Soon, the new Code of Conduct will replace the Be Nice policy.

From what I read in the document, there are several points in the new text that are contrasting with the recently introduced "back-it-up policy", but more than the policy itself, the way it's currently enforced. Some relevant quotes (emphasis mine):

  • Our mission is to build an inclusive community where all people feel welcome and can participate
  • join us in building a learning community that is rooted in kindness, collaboration, and mutual respect
  • It applies to everyone using the Stack Exchange network, including our team, moderators

Premise and observations

Meta contains several posts that suggest (possibly mis)using the website tools to address content that is not "backed up":

  • A killer combination of downvotes + flags + comments:

    unsupported answers can and should be downvoted, flagged as NAA, and commented

    This would be too much for an answer that is "intentionally" not backed up (I highly doubt people intentionally do that, but who knows?) let alone for the answer of someone that simply forgot to do that and corrects it later on.

  • A post notice, which is really a tool that is supposed to be used for warning about serious misconduct in answering.

There are also some other issues, it seems:


Is the back-it-up policy and the way it is enforced going to stay the same with the new Code of Conduct? Is anything going to change in order to comply with the new CoC, to adhere to a welcoming attitude and to strive for fairness in the moderation process?

Short personal opinion

IPS is the only website on the network where I started to feel really unwelcome and midly uncomfortable for how some other users were treated as well. Despite having a single highly received (and backed up) answer I have decided to stop answering while the situation remains this much uncertain.

There are examples (1) (2) of stunning answers that (according to current policy) should be deleted. IMHO the first thing to care about is the content quality, then site policy should be at the second place. But I digress.

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    I want to check that you're understanding things... the back it up policy is a quality requirement. The CoC is about being nice when you point out that quality is lacking. It doesn't mean that you can't require quality. If comments pointing out quality problems are doing so in a way that isn't nice, flag them... but that doesn't prohibit us from requiring a level of quality in our posts. – Catija Jul 12 '18 at 15:42
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    @Catija I thought the emphasis in the second paragraph was conveying what I meant. See also the second list of bullet points. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 12 '18 at 15:54
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    @Catija also, adding a "this worked for me" sentence to an answer does not alter the quality of the action suggested in the answer. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 12 '18 at 15:55
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    Site tools like voting and flagging are not abuses of the CoC. They are part of the site implementation. We also don't use post notices in general for this sort of thing. – Catija Jul 12 '18 at 15:55
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    I'm unclear exactly what you're asking. How does having and enforcing a site policy regarding the quality of answers have anything to do with there being a code of conduct? This seems more like an attempt to complain about site policy than a good faith question about the new code of conduct. – sphennings Jul 12 '18 at 16:01
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    @sphennings I am asking if the way and the tone of enforcing the policy is going to be more polite, welcoming and fair (homogeneous across answers by different people) after the new CoC. I am quite baffled that you VTC the question because you do not like it. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 12 '18 at 16:06
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    I just want to make a quick distinction: all of the things you listed as a "killer combination" are temporary. If the answer is edited, flags will be disputed, comments will be removed as NLN and I've personally reversed my downvotes to upvotes on answers I think put in the work to turn around and become better from being backed up. – scohe001 Jul 12 '18 at 16:08
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    @scohe001 flags will be disputed if OP is so quick as to edit the content before some mods check them out. What if OP is working and has to be offline for a few hours? As for downvotes, there is no easy way to track what you have downvoted so most users cannot remember all of them. The combination is overkill because you do not take 3 different penalising actions altogether if someone honestly forgets the backup. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 12 '18 at 16:12
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    @AndreaLazzarotto It sounds like your real concern is that we have some requirements about the contents of answers. Perhaps it would have been better to ask about that. – sphennings Jul 12 '18 at 16:14
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    @sphennings please do not assume I want to ask something else than what I asked. My question is labeled with a heading. If you think the introduction is too long or the small aside at the end is worthless, say something explicit about that. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 12 '18 at 16:18
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    Fair point on slow OP's, @AndreaLazzarotto. But even if they're slow and their question gets deleted they can still edit and flag for un-deletion. In that case the same thing applies for comments being removed. Also I believe users who downvote will re-lose 1 reputation when the answer gets undeleted so that should serve as a notification for them to re-look at the answer (not sure on that last though). – scohe001 Jul 12 '18 at 17:02
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    For what it's worth, my question (I'm confused about the "back it up" policy) was based on the false premise that I should be using existing answers a measuring stick for flagged ones. When I followed up with an idea to avoid that confusion, I realized things have been operating as they should. I don't know if that changes anything, I just thought it might be worth clarifying. – Lord Farquaad Jul 16 '18 at 13:20

Since you called out my answer as not backed up, let me say very clearly that I think you're wrong: it is backed up, and is a better answer for it (the first version wasn't.) The section in italics that starts "Look what happens when you make that mental change" and goes to " gives you the tools to make it easy to tell her" explains why the approach here works.

Back it up doesn't have to be "I tried this once and here's what happened." It just has to explain why the suggestion is likely to be a good one. If my answer had stopped after the first paragraph and just added "so tell her and you'll be fine" it wouldn't have been backed up.

This whole question feels a little to me like concern trolling. "Oh noes, this stunning answer is going to fall foul of a policy I don't like! We should probably get rid of the policy eh?" Since you may not have the rep to see vote splits, I can tell you that answer has no downvotes. Mods have visited it repeatedly to clear away comments, and none have left a comment of their own asking for backup, nor has a notice been added. You're "worrying" about something that doesn't need that concern. I am sorry you feel unwelcome, I wouldn't want anybody to, but this isn't the way to solve what you see to be a problem.

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    I know about how your answer is great. I am one of the dozens of anonymous users who upvoted it. I did not request that your answer gets deleted, quite the opposite I would be very mad if it were. It was just an example of high quality content that is at risk by overzelaous enforcers. “It just has to explain why the suggestion is likely to be a good one” this would be great, however from the meta posts linked above you can see there is no consensus about this. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 12 '18 at 16:10
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    Ok, you would be very mad if it were. I would be very mad if most of Los Angeles fell into the ocean. But I am not suggesting changes to site policy to save LA. And my answer doesn't need your "just asking, but is this awful" worry pointed at it. Your logic is "X would be awful. I bet current policy would lead to X. Should we change policy?" and my answer is "frame challenge. Current policy would not lead to X." – Kate Gregory Jul 12 '18 at 16:14
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    I am asking about the evolution of the policy after a new CoC. If you are mistaking the last paragraph (which is a small addendum, but I wasn't able to render it in a <small> tag... I will try again probably) I can remove that one. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 12 '18 at 16:16

I'm not seeing any reason that filtering for quality has to be done in a rude way.

The subject has been beaten to death on Meta.SE and Meta.SO already, but we might as well have the conversation here with regards to our specific site and community.

Being polite, nice, and welcoming is not at odds with requiring quality.

The rules aren't inherently unwelcoming. It's just a matter of how those rules are enforced. As long as comments requesting that an answer be backed up are polite and constructive there's no conflict.

To use an analogy... In most, well probably all, places stealing/theft is against the law. Some people obviously don't get caught stealing, but "hey all of those other people got away with it" isn't a defense in court. This isn't a matter of the law being unjust or being applied unfairly, it's just a matter of some people slipping through the cracks because there isn't always a police officer watching.

Police officers are required to enforce the law. When they see someone stealing they have to address the situation. This isn't inherently rude or unwelcoming, they're just doing their jobs. But... Well, there's a world of difference between, "Excuse me citizen, I saw that, you'll have to come with me." And excessive force like drawing a weapon or wrestling someone to the ground immediately over petty theft.

What makes the enforcement of a rule rude, or unwelcoming, isn't really about having rules or not having rules. It's about the way we enforce those rules.

By far, the majority of comments requesting that answers be backed up tend to be pretty polite. Some are perhaps a little terse, but I don't think I've seen these cross into rude yet.

"I feel unwelcome because I don't like the rules" isn't really a great way to start a conversation about changing, or removing, the rules. Obviously, a thief will feel unwelcome when there's a police officer watching for thieves. On the other hand, "I had to steal bread to feed my family, because of these systemic problems..." may be a good way to start a conversation about dealing with some of those systemic problems. This approach acknowledges that the rule is probably there for good reasons, but that someone was reduced to breaking the rules for reasons that need to be addressed.

That leads me to say, contribute. Answer questions to the best of your ability. If someone comments in a rude way asking for back up, or you see a clear pattern of abuse in the way the rule is enforced, bring the enforcement up here on meta. If you find backing up your answers to be difficult, take some time to read answers that appear to be backed up well and take note of the how they did it.

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    “I'm not seeing any reason that filtering for quality has to be done in a rude way” Sure, then why is it done this way up to now? I remember a user calling "crap" about a not backed answer (not mine, it was someone else's). It was you. I don't find backing up "difficult", I clearly said I have chosen not to contribute anymore but that is not the core of my question. Also, you misquoted me when you invented that I don't like the rules. The rules are OK(ish), the way they are enforced isn't. The question remain: is this way going to change or not? – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 12 '18 at 17:24
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    PS: the bold statement in your answer is the whole point of my question. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 12 '18 at 17:28
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    @AndreaLazzarotto Ya... I've definitely gotten a little heated and over zealous with a few repeat offenders. Those weren't my best moments and a lot of why I've stepped back from commenting in these cases. Other folks seem to comment a lot better than I do, so now I upvote those comments instead. From what I've seen, the enforcement has changed. I'm on the site an awful lot and I'm not seeing rude comments with regards to the back-it-up policy. – apaul Jul 12 '18 at 17:30
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    I've seen rude comments, I've seen rude attitudes and I've seen anyone who speaks up about this getting attacked back. I was told that this should be brought up on meta and I did it today. Look at was has happened... At least, I am glad that you seem the only one who understood the point of my question. I thank you for that. Having said this, I think I am over with this site. There is no point in engaging any further with a community that has no issues with rude enforcements, ganging up on anyone who suggests there has to be a different way. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 12 '18 at 17:35
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    @AndreaLazzarotto I'm sorry about the way it feels like you're being ganged up on when posting on meta. I've definitely been in your shoes a few times with that. Try to keep in mind that people are responding to the ideas you presented and not necessarily responding to you personally. But I think people do have a problem with rude enforcement. Trust me I've been banned from chat for my over zealous ways and I've been thoroughly scolded for it. That's why I stopped. It wasn't helping and worse it was causing bigger problems. – apaul Jul 12 '18 at 17:44
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    “Try to keep in mind that people are responding to the ideas you presented” That could be true, but what I presented is very akin to what you wrote in bold in your answer. Yet people started to feed my mouth with unsaid words, trying to seek hidden "motives" for my concern and accusing me of trolling. I've been participating on SE sites (and metas) for years, yet IPS is the only one where users were able to make me feel like shit multiple times. Of course, I am not saying you should care about this, I am not your friend so my worth to other users is likely zero, but that's the way it is. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 12 '18 at 17:50
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    @AndreaLazzarotto "I am not your friend so my worth to other users is likely zero" I'm calling hard BS on that. If you're an active member of this community, you're a friend. And if you're willing to share your experience with SE on meta and your experience with life on main, then you have value to other users. We're a community here, even if we have a funny way of showing it sometimes and I know that I at least would be sad to see you go. – scohe001 Jul 12 '18 at 17:56
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    @AndreaLazzarotto I had that same problem. I participated on other sites without issues for a long time before coming to IPS. I think it's more a matter of the very personal nature of the subject matter. I wasn't personally affected if someone didn't like the code I wrote, but here, things certainly cut deeper. I've had to force myself take steps back at several points in order to be able to participate constructively on this site. I guess I'm saying that I get it, if you need to leave that's entirely understandable, but you're always welcome to come back. – apaul Jul 12 '18 at 17:56
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    @scohe001 “you're a friend. [...] you have value to other users” well, thank you! It's nice to hear these words even though I am a stranger. I am afraid this kind of opinion is not shared by the majority of users, nevertheless I really appreciate it. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 12 '18 at 18:09

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