22

I am not sure if this is a good place to discuss this. But I guess it's better than the main site so I'll try.

The following questions: How can I avoid the awkwardness of a returning player who wears a low-cut shirt? and How to tell a coworker to dress more appropriately for the office are about what to do when another person is wearing revealing clothes.

It seems some people think everybody should be able to wear whatever they like wherever they like. And other people, including me, think that people who wear certain clothes should not be surprised if they get not so unexpected reactions.

I didn't have an answer to the questions but I commented on the first example and my comments were deleted.

My concern it that how can we find a good answer if we don't even agree on the situation?

My point of view is the following. It seems some people don't like it and delete it. Should it be deleted? Or should it be discussed?

I think it's easiest to describe this with a real world example: If a woman wears a shirt which shows her cleavage and maybe a short mini-skirt then I think she should not be surprised if men look. That is just human nature. But it seems some men feel bad that they act according to human nature and they think they have to apologize for this.

And some people blame men for looking. Why? If women see a baby they look (and some want to play with the baby) and that seems to be accepted. But if men see something that attracts them they should be ashamed - at least according to some people.

How can we discuss this openly? I don't think deleting comments and answers is a solution for this.

  • 2
    In your examples, no answers were deleted, except for one that was deleted by flags, by the community, for being rude. – Beofett Apr 4 '18 at 13:39
  • @Beofett: Yes, in this case only comments were deleted. But in other cases answers were deleted (not only my answer). Above posts are examples. – user8838 Apr 4 '18 at 13:47
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    Arguing about whether or not people can expect others to look when they dress in a certain way is beyond the scope of this meta question. Please take such discussions elsewhere. – Mithical Apr 5 '18 at 13:12
  • My comments on the first question were deleted too and I don't believe I broke any rule, nor was I notified my comment was deleted. I was putting forward an opinion on the second example given in the question (I actually warned that it was offensive) and my comment was deleted, but what I was commenting on wasn't. – trr Apr 11 '18 at 3:03
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    @trr Comments are supposed to be transitory. If the information in your comment was important it should have been included in an answer. – sphennings Apr 11 '18 at 3:09
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    In the past month or two I've been admonished by mods for writing answers that should have been comments, and comments that should have been answers. I'm a top 0.19% user on stackoverflow and I've written meta answers about when to comment vs answer - I know how this system works. Consistency is moderation leaves a lot to be desired. My comment would not have sufficiently answered the question; making it an answer would have been bad for the site. Justifying deleting comments without explanation with "comments are transitory" is out of left field. – trr Apr 11 '18 at 3:32
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    This site has different standards for comments than stackoverflow.. – sphennings Apr 11 '18 at 3:38
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    @trr The fact that you seem to be complaining that your comments were deleted despite you not breaking any rule, and that you feel entitled to a notification that your comments were being deleted, rather clearly indicates that you do not know how this system works. Comments on SO are not the same issue that they are in many other of the SE sites. Here, in particular, they are frequently the source of major conflict, and general SE policy across all sites has, and is, comments are always transitory and subject to deletion at any time, with no warning. – Beofett Apr 11 '18 at 18:54
24

I don't think deleting comments and answers is a solution for this.

I would like to address this part of your question and point out one aspect of how you have been responding to situations like the one described that merits deletion.

When a question covers a topic that you have an opinion about, or when an answer to that question is prefaced by a perspective that you object to, writing a comment that propagates your opinion is not the way to handle it.

The site is very clear about its guidelines for what a comment should and should not include.

Comments propagating an opinion are unlikely to meet any of the guidelines for when to write a comment, and more importantly, are likely to fall into some combination of these three categories for when we should not be commenting on a post:

  1. Secondary discussion or debating a controversial point; please use chat instead;

  2. Answering a question or providing an alternate solution to an existing answer; instead, post an actual answer (or edit to expand an existing one);

  3. Criticisms which do not add anything constructive ("-1, see previous comments you scallywag!"); instead, down-vote (and provide or up-vote a better answer if appropriate);

Jess.k's answer covered quite well how some of your comments did not include anything useful to the post, but they are all also quite clearly in line with point 1 (most of these comments were some sort of attempt to start a secondary discussion). Also, when commented on another answer that clearly has the opposite viewpoint, it then becomes un-constructive criticism that suggests a different answer would be better (point 2 and 3).

When we look at some comments you wrote here on this meta:

So in above cases I did not answer "it's her problem, ignore it". I asked the OP why he thinks it's his problem. And I asked a person who answered why he suggest this answer

Here you explained that you were criticised for writing an answer that showed your opinion, which explains why you decided to write a "less objectionable" comment. This highlights a few significant things that I would like to point out. Firstly, when you have an opinion about a question, your first chosen method (to write an answer) was actually the correct one. That is the entire premise this site is based around, as it lets us vote on each answer and comment for improvements. However, because your opinion was an unpopular one it was harshly criticised and you decided to opt for a different method (to comment and use leading questions to highlight the main points you disagree with) That is not how the site is supposed to work, and what lead to the deletion of your comments. If you have an answer that you know will be unpopular you still have the decision to post it, or not post it. Answers should only be down-voted when they are not useful to the site (and sometimes these questions deserve to be deleted) however that is not always the case. Users also often down-vote answers if they disagree with it, whether that makes the answer inherently not useful is a question for another meta but for now just take that as the way things are. These down-voted questions often still have an important place on our site, and are a valid form of presenting your side of the discussion and so long as it does not showcase a potentially harmful viewpoint or include any other clear issues it should not be deleted. However, using comments to put forwards your opinion is purposefully bypassing our voting system and the key reason they were deleted.

I understand that you don't want to discuss that. That is no discussion for meta. But I think it's a topic which needs discussion somewhere and not deletion. You call my opinion "nonsense". Personally I think people who ignore reality and nature are ignorant. And it seems political correctness hinders people from discussing issues like "Did she ask for it?" (It = getting looked at, nothing more).

It seems that a major point that you are unsatisfied with is that you feel the discussion your comments started should not be deleted. The clear objection to that is that the discussion itself is not the problem, rather the fact that you used comments to try and start it.

Comments starting secondary discussion should be deleted as explained by our help page, but that does not mean that the comments and the questions they raise themselves are invalid and belong nowhere... just that they belong somewhere else whether that is on chat, on meta or on a different site.

In the end, political correctness and other peoples respective feelings on the matter may or may not have sped up the process, but that does not change the fact that none of these comments belong on our site and answers that explain your perspective do belong here, but are subject to criticism and that is a good thing.

  • I think your answer brings all the important parts across. Thanks. For the mentioned questions I did not answer because I had no answer without frame challenge. And it seems frame challenging answer and not appreciated by some moderators. I will work according to your information in the future and maybe that will result in some more frame challenging answers. Let's see. Thanks – user8838 Apr 5 '18 at 7:51
  • "Down-voted answers still have a place on our site, and are a valid form of presenting your side of the discussion" if only this was true, unfortunately when your side is the wrong side (because of wrongthink) answers are almost immediately deleted. – Oleg Apr 5 '18 at 10:17
  • @Oleg Thanks for pointing that out, I realised that sentence was not entirely true, refer to the same section to see my edit... Although I am not sure you will like it. I do not know your specific answers, but if they were immediately deleted then I suspect it would have been for more reasons than simply because they were presented from the "wrong" perspective – Jesse Apr 5 '18 at 10:41
  • Good edit, now it describes what happens on IPS much better, and you're right I don't like it. The problem is with who and based on what decides what qualifies as a "potentially harmful viewpoint" for example I tried to handle something that I consider a "potentially harmful viewpoint" so far without success(also flagged, not expecting much). – Oleg Apr 5 '18 at 11:07
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    @Jesse - If a post accumulates 6 rude/abusive flags (irrespective of score), it will be deleted and locked, and the person who wrote it given a -100 reputation penalty, and have a block placed on their IP address that will hobble them when trying to post. Reserved for extreme cases. – Mithical Apr 5 '18 at 11:22
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    "Down-voted answers still have a place on our site, and are a valid form of presenting your side of the discussion" if only this was true, unfortunately when your side is the wrong side (...) answers are almost immediately deleted" __ too true @Oleg! Negative score answers are pounced upon by the delete-voting brigade because they are not enabled to cast delete votes on zero or higher scored answers. I remember at least one user encouraging others to downvote a particular post in chat so that the "offending post" which put forward an unpopular viewpoint could reach -1 score and get deleted. – English Student Apr 5 '18 at 13:15
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    Commenting on the answer now: I actually agree with your original statement that "down-voted answers still have a place on our site, and are a valid form of presenting your side of the discussion", as long as they follow site guidelines and the "be nice" rule. So my point @Jesse was that this is not often allowed in practice: even a valid contrary opinion with a negative score is very likely to be pounced upon and deleted by the delete-voting brigade. – English Student Apr 5 '18 at 14:05
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    @EnglishStudent there is a distinct difference between having a delete-worthy answer and trying to use the tools available to delete it, and users haphazardly deleting any negative scored answer they don't like... I don't know the cases you are referring to but I would advise to bring them to meta, the rules about what should be happening are pretty clearly the former – Jesse Apr 5 '18 at 14:08
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    Thanks for the suggestion. I shall do that if required, after studying how many negative-scored answers have actually not been deleted on IPS.SE and looking at the content of those answers @Jesse. – English Student Apr 5 '18 at 14:12
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    "Comments starting secondary discussion should be deleted as explained by our help page" No, they should be moved to chat. Only immediately obsolete/superfluous comments (like 'thanks') or rude/abusive comments should be outright deleted. Moderators have a specific ability to move comments to chat for this very purpose. – TylerH Apr 5 '18 at 21:00
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    @TylerH Moving comments to chat is used if the discussion is relevant to the answer and is going somewhere. Tangential discussion usually isn't kept around. Plus, we can only move comments on a post to chat once, which kind of stinks, so we use it when the content of the comments is really valuable and will lead to insight or some improvement of the answer. – HDE 226868 Apr 5 '18 at 23:03
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    @HDE226868 comments that are really valuable and lead to insight or improvement of the answer should stay under the answer. Though, I do not know: can you not select which comments to move when migrating to a chatroom as a moderator? – TylerH Apr 6 '18 at 14:13
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    @TylerH Only if they're short and to the point. Back-and-forth discussions get moved to chat when they start taking up a lot of space in the comments section. Regarding your second point: Yes, we can pick the comments, but after we've moved them to chat, no future comments on the post can be moved. – HDE 226868 Apr 6 '18 at 18:51
  • @HDE226868 how to you pick the comments? You mean by deleting some first? – user57 Apr 6 '18 at 20:44
26

I feel compelled to answer this because I saw the comments roll in on both of the example questions and saw them coming from a mile away... Also, this has become a major pet peeve on IPS in general.

On just about all posts having to do with anything even slightly related to women, LGBT+ folks, or any other non-white-cis-hetero-male group or individual wanting to be treated with some basic human decency, people, like yourself, come out of the woodwork with their opinions.

I say I saw it coming a mile away, because these opinions really are that predictable. Almost without fail, someone, will feel the need to chime in with the predictable:

She was asking for it...
You can't tell people what to say...
Trans/homophobia doesn't exist, due to some sematic argument...
Not all men...
That isn't sexist, racist, phobic, etc...

Basically some version of:

This isn't a problem that effects me directly so it isn't a problem.
I'm not personally offended by this so no one else should be.

Or:

If it is a problem, it couldn't possibly have been caused by someone like me.

I've started referring to this as "the bro problem" and yes it is a problem, and yes it's largely due to people like you feeling the need to post these sorts of argumentative comments at every opportunity.

Sure you're entitled to your own thoughts and opinions, but you aren't entitled to post them in comments looking to spark argument and debate. If you really feel the need to voice your point of view write your own answer.

People are not obligated to engage with you in comments. That's not what comments are for. This isn't a forum or discussion site, this is a question and answer site. If you have a question or answer, post it. Otherwise keep it to yourself, or take it to chat.

I fully realize that I'm being harsh here. And yes I'm doing that intentionally, because I'm frankly sick of watching the site's culture degrade. We've lost more than a few good users due to this kind of petty sniping from the comment section.

Yes it is petty sniping, cowardly even. If you don't want your point of view examined and voted upon in an answer, so you go about picking apart other users' posts rather than writing your own you're a part of the problem.

Again, if you have something meaningful to say, write your own answer. Don't pick a fight in the comments.

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    This was harsh, but thank you for saying it. I'm so sick of comments (and answers) that excuse offensive behavior as "natural", or which try to shift or share the blame with the offended party. No, men do not have a "a constant, (literally) natural urge to look at a women's chest". That's a terrible excuse. – Beofett Apr 4 '18 at 20:34
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    This is rather judgy (and perhaps not nice). You can disagree with other people's opinions without castigating them. The fact that you have named the problem and seem to be carrying a chip on your shoulder about people who believe in it suggests to me that you should take extra care when addressing it, which you did not do. – BlackThorn Apr 4 '18 at 22:47
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    Your intentions are troubling to me. You could have the exact same answer even if you completely got rid of the snarkiness (basically the first half of the answer), but you want to pass down judgment on people for expressing their opinions. That is what voting is for (read your own answer). Condemning individuals or groups of people is against SE policy. – BlackThorn Apr 4 '18 at 22:54
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    @BlackThorn Wait... So, we're not supposed to "condemn" people who knowingly and repeatedly abuse the platform's features even when they drive away our productive, contributing site members? Also, I'm not exactly passing down judgement for the opinion expressed, but rather the way it tends to be expressed through comments that conviently can't be voted down. It's cowardly. It damages the community. And it's time that we just said that plainly. – apaul Apr 4 '18 at 23:06
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    @apaul that is not what you said/did in your answer. The entire tone is one of disgust at the bros and their opinions. You can condemn abusive behavior, but to call this user's commenting cowardly is certainly not acceptable, even if you believe it to be cowardly. The real problem with your answer is the subtext - the formatting, the phrasing, the people like you <make me sick> sort of tone. I get the sentiment, but it just doesn't have a place here. – BlackThorn Apr 4 '18 at 23:15
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    @BlackThorn the disgust is clearly not directed primarily at their opinions. This answer quite clearly and consistently calls out how they choose to present their opinions, in direct violation of the rules and guidelines of the platform. – Beofett Apr 4 '18 at 23:21
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    @BlackThorn Then flag it. I won't be editing to be nice to people who seem to think that everyone should be nice except for themselves. I've tried being nice, I've tried being diplomatic, I've tried quietly flagging and walking away.... Sometimes things need to be said, I said it, and I stand by what I said. – apaul Apr 4 '18 at 23:24
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    @Beofett That is absolutely untrue. The entire first half of the answer is one, long condemnation of people who "come out of the woodworks with their opinions" as apaul has admitted in the comments. And apaul I have flagged it, but only after I unsuccesfully suggested you delete the first half. And again, I completely understand your frustration, but it still (at least in my view) violates the Be Nice policy. End of my comments on this topic. – BlackThorn Apr 4 '18 at 23:28
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    Thanks for the answer. I like clear answers. I have no problem with the groups of people you describe. I have a problem with people who pretend human nature does not exist. For some questions I wrote answers and they were criticized because I suggested a frame change - how dare I do that. So in above cases I did not answer "it's her problem, ignore it". I asked the OP why he thinks it's his problem. And I asked a person who answered why he suggest this answer. (continued below) – user8838 Apr 4 '18 at 23:53
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    Some people, it seems including you, seem to think the other person (in this case the woman) is always "innocent". I disagree with this. I live in Bangkok and I see every day lots of girls and women. Some of them wear revealing clothes. They get looked at and it seems for many that is exactly what they want. Women who don't want to get looked at in a certain way don't wear revealing clothes. It is their choice. I think it's up to them what they wear but nobody should be surprised if guys look at sexy clothes wearing women. That is a fact and I thing people who deny this fact are in denial. – user8838 Apr 4 '18 at 23:58
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    @Edgar I'm not going to engage in that argument here. Again, that's not what the platform is for. If you want to discuss site policy, we can do that. If you want to continue with your "women are asking for it" nonsense, I'm really not interested. – apaul Apr 5 '18 at 0:04
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    If comments can’t get votes, what is the meaning of the numbers next to them? (Yes, this should be a separate question, but the “ask” icon disappears when I go to meta) – WGroleau Apr 5 '18 at 0:51
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    @WGroleau Notice how there's only an up arrow and no down arrow? – apaul Apr 5 '18 at 0:53
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    @WGroleau That simplified arrow only allows comments to be "voted up" see: interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1644/… for some info on how that's problematic. – apaul Apr 5 '18 at 1:09
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    @WGroleau Flags shouldn't be used in an attempt to express a dislike of a comment. Mods can and do reject comment flags that are improperly used. In fact too many flags rejected in a short period of time will result in a temporary loss of flagging privileges. – sphennings Apr 5 '18 at 18:52
25

I posted a comment - but I think I'm going to expand it into an answer so that it can be discussed on a better front.

You said (in a comment):

"I wrote different comments but it was both about the issue: Why should the man feel bad if he looks at something that is "presented" to him. I know that is not really the right word but you get the idea."

more specifically, your comments were:

"Don't feel bad if you stare at her. She is wearing something to make you stare. It's her choice. You only do what she is asking for.

and

I would love to read an explanation why some women continue to wear things like that when they know already that they will get stared at. For me it looks like: They know it, they do it again, that seems to indicate they want it. This is not trolling, I really would like to know."

To me, this feels chatty. It doesn't even seem like you are asking for clarification... You seem to just be passing judgement (and IMO a distasteful one) on the girl in question. It doesn't help minimize the question scope, it doesn't contribute to the post, it doesn't improve answers - it's just an invitation to begin a side discussion (and maybe even an argument about a woman's right to wear whatever she wants without feeling like a piece of meat, which is entirely out of scope for IPS).

If someone posts a question about religion, such as:

"I'm a Christian and I get uncomfortable when someone at work is talking to me about their sex life, because I don't believe in sex outside of marriage."

it is not appropriate for me, as someone who doesn't share that same viewpoint, to comment on it and post my different viewpoint and ask why OP is so sensitive about it. At the end of the day, people feel the way they feel. If someone feels bad about something, it's not your place to try to convince them they shouldn't - and that's not what this SE is for.

If you can't answer a question because you feel unable to put yourself in the shoes of the OP to give them a fair answer, you probably should refrain from answering said question. There are many questions I have chosen not to answer on this stack because I can't see the OP's stance as a reasonable one - and I think the same should be applied in instances like this. If you need clarification, ask. If you need your mind changed, refrain.

  • Thanks for your long answer. It seems there are many questions like this and I like to understand why people think the way they think. In this case: Why does the guy feel guilty? Is that not a reasonable question? Please be aware that I did not write an answer because I don't understand his thinking. And that is similar with the answer. I could just accept that some people think different but I would prefer to learn why they think the way they do. – user8838 Apr 4 '18 at 13:36
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    @Edgar A discussion on why someone thinks or feels that way is probably a better discussion for chat. Comments aren't for extended discussion, only for clarifying question/answers. – Jess K. Apr 4 '18 at 13:37
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    It happened to me before when I answered that people ask to clarify why I think that is a good answer. And, at least in some cases, I wrote some extra info to clarify it. If a comment is deleted within minutes then other people have no chance to react to the comment. Maybe the persons who wrote the question and the answer would have explained more. But they never saw my comments because they were deleted. Does that makes sense for people want to learn from this site? My intention to be here is to see how other people think - and sometimes I answer (only when I think I have an answer). – user8838 Apr 4 '18 at 13:45
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    Other comments included How about a dress-code for those events? Personally I also ask myself from time to time why people wear what they wear. And sometime I get the idea that they do it to get attention. Maybe that's her way to get the attention she wants. Don't feel bad about yourself if you do what she wants. and @Catija: Did it make you feel powerful when you deleted my comment? At least I guess it was you. You really seem to love that delete button. – Mithical Apr 4 '18 at 13:45
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    @Edgar You say "your intention to be here is to see how other people think" and while that may be a great intention, that's not on scope for this site... Furthermore you really aren't asking questions in these comments. Mostly it just looks like you're telling the OP to feel how you feel, and then apparently also challenging the mods, which isn't something that makes you look like you have the best intentions anyway. – Jess K. Apr 4 '18 at 13:47
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    @Edgar Just so that it's clearly stated: IPS isn't a psychology forum to learn and discuss how people think and feel the way they do. You can take from it what you will, but those aren't the kinds of posts/comments/etc that we encourage and allow. – Jess K. Apr 4 '18 at 13:48
  • I think there is too much finger-pointing on this topic. Men should take responsibility for their own behavior instead of blaming the women. Conversely, women should take responsibility for their behavior instead of blaming men for how they respond. – WGroleau Apr 5 '18 at 0:56
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    @WGroleau but IPS (nor meta) are grounds for debates like these – Jess K. Apr 5 '18 at 1:08
10

Simple way to address ALL of this.

Be nice, and avoid the politics. I've warned about this before, so I'll shout at the brick wall again.

Get off the soapboxes and answer the question asked.

If someone is asking about a social skill it is not appropriate to start editorializing in the answers or comments. Address the skill needed, and leave it at that. Leave the judgments, the snark, the accusations, the condemnations and the rest of the nonsense out of it. If you don't, this stack is going to be shut down as sure as I am writing this.

There doesn't need to be agreement on any particular approach or situation, if there did, this would be a blog and not a Q/A site.

Answer in a way you think is appropriate to the situation as you perceive it and let others do the same unmolested. If you disagree or agree with an answer, the proper way to express that is through a vote, not comments.

  • Answer in a way you think is appropriate to the situation as you perceive it > Ehhh... any guidance on how to answer? Because I think part of the problem here is answers that are just opinions on the situation? Those are particularly prone to receive comments stating disagreement, instead of inviting other users to write their own experiences down as an opposing answer? – Tinkeringbell Apr 5 '18 at 18:53
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    @Tinkeringbell at some point, you have to trust people to behave themselves. arguing the answer in the comments should result in those comments being deleted. – user4548 Apr 6 '18 at 13:06
9

I am a heterosexual man that's answering.

I had saw your comment

I would love to read an explanation why some women continue to wear things like that when they know already that they will get stared at. For me it looks like: They know it, they do it again, that seems to indicate they want it. This is not trolling, I really would like to know.

which, to me, seemed reasonable. Why? Because I like the attention when I look good: if I'm going to the gym and have worked hard to get a nice chest, chiseled arms, six-pack abs, and have dieted with some good discipline, then I love wearing tank tops that show off my body. I've had women come up to me, asking whether they could touch my arms - they usually grab the biceps, although I'm more proud of the (bigger) tricep muscles that I worked on. I wear tank tops both because I feel good and because I know it pleases women.

I love the attention from women, when I'm looking and feeling good. And I don't mind the attention at all.

That's why I thought your comment was a reasonable one, asking why females wouldn't necessarily feel that way.

Jane S. responded to your comment, I think, that women often wear form-flattering clothes, because that's just how some female clothing is designed to be like, and also that not all women want to wear clothes with the intention to please men. This is a fair and useful comment.

Jane S.'s answer was also a very good one - it's instructional and not attack-y.

The problem, from what I saw, was when the user apaul starting attacking you with his comments, calling you a "bro" - not sure what that even means, but it sounds derogatory and divisive, at best - and he continued to post more divisive rhetoric in the comments to you.

I then flagged apaul's comments as rude / abusive, and also flagged another one of his comments for moderator intervention.

Then, all of the comments were removed shortly after.

I want to end with a few points:

  • Jane's answer was excellent, as was her answer for a similar question on The Workplace SE

  • I felt bad for you that apaul was coming after you like that, with no one stepping in for you. Though I stepped in and flagged his comments, I chose not to engage him in the comments - that just wouldn't end well for me, for you, or for anyone else. Apaul's comments tarnished a rather good answer by Jane, and it was nice that the moderators stepped in to remove the comments.

  • Some of your comments (that I didn't see and that others have posted here) are not so great and don't really support your intentions to "learn without trolling". And I think you know that, too. You have to do a better job with choosing your words.

  • Know that the actions of one person on this site is not necessarily representative of the community that is here. Not everyone is using this site as their own platform to attack and criticize people. Some people are willing to teach. Seek those people out and listen to them. And flag anything that you think may be flag-worthy (use good judgment for this) and don't argue with people in the comments.

  • 4
    Hmm... Context matters. I made the comment about a "bro coming along to ruin things" before Edgar commented. It was my warning to a fellow well meaning user to expect to catch hell for speaking up. It's sad that we've come to a point where these situations are so predictable, that within seconds of the warning, the first harassing commenter started in. – apaul Apr 5 '18 at 0:20
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    I know nothing about his comments other than the one quoted above. I see nothing wrong with it except that it really should have been a question rather than a comment. – WGroleau Apr 5 '18 at 0:25
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    @D.Hutchinson thanks for your support. Yes, you are right that not all my comments are 100% the way they should be. I saw my comments deleted one after the other within seconds and I have to admit I got frustrated ... – user8838 Apr 5 '18 at 0:30
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    @apaul: Thank you for allowing us to answer. If you don't mind I will answer one of the future questions like that which will surely come up. I hope the moderators won't delete it before people can vote up or down. And believe it or not: When I answer I answer what I think makes sense and not what I think will be the top scoring answer. In some cases I am pretty sure it won't be the favorite answer. But it will be one possible answer. People have different opinions and all of us should have a chance to get published. – user8838 Apr 5 '18 at 0:54
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    To be fair I didn't even see most of the comments that went by, time zones had me in bed :) The one I did see yesterday I tried to respond to in a meaningful way. But having been a mod over at Workplace.SE for 3 years, you realise that there's a point where you have given your answer, the OP and the community have either accepted or rejected it, and there's little else that needs to be said or done that will help the OP and others to take an action, which is of course the whole point :) The mods here had already cleaned up the comments and asked that we keep on topic, so I disengaged. – Jane S Apr 5 '18 at 1:50
8

My concern it that how can we find a good answer ...

There's nothing such as "a good answer", there's something that answers the OP and that's helpful to OP. And, later, to future readers facing the same problem; "good" is like "sweet" or "sour", it's not about facts, but about taste :)

... if we don't even agree on the situation?

  • A says "Do X" = agree => +1 / disagree => -1
  • B says "Do Y" = agree => +1 / disagree => -1

Upvote... Downvote... Wait... But that's just how SE works :)

You can explain your POV, it can be very different from mine, as your understanding. Fine. We'll both see a path, give a reasoning, some explanation, the how's and why's, and advice the OP.

Then, people will tell us. We don't have to agree. Sometimes, it's even better if we don't agree, because that'll show different POV, and help people think different, or choose different. I'm no better than you. I'm not the light side, and neither a Sith are you :)

In order to do that, the question has to be clear enough. On-topic. Not opinion-based. Not a duplicate. Not too broad. And so on...

That's also why we (the community) shouldn't answer anything that has not been clarified (thanks to unchatty comment ^^), explained, and, most important of all, precisely sticking to OP's concern and question. If you don't agree with their idea, let it slide and don't answer...

There's no need to be TFGITW. (didn't I already mentioned that once or twice? :))

How can we discuss this openly?

We are. You started the topic, I answer, and, hopefully, some others will...

I don't think deleting comments and answers is a solution for this.

I haven't seen your comment, but if it wasn't asking for clarification, if it was chatty, or rude/abusive, or an answer in comment, then, it had to be deleted.

When you want to discuss something, bring it to meta.

Comments and bad answers (often) receive DV and get flag'd. That's how the community tells us how we should properly do things sometimes, or that we should not cross certain lines, or that it was a bad idea, or a low-quality/below-average stuff... Nothing personal. We are human, we make mistakes. See any comment, DV/UV or answer as an help provided to you by someone that's thinking differently, and... don't even agree on the situation? ;)


NOTE: moderators are here to help and enforce the rules set by SE, the staff AND the community. They are to be thank'd for that, not blamed. Very often, we (a lot of us) spend more time asking and cleaning than answering...

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    @Edgar - was the comment on the question or the answer that was requesting more information? – Mithical Apr 4 '18 at 13:08
  • @ArwenUndómiel: both. I wrote different comments but it was both about the issue: Why should the man feel bad if he looks at something that is "presented" to him. I know that is not really the right word but you get the idea. – user8838 Apr 4 '18 at 13:13
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    @Edgar Maybe the reason your comments are being deleted is because you're trying to start a much different and larger discussion instead of focusing on the question at hand? – Jess K. Apr 4 '18 at 13:15
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    @Edgar - I fail to see how Don't feel bad if you stare at her. She is wearing something to make you stare. It's her choice. You only do what she is asking for. or I would love to read an explanation why some women continue to wear things like that when they know already that they will get stared at. For me it looks like: They know it, they do it again, that seems to indicate they want it. This is not trolling, I really would like to know. is actually requesting more information. The first, on the question, is a pseudo answer and the second seems out of scope for this site. – Mithical Apr 4 '18 at 13:17
  • @ArwenUndómiel: Thanks for finding my deleted comments. Can you please tell me where I can find deleted comments? And maybe where I can see who deleted them and possibly even why. – user8838 Apr 4 '18 at 13:27
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    @Edgar - there's no official way for non-diamonds to see deleted comments. I use a chatbot that keeps a log of comments, but that won't tell you who deleted them. As for why, it can usually be summed up into one of three reasons - 1.) not asking for clarification/requesting more information 2.) obsolete (concerns have been addressed and the post edited) 3.) it happened to break Be Nice. In this case your comments, I believe, fell under 1.). – Mithical Apr 4 '18 at 13:30
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TL:DR: A lot of this could have been (should have been?) prevented by:

  • Understanding that Interpersonal Skills isn't meant for solely voicing opinions of any sort, so if questions are asking for that (who's right/wrong), they should be closed.
  • This means that questions should be written clearly, so that answers can honour the premise (even frame-challenges should to some extent). Opinions should be backed up with experience. Clarify the question so that the situation described leaves no room for disambiguation, stick to the premise of the question and write well backed up answers.
  • Answers should be about Interpersonal Skills. Telling people how to feel or whether or not they are responsible isn't that. It's interesting to know why they feel the way they do, but that discussion doesn't have a place on the main site or meta. Chat is your best option.

I fully agree with some of the answers already written here, and disagree to a certain extent with others. But I'd like to point out, that some of this drama could have been prevented. I'm going to take just one example question from your question here, because otherwise this answer will become way too long: How can I avoid the awkwardness of a returning player who wears a low-cut shirt?

First of, your title question: How to talk about “who is responsible, who is to blame”?
If you ever, ever find a question boiling down to that, and only that, just close it. It's primarily opinion based, and not about interpersonal skills so it will be off-topic as well. As for the first example question you linked, that question is lacking details and the two example sentences together with the title basically leave it open to discussion and make it too broad as well.

How can I approach this situation in the least awkward or least offensive manner?

Isn't really asking for help with a particular Interpersonal Skill. At most, it is asking us for a list of possibilities. It doesn't invite good, long answers that explain how and why. It doesn't invite people to back up their opinions with experience or provide sources. It doesn't invite sharing experiences over opinions. Basically, it fails to meet guidelines for good subjective questions as set out in this blog post.


Then, the bit about the situation: My concern it that how can we find a good answer if we don't even agree on the situation?

There are 3 things that can help here, the most important one being that the situation is clear in the question itself. It should leave no room for interpretation, it should need as little interpretation on the answerer's side as possible. Right now, as discussed above, the question could use a whole lot more detail to achieve that. I know people hate it when I go all pedantic on them, or ask for minor details like your most hated gossipy aunt, but I've seen it work. It's a lot easier to achieve the next 2 steps as well, if the question is in good shape, to begin with.

The second thing is to stick to the premise of a question. This does not rule out frame-challenges. It does mean you can't simply tell someone to not do the stupid thing because the stupid thing is stupid, and your awesome thing is better. To quote from the answer I just linked:

I believe that responding to "How do I $x?" with "Doing $x is inexcusable and/or evil." is inappropriate, and should be dealt with using downvotes and/or deletions to prevent shrill bickering over our differences from obscuring useful information that the questioner is seeking.

If you really want to write an answer to a question asking about e.g. how to apologize with 'It wasn't your fault', please just pass by the question. If you' think you can actually write a frame-challenge here, explaining to the asker the negative ramifications of apologizing by sharing experiences and drawing strong parallels between their situation and yours, then you might consider writing a frame-challenge. But if you decide to do so, part 3 becomes very, very important.

Part 3 is about the most unpopular thing here, because it requires nitpicking, maybe even sharing stuff you don't want to share on the internet, or ruling out 'common sense' answers. It is to back up your answer. I know a lot of people here aren't fond of me asking them to back their answers up. But this goes 2 ways: if you have an unpopular opinion, but are able to back this up with a watertight experience (e.g. you asked a girl to wear a higher neckline, in such and such a way, and it went badly wrong, so you'd advise against ever doing that) that is an answer. Bonuspoints if you can draw strong parallels between your situation and that of the OP, like explained in e.g. this meta on how to write experience based answers

It is, however, very, very different from saying:

I think it's easiest to describe this with a real world example: If a woman wears a shirt which shows her cleavage and maybe a short mini-skirt then I think she should not be surprised if men look.

That's not an interpersonal skill now is it? Think about it, what question does this actually answer? Who is to blame for looking? Is that an Interpersonal Skill? Not really. We do allow etiquette questions, so if you're asking about situations in which there is a specific dresscode, then yes, maybe, just maybe, this can be worked into an answer... but for the question discussed here, it isn't.

You can ask people to back up parts of their answers too, to explain the experiences or sources behind their reasoning. You can refrain from upvoting until the desired clarification is present. But remember, there's a difference between asking 'could you explain why you think the way you think' and commenting 'I think differently, I disagree with X, Y and Z'. Catija wrote a good meta answer with a good example on how to phrase a comment.


For your third question: How can we discuss this openly? I don't think deleting comments and answers is a solution for this.

It was already pointed out that comments aren't for discussion. So, yes, comments discussing this stuff are deleted, and that's good. This site isn't the place to discuss. Take a look at some 'rules' a CM set for this site a long time ago in November 2017. They're not enforced or something, but if this site continues to fail meeting them, it will eventually get shut down.

I think it's perfectly natural for people to have opinions. I have a lot of them too. I commend you, Edgar, for wanting to know where other people's opinions come from, like you explained in your comment underneath one of the answers here:

It seems there are many questions like this and I like to understand why people think the way they think. In this case: Why does the guy feel guilty? Is that not a reasonable question?

It sure is a reasonable question to ask yourself, although it might not be a good question to ask in a comment or challenge in an answer. Guilt is something like religion or veganism, it shouldn't be challenged. This goes for all the 'feelings' on IPS. Please don't tell people how to feel, instead, provide useful guidance on how to proceed with those feelings. You stick to the premise that there is guilt. If the question is about 'how to apologize' however, you can point out apologizing might not be the best way to remedy this guilt, that it may lead to more guilt because you're about to do a stupid thing that in your experience won't end well.

It indicates a problem with the question in this case as well: A lack of detail. Indeed, what makes the guy think the way he does? Is there information missing here (maybe a cultural thing? Prudish guy?), or are we dealing with someone that overreacts and overthinks the entire situation? Sadly, it's very difficult to write good comments asking the OP to clarify this part of their question, but it's not impossible. I'd personally go with something like

I see evidence of only one incident, and I don't really get the severity. Could you perhaps clarify why you want to apologize/ask for a higher neckline? Is this related to something cultural? What makes you want to do what you want to do, and why are you afraid it will go wrong?

But remember, even without this information, it is important to stick to the premise of a question. If you really want to understand someone's motivations, your best bet is the chatroom. People can offer you possible explanations (though never the one and true answer, because we're not mindreaders).

Try and stick to the three steps above (clarify the question so that it leaves no room for disambiguity, stick to the premise of the question and write well backed up answers) yourself, and help other people do it as well, and hopefully, the site will improve over time...

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    To modify an earlier suggestion, a short TL;DR at the start of this might be useful for folks. – HDE 226868 Apr 6 '18 at 1:15
  • I have added one. I only hope people will take time to read the explanations, before disagreeing with the points made in there :) – Tinkeringbell Apr 6 '18 at 5:32
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I think the premise of this meta is faulty. Here's what you say:

It seems some people think everybody should be able to wear whatever they like wherever they like. And other people, including me, think that people who wear certain clothes should not be surprised if they get not so unexpected reactions.

This is not true. Nearly everyone understands that there are limits in how people can dress and what parts of the body can be exposed. Nudity, generally speaking, is not appropriate in the vast majority of cultures and situations.

The debate that people have is where the line between "to exposed" and "appropriate" is. In that regard, the answer should be written to address both scenarios - one that the person dressed is appropriately, and another that the person is not dressed appropriately.

The answer by @JaneS is pretty good in this regard; it is not overly critical of the viewer or the view-ee; it instead focuses on how to maintain a professional relationship in a not-clear-cut situation.

Because of the lack of dichotomy as premised in your meta question, and there is a concrete possibility that we can have a correct answer to the question that spurred this meta.

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    The problem is that if women are allowed to post an answer based on their perspective men should be able to do the same. For example if I want to post an answer suggesting OP to look at her chest as much as he wants but to do it covertly and that the onus is on her to hide body parts she doesn't want people to look at, not him to control his gaze I should be able to do it. – Oleg Apr 5 '18 at 10:31
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    @Oleg I think if you limited your answer with regards to a specific culture instead of in general, then your comment would be more acceptable. For example, my experience with Colombian culture is that the women get angry when you don't look; Once I was told "I work so hard to look like this, at lest you could look for a moment". One of the bad parts of SE in general is that USA based media opinions are the "norm" and are viewed as "correct". But I think IPS when specific culturals are mentioned, there are many questions about South Asia for example, and people are very tolerant of difference. – axsvl77 Apr 5 '18 at 13:12
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    @Oleg or sub-cultures... There are certainly many places in the USA where not ogling women is inappropriate. I assume RPG culture is not one of these. – axsvl77 Apr 5 '18 at 13:17
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    Probably. That was just an example, not an actual answer I posted or wanted to post. My point is that I should be able to post it on an SE site, content here shouldn't be censored just because moderators and high rep users disagree with the viewpoint it represents. – Oleg Apr 5 '18 at 13:26
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    @Oleg Yes, you are obviously correct. But censorship is a fact of life everywhere, and the trick is getting past the censors and help expand the overton window for those who cannot understand. That's why I suggest using cultural specificity and other things to get by the censorship. It is tough for the censors to distinguish between trolls and honest answers in this regard. Hence non-traditional answers need to be tailored or be the baby thrown out with the bath water. – axsvl77 Apr 5 '18 at 13:29
  • Haven't thought about it this way (also learned a new concept) I will consider trying to do it, though usually I do things my way or just don't do them. – Oleg Apr 5 '18 at 13:43
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    @Oleg I learned a lot about censorship from this 1740 Chinese novel. Just thought I'd share. – axsvl77 Apr 5 '18 at 13:51
0

Trouble is, these are opinion questions. By nature. Not on!y is there no finite set of correct answers, there is no objective measure by which a correct answer could be distinguished from a wrong one.

It's a problem.

SE is an award-winning Q&A platform designed to be a more open platform than, say, ExpertsExchange or Quora[cite]. It has spent a decade iterating and evolving to answer questions that are positively answerable. The answering, commenting, voting and reputation system all evolved to be used with answerable questions. In fact, the vast majority of stacks have rules that prohibit questions which will draw opinions as answers.

And then you have IPS, a platform which draws like a magnet questions which have no factual answer, and every answer can only be an opinion. The architecture of the platform is completely wrong for that. Just as an example, lack of an objective "correctness" standard causes voting to devolve into "I agree or disagree". For lack of "correctness", what takes over is "political correctness".

And I'd point out, IPS's answers tend to be fairly sheltered, and don't even represent the broad consensuses (plural) of opinions that exist around the world - how would a Saudi man answer this question? How about a Mennonite? How about a "Stuck in the 1950s" Don Draper type? And of course we know: they are smothered with downvotes, back to that "politically correct" problem. they become censored.

Another way to argue it is that these are just poor questions and should be excluded from the system. That is certainly the most expedient way to solve this; Alexander the Great's sword to the Gordian knot. The problem is like I say, by nature IPS is a magnet for these questions, and that's a bad experience for newusers.

Lastly, opinions make a huge mess for the mods. Because where there are opinions, they get stated. Which segways back to your question.

The reason you we can't agree on the question is that it's not a good question, or not a good question for the SE platform because the platform is not architected to help us create consensus.

  • Are you arguing just against the example questions from this meta question, or against the entire site? – Tinkeringbell Apr 7 '18 at 11:43
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    @Tinkeringbell Language like "arguing against" seems extreme, try "problematic" on for size... But this is thoroughly addressed in the answer, sorry if it's a wall of text. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 7 '18 at 13:24
  • Okay, then I'll assume the best here and say you just find the questions problematic and not the stack... Any ideas on how to improve them? How to get rid of the magnet for bad subjective questions image? – Tinkeringbell Apr 7 '18 at 14:22
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    Brilliant!!! Great summation of the problems here. People downvoting your answer shows that there is little hope for them to be fixed. – Oleg Apr 7 '18 at 16:19
  • @Tinkeringbell you can'-- lol just kidding. Seriously and mind you this is a drive-by comment here... you'd need to change scope to select a subset of IPS problems which are positively answerable. If I were Ming for a day, I'd change it to etiquette.se. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 7 '18 at 22:23
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    Meh... I think there's a lot of research on Interpersonal Skills as well, like the question we have about Social Penetration Theory... I'm personally not averse to making scope changes, but the one you're suggesting is maybe one step too far. – Tinkeringbell Apr 8 '18 at 7:50
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    @Tinkeringbell Sure, it was just a toss-out to illustrate how a scope change would change the nature of questions and answers. I seem to recall commenting on a rather good question from you that was notably SE-correct, yet was not etiquette. However, the line must be drawable in a way that the help pages can clearly state, or else you're back to caprice. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 9 '18 at 23:57

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