Code of Conduct - PROs and CONs

by dtech   Last Updated August 08, 2018 23:24 PM

It seems to me that the "Code of Conduct" tramps down on freedom of expression. It also undermines what being friendly represents. And all this to no real benefit to the community as far as the purpose of the site and the quality of the content are concerned. Even worse, likely done to its detriment.


“You could Google this in 5 seconds.”


“This is called Invariance and Covariance. If you Google it, you’ll find tutorials that can explain it much better than we can in an answer here.”

Now, the first form might not be overly polite, but it does state a fact. And it doesn't incorporate any pejoratives, that some might argue are well justified, because ultimately, scolding can be useful to discourage OP laziness, whereas facing it with such "friendliness" may even encourage it.

“You could Google this in 5 seconds.” is not unfriendly just because it isn't overly friendly, it is at worst concise and neutral. And call me old-fashioned, but I think friendliness is something that one express towards friends, not random strangers too lazy to do a basic search. And finally, forced friendliness is insincere and fake. Who needs that? Is that the purpose of SXE? Or was it something about sharing knowledge?

One cannot really get offended unless one chooses to get offended, guided by desire to feel or present oneself as victimized. No logical response to any statement should ever result in taking offense. If the statement is false, it merits no further attention, and if it is true it is something that you either can or cannot address, in case of the former, the course of action is to address it and take a lesson and self-improve, in case of the latter it once again merits no further attention. There is absolutely nothing reasonable in taking offense, and nothing to be gained from it, it is 100% non-productive.

Letting emotions and insecurities cloud logic and reason. This is a weakness that shouldn't be facilitated, much less nurtured. And there is no amount of imaginary sensibilities that make surrendering to that weakness worth it.

When friendliness is enforced - people get spoiled, that's just how humans work, Be exclusively kind and people get on your head. In this regard, forced friendliness encourages offense taking and discourages logical processing of statements that may lead to self-improvement.

“You could Google this in 5 seconds.” - I would definitely tell that to a friend. There were times I didn't, and it ended up spoiling people and poisoning relations, no matter how many times and how carefully I explained that the answers I provided most of the time were literally the first hit returned from a basic search. Why bother searching, much less developing the basic skill to formulate decent searches, when someone else can do it for you? That's where being nice gets you a lot of the time, even with people you actually know and are friends with rather than internet strangers.

Is SXE the central authority that defines what "friendly" is?

I do recall a particular case about a Muslim participant who opened his question as is customary, or possibly even culturally and religiously mandatory, with something about "the name of Allah", which immediately got that user scolded, downvoted, promoting an even more toxic response, ultimately resulting the user being banned on the first post... for being friendly as defined by his cultural and religious customs.

That user was friendly enough to invoke the name of the creator of all (including this site) to the prosperity of the community, in much the same way the faithful greet one another.

Was it friendly for users and the staff to chastise that user in such a way? Insulting that which that person holds dearest above all else?

Especially in light of this:

No bigotry.

We don’t tolerate any language likely to offend or alienate people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion...

And yes, "pro-friendliness" user guidelines define stuff like "friendly" greetings as "just noise", which is as paradoxical as it is unfriendly, in fact it goes even further than that, I can imagine it being utterly insulting to equate the name of god to "just noise", so much so that in many parts of the world it is likely to be met with utmost "swift justice", featuring "angry mob" in the roles of judge and executioner. Also explaining the user's toxic reaction, amplified by the powerlessness to enact justice over the internet. I do recall the user being infuriated that his holy greeting was edited out of the question, which he desperately added back until the end.

So friendly, to enforce friendliness in a place where friendly greetings are handled in such an unfrinedly way. Oh, and also hypocritical.

I do realize that the site faces some problems which it tries to address by implementing certain new policies. But a lot of them problems stem from the loss of potent contributors, chased away exactly by those new policies. The community might be "growing" nicer, but it ain't growing healthier and more productive, not in my observation at least.

Avoid sarcasm and be careful with jokes

Irony and sarcasm are important literary techniques that add flavor to communicating, but more importantly, they also play important role in promoting development of character and social diversity.

I know lots of exceptionally knowledgeable and skilled people, in all sorts of fields, and many of them are rather eccentric and free-spirited, and what's "worse" but also understandable - cynical proportional to their intelligence, exactly the non-conformist kind of people that are more likely to simply walk away from being helpful than being forced to conform to a forced, insincere and overly verbose form of "friendliness", especially when it is unmerited. Laziness, zero effort and a "solve my problem for me" do not merit positive reinforcement, that stuff is plain out harmful. People are already nice and friendly enough to take from their time to help in their own unique way, but now they should also conform to how someone feels like this should be done?

I would certainly rather stop contributing, by which I lose nothing, rather than lose the freedom to be myself. And in the end, it is the community that loses.

Consider this if the site is indeed about the community and not about monetizing it... The amount of new "original content" is dropping sharply, and newcomers keep on asking about either trivialities or wide scope problems they really shouldn't be asking. I don't see how being nice will improve those, while I definitely see how it makes things even worse. On top of the highly ethical dilemma and the very inappropriate enforcement of what is essentially a harmful socio-political agenda.

Answers 1

Well, Stack Exchange at the end of the day is the final arbiter of what content they host. Unlike many places though you've had opportunities, and a space to give your input, and the COC is a work in progress.

'Freedom of Expression' - in a sense, is a bit of a myth. At the end of the day - you're still bounded by community standards, laws and sometimes you got to draw the line. We've typically had slightly blurred lines that were a little wavy. This kinda makes it clearer, and presumably someone straighter. Be Nice has always been a core policy at SE and that has not changed, just that there's more words saying it.

In many cases, if you have nothing nice to say - say nothing at all. There's other ways to express your displeasure at a user - downvotes and in many cases, closevotes would just as well as yet another person asking whether they googled something.

In a practical sense though this frees you up to worry about the content you dislike, and on the sweet juicy, difficult problems you're really here for.

Journeyman Geek
Journeyman Geek
August 09, 2018 02:17 AM

Related Questions

A hippy "Code of Conduct" or Be(yond) nice!

Updated February 26, 2017 12:24 PM