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This should be on the interpersonal.SE site but it would probably get deleted so I put it here on meta to try and give it a longer life cycle. I put it here because I feel it has some small amount of merit to bring a problem to the fore that many active members here (and on a few other SE sites) seem to struggle with.

Questions such as this are possibly misguided, trolls or just immature angst towards life. If the OP really had the problem described the assistance that interpersonal.SE could offer before or after nanny state censorship of answers and comments would not be able to help them.

It is clear that the answers that are resolving the problem are equally sound as collected wisdom even if they fail in some small component to fall into the exact pigeon-hole of a specific SE site. SE has evolved by decree and consensus to be a place where questions that can be answered are answered and the information is available on the net for future searches. If someone searches for this exact question (bizare I'll admit) and sees all the neat orthogonal solutions to the problem that expand beyond the narrow definition of interpersonal.SE the purpose of SE will have been served. The search directed visitor WILL NOT BE OFFENDED that the answer was an alternative that sidestepped the interpersonal site core belief system.

My question is, does this site want to be known as a useful place or as a cowering rule following place? Tough question for OCD folk but pretty easy for the other 99% of the members who assist and visit.

I came here to help but feel violated by puritans who attack those trying to help. If it had just been me treading on toes as a first time answerer on this site that would be ok and I would try to learn from my mistakes but I was not the only one who was targeted in this and other questions on the site. The core reason for SE existence should override petty site protocols. Those answering are usually trying to help and a workable answer should not be demonized because it was unexpected.

EDIT:
This keeps coming up for me and makes me less and less inclined to answer on SE. The police on the sites tell many people (myself as well on occasion) all the rules and regulations to keep the sites pure. They do not ever indicate where the future visitor gets to select the site that they want to have their answer come from when they are searching on google. While I have on one occasion restricted google to search a single SE site to locate an old question I think this is the furthest from the mind of a random person who is looking for a solution to a problem. Most visitors from a search engine may not even know there are multiple SE sites the first time they arrive here, and are unlikely to even care.

If I were having trouble with resolving an interpersonal problem with my cycling partner and some well meaning internet person gives practical advice that makes me feel better by deferring the hard choice that is making my cycling time stressful, I am NOT GOING TO BE UPSET that google found it on interpersonal.SE and not on cycling.SE. I am going to be THANKFUL and the purpose of SE will have been served and not undermined.

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    There's a decent question in here, but it's getting buried in a rant about your answer being deleted. I wish I could give some more specific feedback, but I would recommend asking as specific a question as possible, rather than just complaining. – HDE 226868 Oct 30 '17 at 23:22
  • HDE, I could not care less about the deletion of my answer which was admittedly weak. I am posting here because of the dozens of other answers on this site that suffer and the culture of nit picking which triggers me as it reminds me of the destructive ratting on neighbours that is endemic in a sparsely populated Nordic country that used to be under Russian rule. Look rather at how the other helpful people are treated and do not focus on my stupidity alone. – KalleMP Oct 30 '17 at 23:31
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    I couldn't read til the last paragraph. I'm lost at 2nd or 3rd. If you can make what your post is about clearer, instead of general rant about the site issue (which what I get from up to the 3rd paragraph), that will be perfect! – Vylix Oct 31 '17 at 4:53
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Ok... I hate the pedantic thing that happens around here, as much if not more, than anyone, but I think I have to stand up for the community on this one.

Your original answer there was:

Perhaps your holder can accept a larger bottle.

Here is a google image search with some ideas.

This answer wasn't just removed because it doesn't suggest the use interpersonal skills. It was removed because it is the exact opposite of the sort of answers that Stack Exchange expects. It's literally 2 sentences with a link to a google search.

How does that actually help anyone?

I'm guessing the painfully common sense approach would have been explored by anyone who actually had this problem. Suggesting that they just get a larger water bottle isn't really helpful to anyone, now is it?


Now admittedly there are times when the practical, non-interpersonal answer is useful, but even then these answers are better accompanied by the relevant interpersonal skill solution. People ask questions on a site about interpersonal skills because they're looking for those answers.

If/when they're not looking for the interpersonal solution they really shouldn't be asking here.

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    This, answers don't necessarily have to be within the scope of the site, as long as they are helpful in the context of the question. The answer you quote just goes against the core idea of SE. – JAD Oct 30 '17 at 21:54
  • apaul, I have to comment that you did not answer my question. Are you not ashamed that someone you hardly know (me) is encouraged to mock you for offering advice just because you did not answer the exact question or for not approaching only the interpersonal aspect of it? Perhaps you can see how it feels to be mocked for trying to be helpful. If the orthogonal answers show that question is a bad fit the OP should perhaps be taken to task or the question reworded to remove reference to bicycles in the quoted question to keep the question interpersonal so other answers would not surface. – KalleMP Oct 30 '17 at 22:15
  • @JarkoDubbeldam The answer was a low impact alternative in the hope that the OP would accept some help from the community as every other answer was either ignored or flagged as not interpersonal If the OP was looking for a solution to the actual problem, rather than trolling, any of the answers would have had potential. My objection is to voiding answers because they they do not follow the letter of the site rather than the spirit of assisting. All answers and comments that are not within the scope of the site suffer pointless censure and not just this answer of mine. Yours may be next. – KalleMP Oct 30 '17 at 22:23
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    @KalleMP I feel your angst on the general pedantic issue. I've fought with the mods about it more than a few times. – apaul Oct 30 '17 at 22:27
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    @KalleMP If you really want to address that, it would probably be better to tone down some of the attitude and address the problems you're seeing as they come up. – apaul Oct 30 '17 at 22:32
  • apaul, how has that worked out for you in the past :-) I believe the type of attitude that I (and you seem to be somewhat supportive) am trying to address is the sort that has ignored many an attempt by rational discourse. Here I was merely trying to highlight the prevalence of the situation and even you found fault in my answer and meta question and meta comment rather than supporting the core problem. I do feel for you but there is a limit to how many times one wants to point out the same problem. I read a bunch of question in the last hour and the problem is endemic and not addressed. – KalleMP Oct 30 '17 at 22:47
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    @KalleMP It works a little better when you go after one instance at a time. Why was this specific question closed, what was wrong with this specific answer, why was this specific comment removed and so on. Believe me, I've tried going after larger site culture problems here. It's easier for people to focus on single issues and they respond a lot better when they don't feel like you're ranting at them, but rather discussing with them. – apaul Oct 30 '17 at 23:09
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In addition to @apaul's excellent answer, I'd like to write something as well. I hope that by writing this, I can give you some insight into my reasons for 'policing' questions, answers and comments, in the hope that you will realize it's not necessarily 'pointless'. Whether or not you agree with my motivations is up to you, but it's to show that for me, policing as it's done here isn't 'pointless'.

This should be on the interpersonal.SE site but it would probably get deleted so I put it here on meta to try and give it a longer life cycle.

Reason nr. 1 why I am policing questions. Questions that aren't about Interpersonal Skills, but about Interpersonal Skills SE should be on meta. You actually did it right, which is why it is still around. If you had posted this on main, yes, it would be policed and you would have gotten the feedback to move this to meta.

I put it here because I feel it has some small amount of merit to bring a problem to the fore that many active members here (and on a few other SE sites) seem to struggle with.

Oh, so it's about more than just IPS.SE? If this is about StackExchange as a whole, we have a meta for that as well. Another good reason to police questions: to make sure they are asked on the right SE/Meta so you can get answers that are as useful to you as possible. Since you asked on IPS Meta, I can only address this for what's happening here.

Questions such as this are possibly misguided, trolls or just immature angst towards life. If the OP really had the problem described the assistance that interpersonal.SE could offer before or after nanny state censorship of answers and comments would not be able to help them.

Another reason for policing the site, questions, answers, and comments: to attend users to our Help Center and the Be Nice policy that can be found there. This could probably have been phrased a lot nicer, like the whole of your question. If I can help you write a better question/answer or comment by pointing out to you that your language is bordering on being plain rude, I will.

If it's a question, I do this so that people aren't distracted by your words, but will be able to focus on your question and give you good answers. If it's an answer I do so to allow people to focus on your suggested solution, instead of downvoting you for your choice of words. I prefer to attend you to the fact that things can be misinterpreted/be seen as offensive/attacking in a comment.

Comments can't be downvoted, so I will flag these (for moderator attention if necessary) if they aren't asking/providing more information or suggesting improvements. As for why I'm flagging, see this meta. I agree with the most upvoted answer there. Even though you can have made a very funny joke that has a gazillion upvotes, that's not what comments are for. To avoid bad precedents, I flag them if I encounter them.

The search directed visitor WILL NOT BE OFFENDED that the answer was an alternative that sidestepped the interpersonal site core belief system.

Maybe not. But if I'm asking a question on IPS, I'm expecting there is a solution involving IPS that's going to be offered to me. Or at least an explanation about why an IPS solution isn't going to work before people suggest another solution. Take a look at this recently closed question. It's unlikely to have any IPS solution, so it's closed as off-topic. This is, however, something that IPS as a beta site is, in my opinion, still struggling with.

Policing here isn't 'pointless', everything I do, I do so to try to get closer to a clear scope. If you disagree with me, feel free to post a thing on meta, voice your doubt in a comment, or contact me in chat. Just like most users here, I'm open to learning something new.


Now, here's where I'd like to start policing your question.

  • First of all, you only give 1 example, which is an answer of your own that got deleted.
  • But you state this is about more than 1 SE site.
  • You also state you're not the only user affected.

See where this is going? Without more examples, I am unable to address your worries, and provide you with a good answer, that can alleviate your fears. Without more examples, on main, a question would have been closed as 'too broad'.

And for the record, I will police your deleted answer. As you've only included one example of a deleted answer, I can only work from there.

As @apaul rightly stated, your original answer was:

Perhaps your holder can accept a larger bottle.

Here is a google image search with some ideas.

Now, take a look at the most upvoted (and accepted) answer there. See what it's doing? It's actually answering the question ('How can I ask') AND it offers some personal experience stating why OP should 'just ask' before stating that it might be wise to find another way of carrying their own water. Your original answer didn't do that, and so it was downvoted and deleted by a moderator for 'not addressing the question'.

But even if you had said something like:

Don't ask. Instead, see if your holder can accept a larger bottle. Here is a google image search with some ideas.

I would have policed this answer (read, downvoted and delete voted it). Why? Because the most upvoted answer on that question already says as much, and was posted hours before you left your two-line answer. I don't think it took you more than 6 hours to write those 2 lines, and you could have taken the time to actually read what was already said. You have the reputation, you could have easily left a comment on that answer. Comments that are providing additional information or suggesting improvements aren't 'policed'. You could have easily 'dumped' your link underneath that answer, like 'Oh, in addition to what's said in this answer, you could look for a larger bottle, like this'.


I came here to help but feel violated by puritans who attack those trying to help. ... Those answering are usually trying to help and a workable answer should not be demonized because it was unexpected.

I'm doing my policing in an attempt to help as well. As you can see, the most upvoted answer to your example question isn't demonized because it was unexpected. Your answer wasn't demonized, it was just a 2 line answer that wasn't up to par, and deleted for the most obvious reason. If you ever feel we leave our feedback in too aggressive a way (you feel the people policing this site are attacking you), there's chat. Try talking to some of the users there, they can give you live-action feedback and help you grow here. If you disagree with a close reason/deletion, feel free to take it up here on meta, but as @apaul states, it might be better to do so 1 issue at a time, and not write a 'rant' about how bad SE is.

I also took a look at your profile on Electrical Engineering. You've been on SE for more than 3 years (at least, that's how old your profile there is). You're also a pretty high-rep user there. I suspect the learning curve there was steep for you from the way you wrote this question, but you managed. If you could take my 'pointless' policing and advice, I might get you up to speed here in no-time and you will be able to help people by sharing your experiences.


So, as for 'how to respond to pointless policing...?'

  • Take it up on meta, or in chat, if you feel something is pointless. But do so 1 issue at a time please. Or at least, if you write a meta to address several issues, make sure you have several examples to stave your arguments.
  • Try to stick to the facts. Putting a lot of feelings into your meta questions will distract users from addressing your problem, instead, they will feel like they need to address your attitude.
  • Don't start a comment war, or do edits like to your example deleted answer. Again, the language you used here is, in my opinion, very distracting from your purpose. Feel free to leave a comment (even better to ask in chat or on meta) asking for an explanation or help in making the answer better though.

If you really feel that the policing here is pointless, provide concrete examples and a solid reasoning. I am always open for suggestions about how to better my behavior here. But only if I see that the person offering this feedback is open to suggestions themselves as well, and is actively trying to make IPS a better place, on question/answer/comment at a time!

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  • "If you ever feel we leave our feedback in too aggressive a way" __ then OP should try posting something on a site like English.SE! Interpersonal.SE is where members express disagreement in the nicest and most constructive possible manner @Tinkeringbell. – English Student Oct 31 '17 at 12:52
  • @EnglishStudent if you have examples that you feel could be of benefit to me, please link them ;) – Tinkeringbell Oct 31 '17 at 13:08
  • It is less about examples and more about a general attitude of a community: I just feel that English.SE members, although extremely clever and helpful, will not care too much about any person's feelings unlike the kind people here on IPS @Tinkeringbell! So OP is actually making these complaints about the most considerate site on the network, where members are consciously and consistently nice and constructive all the time, is my experience here. Still, I shall try to find examples of exceptionally constructive disagreement to support your answer. – English Student Oct 31 '17 at 13:11
  • @EnglishStudent Oh duh... I read it the other way around: As English SE being the nicest :/ Shame on me, and apologies to you! :) – Tinkeringbell Oct 31 '17 at 13:14
  • Don't bother any more about your honest mistake: we all do it once in a while @Tinkeringbell! – English Student Oct 31 '17 at 13:14
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TL;DR -- It's worth it

Okay, here's the Q:

My question is, does this site want to be known as a useful place or as a cowering rule following place?

I'll admit ... this is a difficult question. A lot of people have expressed similar concerns, even up to a reluctance to post questions. Some people despair of getting a question to stay open.

There are a couple of things going on. First, SE sites are a little different from other, more freeform forums. The format is a lot more restrictive. The goal is to get a database of Q&A. It's a little unusual in that it's sort of a one-shot deal... You post a Q, someone else posts an answer. There's a little to-and-from in the comments, but very specifically not an extended discussion. This takes some getting used to.

The other thing ... well. Yeah. There is -- tell me I'm wrong -- an element of rule-lawyering going on. I've seen questions that I'd love to answer get held or closed. I've seen charming comments vanish. I've seen endless agonizing over what's in scope.

There's a point to that, you know. What remains after all the bickering is a lot more ... polished than it would be otherwise. For all my concerns about how heavily to moderate -- look up low-voted comments here and you'll find 'em ;D -- the ruthless moderation does force people to clean up their questions. It does get rid of annoying prank questions. It does add a little class to the operation.

So ... long story short. At the very end of the day, it's not about us. It's not about the moderation. It's not about the agony of a deleted comment or answer. It's about people. It's about people who are uncertain, or angry, or insecure or afraid, reaching out and looking for a sympathetic voice. It's about people reaching back to help.

It's worth it.

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    In short, all those rules and all of that structuring is aimed at making each Stack Exchange site a better place for the people looking for answers, @akaioi. – English Student Oct 31 '17 at 12:55

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