visits/day" - probably from folks like me who are looking for answers, while those who ask make ~1000x(!) less than that: "7.1k questions/day" – gnat Jul 19 at 21:55
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    @JonSG, that's an excellent point. I think you should turn that into an answer, actually. This was an underlying point of my answer to the original draft; my answer was addressed somewhat literally in this second revision, but your comment spotlights the exact way in which I intended that answer. This site is not about community, and this second draft still ignores that fact. – Wildcard Jul 19 at 22:13
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    ...to me, using Stack Overflow is like driving with GPS device: I arrive at desired place very quickly and precisely but I learn absolutely nothing about places and roads I was driving through (and I drive with GPS a lot because I don't have enough tie to learn every place) – gnat Jul 20 at 18:23
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    Wish I could upvote this twice, or thrice... – Cindy Meister Jul 21 at 17:40
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    It is very pertinent using getting answers instead of getting help. In Unix and Linux, for instance, we are being assailed by a lot of low quality questions, often one liners. expecting help desk level assistance instead of answers to direct questions. I hope it does not help the same as In travel stack exchange where the noise/ratio scale is pending more to simple and repetitive questions. I used to like that group, I avoid it nowadays. – Rui F Ribeiro Jul 22 at 10:54
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    @Praveen I am sorry to hear that you disagree but really I can do nothing about that. My answer is based on the way how I use Stack Overflow for many years already and on how it helps me and on how I want it to stay helpful to me. If it turns into learning site instead of Q&A then I will be very disappointed. When I need to learn something I can find plenty resources elsewhere but when it comes to concrete answers to concrete programming questions, SO is the source and there is nothing like that and it would be sad if this get lost in the name of learning – gnat Jul 29 at 21:15
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    @Praveen the problem is that "learning material" has a very specific structure of providing knowledge, knowledge base on the other hand doesn't follow such structure. If you see the program for computer science, courses for programming and compare them to SO. You will notice that the information contained on SO isn't the kind you will find on those courses. – Braiam Jul 30 at 13:50
  • If you’re here to get help, make it as easy as possible for others to help you. Our community is made possible by volunteers. Don't worry if others give feedback about your question -- they’re trying to make it helpful to as many people as possible.

This bullet point sounds weird to me. Specifically the part where it says

"Don't worry if...",

I feel like it would be better if it were written as

"Don't take offense if others give feedback or edit your question..."

That sounds more fluid to me and seems to more directly address the people who get upset when they have their question edited or receive feedback on how to edit their question. I don't think people are worried, per se, but more likely annoyed by edits that seem to change their question. And considering we have the following example of an unfriendly comment, I think this wording would more strongly reinforce that we don't want this behavior.

“I came to get help, not to get my question edited.”

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    I prefer the current top answer's point that it should really say, "Be receptive" rather than don't worry. – Wildcard Jul 19 at 22:09
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    @Wildcard either would work for me. Be receptive and don't take offense are essentially the same – Dragonrage Jul 19 at 22:13
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    Not really. You can "not take offense" by just ignoring the feedback you get. – Wildcard Jul 19 at 22:14
  • Using quote blocks for both quoting the original and the proposed changes makes parsing this response difficult. – Colin Gross Jul 20 at 19:11
  • Use quotation marks for your version instead of a block quote. Perhaps bold or italics to offset the formatting if you want it to stand out from the rest of the answer? – Colin Gross Jul 20 at 19:16
  • @ColinGross better? – Dragonrage Jul 20 at 19:19
  • @Dragonrage brilliant – Colin Gross Jul 20 at 19:20

One item that popped out to me on the previous one, that is still present in this version:

Our Expectations

...

  • If you're here to help others, be patient and welcoming.

I realize that the "welcoming" term was beaten to death on the previous post. This really isn't about that.

The initial clause, "If you're here to help others", makes the rest of the sentence far less meaningful than it should be.

  • Some people are not here to help others, or at least don't behave as though they are. Should this advice not apply to them? I could easily see a bad actor "rules lawyering" this.
  • Should this (particularly "be patient") not apply to people who are seeking help as well?

Ideally, this would be expressed as

  • Be patient and welcoming.

full stop.

At that point you can clarify what that might mean for different audiences.

  • 16
    Possibly replace "to help others" with "to share your knowledge"? – E.P. Jul 19 at 17:42
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    @E.P. Simply "If you're here, be patient and welcoming". If I'm here to gain knowledge, not share it (i.e. most people) then I should still be patient and welcoming. – Tim Jul 19 at 19:46
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    Giving context helps to communicate. This isn't a legal contract. It's a code of conduct. Rules lawyers are violating the entire purpose of the document. – Wildcard Jul 19 at 22:10
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    @Wildcard: If it's not a legal document, why is it called a "code"? What's more, if the point is to write a document that relies on being interpreted without rules lawyers, what was wrong with Be Nice? A project to clarify and rationalize an existing document that leaves some things unclear or irrational just hasn't gone far enough. "Context" that only serves to mislead even some honest readers is the opposite of helpful. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 20 at 4:38
  • @Wildcard Yes, I believe that's exactly the point. – GalacticCowboy Jul 20 at 17:10
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    I remember a time when I was on a contract programming job and was released from it because, "I asked too many questions" I've often thought that applied here as well, sometimes when folks (especially newbies to programming) ask questions that fall in the realm of "what we think you should know" or "why haven't you googled it?" there often doesn't seem to be much patience shown and down votes and critical comments appear. – Hank Jul 22 at 12:26
  • @Tim, yes. @ Hank, that... right there, is my biggest complaint with this community. Failure to be inclusive of newbs or questions with seemingly obvious answers alienates people and makes this - otherwise wonderful service - increasingly irrelevant. – Andrew Jul 27 at 0:43
  • Why be so obtuse and legalistic? The entire overall document looks like a bunch of people (why?) are pretending they are attorneys writing a contract. Just state "No putdowns on newbies." It's no more complicated than saying "Enter password" or "Click here" or any other instructions on a web page. – Fattie Jul 28 at 15:27

Thank you for your thoughtful response to all the feedback.

I have some minor wording suggestions:

If you’re here to get help, make it as easy as possible for others to help you. Our community is made possible by volunteers. Don't worry if others give feedback about your question -- they’re trying to make it helpful to as many people as possible.

I would respin that "don't worry" language. Comments shouldn't be worrisome; let's not plant the idea that they might be. Instead, keep it positive (and maybe we can sneak in a bit of guidance). My suggested changes are in bold:

If you’re here to get help, make it as easy as possible for others to help you. Our community is made possible by volunteers. When people give you feedback, they’re trying to make your question helpful to as many people as possible. The best way to respond to comments is with an edit.


I suggest adding the word in bold here:

If you’re here to help others, be patient and welcoming. Learning how to participate in our worldwide community can be daunting, especially if someone is new. Offer support if you see someone struggling or otherwise in need of help.

USians outnumber others on the network and we sometimes see people assuming that US norms apply to everybody. They don't. Let's spend one word to plant that hint. (This issue has come up on The Workplace and IPS, among others.)


We take your reports seriously. Those who don’t follow the Code of Conduct in good faith may face repercussions...

In the draft, "in good faith" is underlined. Is there supposed to be a link there or is that for emphasis? You haven't used underlining for emphasis elsewhere, hence my confusion.


We welcome your feedback on this and every other aspect of what we do at Stack Overflow.

I know that in this context Stack Overflow is the name of the company that also provides the Stack Exchange network of sites. But a lot of newcomers might think you mean SO the site.

  • 3
    "The best way to respond to questions is with an edit." may be confusing (OP's question vs questions others ask the OP in comments?) One alternative might be "You can contribute to the feedback process best by editing your question." I'd use "contribute" instead of "respond" to give a hint that they should share in the goal of making the Q&A helpful to others. – Frank Jul 19 at 20:03
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    @Frank I changed "questions" to "comments". The point here is not to answer comments with more comments. But if it can't be done succinctly, in a short sentence like this, they'd be better off dropping it here in the CoC. I just thought we could add a hint here. If it causes problems, then SE should just punt on that part. – Monica Cellio Jul 19 at 20:06
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    "The best way to respond to comments is with an edit." Yes, but… not by talking within an edit, but by editing to resolve the issue in the post that the comment raises. This is far from trivial to grasp or explain. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 20 at 4:43
  • How about "Respond to comments by editing your question to include the requested information."? The best way is editing implies that other ways are also ok (albeit not the "best"). Not nitpicking here, this distinction is relevant because non-native English users, some literal-minded people, and people with certain autistic characteristics can receive confusing signals. (I belong to all three of those to varying extents, by the way.) – Masked Man Jul 31 at 6:08

I feel like gnat said it in a more polite fashion, but when you talk about this...

We’re committed to building a kind, collaborative learning community...

...I get very antsy.

So I admit that I'm still a part of the "Old Guard". I'm still very much set on trying to help but my focus as of late has been on curation. Because we still lack a reliable definition of scope on Stack Overflow, my curation efforts genuinely feel like they fly in the face of the goals and objectives of the community team putting this CoC together.

Again, I see the common-sense language in here; we can't tolerate jerks who just wanna be jerks here, which is important to codify. But hearing that we're building a "learning" community and seeing that codified again in this version of the CoC tells me that the direction of Stack Overflow is changing.

I'm not a fan of this.

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    with regards to my answer being polite, this is because as explained in there I depend on Stack Overflow providing answers to my questions. And this is a fairly strong dependency, so it is in my best interest to politely explain that they possibly risk losing 9.8m visits/day by changing direction to one that isn't appealing for folks like me. "I don't want my search results polluted with useless solutions to homework dumps." – gnat Jul 20 at 20:07
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    @gnat: Your intent wasn't completely lost on me. I think we're beyond the point of being polite about it, and start being forceful. It's getting increasingly hard to whisper about how we really feel about what's going on when our voices are getting drowned out from those who just didn't really want to be here in the first place. – Makoto Jul 20 at 21:15
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    The bigger problem here might be who stays to give quality answers. I already stop participating in a group because the majority of questions that are prevalent there nowadays are pretty much low quality questions that in their overwhelming majority could clearly be flagged as duplicates. (and many are). I would pretty much prefer clearer guidelines. – Rui F Ribeiro Jul 23 at 7:48
  • @gnat I completely agree that search results shouldn't get polluted with homework dumps. But I don't think that homework dumps actually help anyone learn or are indicative of a desire to learn. In that sense, they have no place in a learning community. To be clear, I don't support the idea of hand-holding those who don't show research effort, because they just "want an answer" and aren't really keen on learning (see also my other comment). – Praveen Jul 29 at 21:18

First of all, thank you for listening to the community and providing this updated version. It is far superior to the first round, and I am personally pretty happy with the changes.

I see one thing (in addition to some of the other stuff people have already mentioned above) that I still would like to see changed:

Avoid jokes and sarcasm

I understand why this exists, but as others have pointed out this is hard to enforce. Jokes aren't inherently mean spirited. They don't always detract from the question or answer, and humor can go a long way to help deal with a situation that otherwise might be unpleasant. I think the language here needs to be softened. Perhaps something like this:

Understand that tone and humor may not translate across cultures or over text. Mean-spirited humor or sarcasm that is directed at other users is never acceptable.

This will distinguish actually mean jokes from replies to answers like:

Thanks for your help. I should have noticed that I typo'd a variable name. Sorry I'm an idiot!

The above response isn't harming anyone, but would run afoul of the current standard. It would also prevent issues with perfectly reasonable answers that contain harmless jokes like:

class Milk()
    def make_milkshake(self):
        print("I'm delicious")
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    Ignoring the fact I don't think that joke's harmless to everyone. I think the problem is joke's that require tone. This includes all undeclared sarcasm, irony, sardonic, etc. – Joshua Jul 20 at 13:21
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    You're right, forgot to include a check for lactose intolerance. (See what I did there?) – shellster Jul 20 at 19:34
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    This is very important because benevolent humor is -part- of being friendly. So it's self-refuting to ask people to be friendly and stern imho. – AnneTheAgile Jul 20 at 21:55

Since CoC proposes warning and suspending users for inappropriate comments, consider respective adjustment in software to make this process more transparent. Suggest to show them (deleted) comments that led to punishment, to help them learn what specifically went wrong and what to avoid in the future.

Currently the only way for user to learn is to ask moderator to share deleted comments. This involves moderator load and can't scale.

Related feature request at MSO: Allow users to view their deleted comments, especially flagged ones (over 300 upvotes).


There are probably many ways how this can be implemented but one that naturally springs to mind is to add to user profile a link to the list of "deleted recent comments", similar to how it is done for deleted recent posts.

  • posted this answer separately from my prior one because it is not about suggestions for changes in CoC text – gnat Jul 22 at 13:35
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    I would like for it to be easier for mods to give private (just the user and the mod team) warnings or guidance about specific content, whether it is a comment that is over the line, or an edit, an answer, etc. Often trying to provide that guidance in a comment exacerbates the problem we’re trying to resolve and using chat rooms for this purpose is overkill. – ColleenV Jul 23 at 18:03

First a compliment: Much, much better than before!

I like that it is also now clear that new people are expected to get acquainted with SE/SO. Still I think it can be improved.

Unacceptable behavior.

I would still include Be nice with a first paragraph. One problem with those "Don't do X" is that it invites rule-lawyering: But what I did was not X! even if it violates Be nice. Then you have a discussion and drama. Another problem is that you could act mean despite not violating any negative rule (This is a problem with law enforcement; people are very creative to circumvent rules). Third I really would like to have a positive motto instead of negative ones; it reminds us to strive for goodness, not simply avoiding badness.

Instead of No subtle put-downs or unfriendly language I would change it into Avoid subtle put-downs or unfriendly language. The problem is that, well, subtle is subtle and the judgement of both subtle and unfriendly is subjective and culture dependent, so you steer very easily into this territority. A friendly reminder is IMHO therefore more effective than giving the idea that it is equivalent to harassing.

Meta as intermediary is still missing!

You are going from "Flag content" right to "Contact us". I don't think that it is a wise move because SE/SO has a massive userbase and most conflicts can be resolved in Meta. People and moderators know at best what is expected and are quite aware of the userbase; I witnessed many instances when Meta successfully defused a situation where a more direct approach from less informed supervisors would have escalated the situation.

Overall my impression is: We can live with that, but it depends dangerously heavily on the quality of the people responsible for the moderation. If overzealous moderators give people the impression that they need to recheck their words twice, a chilling effect occurs (not in the legal sense, but anticipatory obedience) and people will simply stop giving answers and comments.

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    Upvote for Meta as intermediary is still missing! – Draco18s Jul 20 at 1:13
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    And upvote for include Be nice with a first paragraph. It's still an excellent summary of everything and a catch-all guideline that underscores everything else. The rest of the document elaborates on the definition of nice for this community. This is basically here already in the form of "be kind": maybe promote that to an overall guiding ethos. – Zach Lipton Jul 20 at 18:58
  • Upvote for Avoid subtle put-downs or unfriendly language. Indeed I suggest to change this to Avoid unfriendly language, simply because pretty much anything can be turned (claimed to be) into a subtle put-down. – miraculixx Jul 25 at 20:45

Who arbitrates what is "offensive"? Do not accuse people of being bigots without intent.

I have a bit of an issue with this section (emphasis mine):

No bigotry. We don’t tolerate any language likely to offend or alienate people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion...

While I agree with the sentiment that we shall not intentionally or through recklessness/willful ignorance try to hurt people, a problem may arise when a user says something like...

"Well, I am offended when you say that! That is a deeply held religious belief of mine, and now you say that there is no evidence that it is true?! How dare you!"

The rule is based on the emotion of the recipient instead of the intent and action of the sender.

The problem is that we are letting the one that claims to be offended to set the rule, and how it should be interpreted. So you can have posters that did not at all intend to cause offense, that ended up doing it anyway and get hit by the rule.

With this it becomes so that I can write something that is objectively true and indisputable... say for instance:

Sainthood and prophecies aside: if we had applied modern legislation, Mother Theresa would have been jailed for taking money from dictators and for horrendously poor hospital routines; Moses would have been a convicted in the ICC as a war criminal; and Mohammad would have been considered a pedophile and convicted of child rape.

...and then get hit by the rule, because those that hold these people in high regard could claim offense.

Intent and action

All rules must be based on the intent and action of the one who the rule concerns. Therefore I move that the paragraph be modified to read:

No bigotry. We do not tolerate any language intended to discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion...

In short: we have to be able to tell the truth, if it is relevant to the issue, and even if it hurts. Moderators can then base their judgment on apparent intent, and — more importantly — on whether the post is discriminating rather trying to read minds and guess whether someone will be upset about that or not.

Of course people shall not be able to use this as a Get Out Of Jail Free Card, and moderators should be allowed to try to suss bad intent in disguise.

EDIT: To clarify... this rule begins with "No bigotry". So if you are found to break this rule, you are being accused of being a bigot. Remember that online, duck-typing is in full effect; we are defined by our actions. So just as the cliché "I'm not a racist, but..." cannot be used to change the fact that you just made yourself into a racist by acting racist, from the other point of view, you — as a moderator — cannot say "Well, I am not saying you are a bigot... but I am taking down your post because it breaks the "No bigotry" rule". When you act upon this rule, you are accusing someone of being a bigot, which is a very harsh thing to accuse someone of.

Therefore: since the rule implicitly makes all offenders of this rule be labeled as bigots, it must be shown that there was intent to be that. That one or more in the audience pipe up and shout "We are offended by that!!" should not be enough to label someone a bigot.

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    I think we definitely need to be cautious when the CoC is going to be used against those who act in good faith. Personally either likely or intended to carry the same message for me but if the rewording better helps to close possible loopholes by those with bad intention and/or helps moderators to better handle reported CoC infringements I support this slight rewording. – rene Jul 21 at 11:02
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    We can't read the mind of the poster, so there is no way for a moderator to know what was intended when we get a flag for rude or inappropriate language. We can however imagine 'likely" reactions to the language and then use our judgement about what sort of action is necessary based on the circumstances. It may be that the poster didn't understand that the language had a loaded meaning and just needs someone to explain how it could be offensive. Offensive language needs to be removed regardless of whether the poster intended to offend. – ColleenV Jul 22 at 13:41
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    @ColleenV You can equally little try to read the mind of a reader and try to figure out if they find it offensive. So unless you are going for "I think it is offensive, therefore it is", both positions have equal weight there. But(!) to smack someone with a rule it is simply not fair to do it on the basis of what someone else might think. You have to try to look at what the supoosed offender thought. Otherwise the rule is a minefield for a poster. – MichaelK Jul 22 at 13:46
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    @ColleenV Rules will always have grey areas, I agree. But I find it inherently flawed that you can get judged for someone else's opinion rather than your own intents. Also, with my suggestion, a moderator can at least ask the poster "Ok buddy, what gives? Why did you post that remark? We are getting quite a bit of flags for it", while with the present wording, once the flags come the post just has to go. – MichaelK Jul 22 at 13:57
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    That's exactly what we do and there's nothing in this CoC that would prevent us from continuing to do that. If you say something innocently that turns out to be offensive the most likely outcome is that the content gets removed or you're asked to reword it. You don't get suspended just because someone (or a group of someones) targets you because they don't like your writing style. The CoC protects you from harassment as well. In the same vein, saying "No offense intended..." isn't a "say anything you want without consequences" card. – ColleenV Jul 22 at 14:19
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    @ColleenV Then why not chang the wording? It clarifies that what matters is intent and action, and not someone else's notion of what is offensive. – MichaelK Jul 22 at 14:21
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    Saying "that phrasing is against the CoC is not calling someone a bigot. And "I didn't mean it that way" or "it was supposed to be funny" is not a get-out-of-everything card. People need to think before they type. If what they type bothers people, they will be told to type different things in the future. None of this is about whether the person "is a bigot" or not. – Kate Gregory Jul 22 at 21:42
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    @KateGregory I also have a huge problem that this puts a wet blanket over the place in that people will have to tippy-toe when posting; that fact and valid reasoning may be suppressed by a shouting mob, or even single individuals that just do not like the poster and/or the post. Stack Exchange's mission statement is: "This site is all about getting answers". Answers shall not be able to be suppressed just because someone does not like the answer, or the answerer. And the rule — in its present wording — allows just that kind of suppression. – MichaelK Jul 22 at 22:05
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    It is unpleasant when someone says "that comment was bigoted and offensive" and removes it. But it is far more unpleasant when someone says "you don't understand this, because you're a woman, but [explanation.]" If it's not possible to write a set of rules that prevents both those cases, I'll go for removing the random and non-useful bigotry, even if that leaves the "I was just trying to help" commenter feeling unjustly accused. That said, I think you can write rules to keep us out of both situations. – Kate Gregory Jul 22 at 22:08
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    @KateGregory "you don't understand this, because you're a woman..." ....is blatant intentional bigotry and would be whacked easily with the wording I have suggested. – MichaelK Jul 22 at 22:10
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    Very well put. The guidelines seems to make no distinction between "offending someone" and "taking offence". The latter is subjective, and honestly cannot be enforced. – Emanuele Ciriachi Jul 23 at 14:41
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    @ColleenV I agree that the CoC should regulate behaviour. And for that reason, I think it is behaviour that should be what defines the rule, and not someone else's response to a behaviour. But with the present wording, that is how the rule is written. That if someone else reacts badly to what you did, then you have broken the rule. That is wrong. – MichaelK Jul 23 at 20:08
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    @ColleenV The reason that it is the intent and not the result that counts is that you have to be able to make a judgement before your action if you think it is in compliance with the rule or not. To have a system of rulers where you cannot know that, but you have to wait and see if someone decides to take offense, and thereby making the moderators have to convict you of being a bigot... that is just absurd. The rules are meant to regulate behaviour before the action happens, not to slap people around for lulz and retribution after the fact. I say again: intent and action is everything. – MichaelK Jul 23 at 23:37
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    @MichaelK: "That if someone else reacts badly to what you did, then you have broken the rule. That is wrong." OK, so what you're saying is that, so long as the user can manufacture plausible deniability for their statement, then it's fine? That if it is not obviously bigotry, then it must be assumed to be fair game, no matter what? That if someone can argue that it isn't intended as an insult, then it isn't insulting? Sorry, but I'm not buying it. Accidentally causing someone's death is called "manslaughter"; not every crime or rule requires intent. – Nicol Bolas Jul 24 at 5:19
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    I’m not arguing with you, I am trying to understand your view. I think that you are conflating the rule wth consequences. Intent is important when determining what the consequences should be for breaking a rule, but you can break a rule even if you are completely ignorant of that rule and had no intention of breaking any rule. The CoC doesn’t judge accountability, people do that. Be nice to people and you shouldn’t have any problems. Mods do consider intent when we see a flag and may choose not to act even if you technically broke a rule. If we’re not being fair the CM team will fix it. – ColleenV Jul 24 at 15:09

I missed the opportunity to give feedback on the last version, but this is a big improvement. There is one aspect I want to point out that I haven't seen in other comments:

With the current presentation, I get the feeling that the code is trying to "sneak" in a thought process we like under the guise of being friendly. I'm particularly thinking of this entry in the Unfriendly/Friendly table:

I came to get help, not to get my question edited.


Thanks for improving my question. ...

The difference between these statements is not just that one is unfriendly and the other is not. In one case the questioner objects to the edit, in the other they thank for the edit. We want edits to be good, and we want people to accept good edits, but edits are not always good. I think the code of conduct could benefit from acknowledging this and showing a graceful way to point it out. For example:

Thanks for trying to help, but your edit does not preserve the meaning of my question. I have rolled it back and tried to clarify the question with an edit of my own.

Accepting collaboration in the form of clarifying or generalizing edits is an important part of using SE and should be stated plainly, not be implicitly stated in an example of something else.

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    I think there are two issues in this area: OP objections to good edits (OPs sometimes seem to take edits as personal affronts), and OP objections to bad edits. The CoC example seems to be envisioning the first kind, but I agree that there is a potential confusion, and the suggested improved response doesn't make sense in the latter scenario. – John Bollinger Jul 26 at 16:07

I prefer this version to the previous one! I am glad that the changes made were all positive. I'm also happy that it is now on github. Of course, I still have some feedback, some of which was already echoed by others.

The main document

Be generous in both giving and accepting feedback.

This seems an odd use of the word generous. It reads to me as "be extensive in the quantity and length of feedback you give". Generous, when used as an adjective, means larger than expected. While feedback should be thorough, I don't think it should be generous. Instead, perhaps you could use a different and less ambiguous word.

No subtle put-downs or unfriendly language.

I still strongly dislike this wording. It is not only too vague to be enforced and extremely subjective, but can be used as an excuse both to troll and to be a backseat mod. Simply telling people to be nice to each other and be respectful encompases this. Unlike many of the other parts of the document, this one is based heavily on subjective opinions rather than intent. Instead, why not tell people to behave professionally in both feedback given and in response to feedback received? That is all we need.

Avoid jokes and sarcasm

Avoid jokes? Really? I can't tell you how much I dislike this. While it is true that tone is difficult to decipher on a text-based communication medium, we should absolutely not be told to refrain from making jokes. Instead, why not simply say to avoid making jokes at another's expense, or even to avoid making hurtful jokes? It's unnecessarily redundant to specify sarcasm, since that is already (typically) unfriendly. I've made jokes in some of my comments and answers. I hope I do not have to remove them, despite their benign nature.

The TL;DR

I think the tl;dr is too long now, given that the main document has been trimmed. Perhaps it should keep only the bolded text and either completely drop the rest, or make it significantly shorter. A tl;dr should be short enough that you won't just skim it.

Have we all forgotten about DRY? The chat tl;dr should not be distinct. The only difference between the two is that the chat rules don't tell you to be patient and welcoming. This is such a minor difference that there is no need to have two separate documents. The fact that it already has the conditional "if you're here to help others" (as opposed to only being here to socialize in chat), there is no need to remove it from the chat document.

Title of the document

I propose keeping the name of the Be Nice policy. I, like many others, dislike the term "Code of Conduct". I have seen too many projects fall into chaos when such things were created. It simply leaves a dirty taste in my mouth. The previous policy was called Be Nice which itself seems more of a friendly reminder that we are all here to learn, and less like an authoritarian document to be (ab)used by moderators and trolls at will.

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    I'm reading in order and your summary seems best to indicate my concerns. ty! I wrote above ; Benevolent humor is -part- of being friendly. So it's self-refuting to ask people to be friendly and stern imho. – AnneTheAgile Jul 20 at 22:04
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    I agree with your comments re: "generous". Perhaps "gracious" fits the meaning better? – Nate Barbettini Jul 25 at 5:13
  • @NateBarbettini Perhaps, or maybe "be professional when", or "be polite when". – forest Jul 25 at 5:14
  • +1 for all you said. – miraculixx Jul 25 at 20:46
  • "I still strongly dislike this wording...." Why? The entire, total point of this whole exercise is to finally stop putdowns on newbies on SO. "No subtle put-downs or unfriendly language." is perfectly clear. It should be simpler ("No putdowns on newbies") but that's not going to happen now that there is a committee involved. – Fattie Jul 28 at 15:30
  • @Fattie I explain why I dislike that wording in the same paragraph. It's too vague to enforce and too easy to abuse. – forest Jul 29 at 2:37
  • @forest - true enough, you did. Not that it matters but, your view is .. "Simply telling people to be nice to each other and be respectful encompases this...". I disagree. You know how corporations have those "mission statements". I think it was Virgin Airlines who had the fantastic one: We sell plane tickets for money. At the opposite end of such amazingly direct simplicity, is the current madness of this document in question. The whole, total, overall problem was just that on SO, many users were hitting newbs with putdowns.. That's ALL this is about - nothing else. – Fattie Jul 29 at 17:22
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    Subsequently, all they have to do is, under the "Submit comment" button, add one line of text in bold letters that ses: NO PUTDOWNS ON NEWBS. That's ALL they have to do. So, it need only say "No subtle put-downs on newbs" or "No slamming on newbs" or "No purdowns on newbs." That is ALL they had to do. You know how in many buildings you'll see a sign ............ "NO SMOKING". It's just that simple. The whole concept of a "document" is risible, puerile and whacky. Anyway! Cheers. – Fattie Jul 29 at 17:24
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    @Fattie It would be better if they simply said "be especially patient with people new to the site", rather than their current abusable wording. – forest Jul 30 at 1:24
  • I agree totally with that – Fattie Jul 30 at 1:34

From the Chat TL;DR:

Be kind. Be polite and friendly with others. Avoid jokes and sarcasm -- tone is hard to decipher online. If a situation makes it hard to act kindly, stop engaging and move on.

Please don't tell people to categorically avoid jokes and sarcasm in chat. Chat is full of jokes—in fact it is the place for making jokes, usually—and sarcasm is an ordinary part of conversation. Both of these things are fine. Conveying tone is is difficult, but finding out how to convey jokes well, and handling things when they land poorly, is just part of conversation.

Others have suggested rewording this focus on the difficulty of communication but really, this sentence just needs to be ditched.

Summarise that you shouldn't be a jerk or harass people or something instead here and let people handle poorly executed jokes sensibly like we currently do.

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    looks like this is status-kinda-planned: 'I think we're likely to go with "avoid sarcasm, be careful with jokes" ..' – gnat Jul 20 at 17:06
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    @gnat That's good news, thanks. 👍 – doppelgreener Jul 20 at 17:47
  • Instead of asking people to "avoid sarcasm, be careful with jokes" we should educate members to find the fun of it, perhaps by adding this excellent quote “There’s a humorous side to every situation. The challenge is to find it.” - George Carlin – miraculixx Jul 25 at 20:50
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    @miraculixx I disagree. Sarcasm is difficult to distinguish online, either because it's subtle, or because there is no vocal component. It's much better to say what you mean directly, rather than imply something and hope everyone else catches it. – mbomb007 Jul 31 at 14:33

'Avoid jokes' isn't a good suggestion on a site for human beings

Humour is often an essential part of friendly communication between humans.

Humourless conversation is, for many, unfriendly, alienating, and inhuman.

I understand that jokes are risky, and that you do sometimes have to think twice to consider whether they might be misinterpreted. I could understand a wording along the lines of

Be careful with jokes and sarcasm, especially when interacting with a user you don't know well.

But for all the good intent in the new CoC, 'avoid jokes' really seems like a step in the wrong direction. A site where humour is not allowed will be a site restricted in its level of kindness and friendliness, and may well be less welcoming and less inclusive as a result.

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    +1, as someone with a sense of humor I find this rule exclusionary – C8H10N4O2 Jul 25 at 0:54

What about sites that aren't for "help"?

I'm assuming that this code of conduct will be placed on each SE site across the network at <sitename>.stackexchange.com/help/be-nice, right? In that case, the wording doesn't make sense for certain sites. It says

  • If you’re here to get help, make it as easy as possible for others to help you. Our community is made possible by volunteers. Don't worry if others give feedback about your question -- they’re trying to make it helpful to as many people as possible.

  • If you’re here to help others, be patient and welcoming. Learning how to participate in our community can be daunting, especially if someone is new. Offer support if you see someone struggling or otherwise in need of help.

Overall, most SE sites are about helping users and sharing knowledge about topic. But not all of them. Most notably, both Programming Puzzles & Code Golf and Puzzling are about sharing and solving recreational puzzles/riddles for fun rather than sharing knowledge about a particular topic.

With that in mind, some of the wording is... awkward. And encourages the wrong behavior. I can't really speak for puzzling, since I don't use that site very much. But there are some things I notice for Code-golf.

If you’re here to get help, make it as easy as possible for others to help you.

Code-golf already has a pretty serious issue with new users asking coding-help questions. This wording seems to imply that is appropriate for the site.

Don't worry if others give feedback about your question

Code-golf doesn't have questions. It has challenges. Similarly on Puzzling, I'd assume they have "Riddles" instead of "Questions".

If you’re here to help others, be patient and welcoming.

For the most part, the majority of users answers questions challenges are there for recreation rather than to help the OP with a particular problem they're having. There are tips questions, but those are the exception rather than the rule.

Will nitpicks like these be customizable per-site?

  • over on puzzling, there are questions about building or solving puzzles and the like, but yeah the majority of them are puzzles to solve. challenges would probably a good word to use on puzzling as well, as riddles are just a specific type of puzzle, and there are many types of puzzles featured on puzzling. – Dragonrage Jul 19 at 19:09
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    Good one. On Hinduism, questions asking for help are off-topic. And sentences like "Please help me" will be edited out on SE. Following both will be a contradiction and both to users. – Nog Shine Jul 19 at 19:11
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    possibly "help" can somehow change to "answer" to have it work across all the sites. I checked tour pages at sites you mentioned - both CG and Puzzling say "Ask questions, get answers, no distractions..." – gnat Jul 19 at 19:12
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    @gnat Which is something we desperately want to change but SE hasn't let us yet. – DJMcMayhem Jul 19 at 19:13
  • wow, these CG meta discussions make great food for thought. And much of what I've found there seems to apply to Puzzling as well. Still, word answer seems much better fit than help. "Solution" would probably be even more future-proof but I am not sure if it would be okay to use while tour page at CG stays "old-fashioned" – gnat Jul 19 at 19:38
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    I usually edit out "please help me" in Unix&Linux to 1) streamline questions, cutting out fluff 2) Because I think people looking desperate does not look well. 3) Because actually at the end of the day, we are on a technical forum and our main concern is having a DB of answers and questions. – Rui F Ribeiro Jul 19 at 21:48
  • I think the verbiage here is that "to get help" just means "to get an answer to the question you have" which all sites fall under. I agree the language should be clarified/specified. – TylerH Jul 23 at 13:45

I just want to point out two, in my opinion, great improvements:

1) The examples of unacceptable behavior

They are less exaggerated than in the first version and it helps that you show not only what not to say, but also how to do it better.

Still, allow me a little bit of nitpicking (p. 2):

This is called Invariance and Covariance. If you Google it, you’ll find tutorials that can explain it much better than we can in a comment here.

If you wrote that, you might receive a reply that you shouldn't answer in comments. So I suggest this little change:

This is called Invariance and Covariance. If you Google it, you’ll find tutorials that can explain it much better than we can in an answer here.

2) Reporting and Enforcement

It's good that you dropped the part about replying (via comment or chat message), as this would probably have caused more problems. Unacceptable behavior should preferably be handled by moderators.

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    yeh I agree that google comment needs to be tweaked it's really open to wide interpretation. I can see it be argued up hill and down dale. "why was my comment deleted?" or "why was my flag declined?" – Yvette Colomb Jul 19 at 16:59
  • I would much rather see an answer in a comment than "you could google that." – Joshua Jul 19 at 23:09
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    @Joshua But users shouldn't answer in the comments, and users should google before asking. So why would you prefer to see an incorrect use of comments, rather than a correct if terse use? I'd totally agree if you said you'd rather see a friendly comment directing the user to the How to Ask page, rather than "you could google that.". – AndyJ Jul 20 at 7:43
  • I have made a comment to that extend a few times. It might have been lost without context but that comment is not an answer, because it does not answer the question (admittedly hard to see without the question). It simply gives the OP a set of search terms so he can read up on a concept and then find their answer with that improved understanding of what is happening in his code. Actually writing a full answer would have been too long for our format. But I don't mind your suggestion for the change. It's fine either way. – nvoigt Jul 20 at 9:56
  • Sometimes, despite the site's bias for long self-contained answers, the answer someone really needs is "this is what this thing is called, and here's how to find out more about it." It's hard to know what to search for if you don't know what something is called. I don't see what's wrong with posting an answer to that effect, which takes basically the same amount of effort as doing so in a comment – Zach Lipton Jul 20 at 18:55
  • For unacceptable behavior, I'm still more concerned that "no harassment" is listed as unacceptable. I know everyone knows what you mean... but the double negative really undermines that section. – Tezra Jul 23 at 17:39

The Q&A TL;DR is too long.

The Q&A TL;DR, while shorter than the full version, is still 3/4 of a page long and contains 187 words and seven paragraphs (or two paragraphs and five bullets). It's doubtful that a new person with an urgent drive-by question will read all of that.

Since bringing a problem without suggesting a solution is rude, I'll offer a suggestion: How about just keeping the boldface parts for the TL;DR version?

This is still seven paragraphs (or two paras and five bullets), but it's only 67 words and doesn't look so much like a wall of scolding text.

Welcome to Stack Overflow

We’re committed to building a kind, collaborative learning community. By participating here, you are committing to our Code of Conduct:

  • If you’re here to get help, make it as easy as possible for others to help you.

  • If you’re here to help others, be patient and welcoming.

  • Be generous in both giving and accepting feedback.

  • Be kind.

  • [Flag harmful behavior](#reporting-enforcement), whether it’s directed at you or others.

For more, see our [Code of Conduct](LINK).

  • Perhaps, "Be receptive to feedback and be generous when giving feedback." – Wildcard Jul 19 at 22:11
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    Yes, "be receptive" is covered by someone else's answer. I'm just addressing the length of the "TL;DR". – shoover Jul 19 at 22:14
  • Maybe also shorten the Chat TL;DR in this way -- just use the headings. – jkdev Jul 20 at 2:05
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    Or have the tl;dr apply to both chat and the main sites, since the "if" is a conditional. After all, some people might be here just to hang out in chat after a long day at work, not to help or be helped. That "if" already prevents it from being superfluous and allows it to be used for chat as well. – forest Jul 20 at 3:34
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    Either way, a TL;DR is supposed to be short. :-) – shoover Jul 20 at 15:00
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    Or just delete the TLDR. It seemed redundant to me, almost the same size/space as the main. TLDR is supposed to be to summarize in 1/10 or better compression. – AnneTheAgile Jul 20 at 21:57
  • I agree, the TL;DR sections were far too long. Either shorten them significantly or just get rid of them. – John Hascall Jul 21 at 23:02
  • This is of course much better than the absurd long document. Since the entire point of this exercise if to stop putdown on newbs, all you have to do is add under the comment button "No putdowns on newbies." – Fattie Jul 28 at 15:34

@Undo This just codifies the rules that we already use, moderation is still at the discretion of the individual moderators, and we've clarified that in this revision. - Tim

Emphasis mine.

I have to disagree here. This CoC goes above and beyond the current policy and, at least reads as such, is much more harsh than the current policy. Should it be policed to the letter, I can't imagine many users sticking around.

Criticism is no longer acceptable unless you bring it with a feathery touch. Jokes are no longer acceptable at all. Are we still allowed to happily and freely (both as in speech and as in at no cost) share our knowledge?

I don't know what SE has become, but it used to be a community by developers for developers. To share knowledge. We share that knowledge the way a developer does. All the sister sister sites were, initially, about themese that were relevant to developers (professional and hobbyist).

These rules feel like they were made by managers. A document meant to be (politically) correct at any and all times and ignore reality. That's what it feels like. And without being able to pinpoint the exact cause or or knowing how to fix it, I'd almost say we got bigger problems at hand. A policy codification isn't going to make SE more welcoming and that was if I remember the main cause for all this.

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    We're very likely going to change the text to not suggest avoiding jokes outright, but to be careful with them. And that encapsulates all we want folks to do, be thoughtful in advance of how one might interpret what you say, and be receptive to changing tone if it's pointed out that it's being ill-received. We've had that since 2008, we just didn't really need to define and write it down somewhere until now, in 2018. I know folks feel apprehensive about this, but all I can say is most that would actually take the time to consider the policy wouldn't find themselves on the wrong end of it. – Tim Post Jul 23 at 14:22
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    @TimPost I don't want to have a mandate to be thoughtful because that means I get dinged for writing something perfectly normal that is received as an insult due to cultural differences. For example, a perfectly clear technical explanation can feel like an insult if the receiver thinks that it belittles his intelligence by restating things he already knows (but perhaps didn't communicate). Politeness and tone are important but secondary to the ability to clearly express intent and details. – FUZxxl Jul 30 at 20:56
  • @FUZxxl We already have a mandate to be thoughtful, just through ordinary politeness, and kinda vaguely reinforced by our current be-nice policy. Telling someone something they already know isn't belittling or demeaning in and of itself, but adding "everyone knows you first have to" could be. But if you had the presence of mind to be concerned there, you probably already know that, we just need to reinforce it for the folks that lose sight of that. – Tim Post Jul 31 at 13:09

Maybe it's just me, but "be generous in both giving and accepting feedback" doesn't seem quite right. The most natural meaning of "generous" here is to give a lot of feedback, but this is a code of conduct – the more important point is that feedback should be "kind, respectful, clear, and constructive." And "generosity" in receiving feedback is even less clear.

Thus I'd suggest changing "generous" to gracious,1 so that the sentence reads:

Be gracious in both giving and accepting feedback.

To me, encouraging users to be generous in the "leave more feedback" sense seems better suited for individual metas than a global Code of Conduct. But if I'm off base, another possibility would be to use both words:

Be gracious and generous in both giving and accepting feedback.

Note that the sentence in question shows up in the CoC, the Q&A, and the Chat sections; I'm recommending updating it everywhere it appears.


HT to Dragonrage for suggesting this word, though I'm suggesting it be used in a different location.

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    I think generous or gracious is not the words you are after.... at least from the point of view of a non-English native the former seems....strange, and the latter archaic. – Rui F Ribeiro Jul 19 at 21:50
  • "Understanding" perhaps? – Draco18s Jul 20 at 1:14
  • I think generous is the intent. – Joshua Jul 20 at 13:19
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    Generous doesn't really make sense to me though. I don't agree being generous can be part of a CoC - or rather, if it is enforced, it will be a different unwelcoming. I have 5 minutes. I choose: try to answer or not? If I answer and someone else deems I didn't make it verbose/'generous' enough, am I reprimanded? The beauty of SO is the very tiny time requirement. – AnneTheAgile Jul 20 at 22:01

Be kind. Be [...] friendly with others. [...]

I'm not really sure friendly is a suitable word on there. While the CoC follows with some example of friendly language, the previous instance of "friendly" might get misunderstood with "greeting" (e.g. "Hi", "Hello") and "salutation" (e.g. "Good morning") in a post, or posting chatty comments to get "friendly", those which we have previously considered them as noise.

However, as of current, I'm not sure if there's a better word choice for this.

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    possibly "gracious" as a replacement? – Dragonrage Jul 19 at 17:41
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    Yeah, this might be better off without the 'friendly'. I kinda like the 'professional' attitude that's on SE. I've had people call me 'friend' that I definitely not consider as being a friend. It's going to give the same problems as 'uncomfortable' in the previous draft: People might think they can be overtly friendly and others that you're not friendly enough, all the while dismissing feedback on that behaviour as 'we're just being friendly!' – Tinkeringbell Jul 19 at 18:15
  • Yes it could be confused. – danny117 Jul 26 at 20:47

No subtle put-downs or unfriendly language behaviour

Friendliness is about behaviour. If we're talking about language, that's about civility and politeness. Moderating our words to give the appearance of civility and politeness is fine, but I can have really unfriendly behaviour with entirely friendly language: see the concept of backhanded compliments. (“Goodness, you're doing much better at using English today.”)

If we're aiming to be a friendly environment, we need to embody that with the behaviour we provide, not just the words we use.

So in the interest of pursuing small sentence tweaks, this is the one I'd suggest.

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    I'm kinda torn on this one. On one hand, you are right about it. On the other, the CoC is really only about people interacting through language. Close-Votes and down-votes are included in "behavior" too, and are probably not considered friendly be the owner of the post... but they are necessary. So we will see unfriendly behavior as part of the sites effort to remain productive. – nvoigt Jul 22 at 10:55
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    @nvoigt The 'owner' of a post, by which I assume you mean the post's original author, does not get to decide what counts as friendly, however, so that's not a major issue. Close votes et al are not unfriendly from the perspective of the network, which is what's important for the network's code of conduct, I think. – the dark wanderer Aug 12 at 8:34

It looks good.

Perhaps make a mention:

Tolerance. It's important to remember we're a global community, what may be rude in one culture, may be considered direct and useful in another, what may be considered as excessive ingratiation in one culture, may be considered as refined and polite conduct in another. Also for many users English is a second language and sentence structure can sometimes come off as sounding rude. If in doubt clarify, rather than assume the worst.

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    I honestly think this is a good and important suggestion that's fairly clear to anyone who is acting in good faith. Maybe it needs some rewording for rule-lawyering, I don't know. Either way, +1. – heather Jul 19 at 17:37
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    Do agree. The rule must be explicit that non English native should do their best to write correct English, but that all should be tolerant in front of syntax errors or spelling mistakes. – Serge Ballesta Jul 20 at 8:16
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    If we all agree that tolerance needs to be read as be tolerant to receiving critique on your own behavior despite that your behavior stems from your own cultural background instead of You all need to be tolerant because this is how things work in my culture I'm fine with adding that mention. In other words: We are more looking to work towards a common acceptable denominator of behavior (and words we use) across all cultures (the "true" SE culture). – rene Jul 21 at 7:42
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    And there are variations even among different generations in a culture. I am the son of a dictatorship. The generations of my parents and my own where of self-made men, the culture and of us being blunt and direct is very different from someone 6-8 years younger than me. – Rui F Ribeiro Jul 22 at 11:10
  • @RuiFRibeiro that is so true. Our current teenagers are almost alien at times to the older members. I'm sure technology has played a role in that. – Yvette Colomb Jul 23 at 5:06
  • @YvetteColomb Well, they are saying they want to be inclusive of minorities. I am a couple of years of being in the bracket of 1% here. ;-P – Rui F Ribeiro Jul 23 at 5:57

This makes me really sad. I've invested so much time in math.SE. It won't feel the same if you adopt this code. It's slightly improved over the first version, but to my mind it's still an essentially totalitarian document. A site that tries to be welcoming by telling people under pain of consequences that they must avoid jokes is a very sad paradox. I hope you'll see how narrow-minded this is at some point and revoke it. Until then, I won't feel all that welcome anymore.

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    It seems from most of the answers here that your view on humor is in the majority. – Charles Aug 1 at 16:59

Those who don’t follow the Code of Conduct in good faith may face repercussions deemed appropriate by our moderation team.

'in good faith' is underlined. Maybe consider changing that to bold? I tried to click it, as I thought it was a link.

All the emphasis is done in bold, and all the links are underlined. That 'in good faith' is the only thing that deviates from it and that bugs me.

-[Flag harmful behavior](#reporting-enforcement), whether it’s directed at you or others. Every person contributes to creating a respectful community.

For more, see our [Code of Conduct](LINK).

From the Q&A TL;DR and Chat TL;DR: Just pointing out that the links are still missing, you might want to edit those in before you put it live.


As for the part on 'jokes and sarcasm':

Coming from an IPS mod, making a joke underneath a question if you're not the OP is definitely not a good idea, the questions are often about personal stuff and someone joking about that might actually be hurtful. Even then, jokes can also come in the form of mild self-deprecating remarks put in the question, a deliberate funny choice of words... Banning all of them won't work, realizing they might be a bad idea is a good thing though.

Banning jokes from chat (it's in the chat TL;DR as well) won't be received enthusiastically either. But seeing a room where people are constantly aiming jokes at each other, and the jokes being about the other person itself, might make new users feel hesitant to participate in fear of being ridiculed.

It might be good to focus on jokes directed at a person or the situation they're in. A general play on words, or funny cat picture shouldn't be banned. Jokes directed at people or groups of people might do a lot of harm though. So, I think the use of the word 'jokes' is a little too broad here, and I'd suggest narrowing that down a little to avoid people thinking there's no fun allowed on SE!

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    How about just no hurtful jokes? – forest Jul 20 at 3:02
  • Banning funny cat pictures might make chatrooms actually useful. – Peter Taylor Jul 20 at 12:57
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    @PeterTaylor, of course. That differs per room though, there's rooms very strict on usefulness that don't allow any off-topic conversation, and there's rooms that don't mind being a meeting place for community members and having fun when there's no business to be done. If there's not much to discuss with regards to posts on main/meta, a chatroom can get pretty deserted if you're only allowed to talk about that. Better to allow people to have fun and be there when there's business, than having them never visiting chat because there's nothing to do. – Tinkeringbell Jul 20 at 13:01

Regardless of intent, this behavior can have a significant negative impact on others.

Consider more plain language: "Even if you don't intend it, people can take this kind of language very personally."

(I actually think this statement is super important. So much of the arguing over "unwelcoming" behaviour seems to boil down to "But when I say X, I'm not intending to be a dick, I'm just saying X. People shouldn't be so sensitive.")

Consider expanding, "..., especially when their cultural background is different to yours."

“I came to get help, not to get my question edited.”

The "friendly" version of this comes off weird and passive-aggressive to me.

“Thanks for improving my question. I’m happy to provide any other info you’ll need to answer it.”

Suggestion that partially preserves intent:

"Thanks for the edit - I realise it was a bit unclear before."

Unacceptable behaviour

Unacceptable Behavior

No subtle put-downs or unfriendly language...

It seems slightly incorrect to start these bullet points as "No X" under the rubric "Unacceptable". The unacceptable behaviour here is the subtle put-downs or unfriendly language.

Culture

I'm surprised there's no direct reference to the number of different cultures using this same site. I'm sure that part of the problem is American users believing the site to be "American culture by default", and I think it would be worth directly addressing that. Even if just half a sentence, "people from many countries", or whatever.

  • I don't think culture is relevant. If someone is assuming people are from the same culture they are, they are just making a mistake. That should be on different than assuming someone is using the same toolchain or operating system that they are. It should not be part of a code of conduct. – forest Jul 20 at 3:04
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    I think you can make a similar argument about almost anything in the code of conduct: "People shouldn't need to be told to be nice, they should just be nice". – Steve Bennett Jul 20 at 3:27
  • If I incorrectly assume that everyone knows what building codes I have to follow on DIY, I am not being rude, but I am failing to communicate effectively (by leaving out relevant information). I should be reminded that not everyone lives where I live in the document explaining how to ask good questions and what information to provide, not the document explaining how not to be a jerk. – forest Jul 20 at 3:33
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    Interesting, I feel that your examples support my argument, not yours. Pointing out that people work with different toolchains, operating systems, building codes - yes, these belong in the "how to ask a good question" area. Pointing out that people have different cultural assumptions and interpret English differently and therefore to be extra careful how you phrase things? That's Code of Conduct. (IMHO). – Steve Bennett Jul 20 at 4:00
  • I can imagine that someone might make a joke that is acceptable in their culture but considered rude in another culture (many people in Japan are not offended by being called "slant eyed" and sometimes use it as a joke, but Japanese Americans, for example, would be highly offended), but that would already fall under other areas of the document. I cannot think of any likely situation where a cultural difference will lead to someone being rude simply by assuming that everyone shares the same culture without violating another area of the code as well. – forest Jul 20 at 4:02
  • Cool. FYI, that's known as an "argument from incredulity". – Steve Bennett Jul 20 at 4:15
  • What? I am not making an argument here, just stating that I cannot think of any such situation. I'm not trying to imply that such situations cannot exist, just that, if they do, I am ignorant of them. I hope it didn't come off the wrong way. – forest Jul 20 at 4:16
  • When I think of assumptions regarding culture causing problems, I think of things like leaving out important details in their question (or answer) and wasting people's time, in which case I do not see how it would be classified as being rude. What sort of problems were you thinking of that would be? I genuinely want to know to further my understanding, I am not trying to imply that they do not exist. – forest Jul 20 at 4:22
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    @forest, how about someone from the US who insists that "black African" means African-American and does not include black citizens of countries in Africa? That's a pretty extreme example of cultural blindness resulting in being rude to a billion people, but entirely genuine. – Peter Taylor Jul 20 at 12:46
  • I totally support adding "people from many countries". There's entirely too much assumption of cultural homogeneity here, while users are far from that.. – user397846 Jul 24 at 21:18

This is a tremendous improvement. Thank you for listening to our feedback!

I saw some serious issues with the last draft, I like the current one. The following are things that maybe can be improved further. If not, I'm happy with it as it stands.


This Code of Conduct helps us build a learning community that is rooted in kindness, collaboration, and mutual respect.

We are not actually a learning community. We offer no structured learning here. You cannot learn how to program by just going on StackOverflow and start reading. Sure, we all hope people learn from what they read here, but that's a byproduct of getting a solution to a problem.

Maybe just omit it? It doesn't lose any of it's message:

This Code of Conduct helps us build a community that is rooted in kindness, collaboration, and mutual respect.

(same goes for the sentence at the bottom : "Thank you for working with us to build a kind, collaborative, and respectful learning community. ". Just omit the "learning".)


where all people feel welcome and can participate, regardless of expertise or identity

This sounds great... but it's simply not true. There is no way to participate on Stack Overflow for example, if you cannot program (in whatever language on whatever level, but zero just doesn't work). Sure the site works, you can click all the buttons and write text but it will get you nowhere. A site for "professionals and enthusiasts" means you will need to be one of them or options for participation will be close to nil. I don't know what you meant to say, maybe "education" would be a better word? I don't care where somebody learned to program or if they are right in the middle. Was that what you meant?


Don't worry if others give feedback about your question -- they’re trying to make it helpful to as many people as possible

"Don't worry" sounds a little off here. Maybe something long the lines of:

Be open for feedback about your question -- we are trying to make it helpful to as many people as possible


If you’re here to get help, make it as easy as possible for others to help you. [...]

If you’re here to help others, be patient and welcoming. [...]

I'd say just skip the conditions. They don't do anything really.

Make it as easy as possible for others to help you. [...]

Be patient and welcoming. [...]


“I think you’re asking how to add a swap after system installation. Is that correct?”

That makes it sounds like the unfriendly version was just flat out wrong. Assuming it isn't and it really is hard to understand to a point where one cannot make sense of it:

I have problems understanding your English. It is unclear to me what you are asking. Could you please edit your question to be easier to read?"


“Thanks for improving my question. I’m happy to provide any other info you’ll need to answer it.”

To me this sounds... uhm... dishonest or sarcastic. Again it's not actually on the same level in regards to the meaning of the comment. If you did not like the edit that was made, there should be nice ways to disapprove.

Thanks for trying to improve my question. Your edit wasn't exactly what I intended but I guess that means my original text was hard to understand. I have edited it again to clarify what I meant.


Those who don’t follow the Code of Conduct in good faith may face repercussions deemed appropriate by our moderation team.

That sentence sounds like it's a patchwork of words. Especially the "good faith" part seems tagged on later. I agree with the meaning, but the wording seems awkward to me. But maybe that's just me. I did not come up with any better suggestions either. Native speakers to the rescue?


as for the two different TL;DRs:

It seems as if in chat people don't need to be helpful and patient or make it easy to help them. That does not make sense to me. Just use the same TL;DR for both please. Especially since comments can be moved to chat, having two sets of rules would be weird.


We don’t tolerate any language likely to offend or alienate

Please replace that with

We don’t tolerate any language intended to offend or alienate

While that leaves us with a very vague mind reading ability of moderators to tell me whether I intended something, I think it's better than asking the perceived victim. The moderators should be a relatively neutral third party. Asking either the victim or the perp if the crime was a crime is pointless. That takes a third party to find out.

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    +1 The phrases you point out at the start read to me like traps, setting people up with incorrect expectations about how the sites work in practice. I also agree that the "system installation" and "thanks" bad/good examples seem suboptimal — in fact they give me the creeps a bit. In this tabular format they're presented like they mean "if you want to say A, say B instead" but B doesn't express what's going on in A at all. Especially the "thanks" — what if I am frustrated by edits? This is telling me to put on a facade of being grateful for them, and that would just be disingenuous of me. – doppelgreener Jul 22 at 11:49
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    What would happen when in the where all people feel welcome and can participate, regardless of expertise or identity you leave the expertise in but replace all people with professionals and/or enthusiasts? You use that words yourself to explain who the sites are for. And professionals and/or enthusiasts still covers for all sites. – rene Jul 22 at 13:57
  • I also agree on the use of intended in your last example. it is also proposed here: meta.stackexchange.com/a/312953/158100 – rene Jul 22 at 13:59

Unacceptable Behavior

I am in agreeance with most of the examples in this section the only one I do not agree with is stating "You could Google this in 5 seconds". I do not see this as a subtle put-down. More of a reminder that the question should be googled first before asking a question here as very often if not most often an answer has already been provided. That said the rest of this section I agree with.

Welcome to Stack Overflow

"Don't worry if others give feedback about your question". This seams broad to me and maybe needs to be more specific. Not all feedback is constructive so maybe reword this to be more specific to the type of feedback. "Don't take constructive feedback the wrong way - - The commenter is just trying to help you improve your post." For the most part the rest of this section is clear and acceptable IMO.

Avoid jokes and sarcasm

One final note that applies to all sections of conduct is the portion about jokes. Jokes and Sarcasm are simply a tone of levity that is part of the Q/A and chat culture we participate in. I think it better to say "No bigoted/raciest/sexist jokes/sarcasm" As many jokes and sarcastic remarks can be fun for all and not abusive in the least. So instead of avoiding all jokes/sarcasm we should avoid the harmful kind. I don't know about you but I don't want to participate in a chat that is dryer than the prohibition. That was a joke (though not the best one I have made). It hurts no one it is not targeted at a person but serves to point out that under this rule the chat would be rather boring and people would eventually leave.

I am not sure if the For more, see our [Code of Conduct](LINK). link in this document is meant to be broken at the moment as I was wanting to read up on the full post and not just the TL;DR. It is not a big deal but wanted to point it out just in case it needed to actually be a valid link.

  • You indirectly say it is google, not Google, as a verb ("You could google this in 5 seconds."). Perhaps make that more clear in your answer? – Peter Mortensen Jul 24 at 22:23
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    @PeterMortensen It's just a quote from the doc's. I will correct the case. It is not unclear to anyone I am sure. We all know what Google is. – Mike - SMT Jul 25 at 21:13
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    "the only one I do not agree with is stating "You could Google this in 5 seconds"". The problem is a lot of the time people tell someone to "just google it" they would have happily done it if they only knew what to google. The draft has an example that transforms an almost useless "just google it" to the very useful and friendly (but still not doing the homework for anyone) “This is called Invariance and Covariance. If you Google it, you’ll find tutorials that can explain it much better than we can in a comment here.” – Erik I Jul 28 at 19:01
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    @ErikI Any time I have said to google it I have provided a link that was simply googling the OPs question title. That said I still don't see a comment that says "Google it" as a put down of any kind and that was the point of my statement on this portion of the CoC. It may not be helpful but it is still not a put-down. Just a reminder to google it. – Mike - SMT Jul 28 at 19:05

In my opinion, what this document might not cover is the underlying different expectations of the diverse communities of users.

We have here many cultures, generations, sensitivities and several walks of life mixed here, and over time, I only have seen a one-size-fits all culture.

It all boils down to expectations. We have visiting here such groups as people coming here with the expectations:

  • advanced professionals coming here expecting to share their views and grow with other professionals
  • to teach
  • to learn
  • expecting to have help desk services with elementary stuff
  • expecting that we write their questions for them
  • hoping to have consulting in scenarios too complex for we to evaluate
  • asking us to do their own work/home work/take ownership of their own problems
  • validate/approve their actions
  • dropping out of topic questions in certain groups because they known knowledgeable people is hanging there
  • and lastly, we have the expectations of the own Stack Overflow team.

Ultimately, it is not always easy to coordinate or find common ground on such disparate objectives.

Whilst often I get the impression there is a wish to impose a policy of "there are no bad questions", obviously at the end of the day, some roles that are expected of us from some of those groups cannot and won´t be assumed.

But most importantly of all, I often feel the CoC does not address this and is only concerned with feelings.

PS. As for myself, I have come here to grow as a professional, I come here often to learn and unreel from work, and I often feel I am not here to do help desk work (for free), but to share my knowledge.

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    The CoC isn't about quality. Low quality content doesn't make it OK to be rude. Quality requirements still exist. There is such a thing as a poorly asked or off topic question - that hasn't changed. What we need is for users to treat everyone respectfully, regardless of the quality of their posts. And, I would argue that the CoC does address this to an extent, particularly when asking users to take feedback on their posts as an attempt to help, rather than criticism. – Catija Jul 19 at 22:40
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    @Catija Many people does not understand you can be lacking on respect to other people while not being rude – Rui F Ribeiro Jul 19 at 22:45
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    There's a difference between "being respectful" and "respecting" someone. "Respecting" someone implies that you look up to them. "Being respectful" means you treat them fairly. They're two different things. Disagreement and constructive criticism is not treating someone with disrespect, it's an attempt to help them improve. As the CoC says: Be generous in both giving and accepting feedback. Feedback is a healthy part of our culture. Good feedback is kind, respectful, clear and constructive. Be open to receiving feedback. – Catija Jul 19 at 22:47
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    Well, one thing is, I accord everyone with repect..until they show otherwise. Unfortunately, by the time I have read even the title of some questions, the OP has already lost that respect. If I open the question and find a no-effort homework dump, there is next-to-no respect;( – Martin James Jul 20 at 11:43

I have some doubts and concerns regarding Chat TL;DR.

I agree with Tim's answer about using feedback word heavily in the document.

Chat TL;DR:

Be generous in both giving and accepting feedback. Feedback is a healthy part of our culture. Good feedback is kind, respectful, clear and constructive. Be open to receiving feedback.

I understand feedback when it's used in the context of Q&A. But I don't know what kind of feedback do we get on Chat? I thought it is for discussion about the main & meta sites but in a bit informal way. I mostly visit chat for having fun time and get refreshed from meta discussions and main site question and answers.

Be kind. Be polite and friendly with others. Avoid jokes and sarcasm -- tone is hard to decipher online. If a situation makes it hard to act kindly, stop engaging and move on.

I can understand about sarcasm which might hurt users in some situations. But what about jokes? There are thousands of jokes shared between users. There are chat rooms dedicated for funny gifs. So, is saying to avoid jokes a barrier for having fun? I think this would not give a very good result in bringing new users to chat. Users visiting chat may feel it is also a serious place like Meta or main. In reality, they are quite opposite. People are fun loving and jovial. Asking them to be careful while being sarcastic is fine (which will be done by moderators anyway) but adding a line to avoid sarcasm and jokes in a policy which all should be bound could bring a hesitation in new users.

Our chat rooms are bit different than other platforms. This already creates some confusion when used for the first time. Using misleading info (about avoiding jokes and sarcasm) and serious guidelines could make the chat experience bad. The wording can be improved in this section.

  • I guess feedback in chat can be in the form of 'Oh hey, instead of pinging a moderator, it's generally better if you raise a flag', 'Would you mind and take the Markdown experiments to the Sandbox so the discussion can continue?', that kind of stuff. Also, comments on a post may be moved to chat, generally moving the feedback process there as well. – Tinkeringbell Jul 19 at 19:22

Unacceptable Behavior

For the third bullet point, how about...

No bigotry. We don’t tolerate any language meant to offend or alienate people based on things such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.

This includes three changes:

1. "Meant to offend or alienate" would replace the vague and open-ended "Likely to offend or alienate."

It's often hard for well-meaning and respectful individuals to predict what is "likely" to offend or alienate, especially when dealing with different cultures from around the world. People should be careful -- but they shouldn't be treated like bigots if they make an honest mistake.

2. "When in doubt, just don't" would be removed.

Guidelines like "When in doubt, just don't" are for people who don't mean harm, but are just not being careful enough. That's different from actual bigotry, which surely belongs under Unacceptable Behavior.

3. "Things such as" would substitute for "and those are just a few examples."

Simpler, more succinct, and more readable.

And I think the phrasing "things such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion" is just flexible enough to include types of bigotry not on the list, yet limited enough so people cannot stretch it to cover whatever they want.

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    The flip side of "People shouldn't be treated like bigots if they make a simple mistake" is that when someone makes a simple mistake and someone else gently points it out in a comment, the ideal result is that the first person rephrases. Putting the emphasis on intention increases the potential for a long comment thread arguing "That's not what I meant" vs "But that's how it comes across to me". – Peter Taylor Jul 20 at 11:44
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    Disagree on the first bit exactly for what Peter Taylor wrote: "But I didn't mean it like that!" is an all too common excuse for offensive behaviour. You're right that people can and will make honest mistakes, but if they're honest mistakes, and acted upon by others in a manner compatible with the COC (so no jumping to name calling!), there should not be any harm. – hvd Jul 20 at 12:37
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    I appreciate the intent here, but judging people's intent can go counter "assume good faith". – Nemo Jul 20 at 16:35
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    One way to judge people's intent is to see how they respond to "You unintentionally offended someone" -- people who posted in good faith are likely to apologize, back down, and/or remove their offending remarks. Not always, but as a general rule. Let's cut people some slack and give them a chance to reverse themselves. – jkdev Jul 20 at 18:45

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