A recent question focused on a certain term led to some confusion for those trying to answer it, as the way the term was used in the question made it unclear what the user was asking. The user replied to the comments on their post in a bit of a hostile manner since the term wasn't immediately understood by other users. The user then deleted their question(?) and rewrote it in the same manner they commented in with linked examples of the term to explain what they meant.

Now, I researched the term in order to find information that would help me in providing an answer, but I saw the user's original question also posted on Reddit. The same user's reply to answers there involved the phrase "those [*****] at stack exchange", etc., which struck me as incredibly rude.

I'd rather not name any names, which is why I was so vague, but my question is:

In a situation where a SE user publicly refers to other SE users (without their usernames directly involved) in a derogatory and harmful manner on a different website, is/should the user be subject to some kind of action here?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ The two replies have pretty much covered it so I've nothing to add except to repeat an important internet saying... "Don't feed the troll". This sort of person wants attention, just treat them like a child throwing a tantrum and ignore them until they get over it. We can't police Reddit (and it sounds like a nightmare job if we could) so unless the behavior we're talking about is actually reaching the level of criminal behavior we keep our site clean and let their moderators worry about theirs. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 9:22

3 Answers 3


Was any specific user targeted directly?

If not, calm down.

comic from xkcd

We can not fix the internet, and as long as they are not harming the content on the site, like vandalizing answers or posting rude comments in the fields or in chat here, we can not really punish them.

"those [*****] at stack exchange" includes a lot of people, including you and me, so it can hardly be very person-oriented. (And I would not have taken it very seriously if I had seen it).

If the same person mocks the same person again multiple times, we are starting to have a problem.

Until then, get a cup of tea or whatever you drink in your country, and find a some nice posts to read here. There are plenty of better stuff to spend your time on.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You're right, sorry. I overreacted a bit there. Just making sure. $\endgroup$
    – Wylia
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 0:48
  • 12
    $\begingroup$ What I like about SE is that you have to contribute to the site in a positive manner in order to earn the privilege to act like a ------ here. It turns out they are often to lazy, and then they are forced to express themselves on a remote forum. The fact that they are now external means that the system works, and that they are now another place. They are now more a problem for themselves than for us. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ That's really true. I like how you think. $\endgroup$
    – Wylia
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ that's a comic from XKCD isn't it? $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 21:54

There are a few points to consider.

Someone is rude on StackExchange

Flag the offending post, indicate precisely the part that is offending. The moderators (remember to vote for them today) will see which actions need to be taken. They can directly delete the offending parts, up to ban a user with the help of the StackExchange staff. If the user starts calling name, it is more likely that they will get a free ticket to... any place which isn't here.

Someone is rude about SE users on other sites.

If you are yourself on that other site, you may consider appealing to the moderators there. Most forums prefer to avoid conflicts on public display.

If you are specifically concerned by the offense, you may consider legal actions. But those will probably result to be costly, and long. Is the offense really worth it?

The recommended approach is usually to follow Hohmannfan's answer: sit up, take a deep breath, and forget all about it.

Never to be done

Whether it is here or somewhere else, you should never reply and engage in the path proposed by the offending user. You have more to lose than to win.


You can't fix the Internet, as this answer points out. People on other sites will say things, sometimes things we don't like, and there's not much we can or should do about it.

Even when a user is specifically targeting a user off-site, there's not much SE can do about it. This doesn't even rise to the level of harassment; it's just somebody saying unkind things. A question was asked on Community Building about how a community can defend itself from this sort of thing; I said some things there that you might find helpful. Bottom line: don't feed the trolls, definitely don't engage a troll on his home turf (like his own blog), and if somebody is seriously misrepresenting the site (not just ranting) somewhere where it really matters, at most just offer a calm fact-check. For something like what you describe here, I'd just ignore it.

  • $\begingroup$ This is why I advocate a personal contact for eliminating such things $\endgroup$
    – user14789
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 23:18

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