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So I came across this answer today on a Hot Network Question. It was highly upvoted, which is why I'm raising this here instead of flagging. I may be off base and this may be my sensibilities speaking, but I think that this answer violates several core principles of the "be nice" policy.

An excerpt from the rules:

Rudeness and belittling language are not okay. Your tone should match the way you'd talk in person with someone you respect and whom you want to respect you. If you don't have time to say something politely, just leave it for someone who does.

Here are some parts of the answer which I believe are violating this rule:

Your relationship seems to follow a well-known script: first she tames you until you're wrapped around her little finger and do whatever she wants whenever she wants, she gets rid of all your friends to better control you, then once you've become a puppy dog, she dumps you for a more assertive man because she's "lost that special connection" or something.

This is ascribing massively bad faith and very belittling in my opinion. It may be what the user believes, but the rules actually say that you should at least attempt to empathise and respect people ... this doesn't, from what I see

Also, considering her behavior, you won't marry her (unless you're a masochist maybe), which means you will have to dump her at some point for another who is wife material. Sooner... later... who cares.

This is very callous. Accusations of Sexism notwithstanding (I'm not going into that, I think there's enough here without that angle to take issue) this is dangerously close to regarding a person as nothing more then "material" which is in my opinion unfitting for a respectful analysis of a situation

Thus, the reason she attempts to cut you off from your female friends, or from anyone of the female gender, is to reduce your options to only herself, at which point she owns you.

This is again assuming extremely bad faith and outright planned maliciousness. I don't think you can conclude that from the question, and even if you can, this seems awfully general and scathing and disrespectful towards the subject of this question.

Let's be honest, you're going to dump her in the end, but you can still use this opportunity to get some training in how to handle her personality type, maybe rub some of the bitchiness off her to make her a better person, and in the unlikely and miraculous event that you succeed in taming her, maybe it'll work, who knows.

Talking about using a person like some kind of object. I don't think language such as this has a place on any stackexchange site, much less on one about fostering social interactions and helping people this way. Asides from that I disagree with the advice on offer, I think this is directly insulting to at the very least her, if not a whole group of people.

Every time she raises drama about bullshit (not about important things, that's called arguing not drama), stop for a second to assess how much you actually care. Decide that you don't, that will allow you many more options about what to reply. Also when you don't care, you don't get angry, which is important. She'll make a nice crash test dummy to build up your confidence with women.

In the same vein, I think this too is very insulting. I'm not sure if it's ever appropriate talking about a person like an object to be used.

Now, this answer is heavily upvoted, so maybe this is just me getting in a tizzy and overreacting, but it might also not be so.

I deliberately avoided the sexism angle in this because I'm even less sure of that, but it sure does reek of it.

So, the question:

Does this answer violate SE's "be nice" policy, and if it does, what is the appropriate action to take?

  • 3
    It's not nice.. I agree. – NVZ Nov 2 '17 at 9:54
  • Although it isn't nice I can't help but think there are elements of truth to it. This section you highlighted "Thus, the reason she attempts to cut you off from your female friends, or from anyone of the female gender, is to reduce your options to only herself, at which point she owns you." seems particular cunning and plausable. That said, elements of truth are not enough alone to save it. – RyanfaeScotland Nov 3 '17 at 17:57
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It's deleted.

It fails to meet any "Be Nice" standards.

It fails to show respect for a person. Period.

To make matters worse, that person is one who the OP has been dating for an extended period of time and likely has strong feelings for. So, in addition to failing to respect an unknown person, the user who wrote that answer has failed to respect the feelings of the person asking the question.

There is nothing wrong with telling the OP that their girlfriend isn't respecting their boundaries or that they (as a couple) need to work on their trust of each other. Even recommending that it might be best to end the relationship at this point is fine. But doing so using the words and attitude portrayed in this answer shows an absolute disregard for the people involved in the question and serves only to engender further feelings of mistrust, superiority, and disgust between two people who have spent two years dating.

This lack of respect and kind discourse has made it obvious to me that the only solution is to delete the answer.

Be kind to each other.

  • On top of that: top-rated answer has this comment: Please state things explicitly: This is an abusive relationship and OP is being abused. Things will only get worse. – Mystagogue (55 UV / deleted A: 54 UV -> guess who?) – OldPadawan Nov 2 '17 at 15:22
  • Great and positive action @Catija and I shall retract the statement in my answer here that said moderators might hesitate to delete highly upvoted answers. – English Student Nov 2 '17 at 16:33
  • I didn't understand this part: (55 UV / deleted A: 54 UV -> guess who?) @OldPadawan. – English Student Nov 2 '17 at 16:36
  • the deleted answer had 54 Up-Votes while the comment I quoted had 55 Up-Votes. I guess the ones who UV the answer were roughly the ones who agreed on the comment. My 2 cents... – OldPadawan Nov 2 '17 at 16:40
  • It is very likely @OldPadawan. – English Student Nov 2 '17 at 21:50
  • 1
    I don't remember if I upvoted it, I did find it interesting though, at least the first half part, not the last. However I red it differently, I red it as "what would your GF would be doing if she was really an abusive partner ?" As such the first part is interesting since describing what she would try and as such help OP identifying such character. Because for a real abusive partner, I don't think any IPS solution would work, either go for some medical help or run away. – Walfrat Nov 6 '17 at 10:35
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The author definitely has an element of creative freedom to express his opinions and he is somewhat famous for creating contentious posts here. Some of his answers are very good as well, but this answer carries a very negative tone in its approach to the woman in question.

What is really "not nice", however, is that the community seemed not to mind, because the answer remained visible (read not deleted) as the second best answer to that question long enough to collect 56 upvotes (probably another example of the notorious upvote-but-no-downvote HNQ effect) which gives the impression that we tolerate such answers here on IPS.SE!

This is a misogynistic answer @Magisch and although the author is entitled to his opinions, the main reason for collecting 56 upvotes is that network-wide visitors from Hot Network Questions can upvote but not downvote a HNQ question. If you consider that this answer violates the be nice policy, you should flag it for moderator attention.

Note: In such circumstances only an outright rude or abusive answer is usually likely to get deleted.

The only way for the community to handle the HNQ effect and show disapproval of any highly-upvoted answer is to be active together and counteract the upvotes with an equal number of downvotes.


Update: the answer has since been deleted. Our moderators absolutely needed to delete the highly upvoted answer to make it clear that (with due respect to the author) such language will not be tolerated on IPS.SE! So it was a very correct and necessary deletion and a very positive action IMHO. But I have no more problem with the author except to wish that he would try to use neutral language to express potentially helpful points and avoid blatantly inflammatory expressions.

  • Agreed. not nice... "raw material"... straight to a/their point... (c)rude... controversial... you name it. I want everyone to share their ideas, but I think this particular answer (OP) could have be worded in a totally different way. Sometimes, you can say what you think in a much better way. It takes time, but some just want to write as fast (as a rant) as they can. FGITW syndrom maybe... – OldPadawan Nov 2 '17 at 11:42
  • I think it's more a case of not bothering to be diplomatic. You write nice answers because you think considerate and you are particular to be nice. There is no valid excuse for any user to employ prejudicial statements about members of any community and women constitute one of the biggest groups in the world forming 50% of the population. Again OP is entitled to write what he wants and I am sure regular members of IPS.SE will not encourage such answers but there is no excuse for the community to stand by while it accumulates 56 HNQ upvotes @OldPadawan. – English Student Nov 2 '17 at 11:47
  • @EnglishStudent leaving the "be nice" part aside from the moment, I'm not so sure I'd call that Answer misogynistic. The answerer does not appear to be generalizing; there's no "women are like that" at least in the quoted portion, which is what I can see. Certainly the guy is characterizing the woman as a villain, but I'm not so sure he's indicting her gender. – akaioi Nov 2 '17 at 15:16
  • In my home state they say 'when talking about a stranger use good words only, that you would use about your close relatives as well.' At least neutral language is indicated, I think. I would say that making such extremely negative and gendered statements about a woman that he knows not at all (except from a short written account on the internet) could classify the statements as misogynistic @akaioi. That makes it somewhat more serious than just 'not nice' but the community is apparently willing to allow it as you can see. – English Student Nov 2 '17 at 15:29
  • @EnglishStudent I certainly don't like answerer's tone (if I spoke like that about a lady, my sainted grandmother's ghost would haunt my kiester for weeks!). I dropped an answer below addressing that part. – akaioi Nov 2 '17 at 15:38
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I don't really think the be nice policy was created with this in mind - it was mainly aimed at grumpy dev types.

On the other hand, sometimes you gotta go "duuuude, not cool". As a mod elsewhere, this ... is a hard situation. You've gotta draw the line somewhere. In a healthy community, you're not going to wonder if someone's going to walk in, see an answer and run away screaming.

I think there's a bit more nuance here - balancing between a site being welcoming to as wide an audience as possible.

So its not just about not being nice. Its about it not being ok.

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While sometimes it takes a little while to realise the room's on fire - flagging potentially harmful/hurtful content so a mod can look at it is always a good idea. I'd rather the rejected flags (sometimes!) than have content thats... not fine, and finding the place's not quite as hospitable as one would like.

  • Also, Stack Exchange is the most democratic online model, but it is up to users not to abuse their privileges: the limit of any user's legitimate freedom of expression is reached when they write a post that gets deleted as rude and abusive. – English Student Nov 2 '17 at 16:45
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Certainly this answer (I can see the parts quoted here) has some serious vitriol in it. The answerer is casting the girlfriend as quite the villain, basically suggesting that she's an abusive partner, engaging in isolating techniques to keep OP dependent on her.

(Not sure if this is misogynistic per se; I asked EnglishStudent about this in a comment, wondering if the answerer is attacking the gender or the individual. So I won't focus on that here.)

So ... yeah. Answer is clearly not nice. The twist is that answerer is not so much disrespecting OP, but a third party, whom he believes is inimical to OP's interests. How polite can you be when telling someone his girlfriend is manipulating and mistreating him? It could be done with emotionless clinicality, and certainly more sensitivity, but ... we don't all write like that.

That's the dilemma I'm seeing. There's the kernel of a good answer in there ("Watch out! GF is manipulating you!") which OP might do well to consider, but the tone is so ... feral that this gets lost. With apologies to the answerer, I wish someone else had written the answer.

I find myself unsatisfied with the answer's deletion, but have to concede that wanting to delete it is a tenable position.

Update: After some thoughtful comments by Anne Daunted, English Student, Magisch, I'm becoming much less reluctant about the deletion, under the theory that some answers are beyond fixing. I suppose the community has spake... ;D

  • "There's the kernel of a good answer in there ("Watch out! GF is manipulating you!") which OP might do well to consider," Was this the only answer stating that? If not, how many answers do you need, that state the same thing? – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Nov 2 '17 at 15:48
  • @AnneDaunted the one-line summary of these answers is the same, but the "back it up" part would likely be different, yes? It's very appropriate to have several answers with the same basic thrust but a different twist. – akaioi Nov 2 '17 at 15:52
  • And it seems that the "back it up part" was the problem here, doesn't it? So why are you unsatisfied with the deletion? Do you think that pearls of wisdom like "She'll make a nice crash test dummy to build up your confidence with women." are necessary? – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Nov 2 '17 at 15:55
  • @AnneDaunted I don't like the crash-test dummy thing, but I did like this part: "The law (or your parents/tutor if you are a minor) can allow or disallow you to do things. Your girlfriend cannot "allow" you to do things. She can agree or disagree with you, and you can respect her opinion. But it is always your choice," In other words, the answer is angry and flawed, and I'd be reluctant to delete it. The existence of better answers -- there's only 1 other answer which as clearly makes the point "she's hurting you" -- does not have bearing on decision to delete. – akaioi Nov 2 '17 at 16:13
  • Unfortunately it is a misogynistic answer @ Akaioi. That negates its any good points. As @Anne Daunted says here, "Do you think that pearls of wisdom like 'She'll make a nice crash test dummy to build up your confidence with women.' are necessary?" and she is totally right. Our moderators absolutely needed to delete the highly upvoted answer to make it clear that (with due respect to the author) such language will not be tolerated on IPS.SE! So it was a very correct and necessary deletion and a very positive action IMHO. – English Student Nov 2 '17 at 16:42
  • @akaioi I'm not doubting that there are applicable parts of the answer, but Stack generally discourages heavily editing other people's content without their consent. There are also other answers exploring that angle. And as I've argued in the OP, some parts of that answer definitely are blatant insults imo. – Magisch Nov 2 '17 at 17:06
  • You are most welcome @akaioi. Addressing multiple users in a comment: you can actually tag only one user in a comment but other prople who recently posted a comment here will also be notified, so if you include their names thay will understand what you said. Again, we can address a comment to the post owner (writer of the Q or A) together with another user who posted a comment under the post, while actually tagging this other user, because the post owner will automatically be notified anyway. – English Student Nov 2 '17 at 17:49
  • For the full and updated info on how to tag users in comments and who will get notified under what circumstances, see this awesome help-topic FAQ post on Meta.SE: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/43019/… – English Student Nov 2 '17 at 17:57
  • @EnglishStudent i know this is chatty, sorry. But i've never been notified when someone comments on a thread that i have commented on, except with the @ AytAyt flag. Is that unique to meta? I'm usually on sound design, and it definitely doesn't do it there. – user3316 Nov 3 '17 at 18:05
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    It's OK @AytAyt. I am not fully aware of the procedure but in my experience we will get a notification even if we are not tagged in a comment, when somebody comments on a post that we have also commented on recently. I found that usually means the next few comments after my last comment but I don't know what duration is assigned to qualify as 'recently' for us to get an untagged notification. – English Student Nov 3 '17 at 18:15
  • @EnglishStudent ah, there's a time limit (or queue limit). That makes sense then. Thanks! – user3316 Nov 3 '17 at 18:18
  • You are most welcome @AytAyt. – English Student Nov 3 '17 at 18:19

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