I do not find this to be helpful at all, and it is the direct result of Bad Policy having bad side effects. Here is the commment chain.

I've edited out "frame challenge" because policy is not to signal that since it is too jargony. – Rubiksmoose 5 hours ago

@Rubiksmoose - Good to know. In general should I still be indicating that I'm breaking away from the premise, or are we just dropping that habit altogether? – Alex 5 hours ago

Excellent question, I think that the best policy is just to signal it with more colloquial language, but signalling itself still is good. (That is just my impression so I could be wrong) – Rubiksmoose 5 hours ago

If the real world, in real life, and in real work places, when you make bad 'policy' you open the door for petty bureaucrats and poor mid-level managers to use it as a hammer for no good reason, because it happens to be there lying around. I think most of us have run into this at least once in our real lives.

That is the dynamic that is going on here with the ill-advised "initiative" to try to ban the perfectly useful term, frame challenge, which has in fact a meta to define it. In this case, a sincere and helpful user is falling into the trap that mid-level managers and bureaucrats fall into time and again with "it's that rules ... really" when in fact is was bad policy to begin with. It can happen to any of us, and IMO this user was set up by Bad Policy to be moved to make this comment.

There is no value added in exchanges like this. Can we please not villify the use of the term frame challenge? I objected to the policy then, and I am objecting to it again. The term is useful, and we have a meta that explains what it is.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I suggest a less-inflammatory title like "was this edit necessary" or something that captures your concern without connoting bad intentions on the editor's part. I interpret Be Nice as including Assume Good Faith; in this case I assume the editor, who is fairly new, believes that meta answers with double-digit upvotes are policy rather than looking at them with the more-nuanced view that we may share. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 2:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Although maybe this has been happening a lot and I haven't noticed it? Iif there are a half-dozen similar examples then "censorship" would strike me as a more-apt descriptor.) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 2:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 OK. I changed the title. Bad policy is bad policy even if a lot of people vote for it. Case in point: Prohibition. I do not believe that "let's make another rule" is a good attitude to start with, and as I saw that policy take shape, that is what appeared to me to be the dynamic involved. There wasn't anything broken to fix in the first place. I believe that the user in question was set up by Bad Policy, and I thought I made that clear in the text. Maybe not. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 2:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ A little less catastrophising and invoking totalitarian dystopia might be a better foot to start a discussion on. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 2:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I dumped the thought police line, OK, that was a bit OTT. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 2:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ And given the over reaction by at least one mod to the term censorship in the past, I have removed that term as well. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 3:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's appreciated. Since judicious censorship is literally part of our jobs (users and mods), it's often difficult to engage with objections in which avoiding censorship is presented as an ends in itself. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 3:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm upvoting this not because I agree with its sentiment necessarily, but because I really appreciate the fact that you brought your objection (and my mistake) to my and others' attention. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 21:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW I never intended for my meta Q asking for more accessible phrasing options to get interpreted as policy. You can see that's just a [support] request, making a case explaining the problem I feel exists, asking for some solutions. I feel strongly about it but it's a personal recommendation at most. I even included “this isn't a diamond moderator thing” at the end to try to avoid scenarios like what you bumped into there. I'm relieved to see the answers below affirming it's not generally seen as policy. We ought to correct people who do mistake it for policy. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 10:55

2 Answers 2


It is not policy to avoid the term "frame challenge" on mainsite. At most it's a mild recommendation to avoid it for the sake of quality, since it's jargon opaque to the reader, and a crutch for the writer that helps them avoid remembering to make their full case for challenging the/an assumption of the question.

I'd be the first to recommend avoiding the term in a mainsite answer, but also the first to remind that avoidance is not policy.

I also agree that we generally don't need yet more rules.

Since it's human to err, we'll always have instances of misinterpretations, especially among newer users. Giving guidance and mentorship is part of the role more longer-term users can serve on the site. Especially with newer users who are engaged with meta discussions enough that they can err on advice or policy details, it's good to recognise that the impulse behind it is wanting to help. If we can offer correction while encouraging that impulse, that's ideal.

There isn't anything we can really do to ensure perfect understanding across the whole userbase, so that community effort to guide each other is the most effective real solution to misunderstandings.

We can also amend meta posts when there are misunderstandings. I think that my answer about avoiding using “frame challenge” on mainsite was clear enough on being a recommendation, but evidence to the contrary, so I'm going to amend it to say explicitly that the answer isn't anywhere saying that a ban is useful.

  • \$\begingroup\$ At least one person thinks that it is policy, and I seem to recall that shortly after that meta happened I had a similar encounter with another user in comments (about not using that term being a policy) but I am not sure if that comment chain is still in existence. So I guess it may be perceived as policy? (By some users?) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 2:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ People will need correction when they voice a misunderstanding, because that's the nature of a community. That's something we can just do as needed, and is part of the role long-term users serve within our system. There isn't a shortcut we can take that will result in perfect understanding across the whole userbase. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 3:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll depart from this meta for a while and let it do what it does and check back tomorrow. What I don't need to do is keep banging away about this. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 3:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I folded these comments into the answer for posterity. (Which I'm commenting on, because readers of the comments in posterity could otherwise easily find them confusing!) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 4:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would establishing some sort of voluntary style guide help? As in, maintain mechanical advice for how to write high-quality answers? \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 14:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin The original frame challenge meta is already supposed to be a guide to doing them well. I'm not sure how helpful it has been in that regard — it seems to be taken more often as merely reassuring that it's ok to solve the problem even if that isn't directly what a question asked for. It seems to be consulted much less for its advice on doing it well. I think most people just write, and few people notice or benefit from advice on meta. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 16:40

I think that nothing needs to be changed from the way it is concerning the treatment of "frame challenge" terminology.

SevenSidedDie's post correctly explains that the post in question does not say, nor is there any site policy that says that "frame challenge" is not allowed.

So, obviously I made a mistake in making the edit and in how I interpreted and instructed others in the issue. I don't feel like anybody is blaming me or anything but I wanted to briefly address how that mistake happened and why that leads me to think that nothing needs to be changed.

"I've made a huge mistake"

I was told at some point by another user not to use the term (I honestly don't remember when, where, or in what way it was phrased) and linked to the meta, which I did indeed read. However, I filed that away mistakenly in my brain as "site policy says this is bad" without actually questioning whether that was, in fact, true (even after reading the meta article several times after). I'll chalk it up to reading it with preconceived notions.

I've been learning a lot about the way the site functions the last 3 months that I've been active and, in an effort to help, have started to try to help and to educate newer users to learn the things that I have learned.

However, I obviously overstepped what I actually knew and ended up being called out and corrected by more experienced members.

Educating new users

I don't see that as a mistake or a problem with the meta post talking about "frame challenge" terminology or the mods or site policy or anything/anybody else. In fact, I see this as a case where the site is operating correctly. I did something that was incorrect, and more experienced members called me out and helped me understand my mistake.

I'm not sure there is any way the site could have preempted my error because it was a case of preconceived notions on my part; I did not know what I did not know. It takes an instance of actually making a mistake and getting corrected to learn it correctly. And so I have.

In the same way, I learned how to correctly format headers by having mods correct my first several answers. I'm still learning and observing how duplicate questions are handled from more experienced people.

So, I think things are fine just the way they are. Or, at least, I cannot think of any way in which they could be improved at this point.

  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, I think you were set up. That's why I raised it here, and didn't raise it in the comments under the question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast don't worry, I think I understand exactly what you mean. Fwiw I never felt like you were accusing or attacking me so I apologize if it came across that way. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 15:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I'm also not sure I agree that I was set up. Perhaps things could have been made clearer, but it was honestly my mistake. Had I done due diligence to check and verify that it actually was policy there would have been no issue. Also, had I been more cautious with "teaching" things that I wasn't sure were correct it would not have been an issue. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 15:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ All is well, no worries, etc. You answer is most excellent, and my worry, shared by nistua early in the meta that I began, was that my frustration with the result was that you'd feel targeted, which was not my intent. Thankfully, nits and SSD helped me upgrade the meta question to remove some of that potential. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 15:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ May I say, entirely aside from the issue at hand, that this is a wonderfully graceful acceptance of a mistake. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 18:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW I just discovered this meta, and so have just now realised that I have also made this mistake, after a more experienced user recommended I remove the phrase 'frame challenge' from my answer (in August 2018) and pointed me to that meta. This misunderstanding is definitely still being perpetuated. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tiggerous
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 8:01

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