tl;dr: Mean people suck, and we should not help them.
EDIT: I don’t actually believe anything mechanical can be done here, and I certainly don’t expect a “closed due to meanness” reason. That’s just plain silliness. But questions asking about insults or slurs are questions that deserve to be labelled pejorative. It bothered me how many of these there were, and how they tend to draw bikeshedding list responses with no right answer. It doesn’t look good.
Why are we helping people hurt each other?
- Single word requests, crosswords, and the fight against mediocrity, by Shog9♦.
- Against Single Word Requests, by JSBձոգչ.
- Word for disrespecting eldest half-sister by referring to her husband as girly-girl-manly-boy though he’s amused but the rest of the family isn’t?, by medica.
One particularly nasty form of these questions are those that are really just asking for our help in coming up with a new way to put others down. I made a new pejorative-language tag just for such requests, and went back and tagged some of the questions that I felt met the following criteria as talen from its tag wiki:
Pejorative language is any language that portrays someone or something in a negative light, no matter whether it is intended to be disparaging and derogatory, contemptuous or disapproving, belittling or offensive, or even abusive. It’s anything that makes someone or something look bad.
As I have elsewhere observed, all these questions had their genesis in bile. Each was looking for some especially nasty new word to use against somebody whose behavior or characteristics they strongly disapproved of.
I don’t think it is a healthy thing for the questioner, nor good for our site or the larger social context, for us to be forever providing people with rude words to use to commit verbal violence upon one another, even if it is only in their own head.
But is there really anything to be done about it?
There are many reasons why these requests are problematic, but simple eliminating the tag will do nothing to address the underlying issues, because people will just end up using a different tag to ask the same thing. This seems entrenched in human nature, and inherent social issue.
In days of old, the worst of these would on occasion be closed as “Not Constructive”, but that is no longer a close reason available to us here. Some of them were so nasty that they were quickly deleted from our site, but many remain.
I would like to see constructive discussion about anything we might possibly do to discourage these sorts of mean-spirited questions. I think it makes us look bad, and I know it is going to be used in an unkind manner.
I don’t really fancy updating our off-topic criteria to include “borne out of nastiness”; that just sounds silly, not to mention subjective. And yet at the same time we (claim that we) expect people to be respectful towards one another here, and having all these questions seeking help in disrespecting others seems at some level to run counter to that principle.
How can that paradox be reconciled?
If there were a line to be drawn, I don’t know where or how one would draw it. All I know is that after reading quite literally hundreds of these nasty questions and thousands of answers to them, I find myself dispirited to the point of sickness by mankind’s continued inhumanity to his fellow man.
So I have made a personal decision never again to supply verbal arms to these questioners, arms that I know can have no other purpose than to put others down. I figure that there are already plenty of words and expressions that assholes use to call each other assholes. I see no reason to help them, and every reason not to.
But that is merely a personal vow, not a site-wide policy.
Is there anything we as a community can do with regard to these mean-spirited questions and so stop assisting them in making this world an ever-uglier place to live in?
PS: As a side-note, I see that the quality of our questions continues to drop in all regards, because people don’t do any research of their own. Jeff’s right about that, and it’s only getting worse. The current matter I raise is just one aspect of this.