I don't really see Why. My first post, I just got Bullied. Got a -1. So I will say: I don't want to be part of this community. This is just an EGO trip. The guy signs in. Instead of welcome, some instructions, you right away get a -1, no reason given. My opinion may be bad... after all am not an American, I have a distinct CULTURAL BACKGROUND. Please at least say why you give me -1. No... This is rant. You may came and gave me a thousand of negatives. But I have to ask you. Why be part of this community? I don't feel myself welcome. Stack Exchange, in general, is a bad thing. But when you qualify things outside of science, where your opinion can be verified, it turns out to be just a new form of bulling. Place an opinion that diverges from the dictatorship of moderators, and you get a negative. No sir, I'm out. Not going to give a penny on that, ever. Is this our future? to have our free will destroyed by evil corporations, such as StackExchange? We have to fight you. Not be part of this. What do you think? Probably this will get deleted anyway. We don't need to create a dystopia. This is already one.The single minded dystopia of moderators of worldbuilding, culture, history. Why should you publish a scientific paper? just go to stacksomething and get the "baked truth". EDIT: Suppose Albert Einstein were just ressurected. How much reputation would he have, to start by? and how about the undergrad student that is the number one reputation in the site? how could it not be wrong? No rep, no right to express yourself

I just found this article, nailed it. It even says "how stack overflow hates new users". Imagine if the entire society was modeled after the reputation system of stack*. Just imagine. https://hackernoon.com/the-decline-of-stack-overflow-7cb69faa575d Three negatives, c'mon, it supposed to be more.

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    $\begingroup$ While your annoyance is understood, and is not without merit, you need to realize that many people view StackExchange in a drastically different way that conventional websites. There is a very strict and rigid set of guidelines, and many people think those guidelines should be upheld strictly. That might seem like bullying, and sometimes it is, but many people here view down-votes and closing posts as an impersonal thing that everyone should embrace. Ie: "My -1 is nothing personal, but I just disagree with your answer." I don't like that use of votes, but that's how it is. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Oct 3 '18 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ Also, it is regrettable if you ran into a drive-by down-vote from a troll, but even if that's what happened, as long as there is not a pattern you might want to try to ignore it. Trolls are everywhere, both on the internet and off of it. There are plenty of annoyances about StackExchange, but it seems to be a net positive when you average out the pros and cons. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Oct 3 '18 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ The issue of drive by downvotes has come up over and over again, it's one of those things that happens. The longer you're on the site the more of them you get (though in my case I've normally either baited the Americans or the religious). I'm just wondering why this has come up now when your only post is on a closed question from 4 years ago. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Oct 3 '18 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ I really don't see where this is coming from: on your only post before this one you have 2 upvotes and 1 downvote, and a positive comment. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Mod Oct 3 '18 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ Don't take getting a -1 personally, most new users don't always have a great sense of how it works on StackExchange and hence their questions and answers are often of poor quality (mine are no exception.) I would suggest that you take a look at the tour and the help sections so that you can get a grasp of writing good questions and answers. At the end of the day, there are always going to be trolls and people that disagree with you. $\endgroup$ – Boolean Oct 3 '18 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ Ducth, the positive votes were AFTER this question. You see, I needed to create a rant post (and, probably my next short story, since I am an author in my country) to get some positive review. To what benefit a new user should be negatived by older users? to make then quit? $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ Separatrix: I have no problem with downvotes, if I am an veteran user. But how about a new user? That wants to participate? Someone more timid than me? this is the use of power to shut up the powerless. The definition of dystopian systems... be part of our community, but don't say anything... $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 20:15
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    $\begingroup$ Is that a dystopian thing? YES or NO? how to fight it? fight from inside? quit and fight outside the system? Lets make it on topic $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ You said you are a writer. Have you ever looked up a question you had and then found a similar question on WB or another SE site? That, to me, speaks to how helpful the site is. I have been programming as a hobby for a while, and whenever I had a question about how to do something complicated, I would look it up. Usually, one of the top results was Stack Overflow. It was always easy for me to scroll through the list of answers and find what I was looking for. Later, I decided to join SO. Since then, I have joined WB too. I am here because I think the site really is helpful, not distopyan $\endgroup$ – John Locke Oct 3 '18 at 20:31
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    $\begingroup$ John: it is a nice thing. You could argue that the 1984 world is a nice one, it reduces the stress of the working classes by not presenting then to anyother way of life. You can always look at the bright side of life (Monty Python) $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ Anyone thinks it is a question that cannot be answered? I may close it. I was thinking about it being too much a matter of opinion. It should be more about the dystopian way this reputation system can be exploited. $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ @atorres Your edit shows that the comment privilege of not hard to get. Looking at your notifications in the corner, you already have a +10. If you only get one upvote per question, you will have enough to comment in only 5 answers $\endgroup$ – John Locke Oct 3 '18 at 20:58
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    $\begingroup$ I gave you a downvote, and here's why: By all appearances, your question is not actually a question at all, it's a rant, as you admit in the body of the so called "question" itself. And you have clearly not researched even the simplest of definitions of just the single word you selected as the main premise of your question. And failure to properly research is an onscreen definition of a reason to downvote. $\endgroup$ – Dalila Oct 3 '18 at 21:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Dalila See atorres' comment: "Is that a dystopian thing? YES or NO? how to fight it? fight from inside? quit and fight outside the system? Lets make it on topic" I think the question just needs to be edited to explain that's the actual question. I would do it, but I can't suggest edits on meta. $\endgroup$ – John Locke Oct 3 '18 at 21:41
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    $\begingroup$ There was a question on the site about building a utopia on the SE model, where I said that SE is actually a dystopia for many of the reasons you've mentioned, as expected it didn't go down particularly well. It's a participatory utopia, if the community accepts you and what you have to say then it's all fine and dandy. If the community rejects you then it's not exactly pleasant. But either way, the first downvote hurts in a way that's hard to define, after a while you get used to them. We don't downvote a lot here, so when it happens it's a bit of a shock. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Oct 4 '18 at 7:29

I'm confused.

Just about four years ago, you posted an answer and somebody downvoted it without leaving a comment. That's a bummer; you can't fix problems you don't know about. But drive-by downvotes happen.

As far as I can see, you didn't make any other posts here until today, when your answer got a neutral-to-positive comment and three upvotes. Then you posted this self-admitted rant.

What is it that you're unhappy about? Is this a delayed reaction to that downvote, or did something else happen today that confused or upset you? We want users, both new and old, to have good experiences here, but I'm going to need some help understanding what you're looking for.

  • $\begingroup$ First. reread the question. Is this an answer? $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ Second: ad hominen. Do you know what it means? So, you attack my reputation, not the argument. It is exactly the point WHY I never posted after 4 years. Because I got a negative. $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ @atorres it's an answer to the on-topic subset that I could distill from all that text. Should I have instead closed it as unclear what you're asking? And I made no personal attack, ad hominem or otherwise. I reviewed what I see of the public record to help expose what I'm missing -- I must be missing something if you're that upset. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Oct 3 '18 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ Third. The question is not about my happiness. Is about this being a dystopic system. Or not. $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ I don't care anymore about downvotes. As you said, I just gave up the stack thing entirely because of that vote. $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ I think you should close, it is going to personal analysis. It was my mistake, the first title was not what I meant to be. It is not a question of me, but the system as a dystopia, my personal experience is just an example $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ The question is confusing, but I think what it is asking is, based on one of atorres' comments, "Is that a dystopian thing? YES or NO? how to fight it? fight from inside? quit and fight outside the system? Lets make it on topic" You could edit the question so that is stated more clearly. I can't do it because I don't have enough rep. $\endgroup$ – John Locke Oct 3 '18 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnLocke I'm sorry, but I don't know how to turn that into an on-topic question (that's not primarily opinion-based) on either meta or main. The OP is going to have to make that edit. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Oct 4 '18 at 0:53
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    $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio The up-votes came after this question. I know that because I coincidentally refreshed and clicked on this question when it was only seconds old and found the original answer in question with a total -1 score. So OP suffered a -1 and did not get advice nor enough attention to come out of it which is regrettable. This question then brought renewed attention to that one which brought the positive score. It is an over reaction, though an understandable one, and ironically the attention brought by the complaint helped and slightly reduces the validity of this question. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Oct 4 '18 at 15:39


Using this definition of Dystopia (from Google):

"an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one."

  1. Stack Exchange is not imagined

  2. Stack Exchange is not a place, a state, or a state of being

  3. I have seen 'pleasant' and 'good' (opposites of "unpleasant" and "bad") come from Stack Exchange, so even if I am alone in this, my experience makes the "everything is unpleasant or bad" premise false, as even a single item of difference in a group contradicts the definition of "everything" in that phrase.

  4. As far as I know, there is nothing 'totalitarian' about Stack Exchange. Quite the opposite actually, as everything revolves around 'votes' as you yourself pointed out, and which is a concept alien to totalitarianism by definition.

  5. As Stack Exchange is not a place, "environment" in the physical sense does not apply. Your single downvote, and your reaction to it, are the only examples of any negativity in the virtual environment that I have come across, leading me to conclude that the virtual environment here is also un-'degraded'.

In summary, no part of the definition of "dystopia" applies to Stack Exchange, in whole or in part, so the answer to your question is decidedly "no".

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 1) If it's not imagined and is real, then it must be a place. 2) It is a virtual place, as hinted to by your #1 (not imagined). 3) That is true, but I have never seen anyone use the term dystopia to insist that there is not a single good thing about the subject; I doubt many people are aware of that "all or nothing" part of the definition - I wasn't. 4) The tyranny of the majority (aka democracy) very much can be totalitarian, and many of us believe SE is. 5) SE is a virtual place and environment, but your insinuation of OP's overreaction ("single down-vote") seem accurate. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Oct 4 '18 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ ... So while I agree that OP has over reacted, the "not dystopian" answer requires an extremely literal and legalistic outlook... hey, what'd'ya know, that sounds a bit dystopian. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Oct 4 '18 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Aaron So...my dystopian outlook leads to a conclusion that it's a non-dystopian virtual environment? If that's the case, then I have to assume that other conclusions can only be reached through a non-dystopian outlook, such as the OP's and 'many of us' you referred to. Therefore, the truth of whether or not it is dystopian depends on "a certain point of view". Hey, what'd'ya know, that sounds a bit 'opinion based'. Close the question? No, that would be dystopian. Leave it open? No, it's opinion based=catch22. Now what? I only have 1 point of view, my own, so I have no other answer to provide $\endgroup$ – Dalila Oct 4 '18 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ wrote "Now what?" Now we mark the question as a duplicate of "Would the principals of Stack Exchange work in a real-world Utopia?" since the answers there deal with this question's primary point, and we watch as the new user fumes some more. The SE model is hard for a lot of people to accept, as it is an exceptional model (not meant good or bad, just literally, it is an exception). $\endgroup$ – Aaron Oct 4 '18 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ Also, none of it really matters anyway (my opinion in my initial comment here included), as it doesn't change how OP feels and does not address what he really seems to be after (in the oh so thinly veiled question). OP should have written the question in some witty way to make it more amusing and humorous and also on topic for main so it didn't get migrated to meta, then the reaction would have been much better. But then, that can't be expected of a new user getting used to the site. We aren't helping that user get acquainted here in a friendly way. :( $\endgroup$ – Aaron Oct 4 '18 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ I may be blunt and tactless, but that's not the same as unfriendly. If I come across as unfriendly, I apologize, it's an unfortunate aspect of my personality that I try to mitigate as best I know how. My answer, and all related comments, were nothing more than an honest effort to both directly answer the question, while also providing the explanation that the OP specifically mentioned was desired. In other words, it was my best effort to do exactly the opposite of what I understand to be what the OP expressed was the cause of the negative experience, and therefore create a more positive one $\endgroup$ – Dalila Oct 4 '18 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ Oh I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to say that your answer here is being unfriendly! Rather, I'm speaking to what prompted OP's question here. Despite OP saying "This isn't a question about my situation but about WB being dystopian," OP is using their own situation as an example and ranting about how awful they were bullied. So really, OP is pissed that they were bullied (not my assumption, OP isn't even trying to hide it). I get that your answer was taking only the question as asked into account; I tangenting off into the actual problem at hand. Sorry. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Oct 4 '18 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ No worries. I didn't take it personally. You clearly said "we", and I understood that to mean anyone the OP has interacted with here on Stack Exchange, since their first post. Since I can't speak for the rest of "we" I can only apologize for any part I might play in any negative experience of the OP, you, or anyone else that might read it. $\endgroup$ – Dalila Oct 4 '18 at 18:06


Stack Exchange is an organization designed to help people find answers to their questions. In this way, it is similar to other Q and A sites. However, SE follows a strict code of conduct. On SE, there is none of the thread hijacking that you see on other forums like Google Sites. We follow a one question-one answer policy. That means someone has a specific question and they get specific answers. The most relevant answers are stored to the top by upvotes and downvotes. SE is trying to put everything in one place to make it easier for others to see answers to questions they might have too. That's why there is no thread hijacking and why there are multiple sites, each with a different specialization. The reputation is part of this. Rep encourages people to keep using the site, and it's a way of keeping the site focused and positive. Reputation is just part of the moderation, in the same way that other QA sites have some form of moderation.

Because of the above reasons, I would argue that SE is not a dystopia.SE is just another QA site trying a different approach to moderation and question asking.

Bringing it down

My initial suggestion is this:

If you get one downvote, don't worry. Many users have a hard time getting used to the site because of its requirements. My suggestion is to try again. If you decide you still don't like the platform, that's fine. No one will make you stay, and you can find another platform to use. SE is not for everyone because of the requirements I mentioned. Nevertheless, I think this is a helpful, encouraging community, both Worldbuilding and Stack Exchange.

If you are adament on wiping SE off the face of the Earth, here is my suggestion:

Leave the site. By asking a question, you are giving people on the site something to do. You are creating more pages for search engines to index, hence more views, meaning more users joining the site. You are giving people the chance to answer, which gets upvotes (at least before it was moved to meta), which will in turn make the users more likely to continue using the site. If you instead decide to write a blog post about how unfair SE is, that page will get indexed by search engines too. Some of the people who see it and don't already know what SE is will check it out. Some of those people will join the site. Anything you do to point out the unfairness you see will only increase the activity on the site. Therefore, the most logical way to take it down is remove as many outside references to the site as possible. Deleting your profile and answers will work. I don't suggest it at all, but that is one way. No matter what you do, you will probably have very little effect on the site. It's like if you wanted to take down Google. There is not much you can do. The difference is that Google has competitors and more people who are angry at/concerned with what they do.

  • $\begingroup$ Not quite an answer. Is this a model for dystopia? I think it is. Because of the reputation system. You need reputation to defend your viewpoint. Someone with greater reputation can harm your reputation, no reason given. Specially if you are a new user. $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ @atorres You don't need rep to defend anything. Even if you were to never get any upvotes, you don't lose anything. You also don't gain anything tangible with more reputation. It's sort of like a videogame. If you win the game, nobody gives you a trophy. If you lose it, you don't have to give away a trophy. The reputation has two parts- it is for encouraging users to keep helping out, and it is also to stop trolls. You need a good amount of rep to do things like use the chat, comment on other posts, and use review qeues. When you get that rep and then abuse the site, you have something to lose $\endgroup$ – John Locke Oct 3 '18 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ John Locke: No? why does it says that I need 50 reputation to post? But I don't have it. You know that is not true... $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ @atorres you can always comment on your own posts, and answers to your own questions. To comment anywhere else, you'll need 50 rep. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Oct 3 '18 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ John, not a non-profit org; Stack Overflow, Inc. is a for-profit company, though they aren't monetizing most of the Q&A sites (including this one). They sell ads on SO and some other bigger sites and they have other sources of income. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Oct 3 '18 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ Monica: Not to mention whatever they do with our personal data. Who knows... it is all connected, browser history, google cookies... $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ @atorres data policies are covered in the terms of service. SE isn't selling your browsing habits to advertisers, if that's what you're asking about. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Oct 3 '18 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Monica Cellio thanks, I will edit that out $\endgroup$ – John Locke Oct 3 '18 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ I hope so Monica. But then again, it is not uncommon to see exploits, bug and so far. Just read the facebook news, the manipulation of elections. Not accusing stack, you don't even have the power to do that. But imagine if facebook had a reputation system. It is much like a black mirror episode. $\endgroup$ – atorres Oct 3 '18 at 21:02
  • $\begingroup$ @atorres I did not realize what the question really was asking until you commented about it. I have revised my answer to follow that format and added a taking it down section. $\endgroup$ – John Locke Oct 3 '18 at 21:31
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    $\begingroup$ @atorres Actually, Stack Overflow Inc is probably one of the more transparent companies I've seen. What other large-ish company awards more or less random people who have, in effect, few credentials other than having contributed useful content, the same sorts of rights that the official development team and community coordinators have? Being elected moderator by the community of a site is not trivial, but it's not difficult. SO Inc applies their GDPR compliance measures to all users, not just those in the EU, (...) $\endgroup$ – user Oct 4 '18 at 6:38
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    $\begingroup$ (...) and company representatives have spoken out in public in favor of doing so and of the GDPR on multiple occasions that I've seen. SO Inc makes a wealth of data publicly available, not least via the Data Explorer, which allows running pretty much arbitrary SQL queries against user-contributed content data. And so on. Does any of this mean that SO Inc is perfect? Almost certainly not. Does it mean their code is free of bugs? Of course not. It does make at least me more inclined to trust them than to trust a lot of other companies, Facebook and Google included. $\endgroup$ – user Oct 4 '18 at 6:38

Worldbuilding.SE isn't the dystopia of the future. It isn't a dystopia at all. It's the most egalitarian website you'll ever find. We have clear and specific rules about what can be asked on any particular SE site and how it can be asked.

What's dystopic is that some users (especially new users) think (a) they can and should be allowed to ignore the site rules, (b) that they shouldn't be restricted while they learn how to use the site and (c) that on a self-regulating and self-moderating site that no one should ever be made to feel bad.

The reality is that the rules do a pretty good job of helping people who have no experience with the site deal with the purpose and goal of the site while growing accustomed to the enormous variety of users.

And yet few people take the time to understand any of this.

We've even tried to create a culture page to help people understand all this. Very few people take the time to read it, even when it's posted as a comment to new users.

Is SE perfect? Heavens, no! But I like it better than Reddit, Quora, and the other open-question forums — specifically because there are rules that help us establish a modicum of quality. But it's not for everyone, because it expects you, the new user, to be as responsible about using the site as me, the experienced user, because this is not a public forum.

And perhaps that's the gist of the problem. You're asking that everyone else using a site you didn't build adhere to your code of behavior (rather than you adhering to the code of behavior expected by the site built by somebody else). Life doesn't work that way — though you'd be surprised how often people try to make it that way. We live in a world that increasingly believes everybody else is at fault when life doesn't work out as planned.

And that truly is dystopic — the totalitarianism of the unprepared, the uneducated, and the unwilling to conform to the rules of someone else's house.


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