We often get questions where the topics involve someone acting (either intentionally or accidentally) unprofessionally, and invariably these questions end up with controversial answers, and answers that include off topic opining about the politics, and/or person preferences, of the answering party.

This opining invariably leads to comment discussions and arguments which devolve into ad-hominim attacks, divisiveness, and general abuse of the be nice policy. And attempts to edit the answer to remove this content from the answer are usually rolled back and often create more problems.

I propose that we request a new post notice that reminds users of the be nice policy and informs users that answers to this question that include divisive opinion that is not directly answering the question may be deleted by the moderation team, and violations of the be nice policy may result in a suspension of privileges.

Questions we need answered:

Do we want this notice?

If yes What should the wording be?

Note: Since the Be Nice policy is always applicable, we need a wording that expresses that this question in particular is likely to be controversial/emotional/etc and so be extra-careful here.

If not why not?

Update: Here is the Meta Request - Request for a new post notice for The Workplace

  • 1
    This seems like a reasonable idea to me.
    – Neo
    Oct 2, 2017 at 15:23
  • 3
    Are you talking about the things that mods put on a post like "We're looking for answers that..."?
    – Chris E
    Oct 2, 2017 at 15:59
  • @ChrisE I think that is a great way to implement the idea, if the system allows for it!
    – Neo
    Oct 2, 2017 at 16:00
  • 5
    @ChrisE yes that is what I am proposing. Oct 2, 2017 at 16:06
  • 2
    @JoeStrazzere - Questions that get flagged requesting the notice that the mods agree the post notice is approriate similar to the Long answers post notice. Oct 2, 2017 at 16:07
  • Are the moderators able to add a customized message?
    – Neo
    Oct 2, 2017 at 16:10
  • 1
    @MisterSortofPositive I think No, see this post, where they indicate there are 6 types of post notices: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/165006/…
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Oct 2, 2017 at 16:47
  • Also found this post where they indicate "If we need any new notice types please raise it here - we can decide if we need a site specific one or a global one." - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/102363/support-for-banners
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Oct 2, 2017 at 16:49
  • 3
    @GrayCygnus - Well I am hoping to get the support of this site before I make the post on meta. Also would love to get a community buy in on the appropriate wording to suggest. If the initial request gets shot down because the wording was bad. Then a subsequent request will get shot down as a duplicate of the original request Oct 2, 2017 at 16:54
  • 5
    It is possible to get a custom post notice for our site. (Another site I moderate has one.) SE needs to see community consensus behind a specific wording. There's a length limit but I'm not sure what it is. Since the Be Nice policy is always applicable, I think we'd want a wording that expresses that this question in particular is likely to be controversial/emotional/etc and so be extra-careful here. Oct 2, 2017 at 17:38
  • 2
    One downside of locking a post is that it prevents changes of any kind -- including close and delete votes and edits. Sometimes we want to keep those actions available. (There's a longstanding feature request on Meta.SE to be able to just lock comments.) Oct 2, 2017 at 17:57
  • 1
    @JoeStrazzere - Because there is no ability for the mods to add an adhoc post notice. And SE is incredibly unlikely to add that IMO. But feel free to add that as an answer to why not Oct 2, 2017 at 18:12
  • 2
    Yeah, we've asked for the ability to pin a comment (making it always visible and prominent), which would allow for ad-hoc messages, but we don't have that either. Sometimes I even resort to asking a couple people to update my "Moderator note: ..." comment just to get it "above the fold". Anyway, ad-hoc notices aren't possible; comments are the best we can do there; comments help some but have problems too. Oct 2, 2017 at 18:30
  • 2
    @JoeStrazzere I've found post notices to be a rare enough occurence that I always to see which one it is. And because they're never ad-hoc, reading 3 words is enough to jog your memory about why they put it up.
    – Erik
    Oct 3, 2017 at 6:54
  • 2
    I posted some stats on the effectiveness of this feature on meta Philosophy. May 18, 2018 at 19:38

3 Answers 3


We discussed this request internally a few weeks back, and then I kept my eyes open with it in mind.

Here are, I believe, the key factors to consider when constructing such a post notice:

  1. Responses to the question have already gone off the rails. All of the proposed notices here serve only to remind readers of things they should already be keeping in mind when responding to questions. Or responding to anyone, anywhere, ever. The only reason we'd need a special notice is that things have broken down to the point where an extra reminder is needed.

  2. It's worth mentioning comments as well. In fact, comments seem to spin out of control a lot faster than answers in these scenarios, so I'm kinda inclined to focus on them more than answers... But realistically, soapboxing in either venue is a problem and we need to discourage both.

  3. The notice needs to get to the point, fast. If folks are already inclined to ignore basic etiquette because they feel it's sooo important to jump on their soapbox FOR THE GOOD OF HUMANITY... There's already a good chance they're gonna ignore anything meant to discourage that. Subtle, passive, lengthy reminders and links to other pages aren't gonna cut it - we need to convince readers that soapboxing is going to be a waste of time in as few words as possible.

With that in mind... Here's what I've implemented:

Controversial Post — You may use comments ONLY to suggest improvements. You may use answers ONLY to provide a solution to the specific question asked above. Moderators will remove debates, arguments or opinions without notice.

the notice as it appears in the moderator UI

  • " You may use comments ONLY to suggest improvements" - I thought comments were intended as a vehicle with which to seek clarification? Oct 28, 2017 at 14:55
  • 2
    Comments are used for many things; arguably the intent was simply an outlet for interactions that weren't answering. But in the scenario this notice is intended for, suggesting improvements is likely to be the only form of comment to avoid trouble.
    – Shog9
    Oct 28, 2017 at 19:52
  • 2
    Hmm... Hopefully your new wording won't just add to the confusion around comments. I guess we'll see. Oct 28, 2017 at 19:58
  • 2
    Was part of the intent here to raise the bar for moderators to use the post notice? I think mods will be less willing to apply the post notice here than the one originally proposed. Which may be the way it should work. Oct 28, 2017 at 21:19
  • 4
    Thanks Shog. I might have said "request improvements" rather than "suggest improvements", to signal that requesting clarification is in, but I still think it's a good addition to our tools. Oct 29, 2017 at 1:35
  • 3
    In general, I think post notices should be rare, @IDrinkandIKnowThings. Sprinkling them around like salt to ward off monsters is just gonna make folks ignore them.
    – Shog9
    Oct 30, 2017 at 16:23

This sounds like a good idea to me as well. I think the reasoning for why has been pretty clear, so I'd like to suggest a wording like this:

This question deals with a topic about which many people have strong opinions. We respectfully ask that answers keep their focus on the question, and that those answering refrain from sharing personal opinions unless relevant to answering the question. And as always, please remember to Be Nice

  • 2
    I wish I could bounty in meta Oct 3, 2017 at 15:14
  • 3
    I think the Be Nice policy should be mentioned in the post notice, as is something of importance and that was discussed earlier.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Oct 3, 2017 at 15:19
  • 3
    Agreed with @GrayCygnus. Maybe just a simple "And as always, please remember to Be Nice."
    – David K
    Oct 3, 2017 at 16:38

Do we want this notice? If yes What should the wording be?

I say yes, but let's see what others think (based on comments and the votes on this question seems that others think the same).

People may argue about its effectiveness as a preemptive measure for problematic posts, but it is true that at least some users will read it and refrain from rage posting, or better reword their answers. This will surely help reduce the problems to be handled in the aftermath of a controversial/emotional post.

Some posts I've been reading that found useful for pondering this question are:

  • Support for Banners? - Which seems to be the original thread about creating Post Notices, where some good feedback is provided as well as some proposals that we could use as examples.

  • Handling current events - Where one can see the process our fellow users from Skeptics SE went through when suggesting a Post Notice for them handling current event questions in their network (Shog9 even appraised one of the suggestions in the Support for Banners post).

  • What are these Notices under my Post - the FAQ for Post Notices.

Now, one wording I propose is the following (any feedback welcomed):

> ![current event](https://i.stack.imgur.com/z3Vvo.jpg) [Great subjective questions and answers](https://stackoverflow.blog/2010/09/29/good-subjective-bad-subjective/) have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone. This post seems to **be more sensitive/emotional** than others, so be **especially careful** when posting your answers/comments, so you don't break our [Be Nice](https://meta.stackexchange.com/help/be-nice) policy.

Which looks like:

current event Great subjective questions and answers have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone. This topic seems to be more sensitive and opinionated than others, so be especially careful when posting your answers/comments, so you don't break our Be Nice policy.

(The icon I got from google and resized it, a proper icon should be chosen if it is to be added. Some Post Notices use them, so I though this one could.)

I thought of that wording as it mentions to be extra careful here, the Be Nice policy, and also has a strong argument backed up by the Good Subjective, Bad Subjective post, as TWP contains more subjective-ish posts compared to other sites like SO.

  • 1
    I realize this came from my (off-the-cuff) comment, but I think we can just say "sensitive" instead of "sensitive/emotional". Also, I had no idea post notices could include images; where did you see that? Oct 3, 2017 at 14:07
  • 1
    I personally think the icon looks clunky, but that's just my subjective opinion.
    – David K
    Oct 3, 2017 at 14:59
  • Yeah it looks clunky, I did it in 3 minutes. If an icon is to be used a more fit option should be included.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Oct 3, 2017 at 15:10
  • 2
    You shouldn't call a post sensitive, call a topic or an issue sensitive. I'm also not sure you can reference both questions and answers in the same notice. I wouldn't put that notice on a question where an abuse victim is asking for help because a former abuser was just hired at their office...
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Oct 3, 2017 at 15:14
  • @MonicaCellio I saw that in the Handling Current Events post from Skeptics SE. In some cases, I sumulate an edit, or see the revisions to see what the raw markup is to be used, in this case I think is the ! before the icon. I am going to include in the answer the raw version of it if it helps.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Oct 3, 2017 at 15:15
  • 1
    @Lilienthal oops yeah, topics are sensitive, not posts. And yes we need to think about application to both questions and answers; we're not going to get two different variants of a new post notice. Oct 3, 2017 at 15:17
  • @GrayCygnus oh, it was part of the proposal. I'm not sure it got implemented that way, though -- I don't have an easy way to find instances in the wild on Skeptics. Have you seen a real live post notice with a graphic in it? Oct 3, 2017 at 15:18
  • @MonicaCellio now that you mention it No, I haven't seen one that I recall ... going to do some rewording based on your and Lilienthal's suggestions.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Oct 3, 2017 at 15:21

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