I asked a clarification question on this question in the comments. The OP asks how to encourage bystanders to do the right thing in the situation. My point of contention was making the question less morally ambiguous.

The comment asked the OP what the right thing in this situation was. From the context of the question, the OP's opinion of what the right course of action was

All they would have had to do was say something, a simple "hey, chill out, they're friends of ours" could have ended it. Instead it went on until the bigots left the party.

But, in my opinion, that may not be the "right" course of action. Personal safety is often touted as the first priority, and I don't believe that the OP would prefer the anger from the "bigots" to be addressed to the bystanders who would have just been trying to help. So I asked in the comment if the response being redirected to someone else would have been better (in order to start a discussion about perhaps what would have been a better outcome, which could have evolved into an answer). This comment was then deleted.

I then posted a second comment, first wondering why the first comment was deleted, as I felt that it was a valuable question. I then expanded a little bit on my intention of my question. The OP never went into detail about what the "right" thing was in this situation; perhaps they were implying that the "right" thing to do in this situation was to have bystanders inject themselves into an altercation, in aid of the OP and their friends, potentially putting their personal safety at risk. Personal safety being paramount, it is possible that from the bystander's perspective that would have been a bad thing to do. The "bigots" could have redirected their feelings about the OP and their friends towards the bystanders (perhaps in some sort of "the friend of my enemy is my enemy" thinking). This comment was deleted as well.

Not getting an answer, or even an acknowledgement of the question I asked, and having visible proof deleted, led me to believe that any future comments I could make would be useless, as I felt that the OP would be disinterested in anything else being the "right" thing, while at the same time, not being any more specific as to what their actual question was.

I thought that perhaps a better course of action would be to propose an edit, which would be peer reviewed. The edit was almost immediately rejected, and the following reason was given

This edit does not make the post even a little bit easier to read, easier to find, more accurate or more accessible. Changes are either completely superfluous or actively harm readability.

Which I disagree with. I understand that it is the OP's question, and they can do certain things with their question. I would agree these changes probably would not make the post easier to find, nor more accessible. However, I do believe that the edit makes the question

  • Easier to read, by removing ambiguity as to the OP's actual question
  • More accurate, for the same reason

Additionally, I do not believe that the edit

  • is superfluous, as I believe that it does add value to the question
  • actively harms readability, because I can't imagine how being more specific would harm the readability of the question

Is my understanding incorrect, or did my proposed edit really do all of the things that were mentioned in the rejection; and if so, how?

Note: New here, so not sure which tags would be most appropriate, feel free to edit

  • 3
    @apaul "kids", lol. I was discussing the question, not the author.
    – user17035
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 22:47
  • It might be useful to put your stated motivation for commenting 'in order to start a discussion' and the site policy regarding comments 'not for extended discussion' side by side
    – Jesse
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 1:12

2 Answers 2


But, in my opinion, that may not be the "right" course of action.

IPS has a simple policy of 'respecting the premise of a question'. Although you may not feel that OP is asking about the 'right' thing, that's your feeling/opinion.

For what it's worth, I deleted both comments, for exactly the same reasons. The first one read:

Who gets to decide what the right thing is? If they say something, perhaps that violence would be directed at them instead of you, and they would be the ones "hit square in the face". Would that be better?

There were already comments pointing out that asking the friends to stick up for the OP could be dangerous to those friends, and asking for clarification on how much danger there could be expected. A discussion about what is 'right' or 'wrong' doesn't add to that, and according to the policy I linked above, the OP get's to decide what they feel is the right way of handling the situation.

I'd like to know why my comment was removed. I was asking a clarification question. The OP asks what to do to "encourage bystanders to do the right thing". What is the "right" thing is this situation? I feel that can be very subjective. What's right to the OP may not be the "right" thing for the bystanders, especially if the antagonists in this post were already "including threats of physical violence" towards them. If the question could be reworded to say "How can we encourage friendly bystanders to speak out in defense of us in a safe way", I think it might be more valuable.

Again, your questions were already answered in the question: the OP says the right thing is to stick up for them. Adding more discussion on how you feel that might not be right isn't helpful. Also, at that time, the question was edited to include details about how much risk the friends would've been in by sticking up for OP, and how big of a favour OP would be asking.

As for your actual edit, that is completely superfluous. It's pretty clear from the question what the OP wants the friendly bystanders to do, and in fact, I believe that having the phrasing 'the right thing' in there is actually better than just 'encourage them to step/speak up' because it shows the mindset of the asker, which is useful context. Because the question already sufficiently clarifies what they believe to be 'the right thing', there's no need to edit or clarify this.

  • I hadn't seen that policy anywhere on the Tour or Help Center, and did not know that the policy was in place. Given that it seems to be some sort of not-official-enough-to-be-in-the-help-center policy, can that information be posted publicly somewhere? Coming from a technical background, ambiguity should be avoided as much as possible; and if it must be permitted, then an explanation of why it is permitted must be documented. I'm worried that the premise that what the OP says goes/is the truth/is the only perspective that matters can be dangerous though...
    – user17035
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 22:08
  • 3
    ... but I'm hoping that the community would step in before it reached that point. At this point though, the question just seems to be "How can I get strangers to do what I want them to do"?
    – user17035
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 22:09
  • @Zymus We're not trying to program humans with our help center. If we were the help center would be a massive amount of incomprehensible-without-a-law-degree legalese, that would be useless for it's purpose of helping people who are new to IPS.
    – sphennings
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 22:33
  • @sphennings I'm not trying to program humans, I'm trying to be able to figure out what the conventions and etiquette are in this particular community, when the tour and help center aren't clear. This entire question would not have even been asked, if "respect the premise of the question, and all aspects of it" had been posted somewhere visible. If it had, I wouldn't have asked the question in the first place. On some of the other SE sites, if there's confusion or ambiguity, it is encouraged to ask the OP for more information, yet that was not the case here; my question was why?
    – user17035
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 22:51
  • @Zymus The point I was trying to make is that help center isn't the be all and end all of site policy. Generally the best place to look to understand the policies of a site is the discussions on meta.
    – sphennings
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 22:58
  • @sphennings and I don't expect it to be. But I would expect it to be updated with new information, etiquette, and generally accepted policies within the scope of each site. I understand that it has to be general, we can't know every permutation. But if something is a rule, that is enforced enough to have comments going against it be removed without any explanation, I feel that it should be documented somewhere.
    – user17035
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 23:08
  • 1
    @Zymus That's what meta is for. Note how this answer linked to the meta question discussing that policy. If you would like to see something added to the help center you could always propose these changes in a new question on meta. Discussing it in the comments on a tangentally related question isn't a good way to effect change on this site.
    – sphennings
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 23:11
  • 1
    Hi @Zymus. You're right, this is definitely one of those things that can be communicated more clearly. I'm currently trying to get started on a FAQ, and this should be in it. Hopefully we can work a link to the FAQ in the help center as well ;-)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 7:39

Ya... I'll start by saying that I ignored your comments and rejected your edit because that style of nitpick is a common occurrence on this site. It looked more like bait being used, as you put it, "in order to start a discussion" rather than an actual misunderstanding of intent, or a request for clarification.

I've seen that style used particularly on questions tagged lgbt+, often to "start a discussion" about the moral ambiguity of the question asked. Most often by users who want to edge in some variation of "well, stop being LGBT+ and you won't have that problem" or "every world view is equally valid, who are you to decide who's being a bigot?" or "doesn't calling someone a bigot make you a bigot?"

Frankly I'm pretty sick of it.

People want to find all sorts of little nitpicks, just to have an opening to squeeze their perspective in where it's neither wanted nor helpful.

And... To be perfectly blunt... You've already tipped your hand by feeling the need to put the words "right" and "bigots" in quotes. Really not buying that this is about your feeling that personal safety is paramount... And to be blunt again, there's a lot of unflattering words for people who put their personal safety and comfort ahead of doing what's right.

So, ya'know just stop.


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