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It seems like most of my questions on this meta, regardless of the subject, receive comments asking for specific examples of the issue I'm trying to address. I understand that concrete examples can clarify some issues, but in many cases these comments feel more like:

Links or it didn't happen.

I prefer to avoid putting other users on the spot, and I really, really don't want to incite a mob to go after any specific post or user. The meta effect is a thing after all.

When we talk about issues on this site is there any way that we can, ya know, do that without pointing to specific users or posts?

Somewhat related:

https://meta.stackoverflow.com/q/269349/1947286

https://meta.stackoverflow.com/a/268177/1947286

https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/197072/217863

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  • So when a user says Question X should be closed or reopened they shouldn't post the link? And if you were to ask whether certain behavior is rude, annoying, offensive, counter-productive without supporting your case, the discussion is doomed to failure. What you can do is flag the post, or the user that you feel is acting inappropriately and include details in the flag. Perfectly anonymous, or visit chat and ask to meet up with a mod in a private chat room and talk to them in confidentiality. – user3114 Sep 26 '17 at 18:30
  • I wonder if MSE has answered this. – NVZ Sep 26 '17 at 18:32
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    @Mari-Lou A if the whole point of the question is to ask about a single specific post, yes add a link. If you're asking about an issue that you've observed more broadly is it necessary to point out a post or user? – apaul Sep 26 '17 at 18:34
  • @NVZ I'm fairly certain it has, but individual sites are always free to come to their own conclusions. – apaul Sep 26 '17 at 18:35
  • And if, as I imagine, the problematic user is me, because I do not fit in. Go ahead. Fire. – user3114 Sep 26 '17 at 19:15
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    @Mari-Lou A That's precisely the sort of thing I'm trying to avoid. I'm rarely if ever thinking about or trying to go after a specific user, I'm trying to address a specific issue. Does that make sense? – apaul Sep 26 '17 at 19:18
  • "I really, really don't want to incite a mob to go after any specific post or user." kinda hard not to think you're talking about a specific user or post if you make this kind of premise. It says you are thinking of precisely a user or a post. Besides, I know my views are not popular, I know I have been critical of how some things have been handled, and I have rubbed some people up the wrong way. Maybe I need more help than others on my interpersonal skills. Ha! – user3114 Sep 26 '17 at 19:28
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    @Mari-Lou A honestly I haven't really interacted with you enough to have any reason to have an opinion one way or another. Granted you did ask for examples on my most recent question, but you're only one of many people who've asked. Hence better to talk about the issue than the user/s. – apaul Sep 26 '17 at 19:33
  • @Mari-Lou A it wasn't my intention to make you feel singled out. I'll be in chat if you want to talk about it. – apaul Sep 26 '17 at 19:41
  • @apaul34208 that's very kind of you, but I'm fine. Lick the wounds, they will heal. And this site is just not for me. Pity... but what can you do? – user3114 Sep 26 '17 at 19:44
  • @Mari-LouA : why would you put yourself on the side?! You are, too, entitled to ask, answer, comment... and be part of this site. As far as I've seen, but I'm not tracking you :) none of what you do seems to be aggressive to me at least. We all are (with me not being the last one!) , sometimes, somehow, clumsy, or poorly express what we want to mean, but, hey, isn't that what this site is for? improve ourselves? – OldPadawan Sep 27 '17 at 8:58
  • @Mari-LouA hey, both of you and Paul are precious members of IPS! Both of you have great answers! I know you feel Paul's accusing you, but I'm sure it's not his intention ;) – Vylix Sep 27 '17 at 12:15
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    @Vylix no he's not accusing me. I'm fine, no worries. – user3114 Sep 27 '17 at 12:22
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    If you're really concerned about not pointing to specific users, I find it helps to have multiple examples, each from a different user. You can also emphasize that these are just the most recent examples, and maybe not the most egregious. Sometimes that means you have to wait to post a question if you can't immediately find multiple examples, but if whatever it is is really a problem you should be able to find examples pretty quickly on an active site. – 1006a Sep 27 '17 at 16:44
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Not everyone has read every question and every answer on the site. A problem that is obvious to you might not be obvious to others. Examples help bring people up to speed.

I've also seen plenty of meta posts that make claims such as "we should stop closing questions for [x reason]" only for someone to come along and say, actually, I closed those questions because of [y reason], not [x reason]. Here's an example. Examples help the community verify that the problem you're describing in your meta post actually exists.

What follows is a bunch of writing designed to address some of the concerns raised in this meta question.

I understand that concrete examples can clarify some issues, but in many cases these comments feel more like:

Links or it didn't happen.

Reading this, it seems like some of the issues you have with these comments is (1) perhaps the tone of the comments, or (2) you feel that the comments are a way of expressing skepticism of whether a problem actually occurs.

(1) is actually a great example of why examples are useful. We can't evaluate the tone of these comments, because you haven't provided any examples of comments that we can evaluate. You clearly have a concern, but because you haven't given us any examples, we can't actually address it.

As for (2), if someone is skeptical that something you are describing has actually occurred, there is a really easy way to fix that: provide an example. This doesn't necessarily mean that the person asking for clarification doesn't believe you; perhaps they don't read every question posted on the main site and they genuinely have no idea what you are talking about. (Another reason why examples are helpful).

I prefer to avoid putting other users on the spot, and I really, really don't want to incite a mob to go after any specific post or user. The meta effect is a thing after all.

A "mob" is what you should be aiming for. Meta posts usually have a goal. Maybe they want a question closed, maybe they want a question opened. Since Stacks are mostly democratic, it takes multiple people to get something done. Multiple people = a mob. Pointing a mob towards problematic content is exactly what you should be doing. (Something something if members of that mob aren't being nice, flag for moderator attention).

If you're asking about an issue that you've observed more broadly is it necessary to point out a post or user?

Yes. (1) If people haven't noticed this issue, without examples they won't know what you're talking about. (2) Even if it's a broader issue, usually there's a specific outcome (e.g. "questions with problem x should be closed"), and that specific outcome will be facilitated by listing examples.

If you're worried about people targeting people rather than content, then make your post about content, not people. You shouldn't be writing meta posts such as "Hamlet is the worst person on the site, he won't stop using comments to ask questions to specify location". Write "is it necessary for questions to specify the OP's location" and use one of my comments as an example. This is Stack Exchange; unfortunately criticism of content (such as downvotes) is part of the very mechanisms of the site. As long as you keep the focus on content, not people (focusing on people violates be nice), and as long as the criticism is constructive, you are fine.

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    Ha! So you want examples for comments asking for examples? – NVZ Sep 26 '17 at 18:33
  • Inciting people to address a general issue is very different than inciting a mob to go after a specific user. – apaul Sep 26 '17 at 18:38
  • @apaul34208 sure, I edited my answer to address this. – user288 Sep 26 '17 at 18:39
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    I think you mean "make your post about content, not people"? – Catija Sep 26 '17 at 18:56
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    Best part: "If people haven't noticed this issue, without examples they won't know what you're talking about." +1 – English Student Sep 27 '17 at 6:20
  • @EnglishStudent yeah, let me move that to the top so everyone can see it. – user288 Sep 27 '17 at 16:47
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    A "mob" is what you should be aiming for A number of people is not a mob, it is either a crowd or a group. You can attract people's attention to a specific issue but if you want to incite aggressive and disorderly behaviour, which would include physical and verbal abuse, then you want to create a mob. I don't think that is what anyone should be aiming for. – user3114 Sep 27 '17 at 17:10
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Don't take my word for it. This is literally built right into the system:

A picture of the ask a question page on a meta site. The help texts, which is circled in this screenshot, reads "Provide details. Show examples. Whenever possible, link to the relevant questions, answers, users, or page on the site you're discussing."

If the Stack Exchange software tells you to do something, it often is a good idea to do it.

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  • Actually Shog9 and I had a pretty good discussion about this issue in chat the other day. I've decided to drop this fight after some extended thought. – apaul Nov 15 '17 at 17:48
  • @apaul that's good to hear. I mostly posted this so I could link to it. – user8960 Nov 15 '17 at 17:53
  • @Hamlet Yeah, it's there. And I have never noticed it in the last 4 years. (jk). And, oh, welcome back. :) – NVZ Nov 16 '17 at 5:21

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