238

Stack Overflow has successfully borrowed at least one XBox feature (Achievements). I'd like to see another feature borrowed as well.

Let's say I'm playing Halo online and another player is being a bigot. I have the option to add him to a list of ignored users. After doing that, all the racist things he says will never be heard through my headphones anymore.

Now, on Stack Overflow, I'd like the ability to add a user to a list of ignored users. This would hide all of that user's comments, and maybe his questions and answers as well (not sure if hiding questions/answers is necessary).

This serves multiple purposes:

  1. It would make it easy for users to avoid other users' flamebait.
  2. It would give users a more appropriate response to flamebait.
  3. The ability to start flame wars would be reduced, since fewer users would see those comments.
  4. Users would now have an incentive to be more diplomatic, as there is now a negative consequence to the behavior (the silent treatment).
  5. Administrators could review which users are the most often ignored, which would be a strong indication that someone should be put in the penalty box or even locked out of their account.
  6. Administrators wouldn't have to spend as much time dealing with complaints about abusive users, since users would have a better way to respond.

annakata makes a good point in a comment to an answer, that I thought should get more visibility:

I had a problem, reported it and got the response "not bad enough to do anything about, sorry". Which is kind of true, because the only options available to the mods are the nuclear one (penalty box) and the zero-effect one (do nothing). We need a middle ground option where abuse can be handled for you without also being handled for everyone.

  • 4
    Sorry Kip, I'm with ya, but let's keep this feature suggestion in the abstract – Kyle Cronin Jul 7 '09 at 20:14
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    Fighting with "Power Users" and moderators. Gutsy. – Jeffrey Jul 7 '09 at 20:14
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    This would be my #1 feature request by a long mile – bananakata Jul 7 '09 at 20:31
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    @Kyle, nice edit... @Kip, pretty funny alias! – Mark Harrison Jul 8 '09 at 7:35
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    "who constantly have to intervene to resolve petty conflicts" - I'll reserve judgement on that; personally, I find the calls to blacklist users far more distracting.... – Marc Gravell Jul 15 '09 at 22:16
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    I agree with Marc. All the talk about ignoring users or attempting to ostracize users via these posts is getting really tiresome. If you have complaints, voice them to the proper authorities and let those in charge make the decision if something needs to be done about it. – TheTXI Jul 15 '09 at 22:24
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    @TXI: to be fair, though, he was talking about lightening the mods' load. If the mods don't think they need their workload is that great, then it might not apply. But well said, otherwise. I have (facetiously) proposed that SO be run like a MUD, we earn weapons and spells to win edit duals and temporary "wards" against our "foes".... 'cause it almost sounds like life or death the way some people sound. – Axeman Jul 17 '09 at 14:35
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    +1. Useful for other reasons than avoiding abusive users too. – MarkJ Sep 16 '09 at 21:07
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    +1. I would very much like to see this implemented. – TrueWill Oct 11 '09 at 0:45
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    I request this feature. If I ever felt bad about ignoring someone, I could click 'unignore'. Why should users with high reputations be able to abuse me and go unpunished? I know if I go toe-to-toe with these users, I'll likely get banned, so I'd rather ignore them like any sensible person would. Instead, I have to let them ream me, and whoever the sadistic programmers behind this site are, they must like it. I absolutely hate it when sites don't let you ignore users. Even if they have something to contribute, I'd sooner see them banned for their abusive language. – 千里ちゃん Jul 26 '11 at 3:47
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    Also, from a psychological perspective, control = happiness. – 千里ちゃん Jul 26 '11 at 3:48
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    This is the most extreme example of closed-mindedness that I can possibly imagine. It also pushes SO in completely the wrong direction, to a site focused on users and social interaction, rather than one based on questions and answers. I'm very much opposed, and not in the way that "I would never use this", but in the way that "I think this is actively harmful for the site". If there is a problem, we want you to point it out to the moderators. If it's not worth pointing out, then you're obviously being over-sensitive and need to grow up a bit. Don't improve the site only for yourself. – Cody Gray Jul 27 '11 at 5:00
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    Take a sample from any real life society, and you're going to find personality disorders. How are people supposed to deal with those? This site is crawling with losers who stalk and harass people, and there's no way to deal with it because there was little thought put into the administration pipeline. If you report someone for annoying you, that person can get together with his 'social network' and harass you by closing all of your questions. You want to talk about closed mindedness, how about racists? I guess people should just change their skin tone? Cody's solution: blame the victim. – 千里ちゃん Oct 12 '11 at 16:08
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    Much needed feature.. :( – Andrew Thompson Dec 15 '13 at 15:01
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    +1 - someone can attract my attention just by using my name. Some people aren't worth listening to. It would be great just to ignore them. – Francis Davey Nov 8 '14 at 14:31

31 Answers 31

100

I'd love an ignore feature.

Related: Greasemonkey: Ignore User Script

  • @devinb: apparently users aren't informed in any way that their comments have been flagged offensive. @RSolberg i'm not sure if you're serious or playing along with my sarcasm, but i'm deleting the comment since the relevant part of the question has long since been edited out. @Jonathan my first comment was just a joke, i had hoped the smilie would give that away but sarcasm doesn't always come through on the web. in any case, you might want to remove the first two sentences from this answer, to be consistent with the revised question. – Kip Jul 8 '09 at 4:42
  • @Kip: Sarcasm or not, be respectful. Your comment was out of line. – RSolberg Jul 8 '09 at 17:59
  • @Kip, I wasn't sure if you were informed or not, I just wanted to give you a heads up so you knew. I have no problem with your behaviour in general (you're generally really solid) but that particular comment I found offensive, and I didn't want to hide behind anonymity. But it's all good now =D. Friends? – devinb Jul 8 '09 at 21:25
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    This would be great for ignoring people whose opinions, as expressed in answers are part of a world view I do not embrace. – Tim Williscroft Apr 13 '10 at 1:46
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    Be careful not to commit the Genetic Fallacy Mr. Williscroft :) Good answers are good answers regardless where they originate. – Sampson Apr 13 '10 at 2:19
  • REAL ignore feature that keeps trolls from harassing other users, please. – 千里ちゃん Oct 12 '11 at 16:11
  • You're my hero. There's one user in particular who shows up seemingly everywhere to post inane drivel. It's not objectively bad enough to merit a moderator flag, but it's annoying. This will help tremendously! – Brian Jan 25 '18 at 17:22
115

Stack Overflow is not meant to be a developer social networking Web site (this has been mentioned in the podcasts). It's a Q&A site. People are not at the forefront of Stack Overflow, questions and answers are.

Users are relevant for their authorship, not for their presence. There's absolutely no point in ignoring a user. You shouldn't really care who says something but rather, what is said.

You can ignore tags because they represent content, not users.

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    Technically, you're right. But the fact that we are having this discussion demonstrates that MetaSO is more social than many are ready to admit. – Sampson Jul 7 '09 at 23:33
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    the problem is that many of us feel compelled to respond to ad hominem attacks directed at us, or misrepresentation of our own statements. it's human nature, and it is what the flame-baiting user counts on. the best solution, if the moderators don't agree that the user should be penalty boxed, is for us to ignore the user and go on with our life. and it is easier to ignore what you can't see. – Kip Jul 8 '09 at 5:06
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    It might be human nature but humans should learn and practice not to give in to their emotions all the time. – xmm0 Jul 8 '09 at 5:14
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    (after heavy snipping) "Stack Overflow is not... a developer social networking Web site ... It's a Q&A site." Yeah, a community-driven Q&A site, which means it has to have some sort of community, which means it has to have certain features for this community. – Super Long Names are Hilarious Sep 16 '09 at 22:43
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    Ignoring the user and concentrating just on what they say sounds somewhat reasonable...until the 10th time in a day when you see someone doing something that is rude and annoying. Why should I subject myself to listening to someone on the vauge and unlikely hope that they'll eventually become tolerable? – beska Oct 21 '09 at 17:26
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    @Mehrdad: SO isn't supposed to influence my life in that way? I'm not supposed to find someone irritating if they act like a boor? In general, this isn't an issue...the people here are usually grand. But if I stepped away for a few hours every time this person irritated me, I'd spend a heck of a lot of time away. And exactly what would that accomplish? I'd come back, and that person would still be annoying, insulting, and unhelpful. – beska Oct 21 '09 at 21:41
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    -1: Once the quality of the user has been identified, it can be used to guess the quality of their questions, answers, and comments. If user A has determined that the cost of reading user B's posts often exceeds the value, then this feature would be quite handy. – MaxGuernseyIII Apr 20 '10 at 15:43
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    Then why do we display badges? Why do we display accept rate? Why do we display user reputation next to every single one of their questions and answers? We do we even have reputation? Yes, the site is primarily about content, but we don't ignore the existence of the people behind the content. The core reputation system is a social system, like it or not. If we can reward good behavior, I don't see why we can't have tools to help us ignore bad behavior. – ベレアー アダム Apr 20 '10 at 19:19
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    There is one user I really, really, really want to ignore. He's developed quite a reputation for himself on Usenet (over a span of years) and on the Caml mailing list. I would like to remove him from my SO experience. The person is the source of consistently offensive content. – Norman Ramsey May 23 '10 at 3:18
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    So you intend to disregard the fact that users can consistently commit unuseful information. At that point.... why moderate? Why ban accounts? – Lee Louviere Jun 23 '11 at 18:13
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    @Xaada I'm not against banning a user by the system/community. I'm against individual blacklists. – xmm0 Jun 23 '11 at 21:13
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    I disagree, because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. – Duncan Babbage Nov 20 '11 at 1:44
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    I have a limited amount of time I can dedicate to the community. I do occasionally identify Help Vampires and think it would be highly valuable to be able to not see contributions from such users. It means I will not waste my time on them and have more time to assist other members. – degorolls Mar 13 '12 at 9:21
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    Social networking is a natural result of a commenting system that fosters attribution, even when pseudononymous. – petFoo Jun 20 '12 at 19:00
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    Stack Overflow is not meant to be a developer social networking Web site… Tell that to those who make comments purely to criticize and argue. Some people, upon seeing a q/a that has a error, instead of editing it to fix it or politely suggesting the fix in a comment, will instead make hostile, aggressive comments about the user being wrong and even down-vote the entire post. It’s difficult to ignore behavior like that because it is essentially an attack rather than a genuine attempt to be helpful. Worse, some people have OCD which makes simply ignoring and “moving on” painful. – Synetech Sep 7 '13 at 19:31
83

See here for my thoughts on this; short version:

  • I genuinely don't think the team should add this
  • if an individual post offends you: flag that post
  • it the mere existence of another user offends you: grow up
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    I don't think anybody suggested that they are offended/upset by the mere existence of another user. +1 though. I agree with everything else. – Sampson Jul 8 '09 at 18:01
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    @Jonathan, when you suggest that you want to ignore EVERYTHING a user does, then you ARE in fact suggesting that you are offended by their existence on the site. You are saying "this person is beyond any sort of repair or compromise and I am not willing to try. So I would like them to disappear" – devinb Jul 8 '09 at 21:27
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    @devinb Do you think I place people in my ignore list prior to any engagement with them? No? Then it's not based on their existence. It's based on my interaction with them in the past. Right now, my list is 1 item deep. Based on several engagement with a particular user - not based on the users existence. Because I cannot programmatically determine the offensiveness of a particular statement, I've chosen to ignore everything. Frankly, nobody is hurt, and I am once again happy to visit MetaSO daily :) – Sampson Jul 10 '09 at 13:47
  • I know you're busy and don't want to repeat yourself, but I wish you would expound more on your reasons here. I find them more compelling than Mehrdad's reasons, but I'm still not convinced. – Super Long Names are Hilarious Sep 16 '09 at 22:45
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    I think Jonathan has nailed it here. It's not the mere existence of a particular user that bothers people...it's the continued behaviors of that user. Is it really more adult to say, well, "you've been rude and insulting the last 30 times I've read your comments, but I'll be forcing myself to read them anyway." Why should people have to subject themselves to abuse just to be "grown up"? – beska Oct 21 '09 at 21:47
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    Put another way, I think it is a bit more "adult" to just say, "well, I listened to this person for a while, but I am no longer interested in listening to them." That seems fine. I'm a bit loathe to flag every comment that is insulting because that seems a lot more like trying to force my beliefs on others...I'm basically saying "I don't like this person, and I don't think anyone should listen to them." I'll do that for things that are really egregious, but I'd like to lean towards the side of tolerence, and just say, well, others can do what they want, but I'm done with you. – beska Oct 21 '09 at 21:49
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    Marc, I'm tired of a user who is not egregious in invidual posts, but whose aggregate behavior is driving me up a tree. Should I start flagging comments that are not individually egregious but which, in my opinion, are in aggregate a significant detriment to the community? – Norman Ramsey May 23 '10 at 3:19
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    yes, flag start flagging comments that are not individually egregious but which, in my opinion, are in aggregate a significant detriment to the community – Ian Ringrose Mar 24 '11 at 14:40
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    I've recently had some people randomly from nowhere attack me on a very personal level. They go to it with boundless energy, and they seem to hate me, even though I've only ever said a few words to them before. When they are being too obnoxious, their comments get deleted (evidence removed), in the mean time, they can drop innocent-looking remarks to goad me, such as nitpicking or making silly edits on my posts. Your advice is that I grow up. My advice is that Stackexchange grows up and becomes a site that cares about its members and takes a stand against internet bullies. – TLP May 4 '14 at 18:17
  • @TLP can you cite a specific example? – Marc Gravell May 4 '14 at 21:23
  • Like I said, the most obnoxious comments have all been removed. I have taken screenshots of some of the worst ones. What is it you are after? Here's the thing that happened today: imgur.com/peJVUuJ, though some of the comments have been deleted at this point. When this user could not get me to respond, he tried to make this rude-ish edit on one of my posts: scifi.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/26363 Before this, I had a more severe one on stackoverflow.com, which I also have screenshots of. Here's one imgur.com/E5YP1aD – TLP May 4 '14 at 22:03
  • I am not looking for a trial on who is wrong and who is right, I just want to feel safe about adding content to Stackexchange sites without being harassed by these people who obviously have something against me personally. – TLP May 4 '14 at 22:06
  • @TLP well actually, in the Joffrey example, I think a very good case could me made that actually you were over-reacting and inflaming things, when the original discussion that you responded to was actually quite reasonable - but the key point here: a moderator duly arrived and dealt with it. – Marc Gravell May 6 '14 at 6:56
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    @MarcGravell Like I said, his two most damning comments had already been removed, where he became intensely personal. And really? You're defending him and saying that it was my fault? He came to my answer, long after it was posted, said I was not thinking straight and compared me to conspiracy theory nuts, and you are saying I should not have said anything about that, so as not to "inflame things"? I am grateful that Keen did tell him something, but this method of deleting evidence is quite bad. This way, abusers can just go on and on without consequence. – TLP May 6 '14 at 12:31
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    @TLP I listened to the entire thing. I responded to multiple points. Just because I don't agree with you doesn't mean that I stopped listening. – Marc Gravell May 6 '14 at 15:04
49

Might be helpful in some scenarios, but... I'd feel pretty foolish if I posted a new comment/question/answer only to find out it was the exact duplicate of a very popular comment/question/answer posted an hour ago by someone I was ignoring.

As Leaky notes, this isn't a social networking site. If someone is annoying you that much, either they're using the site wrong or you are - either way, the solution is for one/both of you to knock it off, not let one/both of you ignore it while the rest of us have to keep littering up the place.

This is declined for the main Q&A sites, but note that chat is meant as a social environment, and so it does have an "ignore" feature.

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    You could probably permit their questions - but ignore their comments/answers. – Sampson Jul 7 '09 at 20:19
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    Perhaps you could make it ignore them like you can ignore specific tags? - That way when the system does it's magic search when you ask a question, it will bring back answers that you'd otherwise ignore. – Rowland Shaw Jul 7 '09 at 20:20
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    @Jonathan: The same is true for answers. You could write the same thing as answer someone on your ignore list did 2 hours ago. Then be not surprised, if you are downvoted ;-) – Ladybug Killer Jul 8 '09 at 18:15
  • you wouldn't feel foolish if you couldn't have seen that post ;) – user1505004 Jul 17 '12 at 18:31
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    Further, "I didn't see it because I was ignoring that user" should not in any way be grounds to prevent deletion of your duplicate answer/comment. So you'll have done extra work, and consumed reviewers' or moderators' time, for nothing in the end. – Monica Cellio Mar 13 at 17:47
32
+50

Similar to Usenet KILLFILE

I like this idea. From Usenet experience, there's always a couple of odd characters who seem to contribute little to discussions but are able to stir up way more than their share of controversy.

It's nice to be able to just ignore the controversy. Plus it gives people the ever-satisfactory rejoinder to any disagreement, "that's it, you're going into my killfile!"

As a practical thing, it might be useful to moderators to see which users are being ignored by lots of other users.

  • 2
    SE is not for discussions. Don't have them. – Raedwald Sep 14 '14 at 20:22
32
+500

2018 Answer:

We're going to consider this.

This didn't make as much sense in 2009 as it does today mostly because in 2009, people came here for the rules; they were fed up with other platforms where the noise far outweighed the signal and at that time a little abrasiveness, even when kinda obsessive, was a price most were okay with paying for high signal with very little noise or distraction. I think even I said 'get a thick skin' back then and that was one of the wrongest things I think I ever said given what I've learned since then.

Putting something like this in place back then kind of felt like giving in before we figured out how far forward we could push without it. Twitter dog piles back then weren't very common, nor was people cycling through dozens of bogus accounts to deliberately target and harass people, which is unfortunately something that keeps the community growth team busy.

We're going to take a look at this through (what I fear) is going to be rather painful analysis and look at all of the ways where the option to mute interactions in a more granular way might make a bit more sense. The goal here: Let people turn off specific kinds of noise at certain thresholds, but don't hide abuse that we really need to be dealing with at a lower level by simply burying it.

We also don't want new users just cramming their fingers in their ears, which could be tempting if they get off on the wrong foot. Changes here have to fit in closely with changes to help users post better questions to begin with.

I don't have an ETA but as we look at ways that we can make people more confident that they have some control over what rings the inbox notifier, it could serve as a last stop above the current level of toxicity that some have been reporting.

And before you go nuts, I said consider

When / if we roll this out it will be much more considered than "just build a per-user mute button". We have to look at other aspects of the software that lead some folks to believe that 'mutable' behavior is acceptable if you're a good enough rule lawyer, and put our 'be nice' policy more in front of people as a solid code of conduct with advertised and consistent consequences.

So, yeah - we have to keep up with the times, and maybe we waited a little too long in this (and other) areas of the site to finally accept that there are social aspects where we need to be much more influential, if not in complete control.

We're going to take a look, and there will be a separate (2018 version) discussion once we've got some ideas.

Thanks for poking this.

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    Thanks for considering this. Things sure were different in 2009... :) – Bill the Lizard Apr 17 '18 at 17:47
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    Muting another user seems like a (very useful) workaround to a deeper problem: comment sections are treated as discussion forums. For instance, over on Interpersonal Skills, comments tend to be used to kibitz rather than annotate posts. Killfiles (which is what the proposed feature is) didn't prevent problems in groups so much as make the group more livable for people who used them. In particular, they don't help new users who don't know about the feature yet. – Jon Ericson Apr 17 '18 at 17:56
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    I'm glad to hear you're looking into this thorny problem with complicated edge cases. Please also consider a simpler solution in your deliberations. Thank you. – Monica Cellio Apr 17 '18 at 18:48
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    Well, there won't be a separate (2018 version) discussion now, I guess? Unless there was and I missed it? – Shadow The Princess Wizard Feb 24 at 8:32
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    Any odds we can get an update on this? It would be increasingly welcome on History and Politics to ignore our handful of resident trolls. I should raise in passing, though, that if high rep users are all ignoring said trolls instead of flagging what they write on a regular basis, the feature might have unintended negative consequences. – Denis de Bernardy Jul 13 at 15:26
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    What's going on now? It's been almost 1.5 years in review? Thanks! – Stormblessed Aug 8 at 18:15
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    @Stormblessed I think we're ultimately going to try having the option to stop notifications on a per post basis, but I don't have a timeline for it. The use case: You want to get out of a heated discussion in comments and have a hard time disengaging with your inbox lighting up. My hope is maybe before the end of the year (2019) but I can't promise anything yet. – Tim Post Aug 9 at 3:57
  • I'm glad to see this functionality would be limited to a per Post basis. People already have the right to demand how to get addressed. If this would be extended to who can address them, there would be a major imbalance between the rights of the addresser and addressee. – dfhwze Oct 29 at 18:24
28

Every possible feature must be examined with a few variables in mind.

  • How does this benefit individual users (consumers)
  • How does this benefit all users (community)
  • How does this contribute to the goals of the site

How does this benefit individual users

This can be subdivided into three categories: Ignorers, Problem Users, Bystanders

Ignorers

This group benefits the most, obviously. There is some user that they do not want to see anymore. Those comments will disappear, those answers will disappear, and those questions will disappear. The minor consistency problems with this have been illustrated already. But those could be mitigated by simply having an 'IgnoredComment' pop-up of some kind. Configurable, of course. Like the ignored tags.

The downside is that this user could potentially miss out on a good question or good answer. But it's a huge community, so they probably wouldn't be missed. The ignorers will end up being more productive and happier as a result.

Problem Users

These users are annoying. They're not offensive, otherwise their comments could be flagged as offensive. They are not spamming, otherwise their comments/questions could be flagged as spam. The behaviours that they are exhibiting are simply annoying for whatever reason. The moderators cannot do anything because they are not breaking any rules. So they simply continue to exist and make life worse for those around them.

Once they are being ignored, they have no way of knowing it. They are not being told to get better, they will not notice that they are being ignored. There will be literally no indication to them that they are expected to improve. Furthermore, if someone does tell them to improve (someone who has helpfully not put them on ignore) and they DO improve, they will still be on ignore lists, which means that their past behaviour precludes them from fully participating ever again. As one poster points out: being NEW is considered crime enough to put them on the ignore list.

This also means that users are punished for disagreement. I am someone who believes that many architecture decisions are complex, and therefore there can be many contradictory but independently correct solutions. This means that there will be arguments. I will downvote and comment on questions, and the author will clearly disagree with me. If that user gets frustrated with me, they could just say "I'm ignoring you!" and then feel smugly superior, like they won the argument. In fact, they are simply running away. They have no convinced me of their opinion, they have not convinced me to change my behaviour. Especially on meta, where discussion (heated sometimes) is encouraged, this feature would be counter-productive. You would lose out on voices of dissent. I'm not saying that these people are right, but if you just white-wash and convince yourself that no one disagrees, then you are LOSING out on valuable input.

Furthermore, if there is as few as one incident, they can be ignored. And there is no way to redeem yourself. You are just gone. This goes against the point of SO, where content is judged individually, and the votes speak for themselves.

The Problem Users who, as I've highlighted, are not necessarily problematic at all, will have a much much worse user experience, with no guidance as to how to improve.

Bystanders

Bystanders are everyone else involved. If the ignorers start ignoring people, the bystanders still have to see them. But, there will be fewer people actually trying to help those problematic users. It means that for the bystanders (the bulk of the community) the general product will be worse. The annoying people are still being annoying, but there are fewer people reporting them. If they attempt to answer a question for a user who is on many people's [ignored] list, then there will be fewer people to comment and provide feedback. If they edit a bad question and make it better, this will also be [ignored] by those ignorers. Ultimately, it means that the bystanders will end up seeing less information from the good users, and more information from the bad users, because there are fewer people trying to keep the content-to-noise ratio down.

For bystanders, the net result will be bad.

How does this benefit all users

As I said in the bystanders section. This feature is anti-community. It encourages us to ignore problems rather than try to solve them (an interesting position on a problem solving website). The bad users are still bad, but no one is going to make them better. The reason this community is so strong is that it takes good programmers and makes them better, and it takes bad programmers and makes them into good ones. Those programmers will then become huge advocates who will contribute strongly to the community.

But that won't happen anymore. We are writing off people who need improvement. We are also writing off people who have abrasive personalities, despite the positive things they could contribute.

Another aspect to consider is the effect on new users. I'll illustrate with a trivial/silly example (please don't extend this past the purpose I'm bringing here) If you live in a messy apartment, but you just ignore the mess, and live there just fine. Every new person you show your apartment to is going to comment on the mess. But you don't notice anymore, so you think it's fine.

New users are going to find that there is a lot of spam, and a lot of annoying users. This will cause them to turn around and leave. Yes there is an "ignore user" option, but they won't know about that initially, and they won't bother with trying to get value from the site, when it is clearly just overrun with spam.

How does this contribute to the goals of the site

The goal of the site is to be a repository of information. That means, taking common questions and putting them in front of as many people as possible, and letting the best answers be decided by the community. Adding the ability to ignore users means that the questions (which could be useful to everyone) will no longer be seen by everyone. That means that users who could have provided incredible answers that were read by everyone will now not do so, just because the question asker did not meet their personal standards.

Ultimately, this feature does not contribute to the goals of the site.

Breakdown

Benefit to individual users: Ignorers: Positive Benefit to individual users: Ignored: Very Negative Benefit to individual users: Bystanders: Negative

Benefit to community: Negative

Contribute to site goals: Mostly Negative

SOLUTIONS

Just move on. If their comments annoy you, move on.

If their comments are offensive. Flag them.

If their questions are spam/offensive/argumentative. Flag them. Close them. Report them.

Lastly, (for those with the strength of will) engage them. Try to help them. Why are they argumentative? Are they naturally douchey, is there a language barrier, do they have an aggressive oratorical style? Did their wife just cheat on them with their best friend and that bitch wants my car now too?

I can't rule any of those things out, and I really don't care. I just want to contribute to this community as much as I can.

  • 4
    Great analysis, +1 – Gnoupi Apr 21 '10 at 11:39
  • there are ways around some of the problems you raise. first, ignoring a user could automatically flag that comment. if a user is ignored by several people, moderators can investigate and the user might be warned or put in the penalty box. second, the ignores could expire after, say, 2 months. mostly you would ignore in the heat of the moment when someone is provoking you. and lastly, i don't think we'd see a site full of jerks that all the regulars ignore. ignoring would probably be done by a few users in a few cases. if someone gets ignored by everyone then they should probably be banned. – Kip Apr 21 '10 at 14:49
  • 2
    "Ignoring a user could automatically flag that comment." This makes assumptions about implementation details. Also, if the comment is worth flagging then flag it. If a users comments are repeatedly flagged, they will be removed or penalty boxed. On the other hand, if the users comments aren't flaggable, then reporting them wouldn't be appropriate. – devinb Apr 21 '10 at 14:58
  • 1
    Second, having expiration date on the ignore is extremely counter-intuitive and harms usability. If you're ignoring someone, you are saying they aren't worth your time. This suggestion actually dilutes your own argument because you're saying "well, I only want to ignore them for as long as they are annoying me" which would be a great feature, but it is impossible. – devinb Apr 21 '10 at 14:59
  • 3
    Third your "Ignoring would probably done by a few users in a few cases" is (strawman ahead) a great argument for legalizing murder. That's a bad example (I know). But you are saying that you want this feature even though you wouldn't want it to actually be used by everyone. Features are created to be used. If that use is harmful, then they should not be created at all. – devinb Apr 21 '10 at 15:01
  • i'm not saying that i wouldn't want it to actually be used by everyone. i'm saying that it simply wouldn't actually be used by everyone. features are created to be used where appropriate. i don't see the situation where someone ignores someone happening all that often, unless the site starts attracting the kind of people who leave comments on YouTube. and if it turns out that the feature is being overused, then it could be reevaluated. it's not like any of the rules are set in stone here (i.e. the global rep recalc). – Kip Apr 21 '10 at 17:57
  • 2
    @Kip means the feature wouldn't shouldn't be arbitrarily used. Likewise neither should moderation. The fact of the matter is there are two users that if I didn't have to see, I would participate more. Sure I could be a little more mature and ignore them in my head. However, you can't make a horse drink. This is a content site, and not giving users control over what content they can see will result in them doing it themselves (Greasemonkey), which means the control of that feature is out of the hands of the community. – Lee Louviere Jun 23 '11 at 18:20
  • Let my abrasive personality wholeheartedly applaud this answer! There is one important question missing near the end, "Consider the possibility you are possibly being abrasive yourself?" – Steven Jeuris Mar 7 '12 at 17:14
  • "Just move on." Can't we write a program to do it for me? – Ian Boyd Apr 14 '12 at 20:52
  • 1
    for such a long-winded rant, it sure is naive. What one person considers a problem, another might not. You end up with massive power discrepancies and disagreements on what is appropriate which can only make one side happy. If you're in the "have" group, you're good. if you're in the "have not" group, you're SOL. Sounds like you're in the former. – xaxxon Mar 21 '16 at 4:19
  • 1
    For bystanders, the net result will be bad. You're assuming that forcing the "Ignorers" to not ignore people will mean they'll continue helping "Problem users". That's simply not the case. If a user is so annoying that they make another user want to purge them from their view, it's unlikely that they're going to help them. It's just the opposite. Allowing them to ignore annoying users will keep them on the site helping other users. Forcing them to see annoying users will worsen their site experience, making them likely to leave or help other users. – Cerin May 24 '17 at 18:29
  • I've never heard anyone say, "Boy, I can't wait to login to Youtube and read all those wonderful comments!" The conventional wisdom is, "Don't read Youtube comments because they cause cancer." Stackexchange is a long way from Youtube, but it should still be trying to avoid these common problems. – Cerin May 24 '17 at 18:34
20

As you note in the quote at the end of the question, part of the problem is that moderators have only big sticks. Ignoring users who you know get under your skin is attractive, and I'm glad to see that the team will evaluate this problem, but it's a complicated problem with a lot of edge cases. Another way to approach the problem is to give moderators the ability to ban users from commenting.

We can already manually block bad reviewers, and the system automatically blocks new questions (or sometimes answers) from users with poor track records. The one-size-fits-all suspension has already been broken up. Except for comments. Some of the sites I participate on get a lot of comments, many of which need to be deleted, but, often, individual cases don't rise to the level of suspensions. But if I could say "you there! no commenting for you for the next week!", I'd use that in an instant to quell rising heat levels on my sites. Incidents should be logged with the user (as other bans are) for easy review; if a track record emerges, then we can suspend in good conscience instead of the constant questioning and endless review of deleted comments that we have to do now.

Yes, please think about the larger ignore problem too, but please give us a comment ban in the meantime!

  • Or give moderators the ability to revoke the "comment anywhere" privilege... unless that's what you meant? When you say "comment lock" I think "lock the comments on the post", not "prevent a user from commenting at all on the site"... – Catija Apr 17 '18 at 18:52
  • Sorry, I meant comment ban, like edit bans. Will fix when back at a desktop (if somebody else hasn't already). – Monica Cellio Apr 17 '18 at 18:56
  • Looks like it's already status declined by Tim at meta.stackexchange.com/questions/300571/… – Jon Clements Apr 17 '18 at 19:54
  • @JonClements the current request was status-declined until yesterday; since we're reopening it, I figured it was worth re-raising a related request. – Monica Cellio Apr 19 '18 at 2:35
11

Users who are annoying for whatever reason are definitely a problem, but I question whether this solution could be implemented well. Turning on "Ignore" functionality almost always leads to consequences that are different than the original problem, but just as bad. Simple example:

Alice is ignoring Bob, but otherwise everyone can see everything.

Alice: [relevant comment]
Bob: [trollish comment]
Carl: [something along the lines of "shut up and go away"]
Alice: Hey, what was that for?

Adding things like only ignoring comments or only ignoring questions makes the whole mess even stickier.

  • 26
    [trollish comment] – Bob Apr 20 '10 at 18:00
  • 1
    Hmmm... [feature-request] Allow me to use all of my comment votes for one day on a single comment. – Pops Apr 20 '10 at 18:10
  • of course, the same thing happens today if bob deletes his own comment, or if a moderator deletes bob's comment – Kip Apr 21 '10 at 18:01
  • @Kip: true, but that's only motivation to come up with an even better solution, like @mvid's. – Pops Apr 21 '10 at 19:30
  • @Bob: Well played, old chap. Well played! – dmckee Nov 9 '10 at 3:56
  • 10
    Wouldn't Carl say "@Bob: Shut up and go away", not just "Shut up and go away"? – Andrew Grimm May 20 '11 at 7:33
10

If we're following the xbox live model, well they have flagging... and they have mute. was that a mistake then?

My view is that if the lack of a mute feature causes someone to want to not spend time on SO, well that's a serious problem for SO. It does not seem that the penalty box has been a sufficient deterrent.

  • 1
    But the "ignore feature" and "penalty box" have different goals. One is for self-gratification, the other is for community improvement. If, as you say, the penalty box is insufficient deterrent (I TOTALLY agree) then we should improve the ability of the moderators and the community to help/encourage users to stop being problems. We should focus on features and methods which are geared towards community improvement. – devinb Apr 22 '10 at 7:56
  • @devinb: In principle I'd completely agree, but in practice I think all attempts are doomed to failure for at least some cases and I'd rather provide a nuclear option. Hopefully you don't have to use it. – bananakata May 24 '10 at 20:27
10

This needs to be revisited. If not the ability to ignore a user completely, then I'd at least like the option to have posts from specific users not give me a notification. (Like Yvette Colomb's Can we have a feature to ignore specific user's pings?)

Also the ability to mute all future notifications from a specific post would be great. (For those times when you just want to answer programming questions, but notifications from a post a few days old keep popping up...)

  • Ignoring a post's comments would be really nice. I've some posts on Politics (and one on SO Meta) that continue to attract comments years later. – Denis de Bernardy Jul 13 at 15:20
  • This is a great idea, I hope it's re-visited. In fact, it's "the" feature I actually want. I wanted "ignore" solely to avoid the pings (from certain members). – JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 28 at 9:42
10

This feature really needs to be reevaluated given that's been a couple years since it was declined. This could also allow the network infrastructure to allow people to feel more comfortable here.

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  • 2
    Preferably in the form of "click here to show message from ignored user", similar to ignoring users in discord so that if you want to, you can easily follow along a conversation. – user400654 Oct 16 at 19:52
  • 1
    Yes. I’d love to see this feature as well. Each stack has its own personality, and each mod team, their own level of tolerance. The same way twitter lets me block offensive members in my feed, I’d be happy to be able to do the same here. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 16 at 20:16
  • 1
    @Joe, The same way twitter lets me block offensive members in my feed, I’d be happy to be able to do the same here. That goes a long way in explaining the behavior of some users here. However, Stack Exchange was never envisioned as a social network, and many of us love it because of this. We are not supposed to be Facebook. We are not supposed to be Twitter. – Frédéric Hamidi Oct 17 at 7:22
  • @FrédéricHamidi - I've been a member for nearly 10yrs and a Mod on one stack for 5. This year was the first time I wished for this feature. On one stack, where a member feels compelled to comment with 3-5 comments on nearly every question. And targets members they don't care for, with dozens of comments. I needed to turn off my iOS alert on my phone as this was reaching 'stalker' level. Mods, as is their discretion, feel the behavior does not rise to 'suspension' or even warning level. If you felt harassed like this, you might wish for the same feature. It only takes one. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 17 at 8:08
  • @Joe, I was under the impression that flagging enough comments from such a user would result in warnings from the mod team first, suspension second, and does arguably solve the problem (albeit not immediately). Ignoring such users does not strike me as begin as efficient -- after all the offending comments would still be there. – Frédéric Hamidi Oct 17 at 8:20
  • @FrédéricHamidi - I'm sorry to get into a debate, but let me say that a dozen nasty comments, posted so I see them (via ping), then removed minutes later, cancel the flag off. And the member had a months long tirade telling a Mod to "do your effing job", and right after, going back to talking about the weather. She put him through 10X worse than me. So for now, I'll ignore, and not interact. Not all mods handle things the same, nor as I would. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 17 at 22:49
  • @Joe, thank you for replying, and please don't be sorry -- as you know, Meta was intended as a debate space as well as a bug report / feature request venue. There will be two comments. In this one, I agree with you that there are "toxic" ($DEITY, I hate that word, but I have no alternative) people out there and dealing with them tears you out. And I agree the moderation team is not big enough to handle the load (even less so now). But it does not mean you have to ignore people. Ignoring is wrong, because someday they may be right, but you won't hear them. – Frédéric Hamidi Oct 17 at 23:11
  • Now I would like to focus on the technical side of things and ask you about something that I did not know about, namely let me say that a dozen nasty comments, posted so I see them (via ping), then removed minutes later, cancel the flag off (emphasis mine). I have never heard about that (and I've been here for a while). If true, it would explain (and change) a lot of things, and might be worthy of its own question on Meta. Can you tell me more? – Frédéric Hamidi Oct 17 at 23:12
  • I may be mixing issues, but I’m pretty certain that after I flagged, the OP quickly deleted her comment, and the flag was no longer there for the stack mods to see. Either way, I understand that on the stack where I am a mod, I have an implied agreement to be kind and interface with all members. On other stacks, with a particular other member , enough is enough. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 18 at 0:09
  • @FrédéricHamidi - This is one such example. If I were the OP of one of these answers, I wouldn't appreciate 7 pings. Is there ever a need for 7 comments on one answer, not to mention the 10 more on others? When a member does this on the site I mod, I shut it down quickly, as we are not a 'discussion board'. There, not so much. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 27 at 20:30
  • Sorry for the extra ping. The OP deleted his answer as the multiple comments were (in my opinion) bullying him to do so. So I doubt you'd even see what just happened. No big deal, just a miss on a great example. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 27 at 23:50
8

What if we filtered users the same way we filter tags? The responses are still there, just kind of grayed out. You can still see the actual content (for dupe purposes), but it is not going to jump out at you.

It could also work the opposite way, allowing you to hilight users you believe are more knowledgeable/useful.

  • 2
    "The responses are still there, just kind of grayed out." Yep. Spot on, I think this serves the 'best of all worlds'. – Andrew Thompson Dec 15 '13 at 14:14
  • And sadly, your nice idea seems to have been ignored. – KorvinStarmast Oct 30 at 3:40
6

Something like this was declined on UV, but there weren't any reasons given, so I can only guess. I think Jeff's preferred solution is to warn such a person, use the penalty box if need be, and if they fail to shape up, take more drastic action:

(This should probably go without saying, but if the problem behaviors continue beyond the timed suspension, your account is very likely to be permanently deleted.)

Further, in systems where I've seen an ignore feature implemented, it always results in confusion. People appear to answering questions that nobody has asked, non-sequiturs abound, information gets duplicated. I don't favor it for this reason.

EDIT:

The whole Greasemonkey thing had me thinking about this again. How would ignoring even help in the case of an edit-war, like one that hypothetically, maybe, allegedly, theoretically inspired this thread?

  • @Pesto: Shhhhhhhhh. – GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 21:00
  • @Pesto: this particular post inspired by flame wars in comments rather than edit wars. – Kip Jul 7 '09 at 21:07
6

Well, if I were sandboxed from their actions, that means I could sandbox myself off from the experts of a particular tag. And if I did that, it might mean that only people with less subject knowledge than you could think your answer was wizz-bang, while an expert might have a serious objection to the answer.

Reputation means that the system trusts you, so you shouldn't be able to be shielded from anybody whose reputation is significantly higher than yours. Unfortunately that means that you could be subject to some high-rep curmudgeons.

But everything's a tradeoff.

  • "high-rep curmudgeons" Love it. – OneHoopyFrood Aug 23 '14 at 1:34
6

While Hellbanning is distinctly different, the anti-community results are remarkably similar.

Stack Overflow is about content, not about people. You can't "friend" people, so therefore you can't "unfriend" or worse - "block" people.

You can show interest or disinterest in topics and tags.

You can upvote and downvote specific solutions.

You can flag and tag content.

These are the weapons and tools provided, and they are focused solely on content.

The one and only limited person based thing we have we do not hand to the users - only moderators can ban users/people.

Allowing users to target other users, even for only their consumption, is too user-focused and not enough content-focused.

Use the tools provided, and if they are inadequate, describe a content-based tool which would resolve the issue, rather than a user-based tool.

  • 3
    There is no content-based tool to deal with one user harassing another. This insistence that this is not a social network, therefore we don't have social network problems, is just ignoring real issues. We need to pull our heads out of the sand. – Bill the Lizard Apr 12 '18 at 13:43
  • 1
    @BilltheLizard Flagging for moderator attention doesn't work? How prevalent is this problem? Are bad actors actively going around and harassing specific users without being caught and punished? Or are they not caught and punished enough? What level of harassment are we talking about, because outright insults, swearing, etc should be easily handled and result in bans from the moderators. Or am I mistaken and the site has a lot of bad actors, operating openly, without reprise, with terrible forms of harassment? This request would benefit from some statistics and knowledge of degree. – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Apr 12 '18 at 13:47
  • Because my interpretation of this question isn't an issue of harassment - they don't want the user banned or their content deleted. They've just found that their writing style rubs them the wrong way, and therefore don't want to see it - not that it's bad content, or that the person is bad, but that the two of them together result in friction. You're speaking of acts of harassment, though. – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Apr 12 '18 at 13:49
  • 1
    Victims of harassment don't often post details and statistics in the place where they're being harassed, for fear of more harassment. And yes, I had a problem, reported it and got the response "not bad enough to do anything about, sorry". – Bill the Lizard Apr 12 '18 at 13:49
  • @BilltheLizard Ok, so this is about harassment. I feel that's distinctly different, and that the attacker should be stopped at the system level, not just the user level. Can you describe a scenario where someone is harassing someone else, but their content is not only completely in line with the site guidelines, but valid and valuable to other users, and they are not bothering any other user, just the one? Because that's the only situation where I could see this solution being correct. And then only if it's a persistent, prevalent problem that cannot be handled on a case by case basis. – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Apr 12 '18 at 13:53
  • As it is, a userscript should resolve the situation for a handful of people with this issue. The question I need answered is whether the problem is pervasive enough that we really need to change the whole system to take care of it. – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Apr 12 '18 at 13:55
  • And as far as posting stats, that should come from the mods and stackoverflow. They should have a pretty good handle on how many people are complaining about this type of personal harassment. – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Apr 12 '18 at 13:56
  • 1
    As it is we've only got 236 people (out of millions of users) who've upvoted this in the last decade. Very few have posted anything similar to "I've experienced this kind of harrasment". – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Apr 12 '18 at 13:57
  • 5
    A user is currently camping out on one of my posts from two days ago, responding to every answer and comment, even if they're not directed at that user. They're not breaking any rules, but they're dominating the conversation there. I'd like to just mute that user and/or post, but the tools don't currently allow me to. I'm pretty much left with ignoring all notifications. (This is not the first time this has happened, and it is not the only user that does it. I typically just avoid all Meta discussions lately because of this kind of behavior.) – Bill the Lizard Apr 12 '18 at 13:57
  • 1
    @BilltheLizard That does sound annoying. – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Apr 12 '18 at 14:09
  • 2
    Muting posts would be a damn useful feature even outside of overtly abusive situations. – Shog9 Apr 17 '18 at 17:05
  • 2
    Fwiw, we briefly tested a "report user" function s few years back... Most of the reports were specific to something a user had written (spam, trolling) and thus merely delayed the removal of problematic content; of the rest, a significant portion was folks upset that someone had criticized their post. Also, lots of reports on moderators. – Shog9 Apr 17 '18 at 17:12
5

Perhaps this concept could be extended; when a question gets enough downvotes, it can be closed. Similarly, if a user gets enough "ignores", perhaps their behavior can be flagged for review / probation / whatever.

This would serve a different purpose than flagging a post; flagging a post indicates that the post is offensive. Ignoring a user indicates that the "ignorer" finds the "ignoree" so offensive that they don't care whatever they say. Plus, if I'm ignoring the user, I won't end up flagging their posts, which could tend to mean that their offensive behavior gets "unflagged" long enough to offend more new users who haven't learned to ignore that user.

  • 1
    Well... there's already a "flag" feature. – Shog9 Jul 7 '09 at 22:45
  • Just flag the post. – GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 22:46
  • 6
    Flagging doesn't seem to get much done, to be honest. – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 22:53
  • 3
    @McWaffleStix: That is not what I have found. Perhaps you are not flagging things that actually require action? – GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 23:08
5

Contrary to the alleged opinion here, silencing certain users has made my experience here considerably greater. Keep in mind that the ignore-users script isn't a solution to bad-behavior here. Reporting to Mods is the preferred solution. The ignore-script is a hold-over, or an extra-jump if you absolutely need silence.

  • 2
    I sense you're expecting harsh criticisms for this post based on the fact that you wiki'd it. – Ian Elliott Jul 15 '09 at 22:29
  • 2
    @Ian: Which is pretty much the definition of trolling. – GEOCHET Jul 15 '09 at 22:35
  • @Jonathan: Sasha's not suggesting an "ignore" feature - he's suggestion a system that would effectively let you choose who could vote and comment on your posts. Ignoring other users is your prerogative - if you use a script to help you do that, fine. But opting out of SO's feedback systems is something else entirely. – Shog9 Jul 15 '09 at 22:42
  • 1
    @Jonathan - thanks for the script. I can;t wait to start using it – tim Jul 22 '09 at 21:38
5

I like this idea, I would use it for other purposes too.

  • Sometimes someone pops up and quickly asks a flurry of beginner questions on one of my interesting tags. Nothing wrong with that, but I prefer to leave them to other people to answer, and I don't find the discussions interesting either. I'd like to ignore their questions - just a personal decision. I know, it's probably bad karma.
  • This is rarer, but I've noticed some people are very free with downvotes. I've posted (IMHO) quite nice answers on their questions, and they downvote because of a niggle with my phrasing. I check their homepage, and they dish out 10x more downvotes than upvotes. Again, a personal decision but I prefer to avoid their questions in future. Not just because I'm rep farming, but it's just a discouraging scene.

I would not ignore these people's answers or comments, just their questions.

  • why ignore beginner questions, if you can provide good answers to them? – warren Nov 29 '09 at 2:50
  • 2
    @warren: Because, for whatever reason, he's not interested in answering them. There's no quota he has to fill. Rep is designed to encourage answering, but answering questions isn't required. – beska Apr 12 '10 at 20:44
  • @beska - true enough it's not "required".. I guess I'm wondering how do you classify "beginner"? Beginner to the whole process? In that language/tag? I could see those self-same "beginner" questions and have no clue because it's an area I know nothing about, or I think is more advanced than where I am. – warren Apr 13 '10 at 13:37
  • 2
    @warren, @beska Nice of you to stop by :) There was a couple of users posting many beginner type questions - which is fine. But they didn't seem to benefit from the answers. I noticed them asking effectively the same question five or six times over several months, and they didn't seem to learn anything. I tried to politely point out that the questions were effectively duplicates, and the answers they'd accepted should mean the later questions were unnecessary. But there was no response. In the end I gave up on them (though the community kept helping them - it was a personal choice) – MarkJ Apr 13 '10 at 16:36
  • (-1) I disagree with you. Please see my response. – devinb Apr 21 '10 at 9:30
  • @devinb Fair enough. I will continue manually ignoring people. – MarkJ Apr 21 '10 at 12:48
4

Anyone offensive enough for you to ignore is offensive enough for you to report to the Stack Overflow team.

They are quite effective at cracking down on offensive users.

  • 19
    I have to say this isn't true (and with good reason). I had a problem, reported it and got the response "not bad enough to do anything about, sorry". Which is kind of true, because the only options available to the mods are the nuclear one (penalty box) and the zero-effect one, (do nothing). We need a middle ground option where abuse can be handled for you without also being handled for everyone. Kyle's point #6 in the question is a good reason for this too. – bananakata Jul 8 '09 at 19:24
  • 2
    @annakata: moderators do actually have a few other tools... They can lock disputed posts 'till things cool down, they can merge questions (rather than leaving an argument over whether it's a duplicate or not to sit and brew), and they can instantly delete questions (drastic, but still an action against a question rather than a user). IMHO, these tools are almost always more appropriate than any punitive action against a specific user. – Shog9 Aug 1 '09 at 2:05
  • 1
    This was posted 6 years ago... yet the behavior many have requested this feature for is still rampant. I feel very safe in saying it's not going to be fixed and a different path is necessary. – user295616 Dec 22 '15 at 18:14
4

I retract my previous answer having gained more knowledge of the site.

Blocking users or content in any way would be detrimental to us helping each other.
Sure I get frustrated with other users sometimes, but, there are times with users I'm familiar with where I've mostly liked their comments, I've then seen them post something I felt was rude, or stupid, etc.
Had I seen those bad comments first, I might have "blocked" them and not seen their better comments.

We can all have an off day, can't we?

We're a wild bunch of folks from all walks of life with so many varying opinions, and we will get on each others tips now and then.
That doesn't mean we should block each other.

The point is not to block each other out, but to learn to tolerate our differences.

Besides, if we block that annoying user, how can we argue with them next time :D


I might be behind a way to mark users as good or bad. This is better, although still against the spirit of a community.

Something like:
A function where we can click a username and mark that user as "Good" or "Bad", and neutral (which would be as it is now).

Then anywhere their name appears in comments (and even questions and answers) their name is GREEN for good and RED for bad.

Of course allow it so we can revert to Good, Bad, or neutral, regardless of the current setting.

This would allow any users to be "ignored" without removing their content.
This resolves:

  1. Still see potentially valuable posts - a user annoying you (or whatever) in one post or several doesn't mean they don't have a comment (or answer or question) which is very useful to you
  2. Able to revert from good/bad/default allows us to change our minds, and a system outright blocking content doesn't allow us to identify when we've been a little hasty or harsh on a user for a few posts. With the username just coloured, we can still see their other content and decide they just had a bad day, or we had a bad day and didn't want to block them really.
  3. While the content can still be seen by the user marked as "bad" on your list, their username being RED means easy to ignore (more than now anyway).
4

This feature would be cool, because I'm sure most of you know the feeling, when you just think someone should shut up, even if they weren't breaking rules.

To avoid awkward situations described here I have a slighly different solution than the questioner:

Problem users should just be blocked from questions of the ignorers, so there won't be any good answers missed because they simply can't answer to the question. In all questions from different users the Ignorers will se the problem users, but this isn't that much a problem, because one can just avoid an annoying user, which isn't the case on your own question.

  • 1
    So you don't like me, and you can block my every answer on a question of yours? How does that benefit the community reading those answers? – Patrick Hofman Sep 15 '15 at 7:37
  • 1
    @PatrickHofman I imagine it would work, if the "blocked user" wouldn't be able to open any questions of the user who blocked him. So he cannot annoy the questioner anymore, but let's say leave the old answers of that person there. I don't see the disadvantage here, because if one user less can answer the question, it makes really no difference – WayneEra Sep 15 '15 at 11:51
  • 1
    @PatrickHofman I'm not seeing how it benefits the community to not address a situation that warranted this much attention. I almost left StackExchange because of bad behavior from a large number of people, and quite honestly, don't much enjoy the experience at the moment. – user295616 Dec 22 '15 at 18:19
  • @WayneEra Then someone who regularly post superficially seducing argument re: C++ but often misleading and contradictory info would be able to block me, and I wouldn't been able to debunk the misinformation ever again. Nice system. – curiousguy Oct 30 at 18:10
  • What some ppl would consider "problem user" is what others would see as "good debunker of misinformation". – curiousguy Oct 30 at 18:25
4

I think one of the bit arguments against is that by design SE is supposed to be aggressively meritocratic. By blocking yourself from seeing specific users - you're more or less making it about the poster not the content.

As per the original question and many of the answers - well we shouldn't be seeing flamebait if people focus on the problems at hand. Even on the newer, subjective sites, I think our core goal - to get people useful, practical answers to real problems is important.

However with broadening scopes, not all sites have objective, purely technical scopes so having this as a option on some sites could be worth considering, other than these sites have more problems with folks not getting along, not less and being able to hide posts kind of just sticks a bandaid over a broader issue.

I can see some people benefiting from being able to block seeing comments but blocks on posts feels kind of against the 'ethos' of SE as a whole.

  • Many of my Q and A were considered too provocative or bait, until I had the time to explain the misunderstood details and then ppl ended up agreeing with me. Sometimes they get deleted and the debate is shut down. More suppression is not a solution to anything. – curiousguy Oct 30 at 18:29
2

This would be a good idea, because, if users on SE don't want to be annoyed by certain other users, they should be allowed to do so, conveniently.

I'd also say that if a certain user gets ignored by too many users, we could put his account in suspension.... that's up to the moderators, but it might be a good idea as that particular user is not doing any good towards SE, and only annoys others.

  • 1
    I don't like the idea of the automatic suspension, it would be prone to abuse. A better thing to do in that case would be to have an automatic flag on the person so a mod could take any action if necessary. – Jeff Mercado Jul 27 '11 at 3:53
2

Administrators could review which users are the most often ignored, which would be a strong indication that someone should be put in the penalty box or even locked out of their account

That's an encouragement to

  • ignore unpopular opinions or people who frequently refute your points
  • hope these "annoying" people get banned.

That's the most evil idea I have seen for a while.

1

I initially didn't like this idea, but after seeing this and this I really think that there is a possible need for this in the future. Stack Overflow and Server Fault are more focussed then Stack Overflow, and Stack Overflow is bound to attract a lot more hate than the other sites.

Any moderators on Stack Overflow will require hair on their teeth and all the forces of the League of Justice) combined.

I realise there is a Greasemonkey script for this, however I don't use Firefox and work on any of 5 different machines at any given time, these are not working solutions for me.

  • Eh? Those questions are from two different users. – Shog9 Jul 31 '09 at 19:40
  • 1
    "SO and SF are more focused then SO, and SO is bound to attract a lot more hate then the other sites." Is that a typo? Which one of those is MSO? – Mark C Apr 12 '10 at 19:55
1

I tried to revisit this question here Can we have a feature to ignore specific user's pings?.

The argument that Stack Exchange is no a social network is used to refuse this feature.

To an extend there is a degree of socialising in the SE sites, comments, chat rooms and meta. Regular users do develop online relationships to varying degrees.

Sometimes people just don't get along.

Sometimes may receive pings from a user that they find annoying, where there is no objective reason to flag those pinged comments.

We all have our good days and bad days.

Sometimes it would be helpful to mute a users pings. It may reduce flags, and it may reduce tensions.

If the feature is in chat, it makes sense to include this feature for the site. It would reduce noise. And as in chat, the user can be un-ignored, so it's not doing anything irreversible.

1

If this is implemented (and I am personally in favour of it), I think there needs to be some granularity. You should be able to choose which combination of questions, answers, and comments from a particular user you will not see (or be notified about)—and perhaps even be able to choose to not see only comments from a particular user in response to your own questions or answers.

I think there is a difference between something being reported as offensive in an objective sense (where a flag is appropriate), and just encountering somebody who keeps responding to you in a way that you find tiring.

Certain personalities just "clash," and, over time, there is a pattern of personal dispute. When it comes to comments, continuing to air such a fundamental difference of opinion serves no purpose. (Comments are not normally the forum for an ongoing debate.)

Rather than continuing to try to just ignore all comments from a particular user, it could be beneficial to simply never see them.

Not seeing questions and answers could address a similar situation.

The argument that not seeing a particular question could cause you to post a duplicate is valid—but questions get marked as duplicates all the time, even those that are visible to everyone. I doubt that there would be any significant increase in the need to mark questions as duplicates just because some users decided to turn on this option for certain other users' questions.

I don't see posting the same answer as somebody else a problem. This happens too—because nobody frames their answer in the same way. General voting simply decides which answer is framed in the best received way.

I can't really see a downside to this, but I can see an upside. (At least for some people in some situations.)

1

Now we have the Official FAQ on gender pronouns and Code of Conduct changes this would actually be a useful feature to prevent mods having to clean up too many gender pronoun comment threads.

This is an old feature request, and it gets requested every now and again, and would save a lot of work.

-1

In my opinion you should never hide any questions/answers or comments from other people.

But what could be interesting is a specific highlighting for the question/answer/comment.

This has the advantage that you could still see everything but if a comment of your "ignore" list is set you know to ignore it because otherwise you will ending in a discussion.

On the other hand, you can see it also fast and for some particular reason you never want to answer that user, you see it fast but you still see it and you still can answer them if you find the question good enough to answer.

I do agree that it's the content of the question matter in stead of the user but we are all human and almost everybody have some person they really don't like.

If this update ever comes, I also should implement a tool where consistent downvoting of ignore list is checked.
It's not because you want to ignore a specific person, that the person should be punished by you.

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