I've really been harping on things like this recently, and I think I need to go somewhere else to cool down for a bit. So I'm deleting my account for now but intending to continue visiting in the future. I really enjoy this site. Please read this more as a jermiad against an attitude than a diatribe against this community or any of its members.

I really felt ambivalent to this post I'm spoofing. I recently-ish left a situation where labels and negativity played a key role, and find myself wishing I had said something about it while it was happening. (The biggest reason now I feel a need to speak out.) So I agree on some level with what the original post is saying. But on another level, I see put-downs as already prevalent in ourselves in our comments, chat, and Meta -- and arguably votes. Is what we're getting out a reflection of what we're putting in?

Really: don't take the following spoof too seriously. I didn't even make the tag it claims I made, though I did sort out some candidates I thought were nice if others are interested. We've already got the rest of the spectrum with and . But the wiki entry may need to be edited, because that was just a thesaurus substitution. (A description about how is distinct from would help.) A lot of the spoof is that way.

Here it is:

Can anything be done for well-wishing requests for terminology?

tl;dr: Nice people are awesome, and we should help them.

EDIT: I don’t actually believe anything mechanical can be done here, and I certainly don’t expect a “protected due to niceness” reason. That’s just plain silliness. But questions asking about endearments or praises are questions that deserve to be labelled compliments. It bothered me how few of these there were, and how they tend to draw responses of good (but ordinary) words. But it doesn’t look bad.

Why aren't we helping people help each other more?

For nearly as long as the tag has existed, it has been a source of several distinct types of controversy. On occasion, these have been raised here on our meta. For example:

But one particularly nice form of these questions are those that are really just asking for our help in coming up with a new way to lift others up. I made a new tag just for such requests, and went back and tagged some of the questions that I felt met the following criteria as taken from its tag wiki:

Compliments are any language that portray someone or something in a positive light, no matter whether it is intended to be exalting and edifying, congratulatory or approving, magnifying or effusive, or even adoring. It’s anything that makes someone or something look good.

After tagging the first dozen questions I could find, I progressed with hope — but there are others still. I wish these were some of our most frequent duplicates, though, which would just add compliment to .

As I have elsewhere observed, all these questions had their genesis in beauty. Each was looking for some especially nice new word to use for somebody whose behavior or characteristics they strongly approved of.

I think it is a healthy thing for the questioner, and good for our site and the larger social context, for us to be forever providing people with nice words to use to commit verbal victories with one another, even if it is only in their own heads.

But is there really anything to be done for it?

There are many reasons why these requests are scarce, and simply adding a tag will do nothing to address the underlying issues, because people have just found somewhere else to ask the same thing. This seems entrenched in human nature, an inherent social issue.

In days of old, the least researched 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 nice that they were quickly embraced by our site, but many remain unasked.

I would like to see constructive discussion about anything we might possibly do to encourage these sorts of well-wishing questions. I think it makes us look good, and I know it is going to be used in a kind manner.

I don’t really fancy updating our on-topic criteria to include “borne out of niceness”; that just sounds silly, not to mention subjective. And yet at the same time we (claim that we) expect people to be impartial towards one another here, and having these precious few questions seeking help in flattering 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 dozens of these nice questions and dozens of answers to them, I find myself rejuvenated to the point of rapture by mankind’s continued humanity to his fellow man.

Community Armistice?

So I have made a personal decision never again to deny verbal arms to these questioners, arms that I know can have no other purpose than to lift others up. I figure that there are already plenty of words and expressions that angels use to call each other angels. I see every reason to help them, and no 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 well-wishing questions and so start assisting them in making this world an even better place to live in?


Here are some candidates for a compliments tag, along with the quote I feel makes them most eligible. I tried to drive a hard bargain with these. I tried to avoid questions that explicitly stated the word was for a resume, for example.

  • I'm sorry that you are leaving. I think your contributions have been good. I am glad that you will come back eventually. You could always take a break for a while instead of deleting your account.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Jul 13, 2014 at 12:42

2 Answers 2


Given the number of people who won't recognise or adhere to the difference in spelling between a grammatical category and the more common "well-wishing" sense of compliment, I've got to say it seems like a terrible idea to actually call the tag that.

I don't really see any point in grouping together requests that ask for an "approving, supportive" word with positive connotations. But I've no objection to potentially-useful tags in principle. Tags don't work well for me - but if they did, then the more the merrier. I think the main issues are...

1: Is this category sufficiently "orthogonal" to existing tags? (it straddles much of e.g. ).
2: Is there a better category name (plaudits?)
3: Is OP or someone else prepared to implement it for a worthwhile number of past questions?
4: How many questions constitute a "worthwhile set"?

  • I think if we can handle grammar and grammer, we can manage these.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Aug 20, 2014 at 4:02
  • I felt a little weird calling some of the ones I noted above compliments; plaudits is a good suggestion.
    – user39720
    Aug 27, 2014 at 4:12

I like this idea, and after having pondered it for a considerable amount of time, I have decided that not only should we do this, we must do this, and we must do it for the same reasons that justified the perjoratives tag.

That is, if we label the negative, then the negative is all we will see. Let's make an effort to find the positives, and support the positives, and take our positive mindset to the masses. Let's put a green pen next to our red pen, so we can see when there is more green than red, so we can want more green than red. And let's make our green pen bold and our red pen oblique so that people with low color vision can also easily distinguish the two.

With the core of this community actively looking for the positive content on the site so we can raise it up, we will likewise raise ourselves up.

Let's do this thing, people.

  • 1
    I think this post captures my intent better than OP does. I don't mean to endorse flattery or whitewashing and denounce the discussion, use or tagging of pejorative language. I would rather a thing be called what it is, handled with at least the care it was presented with, and then moved on from as directed by its merits. As much as possible, anyways. (It's really hard to tell with these things sometimes.) Anyways, thanks for hearing me out and tagging a couple!
    – user39720
    Aug 27, 2014 at 5:01

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