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I participate in a site where people are very sensitive about... well, everything. I've had comments of mine being deleted ever since I can remember, and I used to be ok with that because a) we need to keep things civilized and b) comments are ephemerous at best anyway.

Today however I noticed a case where a potentially constructive comment was removed as rude. Some context: OP was asking about things that could cause political instability in a fictional world. Another user commented something along the lines of:

You could have a look at the general history of pre-WW2 Europe for a real world example of such a scenario.

That is not the comment verbatim. I don't have access to it because I am not a moderator, and my memory is not perfect. Maybe it was really rude, but let us suppose that it was written exactly as above.

Also, I see how some people can view this kind of commenting as an error. It does not ask for clarifications and it does not suggest improvements to the question; rather, it is an answer in the form of a one-liner. The user who made the comment could have posted a proper answer. But that is not what I'd like to talk about.

In a meta discussion in the site, a moderator said that the comment was deleted for being rude, and not following the "be nice" policy. Fair enough. I am okay with deleting comments if they are seen as rude. But what is rude to a group of people may be customary to another group. Having your comments deleted without warning or notification does not help bridge that gap.

So what I propose is a multipart feature:

Boilerplate notification

When you have a comment deleted for being rude, you would receive a notification like:

One of your comments was deleted for being rude:

[Original comment here]

Please remember that in order to participate in Stack Exchange, you need to observe our policies about being nice to other people. Be welcoming and patient, especially with those who may not know everything you do.

Or some similar text, and the link would point to the same help section but for the relevant site (specially for localization in the case of non-English stacks).

Custom notification

As an extra, moderators could have the option to add some text explaining what in the message was rude. The user would receive some notification as above, but the moderator in charge of the deletion could optionally also type something like:

Hello John Doe. I understand what you meant here but please notice that [some expression here] is considered condescending in many places. Please try to communicate in a way that is more friendly.

Please notice that I have never been a moderator; I don't know if moderators can already do this when contacting a user, so if that is the case, please ignore this part.

Comment Review Queue

Last but not least, it would be nice if regular, non-mod users could handle flags on comments. This could take some load off moderators, and call the community's attention when someone is actually being rude. This could be a queue for users with 10,000+ reputation, which is generally when you are trusted enough to have access to moderator tools.


I have seen a similar question: Could we provide some automatic feedback on (enough) unfriendly/rude comments? But that one is about warning when a user has had too many comments marked as rude so that they think before commenting. This one here is about letting people know exactly what comments of theirs are being considered rude so that they can learn about improving their comments.

  • What do you want to resolve here? Ian will respond the same as he did on that meta post and so will probably other notorious "rude" commenters. – rene Oct 1 at 17:20
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    @rene when I am rude, I'd like to know what is it about my comments that strikes other people as rude so that I can avoid repeating that mistake in the future. – Senior Wrangler Oct 1 at 17:26
  • How does any of those boilerplate response help you figure out what was rude? – rene Oct 1 at 17:37
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    @rene if a comment of mine simply gets deleted, I may never take notice of it. Besides, a comment may also be deleted because it is no longer needed, or because it was moved to chat. By being notified I can know that it was actually rudeness. – Senior Wrangler Oct 1 at 17:38
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    There is already canned moderator warning exactly for that purpose. Mass of users (myself among them) got such canned warning about rude comments when the Monica crisis was at its peak. – Shadow 10 Years Wizard Oct 1 at 18:47
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    @ShadowWizardWearingMask I've had many deleted comments and never got a canned response. I can see plenty of users in the site I referred to asking why their comments were deleted as well. – Senior Wrangler Oct 1 at 18:58
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    @Renan But do you think this will be any better than the canned mod responses? – Ollie Oct 1 at 19:53
  • @Renan it's not a comment reply, it's official moderator message that arrives directly to the inbox and email. – Shadow 10 Years Wizard Oct 1 at 20:20
  • @Ollie yes, I do. – Senior Wrangler Oct 1 at 20:27
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    Rude or not, that example was essential RTFM. It is never acceptable. We have close votes for that (as basic questions have very likely been asked before). – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q Oct 2 at 17:46
  • That is not the comment verbatim. I don't have access to it because I am not a moderator... @Renan The original comment is in the meta post you link to: "You've essentially described Europe up until the end of WW2. Basic history lessons would not be wasted." – BSMP Oct 3 at 7:43
  • @BSMP a moderator put that comment there after I posted this question here. – Senior Wrangler Oct 3 at 13:35
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We do actually have a boilerplate template for rude comments, not always accompanied by a suspension.

I participate in a site where people are very sensitive about... well, everything.

Is not a very useful place to start from, if you're assuming everyone is oversensitive to start with.

I'd also add that comments are never meant to be permanent artifacts. Perfectly civil comments are liable to be deleted, and comments are not meant to be a discussion space. Admittedly this makes it harder to tell if a comment was rude or not, but we're not in the business of rubbing folks noses in what they have done if we can avoid it.

In a meta discussion in the site, a moderator said that the comment was deleted for being rude, and not following the "be nice" policy. Fair enough. I am okay with deleting comments if they are seen as rude. But what is rude to a group of people may be customary to another group. Having your comments deleted without warning or notification does not help bridge that gap.

While there's cultural differences, I would feel as part of a community, one needs to learn to understand the cultural norms of others, and try to adjust. That "it is acceptable by one group, but not others" doesn't quite ring true to me, unless there's a specific situation. Fundamentally "civility" and niceness ought to be universal, and you might often find where it isn't folks let you know.

Fundamentally, mods and the community can guide and advice a user - and we already use a few tools like chat, comments and mod messages where necessary to try to get a user on a better path.

On the other hand - this feedback needs to be taken in the spirit its given whether its obvious (like a suspension) or subtle ("Duuuuude, not cool!") - fundamentally, we do rely on the individual to take cues from the collective-community to figure out an acceptable tone and content for that community and this does change over time.

Last but not least, it would be nice if regular, non-mod users could handle flags on comments. This could take some load off moderators, and call the community's attention when someone is actually being rude. This could be a queue for users with 10,000+ reputation, which is generally when you are trusted enough to have access to moderator tools.

Isn't a bad idea, though this would likely result in more, not less deleted comments.

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