The Stack Exchange developers instituted a Be Nice policy for all of their sites.
Whether you've come to ask questions, or to generously share what you know, remember that we’re all here to learn, together. Be welcoming and patient, especially with those who may not know everything you do. Oh, and bring your sense of humor. Just in case.
I think it would be a good idea to remind people of this when they make snarky comments. We could either reply to their comment with a link to the Be Nice policy, or a link to this thread.
I think a lot of people on this forum want to be witty, but are unaware that sometimes their wit comes across as belittling. People should be mindful that kindness comes before wit.
I'm creating this thread so that others can share their thoughts, and perhaps commit to calling others out on hostile or demeaning comments.
It's also worth sharing that this problem has been discussed before:
Some not nice things I've noticed:
- Questions not worth asking. I sometimes get the impression that my question is not worth asking, and have to spend time defending myself.
- Answers picked apart. I feel like, if people sense any weakness in an answer, it gets picked apart in a way that's not constructive.
- Speaking from authority. Sometimes people claim that your question or answer does not follow the guidelines. But they cite no guidelines to back themselves up.
- Carelessness with tone. The fact that tone is hard to discern from writing does not provide an excuse, but rather an obligation to make one's intentions clear and one's kindness felt.
Suggestions for improvement:
- Positive feedback. Since we're kind of skewed towards negative feedback, I think it would be helpful if users made an effort to give more positive feedback, especially to newbies.
- Pointing out the guidelines. It would be helpful to point out the guidelines to newbies, without shaming them for not having read them already.
- Migrating ELL questions to ELL. Members who have the privileges could make an effort to migrate ELL questions to ELL.
- Close-vote nicely. It's important to close-vote off-topic questions. But it's just as important to be nice and not make a snarky comment.
(I'm compiling a list of examples, but omitting the name of the author. The goal is not to shame anyone, but to raise awareness of the problem.)
Let me say this in as a nice a way as possible: It is clear from the guidelines that this is not a place for people learning the English language to ask questions, especially if they are basic questions and/or they evince no research. Yet, my question to you is why do you keep answering such questions... one of many examples. This question should be close-voted for no research. It is actions like yours that only encourages more ELL questions here.
This comment was directed at me in this thread. The tone of the question made me feel vilified.
And are people really being "draconic"? Or are they just dragon things out? Perhaps you meant draconian. (Sorry, the tone was meant to be lighthearted.)
I actually double-checked that draconic was okay to use, and it's a synonym for draconian. (1) merriam-webster.com/dictionary/draconic. (2) en.wiktionary.org/wiki/draconic. I chose to use it because it sounded better in the sentence.
I actually double-checked. Then you actually missed my point.
The above was also taken from this thread. The play on actually felt a little bit like an attack.
Beneath is a question that I asked.
Example: He came up with a catalogue of things his father said or did which upset him.
Is the use of "catalogue" correct in this example? I personally think so, as the word derives from the Greek καταλέγω, which means to "recount, to tell at length, or make a list" (1).
Yes, it is normal; but your argument from Greek is irrelevant.
Actually, what I gave wasn't an argument, it was a reason for thinking so. Why not share things we find interesting?
Yes it was.
An argument makes a claim. It attempts to persuade. I did neither. I simply shared my hypothesis.
And I am pointing out (by the link I referenced) that your hypothesis is without foundation. If you rely on etymology to determine (as opposed to suggest) the meanings of words, you will often get them wrong.
I was offended in the above thread because the commenter is acting like a know-it-all; and, furthermore, acting like he knows my intentions better than I do. To say that you think something is correct because of etymology doesn't mean you know something is correct because of etymology. A hypothesis is not the same thing as an argument, and it's perfectly fine to share a hypothesis.
Below is a question I asked and the ensuing comments.
Question: Since English is a stress-timed language, why have poets chosen to write in iambic pentameter? Doesn't the language already have a natural rhythm without resorting to meter? And isn't that natural rhythm already quite close to iambic pentameter?
Commenter: This question doesn't really make sense. Poets chose to write in Iambic pentameter because they wanted to. Why did they want to? Well, you need to ask a historian but I imagine the traditions derived from Latin and Greek were factors. Languages with word stress patterns do, of course, have their own rhythm, but it's inevitably irregular and in the mind of classically influenced poet an irregular and naturally occurring meter is probably insufficient. That's why they tend to work English's natural stress pattern into a precise meter, such as iambic.
Me: I think I'm asking whether the natural rhythm of English is really so different from iambic pentameter that a precise meter is called for. It seems that the definition of a stress-timed language is regular stress patterns, which already accomplishes what meter sets out to do. Although here's an interesting thought: perhaps meter serves not only to highlight regularities, but also to highlight irregularities? That is, accenting syllables which we wouldn't expect to accent.
Commenter: No offence, but this question seems to be more about your dismissive attitude towards Iambic pentameter than an actual question. Many English speaking poets evidently did feel there was something special about, which is why they worked so hard to fit the natural rhythm of English into it's meter. Many modern poets don't use it, well obviously, many modern poets don't even care about meter. "what, if anything, is the natural rhythm of spoken English?" This question doesn't really make sense, English doesn't have a strict meter, there are just natural linguistic patterns in stress.
Me: You misinterpreted my comments, then! I do not feel a dismissive attitude towards iambic pentameter. On the contrary, I enjoy a lot of poems and plays written in this meter. This enjoyment is what led me to reflect on the meter, and why some of the authors whom I admire choose to employ it.
Commenter: But the question you're asking isn't really about English. You're basically asking why many English speaking poets chose to fit English's natural time stressed rhythm to Iambic pentameter. The only answer is because they wanted to, why they wanted to might be better explained by a historian. The natural rhythm of a time stressed language will never as regular as a poetic meter, so no doubt they thought it more beautiful or perfect when the meter was exact. Why they often preferred Iambic is probably down to its historical significance. There's little else to be said.
The above is another example of a commenter acting like a know-it-all. It's not constructive to say, I don't think your question makes sense. Or to go on and say, There is little else to be said. That's simply not for him to decide. Others might have something to say; and in fact, others did have something to say. There was a great answer to my question. The reason we have close-votes is so that we vote on whether a question gets closed. This is not a court case where we need a prosecutor.