I really hope I'm not the only one that feels this way. On StackOverflow, there are some, but thankfully a small number, of users that are rude or seem to be actively trying to make the site a negative place. I haven't experienced this negativity first-hand (though I probably will after posting this), but I feel like these few are tainting StackOverflow.

The only real negative feedback tools we have are flagging offensive comments and down-voting answers. But not all of these comments are against the community rules, per se, nor are mean answers incorrect, which is what would warrant a down-vote. Plus, there are other actions, like overzealous closing and down-voting, that I'm sure make some people feel unwelcome.

I hesitate to request a feature allowing users to anonymously censure each other, since that could make these same users lash out and make things worse. But do you think there's a good way that we could discourage jerks or eventually vote them off SO?


Just found a related question about rude comments. The answer there is to flag rude comments. I thought flagging was reserved for offensive comments. Also, I'm not sure how anonymous flagging is kept.

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    Is this a feature request to vote away individual site users? What relation does anti-social have with being a jerk on SO? – Troggy Feb 9 '10 at 2:38
  • Sort of, yes, though I'm unsure if that's the best approach. Also, when I say anti-social I meant being a jerk (definition 2 at dictionary.reference.com/browse/antisocial). – Jacob Feb 9 '10 at 2:42
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    @Jacob: not only do people flag rude comments, but users are outright banned from the site simply from these rude comments even if they aren't offensive. – Ether Feb 9 '10 at 16:28
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    "Survivor: Stack Overflow." Yeah, I think I'd watch that. – mmyers Feb 9 '10 at 16:35
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    @mmyers: Team Atwood vs Team Spolsky? :) – Sampson Feb 12 '10 at 17:39
  • @Jonathan: Uh oh, I think Joel just got voted off the island. – mmyers Feb 12 '10 at 17:44
  • @mmyers: Down-voted off the island? :) – Sampson Feb 12 '10 at 17:54

Also, I'm not sure how anonymous flagging is kept.

It's kept very anonymous. Even the moderators ♦ don't see who flags comments.

I hesitate to request a feature allowing users to anonymously censure each other, since that could make these same users lash out and make things worse.

Or it could have a chilling effect on other users, who see the effects and withdraw. There's something inherently unsettling when users are removed based solely on anonymous complaints.

Bitter flame-wars and pointless arguing are no fun. So if you see something truly inappropriate, by all means, flag it and move on. But think twice before you start flagging every little thing that annoys you, or flagging based on the ID of the user who posted rather than what was written. You never know who might be reading your words with just a touch of irritation...

  • If I go to my profile page (lets say for superuser.com), and I see "helpful flags 4". If I click on the "4" I can see what I have flagged, and whether it was decided as "helpful" or "declined". If other users view my profile page, can they follow the same "4" link to see what I have flagged? If so, then I'd say it's not quite "anonymous" enough since someone who suspects you might have flagged them can verify if you did (or not). Or, am I misunderstanding this? – Kevin Fegan Oct 12 '14 at 22:06
  • No, they can't see that page. – Shog9 Oct 13 '14 at 4:54

If you find yourself running into people who are contributing more noise than content, flag them. If you find people who spend the majority of their time flaming others, and causing problems, flag them. This will bring them into the attention of your local Moderators, and they will be able to evaluate whether the behavior deserves further action.

I can say that I'm stunned by some of the things that are flagged "offensive" though. If you decide to go this route, be sure it's genuinely offensive.

  • +1 - stuff gets flagged all the time, often as not for no apparent reason. Can't put too much stock in it... – Shog9 Feb 12 '10 at 18:15
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    @Shog9 - Obligatory link to a website triggered by the phrases, " all the time " and "no apparent reason": realultimatepower.net – Pollyanna Feb 12 '10 at 18:19

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