I just received a message from a moderator that my answer, which received 112 up-votes and 11 down-votes was deleted. That was my personal straw which broke the camel's neck.

How to establish boundaries with a roommate without confrontation?

I was here only for a few months and I received lots of up-votes for some answers and down-votes for other answers. I understand the up and down voting and this is what makes StackExchage interesting.

But I also had lots of comments and answers deleted. Mostly not because they were rude but because it seems I did not follow this rule or that rule or this and that guideline which was discussed somewhere on Meta.

I also wrote answers which were well received and then the question was changed considerably and then I was asked to change my answer to match the changing question. No, I won’t do that.

And then there is “be nice”. Yes, I agree we should be nice to each other. But it seems for some people stating clear facts is already not nice and can’t be allowed. What is wrong with telling the truth without putting a nice warm fluffy cover around it?

Personally I find all this annoying. This could be a wonderful site for interpersonal questions and answers but it seems some people want to make it into something which has little to do with real-world behavior and experience. That is the way these very active members want it and that’s it. That’s not the way I want it and this is why I will stay away from this site for the time being.

Maybe I will look again in a few months and maybe things will change.

I hope you enjoy this forum like it is and continue to delete everything which does not fit into your world view.

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    Please note: if you have any issue with the moderator team, please either use the contact us link or post a meta addressing the exact issue either here or on Meta Stack Exchange. Name calling is not tolerated on Stack Exchange. – A J Mod Apr 26 '18 at 7:08
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    Comments aren't supposed to last long on this SE. They're here to ask for clarifications and suggest answer improvements. I know many people like the discussions that can happen in comments, but it's not their purpose, and if you want to pursue the conversation, you're welcome to do it on the chat. I'm sorry if you felt offended by your comments being deleted. – avazula Mod Apr 26 '18 at 7:43
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    About the "name calling": I mentioned a fact that this and that person deletes all the time comments. It's a fact. Why can it not be pointed out? Another rule? How can we discuss things if we can't even mention facts? – user8838 Apr 26 '18 at 11:10
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    @Edgar I am not talking about mentioning who deleted or downvoted it. Look at the second revision of your post. – A J Mod Apr 26 '18 at 11:48
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because a significant portion of the question is nothing but a rant continuing the OP's complaints about the rules of this site. – Beofett Apr 29 '18 at 1:33
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    @Beofett: Please go ahead, this would be only consequent for this site. And please also don't forget to do the same with apaul's "Apologies and parting notes" which inspired this one. – user8838 Apr 29 '18 at 5:29
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    The fact that you both believe that other people need your permission to vote, and that you have the right to tell other people how they must vote, goes a long way towards explaining why you are so unhappy with how this site works. – Beofett Apr 29 '18 at 10:26

Although I did not really understand why the answer you gave got so many up votes, I can understand your frustration well.

I also think moderation is currently preventing this stack to work like it´s supposed to, by ruling over things that should be self/user moderated.

I think it is a loss for the site, because your post added another way to look at the problem, and - together with the other, more in line answers - provided a far greater depth for possible readers of the question on how to approach such problem. Especially since the most popular comment under your answer was a "caution, don´t do it"

On the other hand, I can´t really understand why you did not try to address some of the concerns brought to you in the comments (and acknowledged by you, there)

For example you wrote

I am sure the OP made already first steps. If her roommate would open her eyes she should see that the OP does not approves of this behavior. The roommate obviously ignored all the signs (I am sure there were at least some signs)

If your had used that as a preface in your answer, it could have been read in context by future readers and you´d have avoided that this answer be taken the wrong way. Not everybody reads in the comments and also, comments vanish very quickly around here sometimes.

I´d appreciate if you tried to get your answer in a state where it could be reopened, but I also understand if you take a break. Contributing here is a hobby, and hobbies should be fun!

  • Thank you, I like this answer for several reasons. One of the reason I look at sites like this is to look at other ways to look at problems. I like to see other way and sometime I keep these other ways in mind, and sometimes I laugh about them. But it's good to know "other ways". And this is something which seems to be suppressed here. I did not change my highly up-voted answer because it will always be possible to improve any question and any answer. I don't want to optimize everything forever if lots of people think that it is already pretty good. (to be continued) – user8838 Apr 27 '18 at 0:34
  • ... I don't think after an update a significant amount of users would understand my answer any better. Should I spend the time and effort to get 3 more up-votes or a pat on the back from the moderators? Sorry, that's not what I want to do. Because you sum it up perfectly: Contributing here is a hobby, and hobbies should be fun! – user8838 Apr 27 '18 at 0:37
  • @Edgar: I myself don´t care about the reputation much but I like the feedback and the possibility to improve my answers, as for me this makes a great learning on what ideas work and how to communicate them effectively. Also I do subscribe to the SE-Idea of creating the best possible answers and keeping them easily accessible. For me, the feedback-and-improve culture on this Stack is seriously broken though, so I myself have already reduced my engagement and may go the same way as you and apaul. I wish you lots of happy exchange of thought! – user6109 Apr 27 '18 at 6:48
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    Thanks Daniel. I use StackOverflow since years without any trouble. And I also use other exchange sites more recently also without trouble. It's only the very strictly enforced rules in IPS and which give me headache. It could be real fun without all those people with been counter personalities... – user8838 Apr 27 '18 at 7:13
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    Answers that advocate any form of hostility even to defend your rights tend to get downvotes on IPS.SE and may even get deleted. – English Student Apr 27 '18 at 17:19

As there's no real question here, but only some POV, pros and cons points, I'll just address some of these points, hopefully to challenge your claims.

But I also had lots of comments and answers deleted. Mostly not because they were rude but because it seems I did not follow this rule or that rule or this and that guideline...

Yes. This stack has Guidelines. Rules. Policies.

The Community makes these. The Community makes sure they're followed. The Community enforces them. With the help of moderators, of flags, of DV / VTC / VTD.

Roughly, the Community says to all of us:

Behave. Be Nice. Follow the rules. It's OUR way, or the highway...

There's no NAME CALLING here. Please. Period.

For any problem with someone, get in touch with SE staff. Privately.

I also wrote answers [ ... ] and then the question was changed considerably and then I was asked to change my answer to match the changing question. No, I won't do that.

Yes. This stack has Guidelines. Rules. Policies. Did I already mentioned that? Maybe...

Anyway... This happens (again?) because people answer unclear questions. Too fast. We have a new feature on Main (formely called "comments") named suggest improvement. We should be using this more and more to ask for clarification, and suggest improvement. When it's done, answer. Otherwise, we end up dealing with the kind of situation that pisses you (but not only) off...

And then there is “be nice”. Yes, I agree we should be nice to each other. But it seems for some people stating clear facts is already not nice and can't be allowed. What is wrong with telling the truth without putting a nice warm fluffy cover around it?

It is not wrong if it answers OP I guess?...

Going back to your answer, the one that got deleted by community request, and not by a moderator's selfish decision, here's my 2 cents:

You offered an alternative solution, a complete U-turn, by ignoring the without confrontation part of the question. OK. Why not. But, IMO, by going that far in such a direct way, you forgot.. wait... This stack has Guidelines. Rules. Policies. Did I already mentioned that?

To be clear: I'm not telling you that your answer is bad. AT ALL.

What I think is that, when answering and offering another POV, we should frame this challenge into a ladder challenge™. What is a ladder challenge™? When the elder shows the Moon, the younger looks at the finger. So, my advice is: show them the steps.

-> How to establish boundaries with a roommate without confrontation?

    1. you can be nice, and do X
    1. you can be nice, and do Y
    1. you can be a little less nice, and do Z
    1. Because 1, 2 and 3 don't work, what about not being nice at all and do A / B / C ?

And explain each point. Back up your assertions with reasons and data. Enjoy the challenge of converting concern to conviction.

(only a guess here) What made some of the people here flag your answer was the fact that you went straight to point #4 without showing any step?

No matter what you choose, I'd like you say something that seems important to me:

This stack has Guidelines. Rules. Policies. Did I already mentioned that? If not, I should have done it before... :)

EDIT - I have looked through all posts and comments about this Q/A. I truly believe that you went the wrong way, not that you were explicitely giving the wrong answer. To me (and seems like many within the Community), you gave your POV, but didn't answer the OP. In order to have your POV seen as the best solution, it has to -> explain why the requested approach isn't good and offer a new IPS solution with reasonable explanation as to why it's better (SpaGirl).

OP - So far, I haven’t raised this issue with her, but I am wondering what the best way is to make it clear that the way she currently behaves with her guests in our room often makes me uncomfortable.

You - I think you should be confrontational if someone else sleeps in your bed without your permission. And you should be confrontational if people blatantly ignore you. Stop being nice! Tell them to behave.

My understanding - I want to be nice... NO! This behavior deserves a nuclear war, and here's the red button, push it!

from comments (emphasis mine)

  • Given the roommate apparently was never made aware of any problem before, this sounds like a sure way to escalate to a level where OP and the roommate may not be able to continue together. OP specifically asked for a non-confrontational approach and as such this answer seems borderline off-topic. You are also not giving any backup to why you think this approach would work. Could you improve your answer to show that? – Daniel Mar 29 at 9:26

  • By telling the OP not to avoid confrontation, you're challenging the frame of their question. A frame-challenge answer should explain why the requested approach isn't good and offer a new IPS solution with reasonable explanation as to why it's better. Could you add those explanations/references to your answer, as per the meta aims? – Spagirl Mar 29 at 10:11

  • @Edgar: I genuinely think that, without further knowledge about the whole of the situation, your approach bears the potential to screw up the OP´s entire living arrangements. As such I find it is not very well balanced so this is just a suggestion for improvment. – Daniel Mar 29 at 12:47

  • @Edgar Because IPS.SE is about Interpersonal Skills and seeks well sourced and supported answers, those are the parameters the community has set. Backed-up answers are better answers. By explaining why and how, as well as what, the recommended approach is, you better equip readers to know when and why they might use it. Answers should help people develop their own skills rather than just give an opinion. It’s that whole teach a man to fish thing, but this answer just throws the OP a sprat. – Spagirl Mar 29 at 12:49

  • When challenging the fact that OP doesn't want to be confrontational, please offer some justification for advising that. There is absolutely nowhere mentioned that the roommate is unreasonable or doesn't care, so please address the first steps and don't assume this. – Tinkeringbell♦

  • @Jesse : to be clear, it's just about listing quickly which points don't work and then offer your solution. – OldPadawan Apr 26 '18 at 8:12
  • Thanks for your answer. Your 1 2 3 4 ladder is a good example. Do you think it's really necessary to explain 1 2 3 before 4? Sometimes it's just obvious and it is not necessary to repeat the same again and again. And it seems 112 up-voter understood this. If more than 100 people like an answer and understand it should it be deleted because I didn't add 1 2 3? If you and other think so, fine. But that's not what I accept. I think sometime we should be flexible enough to ignore some technical rules. I think rules here should be guidelines and not chiseled in stone. – user8838 Apr 26 '18 at 11:00
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    @Edgar : I know what you mean, but you're clever enough to know how it works :) you start doing this, a little favor, a little workaround, a small breach... what happens next? this is a Q/A format stack: ONE question = ONE answer. And the community UV/DV. In order to allow people to post their answer and express different POV, there's a frame that can't be challenged = the Q/A format, with its guidelines. – OldPadawan Apr 26 '18 at 11:08
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    There are already enough complaints every time something is deleted on this site. Imagine how much more people would complain if policies weren't consistently enforced. – sphennings Apr 26 '18 at 11:13
  • @OldPadawan: The Q/A is fine, and up and down voting is fine. And I understand general guidelines which should be followed. But they should be treated as guidelines and not laws which must be all the time strictly enforced. – user8838 Apr 26 '18 at 11:13
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    @sphennings: Do we, the users of this site, want good questions and answers? Or do we want 100% strict rule enforcement? This place feels sometimes like a police state were rules must be all the time 100% enforced. I prefer something like the local policeman who enforces the big rules but knows when to ignore some minor rules from time to time here and there. – user8838 Apr 26 '18 at 11:17
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    @Edgar : another point for you. To counterpart this, StackExchange sites are wordlwide network, not small local net :) – OldPadawan Apr 26 '18 at 11:19
  • @OldPadawan: And do you personally think 100% enforcing all the rules all the time is good for this site? I know there are some people who just love rules. It's like the been counter in accounting who needs a receipt for a pencil. It should be up to us how strict the rules should be enforced. And I am sure the moderators could be more flexible - if they wanted to. And reading lots of questions and answers in this meta I am sure I am not alone with my opinion. But maybe the majority wants 100% strict rules. That's fine - but I don't want to be part of such a 100% strict community. – user8838 Apr 26 '18 at 11:28
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    @Edgar I think we try to not make exceptions to enforcing the rules because then we start to run the risk of accidentally applying double standards. If we're gonna hold one post to a standard, we have to hold all the others to it - otherwise, it's unfair to the users. – HDE 226868 Apr 26 '18 at 17:45

Your answer wasn't deleted because it violated the be nice policy. A mod left a comment explaining why the answer was deleted and what was needed to edit the answer to qualify it for undeletion. They even explained the fastest route to get the answer undeleted once you've edited it.

You were informed March 29th via comments that there were problems with the answer. The same day people were recommending that the answer be deleted. You raised a question on meta asking why people had a problem with such a well received answer. Answers on the meta post explain that regardless of how well received a post is, we still expect it to follow site policy.

In this case site policy expects that you answer the question as it is written. Since the OP asked how to do a thing without confrontation we expect your answer to be about how to do the thing without confrontation. Your answer could have been fixed by adding a paragraph explaining how it is impossible to do the thing without confrontation, or arguing how confrontation is necessary in the circumstance.

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    So why did more than 100 people up-vote this answer? It seems they all understood it without any changes. Am I to blame that I didn't modify the answer? Are 112 users to blame because they up-voted an answer which didn't follow all the rules? Or are the rules the problem? – user8838 Apr 26 '18 at 11:05
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    @Edgar Upvotes have no bearing on whether something is on topic or meets the minimum requirements of a good IPS answer. Upvotes only mean that someone found something useful. Many users come to this site because a post is featured in the Hot Network Question sidebar. If they have the association bonus they will start with 101 rep, which is enough to upvote posts. Their first action on the site could be upvoting a post that they like. Most of these users have no interest in participating in community moderation, or an awareness of a particular site's policies. – sphennings Apr 26 '18 at 11:10
  • If you want to blame the new users who are not aware of this site's rules then maybe the rules for new users should be changed. Maybe every new user should have to read first 10 pages of rules and then answer an online exam to be sure the user understood the rules. And only after qualification users are allowed to participate. I am sure users would just love this - and they would be sure that everybody else also studied the rules... – user8838 Apr 26 '18 at 11:33
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    @Edgar The point you should be taking away is that a large number of upvotes is not a good indicator of adherence to site policy. There is a reason that the association bonus doesn't provide someone anything but the simplest of privileges. The hope is that the association bonus will attract users to the site, and some will stick around, and start actively participating in the site. – sphennings Apr 26 '18 at 11:41
  • How about this: If a question was i.e. up-voted 20 times by IPS users and 10 times down voted by them. And at the same time if was up-voted 30 times by new users. What do we learn from that? If new users don't really count then they shouldn't count (or maybe only 1/2 count). But if new users count and they like an answer then I guess this shows it is a good answer - even if it is against some policy. Then maybe the policy is the problem and not the answer. – user8838 Apr 26 '18 at 12:24
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    @Edgar First off we can't distinguish where upvotes come from. Secondly as I have already said upvotes have no bearing on whether something is on topic or meets the minimum requirements for a good IPS answer. – sphennings Apr 26 '18 at 12:27
  • So why do users up-vote? And why are users, who were never tested for any qualifications, are allowed to up-vote? This is a community without entrance exam and everybody knows that. If only expert answers should be allowed then why are normal users allowed to answer at all? Make it an expert site with few users then you don't have to worry about all those 100 uneducated users who just like an answer and up-vote it - only to see the answer which they thought was the best answer being deleted. And not because the answer was really wrong. It just didn't follow all the made up rules. – user8838 Apr 26 '18 at 12:38
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    This is unrelated to why your answer was deleted. If you want to ask a question about why upvotes aren't considered when applying site policy, you'll get better answers if you ask about that in a separate meta question. – sphennings Apr 26 '18 at 12:42
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    To play devil's advocate here, you really have no way of knowing how many of those votes were from 101 rep users. Nor should you devalue such users votes. There seems to be a sentiment of superiority over 101 votes, but there is a reason why voting is anonymous. – BlackThorn Apr 26 '18 at 15:29
  • @BlackThorn The point is that it doesn't matter who, or how many upvoted a post. Upvotes are not an indication of whether something is appropriate for the site. – sphennings Apr 26 '18 at 15:31
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    I understand the argument that votes do not necessarily indicate whether something is on-topic or not, but I disagree with the assertion that they do not indicate quality or lack thereof. It may not be surefire, but a heavily downvoted post indicates controversy or poor quality, and a heavily upvoted post indicates at least that a view is popular, but probably that it is good quality (there are obviously exceptions, but votes matter). Who are we to say, "Sorry! You all are wrong!" – BlackThorn Apr 26 '18 at 15:36
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    @BlackThorn I'm not sure what this has to do with the OP's answer that was deleted. It didn't answer the question, and was deleted. The number of votes it had is irrelevant. – sphennings Apr 26 '18 at 15:39

The popularity of an answer does not necessarily indicate that the answer was appropriate. Specifically, in order for an answer to be appropriate for a stack, it needs to answer a question with regards to the purpose of the particular stack.

This stack is about interpersonal skills. While it can be somewhat gratifying to tell a rude person to go jump in a river, it is counter-productive to a stack that exists to teach skills, not conflict.

In addition, when a question hits HNQ, traffic to that question increases and you get up votes from people who are not regulars at a particular stack, nor are they necessarily interested beyond the particular question.

In short, an answer needs to be appropriate and helpful to remain.

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    The popularity of an answer does not necessarily indicate that the answer was appropriate. -> on target ! If the answer was that good and appropriate and helpful, why didn't OP tick it up? – OldPadawan Apr 26 '18 at 13:11
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    Funny how on this site´s policy always only uses the meta-references that seem to suit the moderators. In this top-voted answer it is argued: Last I looked some 80 users thought it was an answer worth upvoting now what is it? Do the users decide what is good or do the moderators? If the latter, why bother voting? – user6109 Apr 26 '18 at 14:21
  • I agree with @Daniel. Why bother voting? – user8838 Apr 26 '18 at 14:31
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    @Daniel You're right that's not the best argument fora question being on topic. Note that that remark was in a question asking about how to disagree with an answer. The discussion about whether a particular answer answered the question or not was secondary to the primary thrust of the post. – sphennings Apr 26 '18 at 14:32
  • Did you ever consider that doing something drastic can be a good solution? Asking nice and please would you consider this and that might work in some cases. But sometimes it make sense to just say: Stop, I had enough of this. Do this now or else. No nice, not soft, direct and brutal DO IT! Lots of people are successful with that. And some people only react to something like that. It is also an interpersonal skill to know when to use the drastic approach. – user8838 Apr 26 '18 at 14:35
  • @sphennings: Well noted, in this case ti was an answer the mods approved of, so voting was used as a mark of quality. This time it´s an answer the mod´s don´t approve, so now it does not count? – user6109 Apr 26 '18 at 14:42
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    @Edgar As has already been explained to you, if you added a paragraph to your answer explaining why you think that there is no solution without confrontation and why confrontation is an appropriate approach, your answer wouldn't have been deleted in the first place. – sphennings Apr 26 '18 at 14:42
  • @Daniel You'd need to ask the mods in question to be sure but I'm pretty confident that they were focused on the question at hand and didn't want to waste their time talking about side points. – sphennings Apr 26 '18 at 14:44
  • @sphennings: It´s just that I keep getting reminded of these answers on meta (even ones that do not have the popular vote) as long as it serves their point. This does not help to transport a message of neutrality. – user6109 Apr 26 '18 at 14:49
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    @Daniel If you feel that is an issue make a meta post about it. I'm not sure how a side remark on an unrelated meta post is relevant to this answer. – sphennings Apr 26 '18 at 14:54
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    @Edgar ‘It’s also an interpersonal skill to know when to use the drastic approach.’ And that has been exactly the point throughout, your answer wasn’t backed up with an explanation for the OP of how to know when. You told the OP that the drastic approach was appropriate in this instance but not how to judge for themselves why or when it was. You were giving them a fish, not teaching them how to catch their own fish. – Spagirl Apr 27 '18 at 7:14

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