# How do we deal with harmful stereotypes in posts?

Everyone has unexamined assumptions about "other" groups of people, and sometimes that comes through harmfully in an answer or question posted to the site, either unintentionally or intentionally. When that happens, how do we deal with it?

This isn't about making assumptions about individual people — we have to make guesses about people all the time. The stereotypes at issue are about a groups of people, based on things like sex or gender, religion, ethnicity, choice of hobbies, sexual orientation, and the like.

• Is there any specific post that caused this question? – Aaron Apr 1 '15 at 15:45
• This post is attracting comment warring. Meta is the more productive place to address the things people seem to want to argue about there. – SevenSidedDie Apr 1 '15 at 15:47
• @SevenSidedDie, you should mention that every one vocal there is disagreeing with you. – hildred Apr 1 '15 at 15:50
• @hildred There are only three people who have commented on there beside you and SSD. One of them has expressed disagreement with SSD. One of them happens to agree with him (me). Now, please let's keep this civil. – doppelgreener Apr 1 '15 at 16:02
• @doppelgreener, I'm sorry, I missed your agreement with him, as it was swallowed by his venom. Further I note that I feel personally attacked by ssd as I have frequently been attacked in rl by people who assume by my skin color that I am racist, sexist, anti-semitic, or homophobic. None of those assumptions are true. – hildred Apr 1 '15 at 16:12
• @hildred Nobody was commenting on you. We were commenting that your post contained stuff that, if it were put before me for instance, would be deeply confronting and unpleasant. This doesn't necessarily reflect on you for having written it. – doppelgreener Apr 1 '15 at 16:14
• Let's not carry over any drama and let's not make this comment thread into a shouting ground. If you feel the need to comment on this and make it a big deal, please just step away from the internet for 15 minutes and take a break. @hildred I'm sorry you feel attacked but please take a moment to calm down. – David Reeve Apr 1 '15 at 16:23
• @doppelgreener, I said something similar to your most recent comment and was called an insulting homophobe. – hildred Apr 1 '15 at 16:24
• @DavidReeve I thought a day would be long enough, but Then I saw ssd attacking another commenter. I am not mad, I am severely disappointed that this happened yet again. I have been fighting that attitude for decades and loosing. I am almost ready to give up. No one wants to think for themselves. – hildred Apr 1 '15 at 16:30
• @hildred I think you're reading way more into this situation that isn't here. First, we are thinking for ourselves, wherever that's coming from, whether you think there are signs to the contrary, so that's unhelpful. And unless a comment got deleted, nobody here said the word homophobe. I don't know what happened "yet again," but I think you are dragging way too much emotional and historical baggage into this situation. (And, well, I'll beg to differ that SSD was attacking anyone, and that you say nothing of the same of the person responding to them, but this is just me.) – doppelgreener Apr 1 '15 at 16:35
• @hildred Someone disagreeing with you about behaviour is that person thinking for themself. Keep in mind that a person and what they say are different things. This isn't a referendum on you or anyone as people, this is about the effects of our words on others as people. – SevenSidedDie Apr 1 '15 at 16:39
• @SevenSidedDie I have just noticed you edited this to talk about the set of harmful stereotypes explicitly. Good. Thank you. This meta would have been garbage-in garbage-out without going there. I am deleting my prior comments and my answer. – doppelgreener Apr 1 '15 at 17:28
• @doppelgreener Cool, glad that works. Coming from the comment-argument, I was hesitant to "take it to meta" while baking my belief that the inspiring post contained harmful stereotyping right into the meta question. But you're right that it's only useful if it's framed that way, and people can frame-challenge the assumption if they want to. – SevenSidedDie Apr 1 '15 at 17:31
• Given that we embrace a plurality of gamestyles I'm surprised we even had to go over this question. Ah well. – Please stop being evil Apr 4 '15 at 1:49
• @doppelgreener I think the idea is that, if we agree it's important to be sensitive to different ways of playing games, being sensitive to different people's existence would go without saying. I get the sentiment; I only wish it were that simple. – SevenSidedDie Apr 7 '15 at 1:37

It's not OK. We edit it out of posts when it's small and inconsequetial to the rest of it. When it's woven deeply into a post, we downvote it for being "not useful" — or even actively harmful — to the health of our hobby. Particularly bad examples that count as any or all of "offensive, abusive, or hate speech" can also be flagged as such in addition to or instead of downvoting.

Gamers get unfairly stereotyped all the time. We don't need to put up with that here. Subsets of gamers get unfairly stereotyped all the time too, and we don't have to put up with that either.

Especially for subsets of gamers, stereotyping often happens in daily life, and yet another poke in the eye from a thoughtless or intentional stereotype during what is supposed to be fun leisure hobby time is the last thing we want to experience or inflict on another.

As curators of this site, it's our job to make it not a needlessly hurtful experience to our readers, especially those who get it regularly in their daily life. As a site that I hope represents the very best of the gaming community, we should be a safe, welcoming place for all gamers.

To be not just tolerant, but actually welcoming, to all gamers, we have to be intolerant of some attitudes that are thoughtlessly or deliberately hurtful. I think it goes without saying that if it comes to a choice between a person and an attitude, it's the attitude that will be made unwelcome here.

Our regular curation tools are effective for this: downvotes, editing, comments requesting alterations, and flagging are all excellent ways to show what is and isn't a good post.

• When it's woven deeply into a post, we downvote it for being "not useful", or even actively harmful, to the health of our hobby. - I'd suggest flagging for deletion as offensive/abusive. – Alex P Apr 2 '15 at 19:48
• @AlexP That too. I mention it down-post, but I should mention it there too. Done! – SevenSidedDie Apr 2 '15 at 19:55
• +1 for specifically not advocating moral relativism and 'tolerance'. If we're gonna stop this stuff we should do it for the right reasons. Respecting all people is a good reason. Respecting everything is really, really not. – Please stop being evil Apr 4 '15 at 1:42

This kind of stereotyping is unacceptable. It's not fair to make assumptions about a gamer based on gender, race, creed, sexuality, or any other factor that is out of their control. Discussions about the role of a player without the understanding of that player's motivations, based purely on traits that mean nothing, should be considered off-topic and taken elsewhere.

However, in most cases, I think the existing downvote system works in place of a harsh reaction from moderation. In exceptional circumstances, or in the case of repeat offenders, it should be handled on a case-by-case basis. If a question or answer is blatantly off-topic, including answers that are just used to state political beliefs not related to the original question, it should be removed as if it were any other off-topic post.