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Etiquette for posting comments

+9
−0

This question featured a quite heated discussion in the comments which led to some of them being removed. This action was discussed here and I have realized that our community lacks a guide about posting comments.

I would like for us to build together a list of topics we can include and avoid respectively, in the comments. These lists should stem from our Code of Conduct.

Can include

  • requesting clarifications for the author. Examples: "what was the output of line X?", "can you include the stack trace?", "can you provide a reference for the second paragraph?"
  • constructive criticism. Example: "why is foo() called twice?"
  • +1 or thank you notes, if they also provide a little bit of information. Example: +1. This also worked with version X of the framework Y.

Should be avoided

  • +1 or -1 with no explanation
  • snarky comments. Example: "Codidact is not your personal assistant"
  • references to overall author activity in the community. If you feel a user's activity is an issue, please use flagging instead of comments.
  • providing full answers in the comments (they should be added as answers)
  • secondary discussions or debates on controversial points (please ask a question on meta).

SO loosely used as a reference

Please provide your suggestions about what is OK and not OK to include in the comments.

Once we have reached a fairly stable answer for this, I will include it in the help topics and use it as a reference for moderation.

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General comments (2 comments)

5 answers

+4
−0

Proposal:

Can Include

  • Helpful feedback

I'd refrain from restricting the topic of feedback, because there are many possible topics:

  • Clarifying the question
  • Explaining why OP would be better served by asking a different question
  • Explaining how OP could have found a solution himself
  • Explaining why the question is in violation of site rules (the canned close reasons are too broad to achieve this)
  • Explaining other reasons why the question is poorly received

I think all of these add value and should be permitted.

In particular, our goal should not be restricted to improving this question so we can write answers for it, but to help OP in becoming a better software engineer. If they are harming themselves by using inappropriate tools, technologies, or approaches, we should speak up.

The name of this website, Codidact, means:

Learning (and teaching) together. “Co”, together (like in “collaborate”), and “didact” from “didactic”, teaching.

Teaching sometimes requires correcting mistakes.

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General comments (1 comment)
+7
−1

Regarding "snark" - it is very hard and subjective to define. Our overall code of conduct says "be nice", but where do you draw the line. On SO, general gruff attitude tends to be treated very differently from moderator to moderator. That's obviously far from ideal.

We would have to be smarter about this than SO was. During the so-called "welcome wagon" they tried to make a push against such comments, but that's just addressing part of the problem. The first person who was rude is usually the one posting a raw copy/paste of their homework assignment and expecting unpaid volunteers to do it for them. That's incredibly rude.

If we'd then decide to always take the side of the rude homework dumper, like SO did by only remove the rude responses to an even ruder question, people get upset. The wrong people too, because the homework dumpers are rarely ever interested in becoming long-term contributors and community members.

So if we want a zero tolerance against "snark", we must have a similar zero tolerance against homework dumps. Because they will come here sooner or later. It's not enough to instantly remove the homework dump question, it should also be accompanied by 1 week ban from the site, as a suitable first warning against such rude behavior.

Similarly, we must not make the same mistake as SO taking some poorly-considered, naively idealistic stance such as "there are no stupid questions". 10 years of SO experience rather shows that "there are some questions that aren't stupid". The majority of the questions posted there are very bad and should just get deleted.

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General comments (5 comments)
+3
−0

Should be avoided

  • secondary discussions or debates on controversial points (please ask a question on meta).

Just when is a discussion secondary? I think r~~ used the term "digressive", which I find to convey the intent better.

I get that we don't want to derail comment threads with lengthy tangential debates, in particular while threaded comments don't exist yet. But a thread is only derailed if the discussion is lengthy, so I think we should write that into the rule.

Also, digressive discussions might also be about technical points.

I therefore propose:

  • lengthy digressive discussions (should be moved to a separate question)
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+2
−0

Proposal:

Can Include

  • A link to a chat room related to the question or answer. Even if tangentially.

I've always found SO to be too dry. Sure, pleasantries are as helpful in a question or answer as finding them in each page of an encyclopedia.

But some times you find someone with a common interest. Maybe they have an e-mail in their profile, maybe you can meet them in chat. Maybe not and you have no way of indicating such mutual interest.

Would allowing a single link in a comment to a discord chat room indicating the wish for further exchanges be too disruptive? Meaning that if someone has posted a link then nobody can post any further link, a meeting place already exists. If this is allowed and actually used it might become later a feature integrated in the site, with a button for auto-creation of chat rooms by normal users. They'd be an opportunity to help building community rather than the purgatory that is formed with "comments are not for lengthly discussions, moved to (soon to be frozen) chat room".

I am not very proficient with Discord, so I don't know if the chat room creator becomes the moderator and that might cause "first dibs" issues. This might need to be further fleshed out.

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1 comment thread

General comments (4 comments)
+1
−0

Before posting this on the help pages, I will compile the feedback in a separate answer.

Generally speaking, comments should be helpful feedback and the following are not exhaustive lists.

Can include

  • asking for question clarification. Examples: "what was the output of line X?", "can you include the stack trace?", "can you provide a reference for the second paragraph?"
  • explaining why a different question might actually be what the poster is looking for
  • explaining how the poster can find a solution (e.g. what search terms to try)
  • explaining why the question is in violation of site rules
  • explaining other reasons why the question is poorly received (receiving downvotes or got closed) and what to do to improve it
  • +1 or thank you notes, if they also provide a little bit of information. Example: +1. This also worked with version X of the framework Y.

Should be avoided

  • lengthy digressive discussions (should be moved to a separate question)
  • +1 or -1 with no explanation
  • snarky comments. Example: "Codidact is not your personal assistant". Such comments can be easily replaced with clearer ones. Example: "Have you searched for X?". If the question shows no effort or it is very poor, you can downvote or flag for closure.
  • references to overall author activity in the community. If you feel a user's activity is an issue, please use flagging instead of comments.
  • providing full answers in the comments (they should be added as answers)
  • lengthy digressive discussions (should be moved to a separate question)
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