I understand that it's annoying to see questions that don't have artifacts. I understand that it is annoying that the people who post those questions don't seem to have bothered to read the tag usage guidance, or our help/on-topic page. I understand that a number of users would prefer that the entire tag and question type be removed/burnated. However we have a policy called Be Nice which we need to adhere to even when we don't like things.

Recently there seems to be an uptick in the amount of snarky, rude, and exasperated comments left on these types of questions, and it needs to stop. The recent (albeit controversial) blog post discusses how new users feel unwelcome, and whether or not you agree with the whole blog post or not, I think something we can agree on is that we should adhere to the Be Nice policy no matter who we are dealing with.

Snarky comments are not helpful and harm the reputation of our site, and leave everyone annoyed. We can curate and be polite at the same time. Being tactful and polite in what we say does not mean that we cannot be direct and to the point. For example, if we need to reply to an ITG question telling the OP why they are receiving downvotes, we can use something like this1:

Sorry, but game identification questions that rely solely on memory are off topic here (see this meta post and our help page). However, r/tipofmyjoystick might be an alternative for you to find the game you are looking for.

This is helpful to the asker as it clearly states why they received downvotes, and why the question is off topic, while being polite and offering them an alternative to where they can get help. Whereas something like this is likely to upset others and is frankly pretty rude:

Because you didn't read our rules and asked a question that has been closed 10000 times before. We do not allow game ID questions with no form of media - you have to post pictures, video or audio of the game in question. We don't do it via memory.

All in all, I think we can do much better than we currently are in this aspect, and I think this standard of politeness should be applied better to all questions and user interaction, not just ITG questions, but I have seen this problem most frequently in ITG questions. I know some moderators are pretty on-top of deleting comments that are not nice, and I personally will be more active in flagging them, but we shouldn't have them in the first place. So let's be more awesome about this shall we?

1 Anyone who can wordsmith this better is free to do so, or we can work together to create a better message.


This was my comment that I had left on a question with a -2 score and the user had asked why they had received downvotes on their question.

Honestly, I don't find that my comment was all that rude, although the tone of the comment was rather stern, so I can find how someone could think that I meant to bully them.

I simply wanted to state to the user that they didn't read our rules, and then state what our rules are. Maybe the "10000 times before" part is what the basis of the "Be Nice" policy is going for. If it is, I can see that.

I will work on the tone of my comments and try to point them in a better direction instead of just saying "read our rules".

  • 9
    Your comment was not the worst I've seen, and I didn't put your name specifically because I wasn't trying to call out people specifically, but rather raise awareness and try to have the community do better as a whole. It was just the first one I could find that I could show that could be nicer. Many of the others ones I've seen recently were purged/deleted prior to me writing this, so I couldn't reference them accurately. That being said, thanks for actively working towards being a bit better. I think it's something we all should do, as none of us are perfect. :)
    – Dragonrage Mod
    May 3 '18 at 21:21
  • 3
    I would hardly call that comment "rude" at all. It's perhaps a bit direct, but if people are getting offended by that, then it's no wonder SO felt compelled to release that controversial blog post.
    – Mage Xy
    May 4 '18 at 14:51
  • @MageXy I'm kind of with you Mage, I didn't seem to think it was all that bad when I wrote it, but to each their own I guess. I think the majority of what is going on is for SO not to turn into a dark part of the internet, because a lot of websites are being turned into complete garbage by trolls and what-have-you. With SO having rules and people not reading them, there's obviously going to be some backlash from new users who don't read them and just want to do whatever they want.
    – FoxMcCloud
    May 4 '18 at 16:05
  • 5
    @MageXy The fact that you don't see how the tone of the comment is rude is exactly the culture problem SO currently faces and why the blog post is needed. This is not a "trolls ruining the site" problem, it is every user being just a bit more rude, so then the rudeness becomes an established part of our site. We need to stop tolerating the rudeness if we want to prevent this site from becoming even more hostile to future visitors. May 7 '18 at 0:56
  • 2
    @GodEmperorDune I don't like that we are the ones that have to censor ourselves yet new users continually post bad/duplicate questions with hardly any penalty. The rules for each site are plastered everywhere. When you make a new account, when you ask a question, and on many of the already closed questions, you can easily see what's allowed and what isn't. I think if people are going to completely ignore all those notices and post bad stuff anyways, a handful of exasperated comments should be expected by those new users.
    – Mage Xy
    May 7 '18 at 5:58
  • 8
    @MageXy As an established user you see all these bad questions posted by new users. But to a new user, they asked a question for the first time, then you unload some of your anger and frustration from ALL the bad questions in the form of a snarky comment and they see hostility. They don't see all the other questions that you are projecting onto them. They just see that they came to get help, happened to ask something that was against the rules, and got blasted with snark. They are responsible for the questions they ask, but not for all the terrible questions that have ever been asked. May 7 '18 at 6:03
  • 3
    While I have not even been the recipient of these sorts of comments, the honesty and transparency of "Yes, that was me. I was the one who did that" is noticed and appreciated. Many in the community on this meta site seem ready to take ownership and responsibility, and it is one reason I keep coming back here. May 8 '18 at 1:40
  • 4
    @GodEmperorDune I don't see that as "blasted with snark". It was direct, but it wasn't inherently rude. What they said was truly what the situation was. Personally, I think that tone helps shape the site; it lets users know that there are guidelines and they are pretty serious on this site. We don't need to lie; they were direct about why the question wasn't well received. They didn't insult or attack the other user or anything. It wasn't malicious, it was blunt. I don't think our niceness policy is really about that. The people who usually seem "unwelcome" want the site to be differen
    – JMac
    May 8 '18 at 11:58

I usually don't even bother to leave a comment on ITG questions that are off-topic, since when they are closed, the closed reason will explain to them why.

But, if you feel you want to help the user out, briefly explaining to them why its off-topic, and pointing them in a direction where they can read more would be a good comment to leave. Something like:

Hey {user}, unfortunately, we do not answer "identify this game" questions from provided memories. You need to have an artifact from the game (something like a picture, or in-game audio) for your question to be valid. If you would like to learn more, please see our What topics can I ask about here page or this meta post.

  • 5
    This comment can still cause confusion, because it looks like our criteria are just arbitrary. We should just point out we don't identify games from memory alone.
    – Frank
    May 4 '18 at 22:41
  • 2
    @Frank I've went and edited the comment. I do not feel it was arbitrary in the first place, but it should be clearer now. It states that memory only ITG questions we do not handle, tells them what they need to have in their post, and points them to more resources if they want to know more. I don't see how it can be any more clear at this point.
    – Timmy Jim Mod
    May 7 '18 at 13:02

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