This is a follow-up of How should mods of per-site-meta with low / slow participation handle posts that if posted here will be negatively received?. The answer to that question said "there is a lot to unpack here" and some comments asked about specific examples.

  1. In this question I'm talking about some discourse elements that when used to dispute the closing / ask the reopen of a question make them, IMO, to be non positive criticism.
  2. I would not like provide specific examples from per-site meta publicly to avoid a "meta effect" among other things, but if the most experienced current or former moderators thinks that is OK, I could add them.

I think that the canonical references are the following:

Let me start acknowledging that I'm not a language nor a discourse expert. Please bear with me.

Below I will list some language stuff to set some baseground.

Strong words

Use of strong words for dramatization, make a post be appealing, attractive. The examples were found here.

  • Free meta from the tyranny of nofollow!


Use of "adverb + adjective" for emphasis, to add an emotional load:

  • Why are some repliers being so unfriendly on Stack Overflow?

  • Why am I getting so many closed and deleted questions recently?

  • Why does Stack Exchange have to feel so unfriendly now?


Hyperbole is a rhetoric figure. In certain context, hyperbole is the use of an obvious exaggeration knowing that nobody will take it literally.


Strong words, modifiers, and hyperbole could be used to make emphasis, they are commonly found in meta post titles. In many cases it's clear that the OP is using this language resources to make their post interesting, attractive, but the use of them on meta posts disputing the close of a question it's inappropriate as they perceived as a emotion expression but that makes the post to look a non positive criticism. This doesn't help to have a healthy meta.

What do you think about the above assertion? What do you suggest that should be done in general terms when there is a post with a title that looks as non positive criticism? What should be done specifically when founding a title strong words, modifiers, hyperbole and other rhetoric figures (nothing, flag, edit, comment, ignore, ...)?


  • 14
    I don't know, we're humans, we use language to express ourselves, and I don't know how anyone can be an arbiter of when the word "so" is too strong or when hyperbole is too much hyperbole. If you find the title of a post offensive, edit it, prompt the author to use better language, or flag it. I don't think we need rules or policies around word strength or hyperbole thresholds that aren't already handled with existing community moderation capabilities.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 18:34
  • @AaronBertrand I appreciate your comment. Something like "I think that the use of hyperbole in X question was above anything that have ever tried before in whole Internet" will be too much ? :) P.S. I wrote this before the edit of your comment was shown on my side.
    – Rubén
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 18:42
  • 1
    I don't quite agree. I can be extremely unpleasant about a post just by being nice, "That's a fantastic post we have here! It's just so incredibly welcoming and friendly that it's practically dictating rules on how to express oneself in the most cheerful way possible!" Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 22:28
  • 1
    @AugustoVasques I think that you are adding another discourse figure, sarcasm. I intententionaly not included it here. While a title might be using "nice" words, sarcasm should never be used to give positive criticism.
    – Rubén
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 22:40
  • Sarcasm is complex. Please let keep sarcasm for another discussion.
    – Rubén
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 22:46
  • There are various degrees of sarcasm and irony,understand that you don't brought it to the discussion but it exists. In this case it's blatant since it's just an example, but in communication on these sites, sarcasm can be found in more subtle degrees that negatively impact the communication. Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 22:47
  • I agree. Due to what the use of sarcasm, irony and other forms of discourse might be better to be discussed in another posts. Please help me keeping this post focused on in the use of strong words, modifiers (used in a simple, direct way) and hyperbole. Let use the tag writing to group posts about the different forms of discourse in questions and answers.
    – Rubén
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 22:52
  • I added again writing as it now has a tag wiki.
    – Rubén
    Commented May 6, 2023 at 22:53

1 Answer 1


I think it very much depends on the writer, and the tools they are most comfortable with.

Some of my favourite people are storytellers — and it's a rhetorical device I've seen used effectively. Some meta is storytelling — some of it is clear cut bug reports or clear cut requests, and some of it is convincing the rest of the community in general.

Sometimes the best way to tell your 'story' involves just getting to the point. Other times it's necessary to dig into the depths of your rhetorical tool kit.

Strong words, hyperbole and modifiers are fairly useful tools in showing how you feel about a topic. It tells your story. And I think part of this is the disconnect between 'meta as technical writing' — as a pure transmitter of information, and 'meta as a soapbox' — where you're trying to express a view. There's a place for both.

Looking at my own (admittedly rather voluminous) body of work here:
If you don't look good, we don't look good – could there be more aggressive copy editing of the blog?
The title actually refers to the tagline of a major cosmetics firm. I thought it was funny at the time. While it's a meta post — the eventual intended audience was staff who were unlikely familiar with the network, I introduce myself and try to pick a tone that doesn't blame anyone

On the other hand, this post:
Chat is hungry in read only mode and keeps quietly snacking on my posts, is humorous verging on sarcastic, cause the intended recipient is a dev or SRE.

My bug reports mostly tend to be direct.

I occasionally editorialise and those posts make liberal use of hyperbole, sarcasm and modifiers — this one on super user's 'new' design is a great example — I wanted the reader to know I was unhappy and why — it very much is theatre and storytelling

Calibrated use of all these tools is a difficult thing too. Even with a lot of meta experience, the tone of my message gets misunderstood on occasion. That shouldn't mean every meta post should be dry and emotionless. Let people tell their story — they way they do.

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