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Recently, meta (and the main site to a lesser extent) became a mess with a lot of critics blurting out from every side and people accusing each other of bad things and a lot of other bad stuff.

This question is not about any of this.

We have a really nice community, to be honest. Despite having people sometimes wanting to kill each other with the heaviest RPG book available on the nearby shelf, there are tons of times that people are polite, nice, helpful and in several ways, awesome.

We can see glimpses of that in some of our comments and on chat. Even users that get a lot of flak (like the moderators) can have some really nice words here and there, helping an OP or a answer-poster, showing signs of kindness and politeness.

So, I got myself wondering about this. We rarely see those comments/chat lines staying around because the way the SE system works, trying to keep the questions clear out of noise. I can understand that.

However, as RPG players, we are mostly social people. Yes, with some levels of weirdness built-in (all of us. No exceptions), but we are social people. And as social people, most of us enjoy nice, kind words now and then. And, since we are dealing with a hobby here, we are touching things that we personally hold dear - so, seeing someone saying good things about something you like can be a really pleasant experience.

So, I think we should take actions to make the kind and nice actions we take - and we do take them - more visible. Let's move the Nice-to-Mean ratio toward the Nice side!

The question is, how? How to show everyone that strolls around the site that we are not basement-dwelling, light-avoiding anti-social trolls? How do we promote kindness?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this a question about finding ways to make the community nicer, or about reviewing comment policies? If it's the first, then you should probably put the comments suggestion as an answer. If it's the second, then you'll get better reception if you say so up front: I came in expecting one topic and then suddenly it was something else, and I felt kinda tricked. (And I have an answer for either subject, but they're very different and I don't know which is actually on topic!) \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Mar 9 '16 at 13:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW It's about both of those, actually. We could make the community nicer reviewing the policies regarding the comments to let the nicer comments stick. I'm failing to see those as different, separated topics, but if you have another way to show how our community can be awesome, please, send it out! I would gladly accept the frame challenge! \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Mar 9 '16 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ What's the problem you're trying to solve? The tone of the community (to which changing comment policies is one suggested solution), or the policies on comments (for which the tone of the community is a justification)? It matters which is the problem and which is the solution, because that defines the nature of the conversation. If you don't clarify that, you'll get confused and off-point responses. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Mar 9 '16 at 13:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW The tone of the community. People are being too toxic lately, and I think that letting the nice comments around would help to make things a bit more calm - seeing kindness promotes kindness, AFAIK. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Mar 9 '16 at 13:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, so take out all the "What is my proposal" bits and make that an answer. That way folks can talk about and vote on whether this is a problem and whether that's a good solution separately, and responses (challenges or support) to one can be distinguished from responses to the other. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Mar 9 '16 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ And if you're unaware, please be sure you read up on the history of comments on this Stack. I'd be a lot more open to your suggestion if you clarified that, for example, you're not advocating tolerance of comment practices condemned universally across the Stack Exchange like "+1"ing and suggesting minor changes. "Nice" shouldn't be enough; something like "useful" needs to be present as well. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Mar 9 '16 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 I'll take into account right now! \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Mar 9 '16 at 15:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BESW I changed the question a lot around, to make it clearer, and made an (lenghty) answer with my proposed solution. I hope it is better, now! \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Mar 9 '16 at 15:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 I changed things a bit. What do you think now? \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Mar 9 '16 at 15:58
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Instead of changing our policies about comments which don't fit Stack-wide standards, we can simply work to make the comments which do fit our policies nicer. We're already doing this!

Go here and help us make our pre-made comments better model the tone we want for the site. We need more people doing that work.

The Stack is all about getting answers, and comments which don't make suggestions or help with clarification shouldn't stick around any longer than they have to. But we can make our clarification and suggestion comments more polite, appreciative, and inviting. Let's do that first and see what happens, before we start challenging policies which are actively helping us avoid flame wars and playstyle disputes.

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We use discretion in what we delete and what we don't. "Niceness" is an ineffable part of the equation. In somewhat rough order of importance:

  • Upvotes (more upvotes = more likely to stay)
  • Flags (if it got flags it's likely to go)
  • Acknowledged obsolescence ("incorporated that," "thanks") - done its job
  • Age (we try to let 'em ride for a little while)
  • Relevance (was that "a good point" or "yammering about something tangentially related")
  • Niceness (less nice = more deleted)
  • Total frivolity/pointlessness (your joke is, usually, not funny)
  • Being part of a huge comment thread (it becomes harder to save it if it's part of a big chunk of comment misuse)

Make your "nice" comments stay by making them tick these other checkboxes too. Or better yet, write a nice answer. Those are forever.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like the word “ineffable”. It captures so much of the organic, unquantifiable stuff that site mechanisms deliberately harness/rely on. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 11 '16 at 5:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's good to know that the comments aren't just shotgun-deleted! I didn't understood what you mean regarding jokes, however. Could you explain a bit more? \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Mar 11 '16 at 11:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ It means when you are using comments for random joking instead of being constructive it's more likely to be deleted. Unless lots of people think it's funny and upvote it. Strangely most jokes don't get a lot of upvotes, because the author thought it was a lot more funny than it is, IMO. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Mar 13 '16 at 2:23

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