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 euphemisms and pejorative-language. But the wiki entry may need to be edited, because that was just a thesaurus substitution. (A description about how compliments is distinct from euphemisms 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 single-word-requests 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:
- 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.
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 compliments 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 compliments.
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.
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.
- "someone else, a friend or a stranger, finishes your sentence better than you possibly could have"
- "this wisdom of having courage"
- "highly empathetic and witty person — the type of person who’s a fantastic conversationalist"
- "when they fail and realize their failure, they then regret and quickly correct their own behaviour without any wavering"
- "loves to share knowledge"
- "he falls down every time... but never loses hope.. and tries to stand up again..."
- "The person experiencing the hardships gained much knowledge and wisdom from them"
- "This person would make "lemonade" when life throws "lemons" at them"
- "The word opportunist seems to be used negatively for a person. Is there a word with the same but positive meaning?"
- "they aren't trying to be fake towards people, they are just so kind that they don't want the other person to feel bad"
- "the service was good in that it was pretty fast, without a delay, etc."
- "willing to go the extra mile to do more than what is needed"
- "Some men are really good at fixing things, especially the household appliances while they're not specialists or technician."
- "someone who's able to quickly think of alternatives in a situation, especially in a situation that calls for it"
- "can quickly resolve conflicts with co-workers, and effectively explain policy changes to vendors"
- "An example of a loanword for this would be the Hawaiian Ohana."
- "The original and closest friendship may be with a generation now passed on, but a family-like relationship still exists"
- "a person who appreciates the little things in life: someone who takes life at a little bit slower a pace, who enjoys being outside instead of forever inside, and so on and so forth."
- "I know some friends who are loved really quickly by people around them."
- "someone who performs a job on daily basis, but his job is important and vital for normal procession."
- "Is there a word to describe an object that excels in form and function? I am trying to avoid very general words like great, superb or excellent."
- "Someone who has their time well-managed, is focused, works out, has ambitions, eats right."
- "Is there a word that describes someone who is not easily offended -- able to withstand criticism, ridicule, or jokes made at his/her expense -- without also implying that the person is emotionally callous?"
- "a person who is self-poised at such a critical moment."
- "He is generally a pretty happy, calm and collected individual"