I spotted, downvoted, and flagged an answer that suggested violence should be used to solve a problem.

Initially it looked like this answer would receive a similar response from most users, but the answer has since received a couple of upvotes netting the answerer a positive reputation gain.

Are answers that advocate violence acceptable here?

  • Why did you add the [faq-proposed] tag here? Generally, that's for things that are actually for authoritative, canonical posts that are linked to things from the main site, such as explanation for close reasons or reasoning. – Zizouz212 Jul 24 '17 at 1:20
  • @Zizouz212 From my reading of Stack Exchange's tos, these posts are very likely a violation. See Section 3 titled subscriber content. – apaul Jul 24 '17 at 1:34
  • For your ToS argument, the "likely" part isn't something that we have to enforce with a blanket ban. We're not lawyers here. (Also, why are you asking me this under the question? Did you mean to comment under the answer? I was just asking about the tag here :P). Also, just to make sure we may not be talking past each other here, since I think we are, but what are you defining as "violence?" – Zizouz212 Jul 24 '17 at 1:36
  • @Zizouz212 I was explaining why I used the faq-proposed tag. I spotted an answer that recommend macing a developmentally disabled person, figured that qualified as "advocating violence" – apaul Jul 24 '17 at 1:50
  • Ah, makes sense. – Zizouz212 Jul 24 '17 at 2:04
  • Yeah... That answer should be flagged as rude or abusive. Your situation and definition of violence was very different from what I had in mind. – Zizouz212 Jul 24 '17 at 2:06
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    A person that has op fearing for their safety on multiple occasions according to the post. They are not advocating anything unreasonable. Unfortunately self defense is the only solution sometimes. – Passerby Jul 24 '17 at 2:24
  • Reading the question again, the person seems like a few steps away from sexual violence. – Passerby Jul 24 '17 at 2:31
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    Context: question op is talking about interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/775/… – Passerby Jul 24 '17 at 2:33

In generations past a common response to a school bully was to learn to hit back. I don't think we gain anything by declaring answers in this vein as taboo or invalid and deleting them. So let's allow them, but I expect that they would in general be downvoted.

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    Right answer, stupid answer, taboo answer... It's still technically an answer. – Zizouz212 Jul 24 '17 at 1:19
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    I was bullied in elementary school by one particular (bigger) kid. Many parental conferences happened and failed. The bullying ended the day the school principal taught me how to respond physically -- once was all it took. Even today I would give similar advice in a heartbeat to a young victim in my country who'd exhausted discussion-based approaches. It's disappointing, but sometimes you have to smack somebody. – Monica Cellio Jul 24 '17 at 15:33

Yes they should be allowed. There is a spectrum, and it's going to be too hard (and unproductive) to write a policy that covers the mushy middle.

I expect we all agree that an answer advocating murdering somebody who ignored your "no solicitors" sign and wants to talk to you about Tupperware would be wholly inappropriate -- rude or abusive, actually. I hope -- but won't go so far as to say "expect" -- that we would all agree that an answer that advocates yelling at someone or slamming the door on the solicitor isn't inappropriate per site policy, though depending on the details it might be a bad answer deserving of downvotes.

Now what about the space in between? Let's talk about the mentally-disabled aggressive pest in a confined space from the question that prompted this meta question. Would you try to remove an answer that talks about self-defense techniques including force redirection? What about an answer that suggests the harassed women work together to physically push him out of their car? What about an answer that says to slap him in the face to get his attention? What about an answer that describes ways to use common items like umbrellas or house keys offensively without doing irrevocable damage? What about an answer that suggests threatening the attacker physically (but doesn't talk about actually doing violence)? And then we have the answer in question here, to use mace -- a remedy routinely suggested especially to women to deter violence aimed at them.

I didn't vote for the mace answer because it's a bad answer in this setting. (There could be other questions where it wouldn't be a bad answer, assuming the answer also explained why rather than just giving a one-liner like this one.) But I also didn't flag it as rude or abusive, because I don't think it crosses that line.

If we don't want this site to just be Nice IPS, then we have to recognize that sometimes answers might legitimately call for some amount of aggression, verbal or physical. Rather than trying to make a blanket policy, we should use our votes and flags to handle individual cases. Maybe when we have a larger body of examples we'll start to see a pattern that leads to a policy discussion, but I recommend against trying to shut down anything that smells of violence now. Once you're on that slippery slope, you're going to potentially throw away appropriate, arguably correct, answers some of the time. Either that, or you're going to have endless arguments about which gestures with what objects at what distance from somebody, or what volume or vocabulary in speech, constitutes "violence".

  • I can understand the slippery slope argument, but generally speaking there are very few instances where actual physical violence is legal, and even fewer where it's effective. Outside the very limited realm of self defense situations any act of physical violence could land someone in jail. – apaul Jul 24 '17 at 15:35
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    "Legal" on a worldwide site isn't as clear-cut as you might think. The standards of self-defense also vary pretty widely; in some jurisdictions you can act on imminent harm without waiting for the guy to actually take a swing at you. The reader must always evaluate advice given here in his own, local context. – Monica Cellio Jul 24 '17 at 15:38
  • I suppose that's true... Still seems like soundly bad advice, even without legal repercussions. But it looks like the community has spoken, I guess I'll just downvote and move on in the future. – apaul Jul 24 '17 at 15:46
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    Everybody should downvote answers that they see as bad advice. Voting is important to communicate to readers how a community feels about the questions and answers it hosts. – Monica Cellio Jul 24 '17 at 15:51

We must not put a blanket ban on any answers.

Even though smacking a person is in itself a bad thing, sometimes, in some contexts, it's one of the best things to do, say, to stop a bully, one smack right back at him might stop him from bullying ever again.

And, deletion is not for answers that you disagree with or are technically incorrect. Their outright deletion in itself is sort of brutal.

Let's deal with it case by case. Let your votes speak.

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    Good point! We can't put a stop to an issue we haven't really seen, without knowing how major of a problem it is. Case by case is the way to go – Zizouz212 Jul 24 '17 at 20:25

We absolutely do not want answers that advocate violence.

These answers are completely inappropriate and should be flagged on sight and deleted with prejudice.

Simply put, violence is not an interpersonal skill and hence is never an acceptable answer on this site.

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    violence is not an interpersonal skill [citation required] – Passerby Jul 24 '17 at 1:27
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    @Passerby Violence is generally the complete breakdown of interpersonal skills... And more often than not illegal. – apaul Jul 24 '17 at 1:36
  • I thought that things that advocate violence are illegal (at least in UK) – marcellothearcane Jul 24 '17 at 9:38
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    Very right @apaul34208 that 'violence is not an interpersonal skill (...) violence is generally the complete breakdown of interpersonal skills' -- violence is what is left / what results when reasonable interpersonal interaction fails, is how I would put it -- and it is not our business to 'recommend' violence as a last resort -- so anybody who sees a post advocating violence simply needs to flag that post for moderator attention. – English Student Jul 31 '17 at 18:25

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