Avoiding unnecessary engagement in pointless arguments

It’s an essentially unavoidable fact that people will come to this forum and make confident statements or demands that reasonable people who are experienced in the language strongly disagree with. These people will sometimes (but not always!) do this in a nasty and unfriendly way.

I understand that it is highly tempting to want to give your own personal perspective and weigh in on the issue, and that is valuable, but I would urge people to exercise restraint in doing so when several other people have already also weighed in on the matter – even if they are making different points from the one you want to make.

If someone comes and makes a proclamation or whatever, and then five separate people come and comment on why they’re wrong, or don’t understand what they’re discussing, or even just comment on the inappropriateness of their tone, then the poster is going to end up feeling more and more defensive, and the situation inevitably escalates.

Blow-ups have happened many many times in the past here, and it’ll continue to happen in the future, but I think we can somewhat reduce their frequency and severity if we as a community develop more restraint about dogpiling into a spicy issue – especially when we feel we’re clearly right.

We should of course engage in these conversations, but if you see that several people have already shown up and pushed back on the original post, I think it’d be better for everyone if you just waited a bit and let them have more one-on-one conversations rather than it feeling like one-against-many.


Thanks @Mason, I definitely agree. I’d like to more fully dissuade folks from discussing inappropriate tone. Please ignore it and flag for moderator attention instead. Discussions about appropriateness of tone are sure to derail any conversation unless they come from a place of authority, and even then it’s difficult to keep things focused.


Or, in short - don’t feed the trolls.

Just as a reminder for (potential) participants in some other thread right now.


One thing I hope to do more on those discussions, is to not only flag really wrong behaviour, but also – instead of commenting myself – spent a few hearts :heart: on people engaging in the discussion already, so they (and actually everyone) can see, that post is not a single person opinion, but mine would be very similar; so then I do not want to feed the trolls with that addition, though it might be slightly new arguments in there as well.

Since entering such a confident statement might also be challenging for the ones doing that if they then even feel standing there kind of alone.


Can you sticky this?!:pray::grin:


On the flipside, I wish there was a way to show disapproval for posts which contain agitations that are likely to derail a topic but do not themselves pass the threshold for flagging. My observation is that most derailments and dogpiles ramp up rather than being immediately explosive, to the point where one can read a non-OP post and guess the death spiral has begun.


Yes, that’s definitely the case. Even our moderation tools are quite blunt instruments when it comes to the gradual decline into mayhem. I’ll sometimes message folks to prod them to rephrase a particular phrase inside an otherwise solid post… but I’ve also wished for better tooling (like slow bumps or some other way to restrict the number of new entrants into a dogpile)


I want to express my agreement with @ToucheSir, I have the exactly same feeling. I understand that some kind of dislike button (that after some number of dislikes hides the message) ends up producing echo chambers. However, sometimes a post is intentionally inflammatory, and answering to it or even pointing out its tone is already giving the troll what they want, i.e., wasting the time and energy of multiple members of the community. The only way to conserve the community energy here is to give an effortless signal of “do not engage, this does not seem to be in good faith” to the rest of the community. Which is often done by means of a dislike button.

To be clear, I was as much referring to responses from the community as to OPs/topic starting posts. Currently any disapproval with either is silent, which exacerbates the dogpile effect. @mbauman’s method of asking for edits to remove snipes and other phrasing is great, but sometimes an entire comment is written in a way that is downright unfriendly/patronizing/accusatory/snippy. It’s not that those comments are made in bad faith: possible explanations include cultural norms, language barriers, drive-by commenting (we’ve all been guilty of this), flared emotions from previous interactions on/off-platform, just having a bad day, etc. My hope is for a mechanism to provide some signal that I don’t approve of the tone of a comment (not the poster, just the post) and/or do not consider it representative of the tone of the broader Julia community.


First, I did not ask for a system for signaling “bad” users, but to signal “bad” posts, even if my example as why a post may be bad is that its author is a troll. For bad users we already have a great ignore button here in Discourse. It is a great decentralized tool to conserve the community members’ energy but, in general, I would only use it if I perceive a pattern of bad posts all spawning from the same user. Also, I do not make a big distinction between the topic initiator and the people replying to it, by “post” I also meant the replies, sorry if I gave the wrong impression. What I say here does not care about this distinction.

I think you meant “is not silent”? Because if it was silent then it would not exarcebate the dogpile effect?

Yes, all valid possibilities, but the explanation can also be bad faith. Do not assuming bad faith does not mean completely disregarding the possibility of its existence. Bad faith exists in the internet, and sometimes it can be observed in this forum. I do admit it is hard to separate bad faith from a completely lost grip on reality, but none of them merit the effort the community unfortunately ends up devoting to them. Nonetheless, I agree with you, we need a mechanism for those cases, because it should not be the responsibility of the community to find the reason for the strange tone of some post, but we could share the responsibility of alerting and reminding each other that sometimes a post-that-you-could-write-an-extensive-answer-to is not worth the effort.

Good to know, I think we’re basically on the same page :slight_smile:

No, but I wrote it somewhat awkwardly. The thought was that if e.g. I, an established member of the community, decided to write say a patronizing response to someone which didn’t pass the threshold for flagging, many people might disapprove of it but not have any way to express that disapproval without commenting and thus immediately derailing the thread (or taking the risk of sending a DM which might not be received well).

For sure, that wasn’t a response to you or anyone else on this thread. My point was that I think we can generally assume that members of this community write posts in good faith, so when I see ones with a disagreeable tone from them I first attribute it to something other than bad faith.