Has anyone ever avoided answering someones question because the asker had previously disrespected you?

I am curious about this, I try to be as polite as possible, not just for this reason, I think we should all be nice.

However, I do often see flame-wars or whatever where some people are being quite rude to each other and I wonder if they ever ask a question that the other person knows; if the other even bother answering, or hold a grudge and don't help them.

This is just something I was curious about, I have a feeling it might get shut down. However I think keeping it up might help promote politeness on the sites (depending on the answers).

  • 20
    I prefer not to answer your question.
    – user150068
    Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 22:10

9 Answers 9


It turns out that I'm quite blind to the user when it comes to answering questions.

I'll read the question decide I can help and post an answer and only then realise that it's a certain user who completely missed the point of my last answer or edited a question to make my answer useless (or what ever).

Which I think is a good thing.

Stack Overflow/Exchange is about the questions and answers not the people who post them.

  • 4
    It's unfortunately very much about the people. Obsessive loyalty to a product or brand leads some automatons to close questions they find blasphemous. Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 18:51

Yes, absolutely.

When someone asks a question on a SE, they are asking you to do free work for them, basically. We all do this free work for various reasons - to be helpful to the asker, for rep, to improve the world in general.

If someone has been disrespectful, then reason #1 to take my otherwise billable time to help them has been removed. So I tend away from answering them, unless I think other people would really benefit from a good answer on it. Duration and degree of tending away from answering them is proportional to degree and duration of them being a doofus.



As ChrisF noted, SO is about the Q&A, not the people. Regardless of who asked the question, it'll be read by many, many people you don't know and have probably never interacted with. Write for them.

  • 1
    +1, always the best attitude to take.
    – Pekka
    Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 0:08
  • this is generally true, but if it's someone that has really pissed me off, I will notice and that does affect how and when I respond. It takes a lot, and I mean A LOT, for this to happen though. It's rare. Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 17:45
  • @Jeff: I'm not saying it doesn't affect me, but in all the examples I could think of there was... something else involved. Specifically, piss-poor questions of some sort. Avoiding a response because past history indicates the asker doesn't really understand what they're dealing with, etc.
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 17:57
  • Questions get closed on religious grounds. It's not solely about the Q's & A'... it's about not offending the Sanhedrin. Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 18:52
  • @Steph: lolwut?
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 19:04

There are one or two users whose names or avatars I remember for outstandingly asshole behaviour (although I've long forgotten the actual conflict or insult in question). Questions from those people, I don't answer. I'm also a fairly liberal downvoter where they are concerned.

Also, there are a few people who I haven't had run-ins with myself, but who have displayed such appalling behaviour towards others that I consider them poisonous. Those I usually won't help either.

Other than that, there are countless users who I swore to myself I'd remember never to answer a question for again, but had completely forgotten the next day. As @ChrisF already says, that is a good thing. It helps everybody to get over themselves, and is certainly one of the reasons SO is such a great and friendly place.


I usually don't remember the people I answer to (and I barely saw any rudeness until now), but I'll make a confession here.

There is one kind of people that I purposely delay the answer to: those that put "Urgent", "Please answer fast" or "Need help ASAP". I will direct my effort to first answer those people who do not believe their question is more important than anyone else's question.

  • 1
    BTW: That pedantic imposition does indeed offend me.
    – Aleadam
    Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 5:18

I rarely answer a question just to help the asker; Stack Exchange is for all the other readers too, and I try to write for them. So if somebody I don't like (for whatever reason) asks a question, that alone doesn't stop me.

However, if I think a question is asked in bad faith (to advance an agenda or pick a fight), or if I think it likely to change several more times (chameleon question), or if I think I'm dealing with a help vampire, I will generally skip answering those. And sometimes I can identify those questions because this user has done that before. So it's not specifically that "user X has offended me", but rather "user X keeps pushing his inappropriate agenda in questions". Sometimes, but not always, the same user does both.

When deciding how to spend my limited question-answering resources, this is one of several factors I consider. It's not the only one.


I have arguments with stupid (read: stubborn) people all the time! TBH, I never remember the usernames beyond a day, but I'm not the grudge-holding type.

I would probably answer any question to which I know the correct answer/approach, even if I did remember the username.


I am, as a matter of fact, avoiding answering questions by certain people right now as we speak. This is, however, not to "punish" them (they are getting answers from others anyway, and if anything, I am punishing myself by not getting the rep); much rather, I'm just letting the dust settle. If history is any lesson, this is a temporary situation — I am not a spiteful person, so if I'm avoiding anybody, whether online or offline, it's only temporarily, and only to everybody's benefit rather than just mine.


I say, let it go.

If you wish, answer it. But answer it normally like you would any other question, though probably not as lengthy or with too much research. If for whatever reason the asker comments or otherwise, keeps the animosity going, report it, take back your answer if you want, just don't show the same animosity back. Let the mods and the rest of the community handle it. The asker is at fault and will be dealt with. No need to get yourself in trouble too. It's a question/answer site, not drama club.

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