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Recently, something happened here where multiple users basically trolled someone asking a question here.

The question itself was not in a format which really fits here, but the users were trolling over issues unrelated to this.

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The following comment chain happened:

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Now, I'm not happy about the fact that multiple people here are ok with basically telling others their legitimately stressful situation is "whining" and grow up because they are more awesome than them.

However this all happened very quickly, over less than an hour. I flagged the question with a description of what was going on (at least from my perspective, perhaps I am off base here, but this seems like behavior which should NOT be tolerated on this site towards any user, let alone new users).

  • Is this response appropriate - or is there a more appropriate response?
  • Agreed, I don't remember seeing it happen but i'm disappointed that it got the responses it did. – Rhys Oct 15 '13 at 19:28
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I was pretty disappointed in reading those comments, but I'm also hopeful they're isolated incidents from people who, for whatever reason, might just be having a bad day.

People who are successful -- the real experts -- don't need to belittle others in order to feel better about themselves, and I'm hoping that new users who visit our site understand that when people boast about how great they are, it's because there's an area in their own lives that's really lacking and that this is just someone trying to make up for their own insecurities in some other area of their lives.

The really truly successful people, those who are truly happy with how their lives and careers have turned out, don't need to respond with such hostility, just because someone else may not physically be able to handle the same amount of stress that they did.

The bottom line is that we're trying to build a resource of knowledge to help people become more successful in the workplace. Rudeness, belittling comments, and participating only with the goal of making others feel bad is contrary to that goal and has no place here.

We all have our strengths and our weaknesses, even hardened military veterans who worked 50 hours a week and dug holes and cleaned rifles while studying for exams are weak at something. We all also have good days and bad days and are humans who make mistakes, but what we can do is this:

If you're having a bad day, before you post a comment, read it a couple times and put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Try to look at the world through their eyes. Think about something that you're not good at and imagine what it might feel like if someone better than you at that thing treated you the way you're about to treat this other person. None of us are good at everything, and if someone were to take a good long hard look, they can find our faults too.

Let's remember that the sole reason this site exists is to help the people coming from search engines who have real, actual problems. Without them, we don't have a site.

As for what to do when you see something like this happening, here's what you can do: When in doubt, flagging is usually the best option. You can flag a comment, or if the entire conversation has degraded you can also flag the post and use the Other (needs ♦ moderator attention) option. Our goal is to simply diffuse the situation and create a great site for asking and answering workplace questions.

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    How could individual users help the Community when they see something like this? Flag a comment, flag the question, ... – dcaswell Oct 12 '13 at 17:11
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    @dcaswell - Great question. When in doubt, flagging is usually the best option. You can flag a comment, or if the entire conversation has degraded you can also flag the post and use the Other (needs ♦ moderator attention) option. Our goal is to simply diffuse the situation and create a great site for asking and answering workplace questions. – jmort253 Oct 12 '13 at 18:42
  • @dcaswell: Great point. And this is why this is a non-issue. We already have infrastructure and mechanisms in place to deal with this. – Jim G. Oct 13 '13 at 2:28
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    @JimG. - Well, it kinda is an issue in that we don't want folks scaring away new users with what could be perceived as hostility. Flagged or not, the damage has been done. That user won't convert to a regular nor become a good user on our site or even edit and try to improve the question. This person may even tell others to steer clear of Workplace SE. While that might be extreme, we should definitely shoot for the goal of trying to grow and retain our users and readership by being nice. – jmort253 Oct 13 '13 at 2:46
  • @jmort253: 100% agree. But Joel Etherton is an avid Stackoverflow user. He knows the rules, protocols, and decorum. How can we really do any better? – Jim G. Oct 13 '13 at 3:11
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    @jim If he knows the rules why he is not following them? When prompted to "Ask for information or suggest improvements" are you actually saying that "The rest is whinging [sic]" fits either category? – dcaswell Oct 13 '13 at 14:06
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    those who are truly happy with how their lives and careers have turned out, don't need to respond with such hostility - There are people who are successful, and are happy that just enjoy being rude. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 14 '13 at 2:31

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