So, I'm a member on a number of different sites in this network. Every site has its own community, its own culture, its own take on the various rules to form a unique set of required behaviors and etiquette to fit in and be accepted become a strong part of the community.

Whenever I join a new community, there's a learning process. Most communities are, unfortunately, pretty hostile to new members. It's kind of an ongoing problem with the Stack, but hey, we're human, I understand that and I can put up with it. Usually the moderation team helps sort things out, I ask a couple meta questions on why my questions (it's always the questions, answers are so much easier ^^; ) are so poorly received, I get feedback, I assimilate the amount I want to assimilate and take flak for the things I'm willing to take flak for and we're all good.

I'm telling you this so that when I tell you you have a serious 'Be Nice' problem, you understand that I'm not used to everyone succeeding at that 100%. I'm used to a flawed process where everyone mostly tries to be nice but when people get upset or offended or see something they don't like or think is ameateurish or triggers a 'you should know better' response they lash out at least a little bit and feelings can be hurt, and it can take a bit for people to move from there to a mutual position where everyone thinks everyone else is acting in good faith.

You have a serious Be Nice problem

I joined this community yesterday and in the last 24 hours I've been subject to this:

"I can't phrase this any more clearly, because mainly I'm just a troll trying to draw people into a discussion that wastes time and generates nothing of value. Feel free to downvote this or vote to close it."

and this:

Sorry that you are offended by reality, but your edit, 'meaningless ramblings' doesn't capture the concept I wanted to convey and with which I'm intimately accustomed. If you come up with an idea for a wording you consider non-offensive that accurately describes this very specific style of rant, I'll be happy to accept the edit.

(note: that wasn't even my edit, but that's besides the point)

and this:

What exactly do you mean by text wall? Please don't fall for the silly notion that writing for the web has to be full of shouty headings and bullet points. It is a good idea to keep paragraphs short these days. But the main reason most text is boring is because it is boring. Cut out all the parts of your text that are boring and you will be fine. True, learning to tell when you are being boring is the hard part, but good writing isn't easy.

All of which were rather upsetting exchanges that struck me as significantly more than the usual amount of upsetting.

Of these, only the last one seems to have turned out to have been in good faith (in that case, I was probably just overreacting. I can see in retrospect how the comment was intended to be derisively pointed at a particular belief, rather than at me or my question, though such a prevalence of derisive language is still off-putting to me). The first one hasn't been around long enough for me to see if was in good faith I guess, but I really don't think that's necessary. That was completely and unambiguously insulting behavior delivered via an inappropriate channel. This is upsetting and I am upset :(

Relatedly, I've flagged a couple things here as in need of serious moderator intervention, and those flags are still pending like, after 12 hours or something. I've never had flags wait that long before, but maybe you guys are a smaller site and that's why? I don't really know. And the lack of diamond mods in this discussion also worries me cause it seems to me that proposing policy on stuff like that is sort of their job.

2 Answers 2


The edit to your post was inappropriate and correctly rejected. I'm sorry another new user made an inappropriate edit, and now that something has brought it to moderator attention we'll take a closer look to see if there's a pattern. (Before this meta post, I was unaware of it -- no flags.)

The disagreement about the use of "shizophreniac" has gotten somewhat heated. I just flushed most of the comments on that post; the place for that discussion is meta, where it's now happening, or perhaps in chat. (I believe the post author hangs out in chat sometimes.) I also made a suggestion for alternate wording (on meta). I'm not sure what to do about the flags; I don't see the post as blatantly offensive the way you do, but I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt and see how other members of the community weigh in.

I don't understand why the "text wall" comment was so upsetting to you. Can you help me understand? I believe it was offered in good faith (unlike that rejected edit on your post).

This is a small site and we don't have 24/7 moderation. It's not unusual for a flag to sit for half a day -- sorry about that, but that's just life on a small site. We also prefer that the community resolve differences when there's not a blatant, pressing issue. Nothing here triggered my "nuke on sight" reaction (I'll let the other moderators speak for themselves). We disagree on what is offensive, so instead of assuming bad intent or absentee moderators or the like, let's talk about it.

A general note: it's very easy for comments to fly under the radar. When in doubt, flag.

  • Oh, for sure, I figured the slower responses might be cause of something like that. The text wall comment was upsetting because it refers to a position as 'silly', which is a bit demeaning, if potentially true (the post would read the same without that word, note) and because it then goes on to basically suggest that I should stop being boring and my problem isn't a real problem. I realize that's not what it's actually supposed to be saying, but that's how I read it and I don't think it's much of a stretch to read it that way. Feb 24, 2017 at 22:39
  • The schitzophrenic post wasn't a problem, really. I think it's offensive but I get that other people don't and I think it's sort of an edge case where the community will decide. It's the follow-up posts that have been offensive, including the answer on meta. All of it is very emotionally charged and aggressive and kind of mean. You'll note I quoted his comment to me, not his initial use of 'schizophreniac'. Feb 24, 2017 at 22:41
  • @thedarkwanderer thanks for explaining. I need to go offline for a while now, so I'm not ignoring you -- need to think about all this more. Meanwhile, perhaps others will contribute to the discussion. Take care, and I'll be back in a day or so. Feb 24, 2017 at 22:44
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    The thing is, I haven't seen a whole lot of (by which I mean any) welcoming behavior here. On sites I frequent I respond to new posts that have problems with something like "Welcome to the site! We expect <things> and your <description> doesn't do that because <explanation>. I've edited it to do that <where possible>, but feel free to roll back or change the edits if they bother you. <omit for 100 rep transfers> When you have time, check out our help center and take the tour." I'm also often directed to meta policy posts, asked nice clarifying questions, and stuff like that. Feb 24, 2017 at 22:46
  • No problem, I should be going to work anyways XD;;; Feb 24, 2017 at 22:46
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    I think Monica's assessment of the situation is good - I'm just getting caught up on the site now, have been away for a bit because of personal reasons. Good point about the welcoming messages, I'll try and spend a little more time on them. Feb 26, 2017 at 4:07
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    If it helps, I think you've asked some good questions. I hope you don't let these experiences put you off the site. Thanks for bringing this up here on meta, it's exactly the sort of thing the site needs more of. Feb 26, 2017 at 4:08

The common advice to newcomers in one infamous other community is: "Lurk moar."

While you can expect the members of this community to be friendly to newcomers, the community can also expect newcomers to show some polite restraint and observe the "culture" before they blurt out something inappropriate. That is what you do, when you join an established group in person. For example, when you meet a group of physicians at a party, you don't start blabbing about all the illnesses you had. You don't have to be an expert, but you have to be ignorant in a socially acceptable manner.

While one of your posts has been much upvoted, I see it as part of the fundamental problem of this site.

As the site tour explains, Writers.SE was created for "authors, editors, reviewers, professional writers, and aspiring writers". It is not a social media help site.

If you read around here on meta, you will quickly note that this site has a problem attracting the necessary expertise to give non-amateur answers. That is, professional or experienced writers do not find this site attractive and stay away. Instead, the site draws in users from Stack Overflow and other Stack Exchange sites, most of which haven't even written the first sentence in their very first story and encounter pseudo-problems like what software they should write in. Your question about how to "write" a good post on another SE site is now the bottom of the barrel.

I can therefore very well understand that your questions inspired some irritated edits and comments.

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    Aww, that's unfortunate D: I'm of the opinion that online writing is not automatically 'not writing' just because it serves a different purpose and thus requires different techniques than novel writing. I'm certainly not paid for the time I put into my SE Q&A stuff, but I have trouble seeing the difference between my efforts in writing Stack posts and lots of online writing that people are paid to do. Many blog posts are even written with a sort of question/answer outline. Feb 26, 2017 at 22:23
  • That doesn't seem very analogous. Your claim seems to be either that non-professional writers aren't real writers or that internet writers aren't real writers, and that seems concerning. In any case, this site doesn't seem to agree, and your quote is wee bit out of context-- the full quote is "for authors, editors, reviewers, bloggers, copywriters, and professional and aspiring writers of all types". Feb 27, 2017 at 7:44
  • Also, the rest of the post deals not with who is allowed but rather what is allowed. That said, maybe we should be focusing on who, rather than what, is allowed. I think that runs a bit contrary to the SE ethos, but it seems like you see a serious problem with the site being as broad-tent as it is, yeah? I'm not 100% clear on what one needs to be counted as a writer or aspiring writer, editor, or reviewer for you, but it might be worthwhile for you to try and write up a meta post that explains why you think the failure to adhere to that vision is bad Feb 27, 2017 at 7:50
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    @thedarkwanderer there is a big difference between a site welcoming newbies and dropping its level of discourse to the level of newbies. Newbies should be sensitive to the kinds of subjects discussed and the kind of research expected before posting, here as on other SE sites. Otherwise, as what says, the site becomes tedious for professionals. Unfortunately, writers get no respect, even from aspiring writers, so here we get all kinds of silly questions being voted up and silly answers being accepted by newbies talking to newbies while the diminishing few professional writers here sigh.
    – user16226
    Mar 1, 2017 at 12:02
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    @MarkBaker I'm not suggesting your site lower its level of discourse. I'm suggesting you raise it to the minimum standards of the network. The correct response to the problem you are seeing is not to be a dick, it is to create a meta for the purpose of establishing a site policy that prevents the problem. You could, for example, establish a 'too basic' custom close reason, which would then allow you guys to stop a question regardless of upvotes on account of its lack of research. My first question on a new site is oft put on hold, that's normal and I certainly wouldn't find that offensive. Mar 1, 2017 at 16:01

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