I love the English language and would enjoy participating in a forum such as this, if only I could find the one that includes everyone--without the snide comments and the personal attacks that I see here. Shame on you.
It's worth bearing in mind that Stack Overflow sites aren't meant to be "forums" or "chat sites" (people are supposed to come here to ask and/or answer questions, not for the social interaction).
As implied by the upvotes for this comment, it's quite possible at least some new visitors here experience "rejection, rudeness" because they're asking basic questions on the wrong site (questions that would be better received on ELL). Perhaps it's the question that's being rejected, not the querent.
As for overt and sustained hostility between established users (or towards those newcomers who've correctly identified this as the right site for their question), all I can say is I don't see much of it.
Of course, the written word is far inferior to face-to-face interaction in terms of how easy it is to know how your contribution to a discourse is being perceived at the receiving end. And if people perceive their primary purpose here to be giving or getting information, they might not always pay as much attention to the limited feedback they do get as if they were here to make and interact with friends. Get over it.
@poetlaureate My advice is to give the site a little more time. You will need patience and perseverance to learn how to enjoy participating here. One of the traps that people can fall into is not taking time to really take in what someone is saying, which then leads to an unhelpful and judgmental response. Another trap is to react emotionally, unproductively or self-righteously to something that strikes you as inappropriate or sloppy. There is plenty here that does not deserve careful attention and criticism. Save your energy and give your time to something that looks as though it will help you to spend time on it. It may take a little time to learn to spot the opportunities.
I've been here for just under two weeks. This is my first experience of participating in a collaborative online project. It is fascinating to see how the site functions and to have a chance to work with other people in a process of striving to reach the best possible answer to a question in an area of mutual interest — in this case the English language.
What may be slightly lacking here is an awareness that the process of pursuing excellence in the form of the "best answer" itself needs to be excellent. A mediocre process can hardly lead to an excellent result. So we need to strive for a mutual understanding of an excellent process. Some thoughts on this follow.
Built into the project is an awareness that collaboration can help us to reach excellence. This means that we need to allow ourselves to be (publicly) corrected, and that it is responsible to correct others. However, we are human beings, and all of us need encouragement and respect for the efforts we have made. The current culture of the site may be slightly biased towards linguistic and scholarly excellence at the expense of the human processes we are engaged in as we pursue that goal.
I have been very struck by how much people's feelings and attitudes can be expressed and sensed in the comments, up and down voting and so on. This is real communication!
While it is exciting to me to improve myself and to "meet" people here whom I like and respect, I also sense the potential for participants — as in other areas of life — to voice themselves self-righteously and to take the notion of status too seriously.
I find myself attracted to those voices that are seriously listening (here reading), but at the same time not taking themselves too seriously. I am not attracted to anything that smacks a little too much of eagerness to police the site or of self-righteousness. The most articulate and intelligent of us may be among the most susceptible to these weaknesses, I suspect. We might enjoy ourselves much more if we were to appreciate that excellence in the sense of being "right" needs to be tempered by excellence of a different kind.
In the end, there is never going to be a "best answer" for many of the questions. The point is to enjoy the process of exploring questions intelligently in order to find answers that are as helpful as they possibly can be at a given point in time. Let's try also to be as helpful to each other as possible in this process.
Being serious about what we are doing can be fun. If it doesn't feel fun to me at a given moment, then I am in need of helpful feedback — from myself or from some person out there who finds it fun to be helpful. My experience on this site has been giving me the sense that the goal of making sure that we are able to receive and give feedback in a healthy way may ultimately be more important, interesting, and difficult than the goal of reaching the best answer.
Sorry there are no references here! My personal feeling is that they would not be helpful in answering this particular question. Or perhaps I need to be told by someone from above that this is not acceptable...
It took me a while to figure this out, but here's what I figured out:
All the participants on the site share the responsibility for politeness, and the way to exercise that responsibility is by flagging and writing comments. (The moderators play a special role by making decisions about the flags.)
I believe you can make flags as soon as you have 15 reputation points. It's hard to say much of anything specific without examples. Examples can be provided in a variety of ways:
- a link
- text copied from a problematic comment
- a screenshot taken of a problematic comment, in context