One of the things I've always loved about Stack Exchange sites is how nice the community is. When I'd asked question at say, Rails Forum, I'd be told how stupid I was for not reading the docs or that my code sucked, whatever. I come to Stack Overflow and I just get answers and help. I love that.

I've only been at Scifi.Se for a few days, and already the community seems to be devolving into passive-aggressive, smart-ass comments and a general lack of respect. It's not bad yet, but I see the signs and it's already made me think of just abandoning this beta all together. It's not like that on Writers.Se -- people there are generally trying to form a community and work together to build a site. When a question is posted that's maybe not the greatest -- no one posts a link to a Wikipedia article in the comments and says something along the lines of "what, this not enough detail for you." They try to guide the question into something that will work. Unfortunately that site looks poised to die.

That's not happening here. It started with the mass-closing of more than a dozen questions by someone, while an SE moderator, hadn't really taken the time to participate in the community. To his credit, when a question he closed was reopened he's asked why people found it interesting. It was my question, so I'm staying out of it.

I'm trying to post a lot of questions, actually, of different kinds, to see what the community likes and will tolerate. I strongly disagreed with the closing of that particular question, because it wasn't open-ended, wasn't subjective and was something actually has interested me for a while. I figured someone would know. But, whatever, had the community not reopened then, I think that's good, too. It helps to shape the site and for all of us to know going forward what's working and what's not.

I also see some early problems of trying to force the site into something that it's not. Maybe it's just that this type of site and this topic is not well suited to what the SE model is. Maybe, the SE model needs to adapt a bit and allow types questions that wouldn't work at say Stack Overflow or Superuser, because this is a fundamentally different kind of topic. I don't know.

But the point is, this is a beta. We all need to feel free to be able to pose questions and we need to deal gently with each other as we come to consensus. My roommate actually joined at my prodding. He's a huge sci-fi fan and I was like, you need to post a questions. He won't, because he's afraid of how people will respond after lurking over the last day or so and seeing how some of the question were responded to and the moderating style. That should concern all of us.

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    This post is conspicuously lacking in examples. Exactly what "smart-ass comments and general lack of respect" are you seeing and where? Is this really more than just another "I should be able to post whatever questions I want!" rant? – Aaronaught Jan 22 '11 at 17:26
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    There's one, if you really want examples. I don't want to call specific people out but will, if necessary. – Slick23 Jan 22 '11 at 17:28
  • Feel free to call out if they've just posted another hate filled post. Was thinking it was more plain aggressive than passive-aggressive though. – Eight Days of Malaise Jan 22 '11 at 17:29
  • Do you have more examples than the one stink rot in the barrel? – Eight Days of Malaise Jan 22 '11 at 17:48
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    @finalDraft, you've said multiple times you think i'm not participating in the site. I have to ask what gave you that idea? I'm here - on both meta and the parent site - answering questions and responding to comments. Also i'm only 3 people off the first page of the users list. I'm just curious where you got that idea from? – Zypher Jan 22 '11 at 19:30
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    You're here now, which I like and appreciate. On the 20th, when you came through and closed all those questions, you'd posted two answers to the site ten days earlier. – Slick23 Jan 22 '11 at 20:06
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    I've just got more time to research and give well thought out answers right now, that doesn't mean I wasn't logging in and reading the site every day. There are many aspects to participating in an SE site, not just answering questions. Although that is the most visible and best way. Also I had been participating in meta as well - probably a bit more – Zypher Jan 22 '11 at 20:15
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    Also you should answer my question - don't stay out of it! If you thought it was a good question to ask then you should let me know why there. – Zypher Jan 22 '11 at 20:17
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    @zypher clearly you are participating more now. However, you've cast 4 upvotes and no downvotes. Are you using close-votes when you should just use a normal vote? Or are SE moderators not meant to do that? – Tony Meyer Jan 22 '11 at 20:47
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    @Zypher if your going to lead you need to lead by example. You haven't asked a single question on parent. I knew in advance what questions to ask to avoid closure, I'd ask them instead of asking what comes to mind. – MatthewMartin Jan 23 '11 at 1:16
  • @MatthewMartin that's just my nature, I don't ask many questions if you look at my profile on my primary site (serverfault.com/users/5880/zypher) i have 10 questions and 544 answers. I'm the type of person that wants to go research things, and share what i've learned. – Zypher Jan 23 '11 at 5:49
  • @Tony re down votes, once again that is just who I am I've cast 40 down votes to 291 upvotes on SF. But no If i think it doesn't deserve a close/downvote I tend to do nothing. – Zypher Jan 23 '11 at 5:51
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    @Final Draft - This is coming across as you being rather hostile to Zypher, who helped tame the site when it needed it. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Jan 23 '11 at 5:58
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    @Tony Meyer - I'm not sure how it works with SE employees such as Zypher, but regular mods don't have the ability to cast a close vote, they can only close a question. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Jan 23 '11 at 6:01

I think that it's starting to work. While the overall number of questions has gone down, the caliber of them has gone up. The ones that are being closed fit into categories that the more experienced members and mods usually agree are argumentative (With a few exceptions). Here's a few examples of what I think are great questions that is the purpose for this community, that were posted in the last day. I think we're making progress:-)

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    I would agree it's limited to a handful of members, mostly ones who are very new to this specific site. Those are good questions, and I'm not just saying that because one is mine :) – Slick23 Jan 22 '11 at 18:17

I posted one question here and was excited to do more, but I don't think I will. I do find the discussion to be hostile and unwelcoming sometimes, especially in the meta. I mean, case in point is a user posts a discussion saying he's worried the community is devolving toward hostility, and you've get replies like this: "I frankly only see one person being an asshole here, and it's not the author of this answer. Actually, two people" from someone who's got about as much rep as I do here. I mean, you want examples, just read this meta. And hey @aaron, Why not discuss, instead of accuse? I just think those so concerned about the quality of questions should 1) start posting their own questions and 2) start helping new users write better questions instead of running around being soooooooo negative all the time.

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    And I'll add, fundamental respect is just lacking. – Kyle Jan 22 '11 at 18:08
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    "A user" did not post a discussion, he posted a rant and refused to listen to any responses, and subsequently started referring to all of those responders as assholes. Even before that, this very question is showing an immense disrespect for the existing community and moderators based on (apparently) just one example. That, to me, is the real hostile, anti-social behaviour here. Other people are legitimately trying to improve the quality to acceptable levels while a few selfish people rant about their questions being closed. It's strange who you choose to blame. – Aaronaught Jan 22 '11 at 18:27
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    I think when he said that he was referring to the general tone of people on the site, not everyone in that thread. It's not a rant. It's general concern for the site. BTW -- have you looked at your stats on the parent site compared to finals? You've posted exactly 0 questions and 0 answers. Why are you even here? – Kyle Jan 23 '11 at 1:45

Maybe we could be kinder. See where that's gotten things?

The mass closings was the kick in the face this site needed to ask itself, what's the point?

Look at the type of questions that flood this ill-reasoned site.

  • what book to read next?
  • what are some questions to ask authors at a con?
  • name that actress who was in that episode of a show?
  • who else thought Flash Gordon was great?
  • where can I get some juicy public domain material for my fanfic?
  • who are the influences of this author?
  • list the actors considered for a part in this show?
  • remember that novel about a time-traveller with an iron lung?
  • what's a good scifi movie you can recommend with cyberpunk?

If anything, the tone and tenor is just following the quality and range of questions posted. At least there's a consistency in that.

We can hold hands all day long singing about marshmallows while drinking cups of tea. But the reality is that totally ignores the core questions this site really needs to figure out.

  • But if new users are scared off, then what ... ? – Slick23 Jan 22 '11 at 17:29
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    And, I know what you're opinion is because since you've arrived, you've done a lot of talking about how horrible all the questions are here. When do you plan to post something better? My point is, if the questions are so bad and you're so sure they so bad -- can you give us something better? You've not posted a single question. – Slick23 Jan 22 '11 at 17:32
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    Closed Beta isn't the time for worrying about them just yet. Until this site has a better sense of what the point is, the last thing we need to worry about is how to welcome the people we'll have to explain that point to. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 22 '11 at 17:33
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    It's actually public beta, but yeah. I think the tone is getting agressive, the moderation is hard-handed. Yes, prune and close. But a dozen all at once? When you've not bothered to really participate in the site at all? It'll scare people away and it will kill the site as much as it will help it. – Slick23 Jan 22 '11 at 17:35
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    @Final Draft: New users aren't the ones you need to worry about now. If the existing users can't get their act together, you're doomed. And besides, new users aren't going to bother coming here in the first place unless the site has some unique value to offer. There are already thousands of SF forums. – Aaronaught Jan 22 '11 at 17:39
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    Why? Traffic has to reach a point to make the site viable, correct? 90 percent should be coming from search engines, correct? New users are going to come and post questions, correct? That's how it works, right? – Slick23 Jan 22 '11 at 17:41
  • Posted two examples. One was admittedly iffy, the other didn't feature anything about an existing franchise, so was closed. @fin – Eight Days of Malaise Jan 22 '11 at 17:42
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    That's ridiculous. This is a public beta. Why would you not want to attract new users? – Kyle Jan 22 '11 at 17:42
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    @Final, Eight: The problem with “prune and close” is that we do not agree on which ones are the good questions. – user56 Jan 22 '11 at 17:43
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    @Gilles: Which, I don't think is bad. The way we respond to each other when we disagree is starting to be, though. We should be helping and prodding each other toward better questions. Not being assholes. – Slick23 Jan 22 '11 at 17:46
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    @Final: Maybe I've kept away from the worst, but aside from a couple of insults towards people who like fantasy, I don't have a problem with the tone. However, so far, I see the disagreement as leading to either close/reopen wars or immobilism, neither of which will make the site work. @all: rather than post a comment every minute on a question that is itself 90% “passive-aggressive, smart-ass comments”, I suggest continuing in chat. – user56 Jan 22 '11 at 18:00
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    @Kyle: This subject has been re-hashed and re-re-hashed on nearly every single SE beta. You want to generate traffic and attract new users, yes, but that doesn't mean heaping pound after pound of trivialities upon the site. Read the bottom of the No Artificial Intelligence post where it says, and I quote: Watch for and discourage pedestrian questions early in the beta. If you can't provide a certain level of quality then the site is going to die a slow death because no outsiders will be interested. – Aaronaught Jan 22 '11 at 18:03

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