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Why do people persist in complaining about the code of conduct set for this network?


With so many platforms that provide chat rooms for people that can be made private, why do people persist in complaining about the code of conduct set for this network?

This post is for anyone using or interested in using these sites. Whether they actively participate or passively search and read.

What is Stack Exchange?

Stack Exchange is a question and answer site, that strives to be a repository of good information. Better than average. We have expectations on the quality of the content on the network and the whole design of the system is to ensure good content is highly visible and poor content is buried of deleted. Disclaimer This can be argued up hill and down dale, but suffice to say it’s the basic ethos of the site.

It is run by the community for the community and overseen by staff who moderate (mostly) meta activity and direct the site, as owned by a company.

Site expectations

There is an expectation of a minimal level of skill when using the site. Part of this skill involves understanding how to navigate through a dynamic website and being able to refer to the help center.

The other is the comprehension of how to behave in a mixed society. A mixed society containing people of all ages above 13, gender, race, religion and education. A cross section of any society in a public setting, not boardroom, a pub or private home.


There’s been a great upheaval recently on Stack Overflow due to this blog, Stack Overflow Isn’t Very Welcoming. This has had an effect across the network. It’s Time for That to Change. People react to change, but in essence the site has had a be nice policy for some years, it’s now moderating this more seriously.

Online culture

There’s an increasing propensity for online exhibitionism and online communities are complex, which would, in part, account for the problems faced by the network, it’s not unique to the network. It does mean the network is battling these growing trends, but this doesn’t mean the network needs to lower the bar on what is decent behaviour.

What is Stack Exchange not?

Stack Exchange is not an online social network.

Stack Exchange is not a tutorial or teaching service.

People are not paid to answer questions or help people on the site. There is an exception of employees that are on hand to assist with the meta activities of the network, all else is volunteered.

Participating on the sites

Chatrooms and online social network culture

This post started with responding to chat flags and the level of bullying in the room to stop people from flagging comments. So this is in part a follow up to this post We’re more aggressively enforcing self-moderation in chat and the answer I posted here where I defended that each room was entitled to their culture.

I’ve tightened my stance on chat flags. There’s plenty of avenues where people can gather and chat privately. The Stack Exchange Network provides people with chat rooms and they feel entitled to moan and complain about the very network that is providing them with the chat room, for free, no ads, nothing.

The message below is currently pinned in a chat room that gets many flags and the users then complain and rubbish the site.

This is a public chat room, provided by the Stack Exchange network. If
you want to communicate in ways that breaches the ToS use another chat
service to meet. If something is so crude or insulting that you can’t
say it out loud in a shopping centre, or high school class room, you
can’t say it here. This site is for 13 years old and up. So quit
swearing and blaming others for flagging what goes on in here, the
site and mods. We are responding to flags.

If people hate it so much that adult behaviour is expected from them, maybe, just maybe, they have the problem, not the site. The site doesn’t pretend to be an online social network. That’s not what we’re here for. We’re not here to provide people with a platform to rubbish the site or any cause for that matter. We do tolerate a lot of off topic content in chat and encourage people to get along and enjoy themselves, without filth and insults. Why is this so hard?

Repeat: Stack Exchange is not an online social network.

Unjustified outrage

Some people, both new users and regular users, are outraged. There is a sense of entitlement amongst many people that extends beyond the bounds of reasonable behaviour and expectations.

Oh it’s infringing on freedom of speech! It’s controlling!!” Well this isn’t a democracy, state or entity that has a bill of rights, this network is entitled to enforce it’s own standards (complying to the relevant laws applicable for such a site). This site is allowed to set parameters on behaviour and posts.

People are offended when their posts are downvoted. People are offended and upset when their comments are flagged. People are up in arms everywhere.

Well there’s two things people need to remember.

1. Each individual is responsible for their own conduct and learning.

You cannot blame others for your own bad behaviour. If someone doesn’t agree with you. If they flag your posts or comments, if they’re rude to you, if they post a crappy question.. flag it, downvote it, close vote it, walk away. There’s not excuse to be rude. It’s arrogant to assume it’s ok to demean people.

The flip side. If you do little research or don’t read the help center, don’t be upset if your post is rejected. Each person is responsible for their own learning journey. The people on the site are not responsible for another person’s lack of comprehension or struggles. We may be able to help, if you’re able to articulate that problem into a clear, answerable question, suitable for the site. It’s not ok to abuse people who ask for clarification in an attempt to help you.

2. Society has rules and consequences for breaking those rules.

Life doesn’t give you a participation award. In adult life, you don’t get the promotion, the great job unless you’re qualified. People are critiqued. This doesn’t mean it’s ok to insult people, if you insult people, expect to get feedback. We all need to accept feedback. We are social creatures. Unless you plan to live as a hermit, you will receive feedback. Drive badly, you will get honked. Post a lousy question, you will get downvotes and comments on how to improve it. Post an abrasive or sarcastic remark, expect flags.

This network is not responsible for the personal growth or feelings or anyone. The network is bending over backwards to appease everyone and make the site as accessible to as many people as possible. BUT there comes a point where a line needs to be drawn and the network’s responsibility is on one side of that line and the users’ is on the other.

If people are unable to conduct themselves in a manner fit for general society, they’re going to have great difficulty in relating to superiors in the workforce or educational institutions. Society has structure and respect is expected in many places. This is not a philosophical discussion on the pros and cons of most societies, it’s just a fact.

So, why do people persist in complaining about the code of conduct set for this network?