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Premise: I think that SE as a whole is not nice enough. But I also think that the people of SE are in general a great bunch of people. There is a difference in the way that we communicate that creates conflict. I believe that problem is magnified here because this SE is a practical metaphor for the problem. The questions we face here are often times asking how to resolve problems that exist through out the SE format.

And most of it revolves around our individual interpretation of Be Nice.

I also believe that we as a whole would like the site to be welcoming to everyone. We just all need to shift our perspective a little bit to overcome this difficulty. I also believe that just a few minor tweaks can change the entire network into something that is not just Great, but something that is transformative in all of our daily lives. I know that my participation here has definitely improved my ability to communicate. I suspect it has most people.

Specifically these I believe we can address these 2 points:

Be welcoming, be patient, and assume good intentions.

and

Don't be a jerk.

Is there some way we can slightly alter this to get a more desired result of less conflict, and acceptance of our differences?

Update - RE:

If you frequently see rude/abusive comments, that means the comments aren't moderated well, and that we need to revisit the comment policy and what we'd allow based on be-nice. Same for answers: if they're regularly being used as soapboxes for opinions, you could make a rule that everything needs a back up or is subject to removal (comment source but may be removed as it is a comment)

If you frequently see rude/abusive comments, that means the comments aren't moderated well - This. But the problem is not the moderators but the rules in which we expect them to arbitrate. If we can give the mods a more appropriate set of guidelines, as well as giving the people the appropriate set of guidelines(boundaries) then we can solve this problem, or at least make it more manageable and improve the over all experience. Most of the time comment arguments appear to start over one mistaken interpretation, then others jump in picking sides. If we can stop the jumping in I think we can stop most of the bickering.

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    Can you please give some examples of the sorts of conflict you're describing? – HDE 226868 Apr 10 '18 at 13:04
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    @RichardU I'm asking because I don't see everything that goes on here and may have missed the incidents that are being referenced here, and because the same may be true of a lot of other people reading this. Also, it's not just about when there's conflict; it's about when that conflict stems from the interpretation of the Be Nice policy. – HDE 226868 Apr 10 '18 at 13:08
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    @RichardU It's a good idea to have examples as part of the question so that people can understand the context of the question without needing to have been there to see how bad the comments got before they were deleted. – sphennings Apr 10 '18 at 13:08
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    @RichardU I don't think I was around for the question you are talking about. There are plenty of other examples of people not being nice on this site. This question would be improved by bringing up some specific examples so that everyone can be on the same page about we are talking about. – sphennings Apr 10 '18 at 13:14
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    Guys Please stop bickering in Comments to my question. Take it to Interpersonal Skills Chat – BACKPFEIFENGESICHT Apr 10 '18 at 13:15
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    Ehh... is this about discussing the need for a new/revised be nice policy, or about suggesting what should be changed? Because usually we have the discussion first, and only start suggesting changes and voting on them in a second meta post? – Tinkeringbell Apr 10 '18 at 13:34
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    @sphennings - I focused the question on my perception it is a problem. If you disagree that it is a problem the proper method is to vote. Voting is a wisdom of the crowd solution. – BACKPFEIFENGESICHT Apr 10 '18 at 13:44
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    I'd like to know why you think there is a problem. Saying "I think" is entirely subjective and non transferable. If you provided some examples of the problems you are seeing we could then have a discussion about how to fix these specific problems, rather than hope that everyone is on the same page about what the problem is. – sphennings Apr 10 '18 at 13:47
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    If you don't want to link to specific situations, that's ok. Could you instead describe in general the sort of behavior you are seeing, so that we can get on the same page. – sphennings Apr 10 '18 at 13:50
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    I have downvoted this, and also voted to close it as unclear what you're asking here: suggestions for a new help center text, guidelines on how to be nice or if you want to discuss the actual need to change the help center text. – Tinkeringbell Apr 10 '18 at 13:51
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    I don't understand why you are resistant to posting examples in your question, but posting an example in your answer is fine. – Beofett Apr 10 '18 at 13:53
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    I understand that, but in this case, you seem to be saying our community is not nice enough. That's very general, and unless we can understand why you feel the existing "be nice" policy isn't sufficient, and in what ways it is currently failing, it becomes difficult to have a focused, meaningful discussion. – Beofett Apr 10 '18 at 14:07
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    Also, you're now asking if we can improve... as in, is it technically possible for a site to have their own version of be nice... You can either ask whether it should be done (and make your arguments for why it should be done, together with the set of problems such changes should remedy) or you can use your question to suggest a change, because it solves a specific problem... Right now, it's still unclear to me what the goal of this question is.. – Tinkeringbell Apr 10 '18 at 14:10
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    I appreciate what you're trying to do, and I do think the edit helps, but I don't know that it helps enough. To clarify: your premise seems centered on conflict over differing interpretations over the be nice policy. My perception is that the conflicts I personally notice are more based upon ideological differences, where each side sees the other side's entire perspective as fundamentally "not nice". – Beofett Apr 10 '18 at 14:18
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    @WeAreAllInThisTogether It's not off topic. Just because people are responding poorly to your idea doesn't mean that there isn't merit in discussing it. – sphennings Apr 11 '18 at 3:12
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If you frequently see rude/abusive comments, that means the comments aren't moderated well - This. But the problem is not the moderators but the rules in which we expect them to arbitrate. If we can give the mods a more appropriate set of guidelines, as well as giving the people the appropriate set of guidelines(boundaries) then we can solve this problem, or at least make it more manageable and improve the over all experience. Most of the time comment arguments appear to start over one mistaken interpretation, then others jump in picking sides. If we can stop the jumping in I think we can stop most of the bickering.

I think that this hits on the heart of a lot of this site's problems.

Comments are the venue in which the vast majority of the disputes and conflict I've witnessed occur.

Arguing over who is right/wrong, debating over why one perspective or another does or does not have merit, and questioning motives behind questions or answers do not help this site. But it seems to happen over and over again, particularly for certain topics.

The "be nice" policy already covers this, and our moderators regularly step in to delete comments.

Unfortunately, deleting comments is a topic that upsets a number of users. Worse, a number of users seem to take deleted comments as a personal challenge.

I've seen moderators delete comment chains, then post a typical moderator notice on the comments reminding users to not abuse the comment system, only to have comments continue. I've seen moderators post much sterner moderator notices, such as:

If you disagree with a post, write your own answer and let the community vote on it. DO NOT USE COMMENTS TO ARGUE WITH A POST. Future comments must ASK for clarification or suggest a specific, actionable improvement or they will be removed.

In the example the above quote comes from, the response to this sterner warning was... to engage in extended discussion about the answer, but with an attempt to phrase disagreement as a request for clarification.

Prior to the comments that were moved to chat, I saw a couple of other comments that were since deleted that also were arguments about the answer.

People don't seem to care that certain types of comments cause conflict, and freely and consistently ignore moderator directives

I know that moderator actions involving warnings and bans is not something they can or will share with the community, nor should they, so it is possible that they're already doing this, but I believe that the solution to this problem is for moderators to warn, and then suspend, repeat offenders, or those who ignore or attempt to bypass the moderator messages.

If this pushes some people away, good. I firmly believe we're already losing people over these conflicts. If we have to lose people, I'd rather lose people who deliberately ignore or seek to subvert the established guidelines.

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    If y'all are curious, there are 51 comments deleted from that post with the stern directive. 25 from before the quoted message, 20 between it and HDE moving the new comments to chat, and six deleted since then... and, sadly, that's not even a record. We have posts with >100 deleted comments. To give a sense of scale, the moderators (in response to flagging) have removed over 15,000 comments from this site. That excludes comments removed by the OP or by three user flags. – Catija Apr 10 '18 at 17:51
  • warn, and then suspend, repeat offenders, or those who ignore or attempt to bypass the moderator messages. This is literally penalizing the customers who need this site the most though. – BACKPFEIFENGESICHT Apr 10 '18 at 23:25
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    @WeAreAllInThisTogether The purpose of an exchange isn't to help people. That is a side effect of the explicit purpose of an exchange, which is to create a repository of quality questions and excellent answers. What else do you suggest that we do with users who after being taught the rules refuse to follow them? – sphennings Apr 11 '18 at 1:58
  • @sphennings - Citation Needed. – BACKPFEIFENGESICHT Apr 11 '18 at 3:00
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    @WeAreAllInThisTogether I suggest you take the tour then. It's in the third sentence. – sphennings Apr 11 '18 at 3:02
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I also think that the people of SE are in general a great bunch of people.

Hopefully true :)

I think that SE as a whole is not nice enough.

Absolutely. I think this could be because a lot of people come to SE partly (even if subconsciously) to get a bit of excitement from pushing their views and perhaps shouting down others' a little bit. It may be an inevitable consequence of the adversarial nature of the model - vote up, vote down, and all the rest of it.

Is there some way we can slightly alter this to get a more desired result of less conflict, and acceptance of our differences?

I'd wish any such initiative luck, but I doubt it's going to be easy - partly because SE sites in general are a bit 'tense' compared to almost all forums I know with a similar level of seriousness, and also because I think interpersonal.SE is probably currently towards the lower end of the range when it comes to niceness on SE sites. At the risk of stating the obvious, on a site dedicated to interpersonal skills, there's always going to be a range of levels of overall interpersonal skills!

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To add a few points:

  1. Solve the problem, not the person
  2. Address the behavior/skill not the person.
  3. Be patient
  4. As this is IPS, people having questions about IPS may have poor IPS, take this into consideration
  5. Be kind
  6. Flag, and let it go
  7. Exercise restraint, don't insult, and don't respond to insults
  8. Assume the person you are addressing knows something you don't.
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  • These are all good points. I think they lack the Specific and Measureable aspect that is important in policies. For example how would you objectively measure number 4. – BACKPFEIFENGESICHT Apr 10 '18 at 13:36
  • Could you expand on number 8... maybe in its own answer. I think that would be huge benefit personally – BACKPFEIFENGESICHT Apr 10 '18 at 13:37

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