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My problem, resumed, is that since I started being actve on Stack Exchange some days ago, I've got already three members behaving rather nastily to me. Probably acting as they thought was totally in line with the site's guidelines.

Two of them didn't understand the basic premises of my questions and criticized them in the comment section without any respect nor common sense when it comes to what is supposed to remain in the comment section. I guess they already know they can delete the comments and there would be no consequence. I am not going to share it here because I see no reason to do it. A broad description is enough.

The other one wasn't rude at first, although it escalated somehow in his second, now deleted, comment. Due to my reply, I assume. That is why I'd like to check with you all if it is actually me who was wrong in the first interchange. This was a post on Biology in which someone asked for books to self-learn biology. I recommended a series of books. The comment was this one:

The post you are replying to is four years old. Furthermore this is a site about specific problems in biology that can be answered in an objective manner. Book recommendations are not that.

My reply, which was actually a bit rude due to being upset with the other two incidents:

I was looking for something useful and left something I would have found useful for the next to come. That someone isn't you, apparently. Book recommendations are pretty much on the topic when the OP was asking precisely for that. The post could be 202020 years old, and that wouldn't matter at all. I ended up here the same, looking for answers to it now. This website is meant as a source of encyclopedic knowledge. What I am tired of is the attitude of the people wearing medals. Pretty toxic. If this question was accepted in "a site about specific problems" then my answer to it should be.

I deleted this soon after, though. There is no need to enter discussions and I understand it wasn't the place. The thing is, am I not right? The guy is in the top 0.45% overall. Does that make him right? I get his point but I don't see how it is useful at all to a newcomer. The criticism was about the question being there for four years. Of course, I couldn't possibly be aware that would be a problem as I am not, yet, part of your culture. For his comment, I wouldn't really learn much either. From my perspective, my answer was quite legit and his wasn't. I now know he could have just voted to close the post and perhaps leave a comment explaining why -in the question rather than my answer, though. Wouldn't that be the appropriate thing to do?

Regarding the other two experienced members who were straight away insulting, wrong in the base of their premises, lacked any humility and, clearly and ironically, any understanding of the website, etc... I am pretty sure I was on the right and they might be spending perhaps too much time on the Internet. Proof of that is I am talking about two users that seem to follow me everywhere. The problem is either me or them or both; or the whole system. I of course need to take into consideration that I am the newbie and they are not. It is ridiculous and illogical to believe I am right and they aren't. But there is no other way of looking at it, really. Too insulting and nonsensical, period.

My questions regarding them are:

  • How should I proceed in such a case?
  • I know I can simply flag their comments, but is there any consequence whatsoever to it?
  • In your opinion, has this website a systemic problem regarding the entitledness of some established members?
  • Is there anything in place to help with that?

If there is nothing else I'll just ignore them, though. But I am pretty sure many would just leave the website. I have no need to get upset over nothing and waste time writing this question or dealing with immaturity. No one does. And all the years I had been using this website without posting seem much nicer than trying to contribute, so far.

I got this link from a helpful answer What about the community is "toxic" to new users?

In it, they talk about some people perceiving the community as toxic due to a culture shock. Many things aren't allowed here. The thing is that in my case, my questions weren't downvoted at all. I like how this website works overall. It's precise. I like precision. What I am complaining about is bullying. There may be things I still don't get of how the site works, but I am not someone who isn't trying or is rejected by the whole community. In absolutely all instances, together with the bullies and several upvotes, there were others being nice to me. The times I was wrong, they pointed it out. For instance, in the post I quoted the comments from, someone asked me to be more specific (I had recommended a whole series of books, rather than one in particular) and said that adding some links would be useful. I edited the post accordingly and learnt from it. That is acceptable. I am not complaining about that sort of thing. It makes SE what it is.

I have to add that the bullying comments I've mentioned were flagged and fairly deleted. What I wonder is, if there were any other consequences to such behavior besides deleting the comments, how come these users have so many reputation points and experience on the site? For their behavior, it is pretty clear it wasn't their first time. The nature of my question, therefore, goes more like this. How privileged are highly ranked members? Is there anything a newcomer can do to defend his post against someone who invests hours of their life on the website? Even if they are not competent, they work a lot on the site and therefore have more value and hold more power than any newbie. In your experience, is there usually any accountability to such persons? What I am asking is if the moderators are ultimately fair, basically. It is an important thing to know if I am going to invest myself around here.

I propose there should be a standard, well-written and polite list of templates to use in typical situations. It could avoid misunderstandings with new users in the future. It is what an organized company would do, after all. This is what I see as the whole point of the culture you seem to have on this website; being efficient. It just happens that the ethos of being efficient might be ineffective in practice at times just by itself. Efficiency is NOT objective when you have thousands of minds judging what is what. That seems to be against the mere ethos of the site.

I can share with you a similar proposal from SO. It might well be something to consider and push forward. A request from 2018, it is quite an interesting read, for good and for bad. For instance, take a look at this sarcastic and rather obnoxious extract from an answer with 54 upvotes:

"Dear Precious Snowflake, I apologize for my inability to help you. It is not your fault. It is mine. Entirely mine. I'm really sorry to bother you with anything short of an immediate answer, but perhaps please could you"

Funny, I agree. And I am not even suffering insufferable noobies all day, BUT... Not cool and quite a reductive way of thinking. Toxic or not is for debate. I am pretty sure that it is an attitude that comes from ridiculous experiences with new users, but applying that to some (probably many) cases (e.g mine)... not cool. Anyway, even annoying snowflakes could be useful. There is no need to sift them out; they'd learn over time, under the right treatment. By that, I mean being direct but not leading to easily avoidable misunderstandings. Canned comments; links to specific info. Perhaps even a smiley. It should be simple.

There are other very thoughtful contributions, such as this proposal:

"If there are to be 'approved' canned comments, they should be anonymous to ordinary users", which makes absolute sense to me; at least for some sorts of negative feedback. He keeps on giving examples of helpful advice.

I would add links to a much more complete and less ambiguous help section, and so on.

The target here would be to avoid misunderstandings and comments that might be felt like a personal attack from individual A to individual B. It would come with changes, a lot of work, and reasonably mindful individuals volunteering to do it. Not easy; but not hard either. Definitely not impossible given the nature of this community and REALLY worth it, in my opinion.

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    Well, did you ever attend to the help center of that site, to check what's on-topic there, before posting questions or answers? – πάντα ῥεῖ Apr 29 at 19:32
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    What I am asking is if the moderators are fair ... Who do you mean? Elected moderators (the users with a diamond behind their name) or trusted users (those with several privileges based on their reputation). – rene Apr 29 at 20:57
  • Thanks for answering, Rene. I mean the ones judging the flags and then deciding what to do about it. Regarding trusted users (if that means with a lot of medals and points) I see that it totally depends on the person. My problem was, precisely, with trusted users that weren't nice at all. Is it usual that the moderators, say, take their points away from them? I mean things like that. Are there real consequences or if I get enough points I'll also be unstoppable and free to be rude all around for no clear reason? Say that you tell me now something rude and then it's deleted. Any consequence? – Pablo GM Apr 29 at 21:08
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    There is no hope if you assume elected moderators can't be trusted. period. Our elected moderators handle a ton of flags daily, raised by users. Some of these have consequences for the users that got flagged. But even then, when it comes to a suspension of users, we don't hold grudges once their suspension is over. It is a core value in the communities across the network. What kind of answer do you hope for? That a user gets expelled for life on your first flag? – rene Apr 29 at 21:32
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My problem is that since I started being active in stackexchange some days ago, I've got already three members behaving rather nastily to me.

Simply flag and move on. Responding will only start a messy argument.

The other one wasn't rude, so I'd like to check here if it is actually me who is wrong. This was a post in Biology in which someone asked for books to self-learn biology. I recommended a series of books. The comment was this one:

The post you are replying to is four years old. Furthermore this is a site about specific problems in biology that can be answered in an objective manner. Book recommendations are not that.

My reply, which was actually a bit rude due to being upset with the other two incidents:

I was looking for something useful and left something I would have found useful for the next to come. That someone isn't you, apparently. Book recommendations are pretty much on the topic when the OP was asking precisely for that. The post could be 202020 years old, and that wouldn't matter at all. I ended up here the same, looking for answers to it now. This website is meant as a source of encyclopedic knowledge. What I am tired of is the attitude of the people wearing medals. Pretty toxic. If this question was accepted in "a site about specific problems" then my answer to it should be.

While the user could've been nicer in their comment, you should not have responded to it. Your comment was not constructive or helpful. Don't fight fire with fire. Mods will deal with your flag and act appropriately.

I am pretty sure I was on the right and they might be spending perhaps too much time on the internet. Proof of that is I am talking about two users that seem to follow me everywhere. The problem is either me or them, or both; or the whole system. I of course need to take into consideration that I am the newbie and they are not. It is ridiculous and illogical to believe I am right and they aren't. But there is no other way of looking at it, really. Too insulting and nonsensical, period.

If you feel that a certain group of users continue to be rude to you, then you can custom flag and give your argument. If the moderator agrees, the users in question will be warned and suspended if continued.

However, I do believe you are overreacting here. You're new, and you don't know the rules of the site. Most new users need a nudge in the right direction, which can be sometimes misinterpreted as "toxicity".

Regarding the other two experienced members who were straight away insulting, wrong in the base of their premises, lacked any humility and, clearly and ironically, any understanding of the website, etc... I am pretty sure I was on the right and they might be spending perhaps too much time on the internet.

I doubt this. Experienced users will have far more knowledge about the site than you. I can't see how you can justify joining the site a few days ago and already calling experienced users wrong and lacking understanding of the site.

Try to be in the shoes of the more experienced users. "Another one of those new users came along and is not doing things right. Then they leave a rude response to my good feedback? Who do they think they are?"

Do a favor for the site, and take the tour and read the help pages. Maybe then will you understand your feedback.

I deleted this soon after, though. There is no need to enter discussions and understand it wasn't the place. The thing is, am I not right? The guy is in the top 0.45% overall. I assume his problem is that he spends all day correcting posts or something. Does that make him right?

It is not a "problem" to spend all day correcting posts. That is a blessing to the site. People like that are hard workers who are hard to come by.

And yes, it probably makes him right. Someone that devoted to Stack Exchange and who has that much reputation knows what he's doing by now. Unfortunately, all of us have bad days and say stuff in a harsh way. So if you feel insulted by him, remember that under the "toxic" tone, there is advice to follow. However, we do have a Be Nice Policy and if broken, you should flag it.

Overall, experienced users encounter hundreds of new users per week (for the larger sites), and most don't have time to explain everything with "pleases". Most new users also are uncooperative, so the experienced users switch to a direct approach for everyone.

Edit:

I have to add that the bullying comments I've mentioned were flagged and fairly deleted. What I wonder is, if there were any other consequence to such behaviour besides deleting the comments, how come these users have so many reputation points and experience on the site? For their behaviour, it is pretty clear it wasn't their first time. The nature of my question, therefore, goes more like this. How privileged are highly ranked members? Anything a newcomer can do to defend his post against someone who invests hours of their life on the website? Even if they are not competent, they work a lot on the site and therefore hold more power than any newbie. In your experience, is there usually any accountability to such persons? What I am asking is if the moderators are fair, basically. Important thing to know if I am going to invest myself around here.

If this is true, raise a custom flag to a moderator. The flag should include 3 or more examples of "bullying" and an explanation from you. If a moderator sees fit, they will suspend the user, or if bad enough, delete.

On Stack Exchange, anyone and everyone is held accountable for their actions, no matter how many points they have.

If a user is bullying, this is a violation of the code of conduct - which is a pretty big deal.

I assure you, if what you have said is fact, and you follow my instructions, the user will face appropriate consequences.

And also, moderators are fair. They are elected officials elected in a democratic process of voting that is accessible to anyone with sufficient reputation. Please trust them.

I'm sorry for your negative experience with Stack Exchange. I promise things will get better - stick around!

See What about the community is “toxic” to new users? for more information.

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