I believe in neutrality (like my most D&D characters).

While most people always attempt to use a polite approach to solve a problem, sometimes a non-conventional method is needed to achieve a difficult goal.

This answer on How do I deal with a mother who won't take "no" for an answer? states

I'd turn the tables. Every time she proposes and pushes her ideas on how to improve your life, propose your ideas to improve hers, 'I'll do it if you do this' type of thing. Personally I'd look for something difficult or inconvenient to follow through, something with some rigmarole. Present it with love & affection, and take no for an answer. If you do it right, you will save yourself a lot of time & heartaches.

This is certainly not an ideal solution for us polite people, but I believe this is a valid attempt to answer, and a valid interpersonal strategy against a person that is proven to be immune from conventional approach.

Interpersonal skill is just a tool, and tool is neutral, and should stay be. The answer might be not a popular one, but it is a valid answer, and should not be deleted. The OP has the options. Let him choose one.

While most of us don't like passive-aggressive approach, please do not delete a valid attempt to answer. If you do not agree, downvote. Let the OP see his options.

So, what does the community say about these use of non-conventional approach?

  • 1
    Again, we come to the problem of this site having a lot of opinions. People are going to be penalized for answering in unpopular ways on here.
    – user2191
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 20:07
  • 2
    Why do we need anything outside of the normal workflow for this? What is deficient about the current process that we need a special circumstance? What sort of special circumstance should we implement? And why should the community with delete rights not be able to cast a vote for a negatively scored answer? Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 20:07
  • More like a reminder that answer that is a valid attempt should not be deleted, but rather downvoted if the community does not agree. It's like answering a question with the wrong regional answer.
    – Vylix
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 20:13
  • It seems like what's right or wrong would vary greatly between individuals and cultures.With another stack exchange, say a physics, there's a clear international set of rules. One reason I'm deleting my account on here.
    – user2191
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 20:14
  • 7
    @Chad deletion is never meant for simply wrong answers. Bad quality answers are not the same thing as wrong answers. Downvotes are appropriate for wrong answers. Deletion is appropriate for poor quality.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 20:14
  • @Catija - But its not like one user can delete an answer anyway. Why do we need something outside of the normal process? Am I going to be punished if I cast a delete vote? Mods can always undelete answers if they feel they were inappropriately deleted. So again why do we need anything outside of the normal process? Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 20:16
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    @Chad who is recommending anything outside the normal process? I think the question here is specifically working to remind people that answers you disagree with/are wrong are not a reason to delete. We need users to remember that this isn't what delete votes are for.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 20:18
  • 1
    @Chad sometimes community just need a reminder how to properly cast votes. Of course, your vote is your vote, but intentionally "abuse" the vote when you know the right way to do it is irresponsible.
    – Vylix
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 20:19
  • I disagree. but fair enough. Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 20:23

4 Answers 4


I downvoted that answer. It is not, in my opinion, a good approach, and I would feel the same even if I hadn't been the one to ask the question. In fact, I've downvoted a couple of other answers that offered a similar passive-aggressive response.

However, when I saw the answer in the review queue, asking if it should be deleted, I voted to not delete it.

It does attempt to address the question. I just don't believe it is a good attempt. To me, this is exactly what downvotes are for.

  • 2
    +1 fair enough. OP will have more choices and different POV. Sometimes, a bad answer helps "clear the queue" of the options until you pick the right one. Not a good answer, but helping in the way it says: at least, this can't be! So I'm left with...
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 18:55
  • You would do the same thing if, for example, someone suggested on Stack Overflow "Oh, you can solve the problem of passing those pesky parameters by using a global variable!" too. I'm quite impressed with how powerful, yet elegant, most of Stack Exchange's features are, and hold up over time (going on darn near 10 years now and fundamentally haven't changed much since day 1.)
    – corsiKa
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 2:34

I think it depends. I think most of the time being as diplomatic, polite and direct as you can, is the most successful approach at good communication. That said, there are times that more aggressive approaches or less polite responses are warranted and can be effective for the desired outcome. Those can be highly effective in particular situations. Sometimes an answer like that won't be well received by a larger audience on the whole, but it doesn't mean they wouldn't actually resolve the issue the OP is asking about.


You raised an important (and difficult to answer) question. I congratulate you.

I'll attempt to answer by sharing some of my thoughts.

You wrote:

While most people always attempt to use a polite approach to solve a problem, sometimes a non-conventional method is needed to achieve a difficult goal.

May I assume then that a conventional method is almost synonym to a polite approach? Or an approach that is usually both polite (respectful) and rational?

Again you wrote that ideally an approach or response should be polite,

This is certainly not an ideal solution for us polite people...

Even though, I will agree with you that sometimes a non-conventional approach might be needed, does a passive-aggressive response constitute a valid attempt? To my understanding a non-conventional approach could be unorthodox, yes, but at the same time, constructive (or even in a way destructive as in terminating an unhealthy relationship) but not passive-aggressive. And so I would word the question as, "how should we handle passive-aggressive approaches to conflict resolution?".

I would like to know of examples of a passive aggressive behavior contributing to conflict resolution in the long run, when such behaviors are especially among couples, the result of divorce or couples therapy hopefully. If anything, passive-aggression only serves to maintain that lack of actual communication.

Should an answer that encourages passive-aggression be deleted?

It should not in my opinion. It should remain so it's discussed in a way that enables the person who made the suggestion realize how passive-aggression would not aid in conflict resolution but that it could potentially be even more damaging to a relationship.

There is a difference between suggesting the healthy expression of anger, not suppressing negative emotions and so on, to suggesting acting passive-aggressively. I could even argue against someone who would say to me to do X to Y person to make Y see what X felt like. That person either knows very well what X felt like and does it deliberately to either hurt me or attract my attention (in a negative way), or they lack empathy. And if they lack empathy, reciprocation or vengeance doesn't produce any result nor does it teach them a lesson.

Let's consider that sometimes being polite isn't an ideal solution. It might not even be the right solution and it might even be camouflaged passive-aggression.


When an answer is wrong, or bad the correct action to take is to down-vote, and if you feel it necessary and helpful, then leave a comment explaining your issue with the answer. If the answer is so bad you do not think it is at all helpful for future users to see the answer, and you have enough reputation you can cast a delete vote. If enough people agree and also cast votes the answer will be deleted.

If the community handles it improperly then you can flag a moderator to take action, or bring the issue to meta.

It is possible that the passive aggressive approach may be the right answer to a question. I am not sure that I believe that it ever will be, but the potential is there so banning it makes absolutely no sense.

  • What do you mean by "bad"? "Poorly written" or a "poor solution"?
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 1:38
  • 1
    That definition is up to each individual user. Its not for me or you to decide what bad means to someone else. Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 7:17
  • 3
    Clearly we disagree about what deserves a delete vote and I would appreciate it if you could make your answer less ambiguous so that we can understand what you mean more particularly.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 7:20
  • 4
    You are answering a question and asking people to vote on it to determine site policy... vague answers lead to vague policy that no one can use. I'm not asking you to say what you define as "bad" in the low-quality sense. I'm asking you to clarify whether you mean to include "answers you disagree with" and "answers that are wrong" in the "cast a delete vote" directions.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 7:28
  • 2
    @Catija I decline to do that. Feel free to make a post if you wish to dictate how people use the site as a Moderator. For me I think that there is no reason to deviate from SE norms in this case. Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 8:33
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    What I think user IHatePeople is indicating here, is that those who are empowered to cast delete votes can vote to delete an answer that they disagree with or believe to be a wrong or bad solution, and not just a 'low quality answer' -- and if enough people vote to delete, the answer will actually get deleted. I also interpret that IHatePeople is reminding members with delete-vote privilege that they must try to use it in accordance with site/ network recommendations regarding which types of posts ought to be deleted, @Catija. But to clarify for new members like myself: what's that policy? Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 16:43

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