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I've noticed anti-American rhetoric on IPS several times, mostly in the form of comments.

For example, in this question

How to tell a co-worker that I feel sorry for something I did?

Jess's answer got these comments:

Just chiming in to say not being able to say 'Sorry' after a car accident is a very American thing. 'Sorry' means different things in different countries. – Rob 2 hours ago

and

Yeah only the US will try to sue someone for saying sorry. Even if something is not your fault, it is polite to apologize to show empathy. This applies to both car accidents, and OP's situation. – Edmund Reed 2 hours ago

Both are blanket statements that try and portray Americans as incapable of apologizing or showing empathy. If the IPS SE community doesn't (currently) have a great deal of American participants, then these negative comments could stay on for quite a while, because nobody would flag them.

And, if we anticipate IPS to grow, new American users would likely be put off by such comments that are seemingly tolerated (by a predominantly non-American userbase, perhaps).

Should moderators remove these comments rather than wait for people to flag them?

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    Why is this"rhetoric"? It's a bit pessimistic, but it's factual: saying "sorry" after a car accident can be taken as an admission of fault in the US. I'm from the US and was explicitly taught never to apologize if I get in an accident.
    – Em C
    Jan 18, 2018 at 12:16
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    Our top cultural tag is united-states. The United States is probably the most represented country here, and on Stack Exchange as a whole. There is no deficit of American users.
    – HDE 226868
    Jan 18, 2018 at 12:32
  • @EmC For England: citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/insurance/insurance/…, specific quote: "don't admit liability or apologise." Jan 18, 2018 at 18:33
  • @EmC For Australia: "it is not uncommon for insurance policies to prohibit insured persons from admitting liability or responsibility for the accident. The insurance policy is also likely to contain a clause stating that if you admit liability or responsibility for the accident the insurer may refuse to pay your claim. ... Jan 18, 2018 at 18:35
  • ... If you make an apology at the scene of the accident, there may a question as to whether the apology made was an admission of liability or not for the purposes of insurance coverage. As such, regardless of the protection of the Act, an expression of regret may still result in voiding your policy." link: macdonnells.com.au/is-it-ok-to-say-sorry @EmC Jan 18, 2018 at 18:36
  • @EmC, I could keep searching but am too lazy. That's why it's "rhetoric" - these comments try and persuade - falsely - that it's solely an American thing, when truly they are just bashing Americans. Jarko's answer below is a good one, though. Jan 18, 2018 at 18:39
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    Thanks, I understand what your issue is with those comments now - that's all new information to me. It's possible that the commenters (like me) are simply not familiar with typical policies in other countries, i.e. assume ignorance rather than malice. Perhaps you could share this information (or in chat, if they get moved there) to provide a more comprehensive view of cultural norms.
    – Em C
    Jan 18, 2018 at 19:06

2 Answers 2

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The anti-american rhetoric part of the comments is completely irrelevant though. If the comments are not adding any value to the post, they should be removed. In that context, turning the content of the comments around to praise america wouldn't make much of a difference in deciding whether they should be removed or not.

Your question suggests that we should start censoring comments based on what they say and whether you like that or not. That doesn't sound like a good idea, especially when most of these comments would already be caught within existing policy.

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    Re-reading this, I think your first sentence is spot-on. We have preset reasons for comments to be flagged. If you want to flag a comment but none of the reasons cover it . . . maybe you should reconsider flagging. Disliking what a comment says isn't a reason to flag. (All of this I think is implied here; I'm just restating it to say that I agree.)
    – HDE 226868
    Jan 19, 2018 at 0:00
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The first comment...

Just chiming in to say not being able to say 'Sorry' after a car accident is a very American thing. 'Sorry' means different things in different countries.

I don't see anything wrong with it. It's adding a bit of information that is relevant, by mentioning that saying 'Sorry' means different things in different cultures, which is helpful to those from other cultures who come across the answer.

The second one...

Yeah only the US will try to sue someone for saying sorry. Even if something is not your fault, it is polite to apologize to show empathy. This applies to both car accidents, and OP's situation.

Should be deleted because it's an answer in a comment. It's not there for clarification or improvement; it's making a random comment on the USA and suing people and then an answer in a comment. Not necessary; it should be deleted.

I don't think that either of these are expressing 'anti-American sentiments'. The first one simply mentions a difference between American culture and the culture in other places. The second one may be slightly unconstructive, but I don't think it's being overly rude about the USA.


Now, to address your question...

Should moderators remove these comments rather than wait for people to flag them?

That makes no sense. Do you think that moderators will always wait for someone to flag before deleting? Nope. Mods will remove unnecessary comments as soon as they come across them. Flags exist to bring things to their attention that they may have missed. So if you see a comment that is not there for improving or clarifying the post, or for some slight meta-matters, then... flag it! IPS does have a ton of comments, and everyone can help pitch in to help clean them up.

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    I'm also not sure about the implication that mods have the time to read each and every new comment as it comes in... we need people to flag if stuff needs to be removed. Most of the comments that are removed are in response to flagging.
    – Catija
    Jan 18, 2018 at 13:07
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    Yeah, this site gets a lot of comments; don't assume mods will see it, D.Hutchinson. If there's something you want mods to look at, flag it. Jan 18, 2018 at 15:40

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