This is not a fun post to write.

There is a member in this forum who is continuously mildly abusive towards new users. The answers and comments are just short of the line of being "rude and abusive", but they are cranky, passive-aggressive and definitively not friendly.

I worry about how we greet new users, but that is only one aspect of the matter. I myself get irritated and discouraged when reviewing first posts and constantly get exposed to this kind of behaviour in the comments from this one and same user.

I suspect the mods and quite a few users know what I'm talking about.

More generally, in this kind of situation, is there anything we can do to address such behaviour, preferably without discouraging this individual's (positive) participation and contribution to the site?

  • I've up voted because I would be interested to hear opinions from the rest of the community. That being said, I'd rather discuss this in private (at least for more specifics). I've invited you to a mods only plus you chatroom. Once we've talked there I'll be more inclined to leave an actual answer here.
    – Jacobm001
    Jul 31, 2017 at 15:57
  • 7
    Someone should flag this post to use as a question for the next moderator election. Aug 6, 2017 at 22:17
  • If the mods and quite a few user know who we talking about how come nobody approached this user with a warning? Negative behaviour on SO causes massive repercussions on conversion of new users. (unfortunate I have been victim of this (other SO site) and know exactly how it is to be on the receiving end)
    – Piotr Kula
    Aug 11, 2017 at 14:37
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    I have two problems with this question: 1. I'm one of the users who don't know which senior-members are considered mildy abusive and I don't know which posts are problematic. 2. Because of this I feel (and I think I am) left out of the discussion. So I feel useless, can't learn anything and can't participate. Reading and writing this feels unnerving and somewhat a waste of my time. - Please be more specific in your question and let us (raspberrpypi-)newbies participate.
    – MadMike
    Aug 19, 2017 at 14:36
  • @MadMike I'm sorry you feel that way, and it is certainly not my intention for you or anyone else to feel left out. I don't agree in the sentiment that you can't participate, though. Although the background of my question might seem a bit cryptic to new users, it is only setting the stage. The question in itself - how to address such behaviour - is something I think you could choose to ponder and share your reflections upon, if you should feel inclined. As a relatively new user, your opinions and experiences could very well prove to be fruitful to the discussion and the topic.
    – Bex
    Aug 21, 2017 at 7:31
  • @Bex I invested some time on AskUbuntu and have grown to use SO, made my early mistakes there. If anything was wrong with moderation, commenting, asking or answering it was posted in meta, linked openly and discussed openly. I have done my share of mistakes and even though there were moments of embarrassment it gave me the opportunity to learn and grow and IMHO that was what I did. If you care to invest some time: go to Meta-Askubuntu and search for rude or anything similar.
    – MadMike
    Aug 21, 2017 at 7:52
  • @Bex I have done some input in the SE Arduino group, but after a while I felt that one user was mildly abusive, and flagged some of the comments but nothing happens. So I asked in the meta group what the moderators did to welcome new contributors, and the reply was in short "Its not the moderators duty". So now I direct my main focus in the groups where the moderators is having your kind of attitude and is welcoming.
    – MatsK
    Sep 3, 2017 at 23:38

1 Answer 1


Thank you for bringing this topic up. You are absolutely right that the tone of posts and especially comments to new users' questions sets the spirit for the whole site. We would like to be a welcoming community to those who join and seek help here. It is therefore important address this problematic behavior.

The be nice policy of StackExchange is a Non-Optional Social Convention here and applies to all contributors regardless of seniority or amassed reputation. Positive contribution in one area cannot negate poor behavior in the other. The moderation team has addressed the user in private to pay more attention to how their comments might come across to other users.

While we all (community and moderators alike) appreciate the valuable contributions based on profound knowledge and experience, the tone of the interaction is also of importance. The moderation tools available to the community (flags and votes where appropriate) and to the moderators should and will be applied to all users regardless of reputation.

is there anything we can do to address such behaviour, preferably without discouraging this individual's (positive) participation and contribution to the site?

Please feel free to use comment flags to point the moderators to content that you feel crosses the line of being "rude and abusive".

  • 3
    First Impressions last. I have seen a topics like this on another starter SO before - Basically, newbies need 150% attention. You need to be kind to them, you need to explain this is not a forum in a sensible way, show the FAQ and encourage them to search for existing answers. Anything less than 150% first time engagements usually results in a loss of conversion and the person never returns :( But I have found that newbies feel lost on SO and very vulnerable.
    – Piotr Kula
    Aug 11, 2017 at 14:34

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