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We are here to help people to have fun. We are here for a hobby, not something we are being paid for. Is not our job like Stack Overflow and it is not our creed like the Religious SE. It is not about politcs, it is not about money. It's about having fun.

Why are people being so rude to each other, then?

Anyone that post an answer here is doing that (or should be doing that) with the only intent to help. We are not fighting over Reputation, "correcteness" or anything like this.

So why people are being rude? It is almost everywhere. On comments, on answers, even on meta.

A While ago I was blasted hard regarding a question about 4E mounts for being "anti-4e". Then I saw people fighting over the "Scopeness" of answers that barely answered the question. I see people bashing each other hard for really stupid things. I, myself, was rude sometimes.

But today, a comment from Brian made me stop and think about things.

"If it's clear, then you don't need to respond to the comment. Just flag the prior comment as obsolete and move on."

It may be a cultural thing, but it sounded to me like a "Shut up and be quiet". I was bothered by this on a first moment, but then I realized that it is all over the place (not specific to Brian, I mean rudeness on a more general level). People are being rude with each other without spending two secs to think about other people point of view.

I them ask again. Why people are being rude for no reason around the site?


To let things crystal clear. My focus is not Brian's comment. That may be a culture clash and his comment may even be not rude at all. It was just what made me think about the rudeness of RPG SE.

Also, Im not complaining about necessary interventions. What I'm talking about is unecessary rudeness, like being excessively harsh when adressing someone.

Some examples? There ya go.

  • That dreaded 4E mount question started with the assumption that I didn't knew anything about the System, and even the title was offensive when it first was posted.
  • On this question an user was overly energetic defending his point of view, to the point of nitpicking which terms I used to describe real-life physics, even if the concept on itself was right. The comments are deleted now, but if the mods can see them...
  • On a chat with someone that I can't really remember who was, it was stated that a different interpration of the rules is "Impossible to someone who understands the language right" or something along those lines.

I'm citing only things that happened to me, but i'm certain that it happens all over the place with everyone.

I am not poiting fingers, but I feel that RPG SE can be a bit acidic, principally with new users.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm afraid that I don't find that comment rude. Saying "don't clutter up the comment section with unnecessary chatter" is not the same as "Shut up and be quiet". \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Apr 25 '14 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's no problem in not finding that comment rude. As I said, it may be a cultural thing. "Move on" have the same connotation of "get out of here" if used like this. Different countries have different cultures. My focus is not on that comment, however. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Apr 25 '14 at 15:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I think there's two separate things going on here. Are people being rude on the site (and especially in chat)? Yes, for sure. However some of what you seem to be worried about is the procedural part of the site - we rule answers out of scope, encourage people not to debate in comments, etc - not out of rudeness but because we want a well run ship not a free-for-all forum. I can see how it might be hard to divine the line between the two when they are intermingled. A "Move along" from a cop is a necessary part of keeping order. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 25 '14 at 15:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let me clarify a bit more. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Apr 25 '14 at 15:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ If Brian's comment isn't rude can you find us some examples? Frankly I think we're far less rude than we used to be. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Apr 25 '14 at 15:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ You gave some examples in chat which might be more to the point, such as people claiming that your being a non-native speaker of English made your answers less correct, and a concern that high-rep users focus on issues with low-rep users' posts while ignoring the same faults in the posts of other high-rep users. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Apr 25 '14 at 15:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/2987/… \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 25 '14 at 17:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Most of the time I find chat to be OK. However, when it does flare up it does so in an extreme way and can get really unpleasant very quickly. It's got to the point where I deliberately limit my time on there now specifically because of this. \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Apr 25 '14 at 18:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phil yeah, me too. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 25 '14 at 19:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's a culture on this site that newcomers learn (and sometimes fail) to catch up. Just ending a question by Thanks in advance for the answers" will get your question edited. "I'm sorry if I annoyed you with my good manners". You're then told that this is not a forum. It took me a while to understand the whole concept behind SE. I like to tell that we're making a backup of every possible questions a new RPG player or GM could have and save it before the Earth explode. Preserving the knowledge. I think some mods are ruder than others but as long as they are fair, who am I to judge. \$\endgroup\$ – user4000 May 16 '14 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MrJinPengyou The problem is not with the moderators per se. It was more of a generalized thing. Users in general are a bit acid when their viewpoint is confronted. However, at least from the questions that I'm reading recently, the overall "rudeness" dropped a considerable bit. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar May 16 '14 at 18:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThalesSarczuk I count Moderators as users ;) \$\endgroup\$ – user4000 May 16 '14 at 18:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MrJinPengyou By your comment, it looks that the moderators are the problem. I just wanted to let clear the this is not exclusive to them. In fact, they are the least problematic users overall. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar May 16 '14 at 18:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MrJinPengyou Yes, that's completly true. It's a bit sad that a site that should be devoted to a hobby must (by the "SE Way") be too... inpersonal (not sure if that is a word in english). I get a bit sad everytime a good joke, a interesting note or a criative compliment is deleted by "rules sakes". \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar May 16 '14 at 19:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Personally, after a month using RPG SE, I lost almost all "passion" for it. Yeah, I pass by around once a day, but I don't feel that "urge" to help anymore. People are quick to slap your hands if you don't really stick to some arbitrary, sinthetical ruleset that don't really fits well, IMHO, with an RPG community, and that kills the mood. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar May 16 '14 at 19:31
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Good intent

Wikipedia has a rule, "Assume good faith." It doesn't always work for them, but it's a big part of trying to avoid rudeness and infighting. Filtered through our own site's viewpoint, I think I'd call it "good intent" (cribbing the term from Bankuei).

Post with good intent!

  • Post to share your knowledge.
  • Post to help other people improve their gaming experience.
  • Be mindful of how you express yourself.
  • Don't use answers and comments as an excuse to soapbox.
  • Post like you want to be here.

Assume good intent from others!

  • Read every post like it might have something to teach you.
  • Treat other users as "experts." Even if you think they're wrong about something, you can disagree without negating their experience or expressing yourself condescendingly.
  • If there's a constructive way to interpret a comment, choose to interpret it that way. Don't look for an excuse to get into a fight.
  • Treat other users like you want them to be here.
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's really a good thing that is missing around here. People can get really competitive when their viewpoints are challenged. If we post to help and learn, everyones life would become easier. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Apr 27 '14 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ While interesting to read, how does this answer the question? \$\endgroup\$ – Angelo Fuchs Jul 31 '14 at 9:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AngeloNeuschitzer It tells you how to stop being rude in the specific ways mentioned in the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex P Jul 31 '14 at 12:54
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I thought I'd add a second answer based on a separate incident today that I believe is relevant to the thought process behind this question.

@Anna/@xxx posted a question that some site members started to workshop. She'd spent a lot of time on that question and found that upsetting. She went and made a meta post and got a long explanation from another user. This upset the user to the degree that she initated the process of self-deletion.

Now, I want to say that all the site members involved were a) not being rude, they were polite and b) were largely correct in their critiques. They did not do anything "wrong" per se. However, the upset of the user involved is not "wrong" either. How can this be and what can we do about it?

Well, on SE we tend to take a very legalistic view of things. But real people have emotions, and so when a comment/answer/activity is correct but makes someone upset, we can't just hide behind "Well but we didn't mean to upset them it's all their problem," I think it's safe to say that general real-world thinking on inclusivity and interpersonal relations sees that as negligent. I think we could perhaps add more empathy, or EQ if you will, to our activities. (also see Crucial Conversations, How To Say It, How To Win Friends and Influence People, and other fine works along these lines)

After conducting some retrospectives with some site users in chat, I have constructed some possible changes I think could help with perceived rudeness. (We occasionally have real rudeness, which I address in my other answer, but I think in the juncture between community moderation and people's emotions, we have a separate problem of perceived rudeness.)

  1. Understand when someone is upset and apply the same behavior you should in the real world. Here's a good, simply explained example: How To Handle People That Are Angry With You. (replace "you" with "the site and the other folks on it" if you're not one of the initial principals). When someone is upset, an immediate extended legal brief on their question's flaws and advice on how to fix it is, actually, not all that useful. I know that the SE rationalist way says that's totally the best solution, but we should probably have better awareness of context clues that someone is upset and not in lawyer mode right now. If someone's clearly venting on Meta, you can let it sit a little, respond with active listening and validation instead of a "fix," etc.

  2. Find some ways for people to reach out and get additional help when they're having a problem. We allegedly have these, but they're kind of opaque to newer site users. How do you reach out to a mod? Well... You could ping in chat, if you go to chat and if you actually know the mods' names. You could post on meta and they will happen by eventually, probably. You could flag something, though in cases like this it's hard to understand which noun (comment etc.) to flag. We don't have a "contact the mods!" button or anything, maybe we should. I may propose that on meta.SE.

  3. Find ways for people to get more help when they're having a problem. We have meta, which you already have to be a site ninja to go elicit wisdom from. We have the help center, which even though it gets popped up and linked a lot to new users, tends to be ignored. I can easily envision more contextual help, though. Your answer just got put on hold? Here's a notification to the "what does getting put on hold" mean part of the HC or meta Q or whatever. That could add context to help people understand that a random pogrom didn't just break out on them, but that there's some site dynamic going on.

I'd love to hear other suggestions of how we add more empathy to site operations.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As I've said in another comment, a lot of new users' first interactions with others is when they get a comment and a VTC on their question as they've done something against site policy. Given that we are encouraged in comments generally to be brief, this often comes across as terse and rude, no matter how the comment is phrased. Within the site framework I really don't know what to do about that. The rules that are in place on the site about comment use and requirements for particular types of questions are there for good reason, and I generally agree with them \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Apr 26 '14 at 10:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phil I (and others) try to soften that up with a welcome, but many people still find it offensive. It strikes me as similar to the old usenet wars. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Apr 26 '14 at 11:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, I asked #2 on Meta.SE, sadly the general response seems to be "screw 'em, that'll bother moderators." meta.stackexchange.com/questions/230535/… \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 26 '14 at 19:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also added meta.stackexchange.com/questions/230701/… for sending chat flags from our chats to us instead of all chat mods \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 29 '14 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Meta is WAAAY easier to use than chat, imho. But yeah, it's hard to get help when you are struggling with a thing here. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Oct 27 '18 at 22:44
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I was going to put that as a comment to the second answer of @mxyzplk but it grew to a point I tought better to make that an answer of its own.

I once ran an RPG Game with around 20 players and 4 GMs. It was an "Play By Forum" game, so all the underlying rudeness that the text-only media carries with it applies in the same way it does here.

Since we did not had any dice rolling in the game, when a new player came into play all we would ask of him was his backstory, and we started to get the same feedback of rudeness as the Question describes, and after we discovered this we knew that it made sense that people felt that way, even if all we did was to read their stories, see if it fitted in with the world we had created, and scan for potential "Win Buttons" they tried to sneak inside it.

Problem

  1. When one make first contact with a new group he/she seek for approval. Even if he/she consider yourself superior to the group in question, he/she still seek for the admired look of those considered inferior, and if the first action taken by the new group is a reproving act, this sounds rude.
  2. The group doen't know him/her, and he/she doesn't know the group. If nobody is assigned to close this gap, cultural differences between his/her worldview and the group worldview will be percieved as rudeness.
  3. He/She put effort and time trying to please the group with it. If one simply change it you may pass the idea that the newcomer is not even worth the trouble to be teached.

Solution

  1. We selected a few of our more experienced players, that were close to the GMs already and would not feel offended with our feedbacks, and made them responsible for reaching out to the new players, making the first contact with the community something different than a written piece that should be evaluated.
  2. We created common areas that all could access to ease in the newcomer into the group, and allow him to properly introce himself, and feel as part of the community.
  3. We stopped rejecting (or altering) the backstories and started to work as someone that would be with the newcomer until he gets it right. That made the stories start to be inline with our background story at the same time that the newcomer felt that the story still was HIS

Outcome

That didn't eliminated the problem, there were people that still felt like we were being rude, but most times it was because we didn't agree that he could be invunerable. Real cases of rudeness would be treaded individually and we started to grow and keep the new players. That was what allowed the group to survive for as long as it did, because otherwise once the "founder players" had left, nobody would have been there to continue the RPG.

I don't know how to properly apply this here, mostly because I am a newcomer here as well and I don't understand half of the RPG.SE Worldview, working model or even its features, but I hope you can make heads and tails of this and use it somehow.

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Site Rudeness

This used to be more of an issue, but is still an issue. I'm afraid that people get very heated up about their favorite hobby and address either people on this site or off in terms that are rude and inappropriate. Our Help Center says "Be Nice" is one of our guiding rules but it doesn't always take. This is a problem on SEs in general, in fact SE declared last summer the "Summer of Love" with an effort to drive nicer behavior across all the sites. See our RPG.SE Code of Conduct for details on expected behavior.

What can you do about rudeness?

  1. Don't be rude yourself, and deescalate hostile encounters. Try using elementary school favorite "Kelso's Choices," I wrote an article on it. I know this is hard, sometimes I succumb to the lure of arguing with someone I think is a goon, but I shouldn't.
  2. Flag offensive comments - even in chat. I'm not in chat a lot but when I do drop in I don't really like what I see sometimes, and we have a lot of chat rooms. Chat is not some free-for-all location, all users please conduct yourself well in chat and flag rudeness when it appears. Dissing someone over their English counts as rude.

Site Housekeeping

The SE format does involve a fair amount of judgement and crowdsourcing around keeping the place usable. So discussions about answers being appropriate, warnings to stop using comments for chatting, etc. are expected. Sometimes they're brusque, but especially when big comment fights keep happening - no one pays us to do this job, we get annoyed at having to keep deleting and moderating ourselves, so especially after we've had to police a question several times our messages about not using comments like a forum can become pointed. Although "move on" is not considered generally rude.

But the larger picture here is that most of these site activities are done to try to minimize rudeness. Is it ruder to evaluate removing an answer because it might be 4e-bashing, or to allow loads of edition-bashing answers on the site? Our opinion is that the latter leads to much more... net rudeness? in the world, so it's necessary.

Of course it can be off-putting to new users who show up, post some gibberish, and get sad when it's closed. We try to address this, see Site approachability for an earlier discussion. "On Hold" instead of "Closed" is a recent friendliness change, and people tend to be pretty good about commenting "Welcome to the site! I'm afraid that there's this problem with your whatever...". First contact with rules is never without any conflict, but we think the rules minimize ongoing conflict.

Inequity Therein

You mention that it seems like sometimes one poster will get raked over the coals for something that another poster gets away with. That can happen; site housekeeping isn't always fair. Our model of democracy plus representatives with oversight is the best SE could come up with to try to make things maximally fair, but that doesn't mean always fair. However, keep in mind a couple things.

  1. Sometimes it is about how you've expressed yourself. In our guidance on XY questions/"challenging the frame of the question" in an answer in How do we handle a desire to challenge the frame of a question?, we kinda note that there's an art to it. Sometimes being able to express yourself in a compelling way does help.
  2. Our democratic site metaphor means that most anyone can hassle you without representing anyone other than themselves. In the question you quoted about force vs momentum, it was a user with a lower rep than yours that was giving you stick. But even that conflict was more about how it was expressed. "You mean momentum not force" is a legitimate and factually accurate correction that, while minor, is legitimate to suggest. However, because of how it was worded, it turned into a 9-big-comment back-and-forth war, which I personally deleted because those back-and-forths either end in real rudeness, or at least perceived rudeness on the part of one or more participants. But I've definitely seen situations where everyone's dumping on one answer even though it's materially the same as a more highly upvoted answer. About 10% of that is OK - longer term site users have some trust built up around their motives and stuff - but 90% of it is not, and we should be giving newer users the benefit of the doubt especially wrt intentions and all. A nice comment asking for clarification could do the trick. Sure, downvotes are "reversible," but when you get a cavalcade of downvotes it never feels good, so I'd urge site participants to show some decor.
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    \$\begingroup\$ The problem with that user is that all of his points were made to provoke, not as actual construtive critic. The "momemuntum vs Force" was not exactly what happened, but I wont bring that up more than this. I ask you to look at the context of that and his other comments. I also asked a couple of times to discuss on chat the issue. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Apr 25 '14 at 16:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sure, that's what I'm saying. Technically, correcting on that point was OK. In practice, it was done in a conflict-escalating way and in fact turned into an extensive back-and-forth. Essentially I'm agreeing with you, sorry if I was unclear. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 25 '14 at 19:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I get what SE is trying to do, but as a user with nearly three decades of online community experience, trying to be helpful, my experience as a new rpg.SE user was to get my hand slapped repeatedly. The "rules" of SE are not at all obvious, and "correction" made here would be rude in other communities... deleting comments, telling users to stop talking, etc. This takes a lot of getting used to by someone who is aware of the "meta" issues of community. This creates a rather off-putting environment for newcomers who don't get it... it easily comes across as rude (which is different than mean). \$\endgroup\$ – Carl Cravens Apr 25 '14 at 20:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @CarlCravens Yeah, I get that, and we're always open to suggestions on how to improve that- but there ends up being some relation between low and high barrier to entry, and quality of the venue. Just like in real life, really. Since there's about a thousand low barrier to entry, low value for the noise forums etc., SE has decided to be more exclusive - and that can be fairly interpreted as snooty - so that the site is more effective at what it does. It's like a restaurant with a dress code. "But I want to wear shorts!" "Yes, but no one else wants to see you in them." \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 25 '14 at 20:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Our chat needs to be self-policing (which we're getting better at, slowly) because--barring obvious policy violations like spamming--flagging in chat doesn't work. The chat moderators see such awful stuff on other chats that what we find offensive is laughable to them. I was once called a "wussy" by a mod from another site because I flagged a comment about beating up prostitutes. (And the "take this to chat" new chat rooms for comments run overlong exacerbate the problem because there aren't many bystanders to support the flag, often just the flagger and his insulter.) \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Apr 25 '14 at 20:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ For the issue of representing ourselves when bringing rules into play, more in-comment linking to the relevant help center and meta posts would, I think, be worth the effort. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Apr 25 '14 at 21:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Following on from @BESW, it seems that new users have to make a mistake before they are told the correct way of doing it. Much of the site policy is enshrined in meta stuff, and it feels wrong that this is so hard to find. It's not a great introduction to the site for a first question to be marked down with the user told to read what to them must be an obscure meta post that should probably be more accessible if its that important \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Apr 25 '14 at 21:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Phil we've gone over that before - new users are bombarded with popups and stuff directing them to the help center. The fact that people don't bother to read it is an inevitable fact of life. Most of the problems are help center stuff, not obscure. We are only able to edit small portions of the help center, but if there's any common things we could add that are responsible for real issues, we're up for hearing them. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 25 '14 at 21:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW yeah the way chat flags works is bad. When I go into chat I get mod flags from other sites' chats and have no idea what's normative there so let 'em alone. That's probably worth a feature request. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 25 '14 at 22:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk it's already on MSE (probably a couple of times), chat moderation is sadly low priority. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Apr 26 '14 at 0:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @waxeagle It is really frustrating. I'm sure you have similar reactions as I do to things from the Bridge and some other chats pop up in my chat flags. Suffice to say we have higher standards. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Apr 26 '14 at 11:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @C.Ross generally, I ignore chat flags (or view them an close them), in rooms I hang out in I try to handle stuff that would result in flags before they become necessary. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Apr 26 '14 at 12:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk: Burying core advice in the help center might not be the most effective strategy. If contextual help is presented to new users (with the ability to click off), there might be less confusion. Oftentimes people won't associate cultural things with the "help center". \$\endgroup\$ – Grubermensch Apr 28 '14 at 19:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Grubermensch we don't really have anywhere else to put it (anywhere it is apparently becomes synonymous with "buried" - meta, help center). I'll try to open a meta.SE about contextual help. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 28 '14 at 20:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk So what I see is things like on the question authoring page, elaborating the "How to Ask" section with more than a vague "We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed" would be good. Additionally, that advice is only shown when clicked into the title box. It disappears in the big text box, which is really where it's needed. \$\endgroup\$ – Grubermensch Apr 28 '14 at 20:47
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This rudeness you detect is a passive aggressive culture that feels endemic to SE sites. Look around in some people's comment history and a pattern emerges. It gives the impression that they LIVE for the chance to browbeat people, instead of coming forth with a more "I'm here to respectfully help this person" type of attitude.

A good analogy for the tone you see around here is that of a jaded government employee in a customer facing role like taking queries from people. Not everyone is cut out for people facing roles. You can imagine the effect long term exposure to this type of task can have on  a person whose temperament is not a great fit for this type of role. Most people don't have the right temperament for long term duty of this type, and some would become jaded in less than six months.

You can change "govenment employee" for "stackexchange volunteer" and the analogy might make more sense.

I myself do not participate much in SE because the general passive aggressive and rude tone tends to make me want to respond in kind to those who engage in it. The attitude is contagious.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's a fair cop. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 29 '14 at 18:01

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