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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Deal With Aggressive Forum Users? 477

Slashdot reader dryriver writes: I've noticed a disturbing trend while trying to resolve a rather tricky tech issue by asking questions on a number of internet forums. The number of people who don't help at all with problems but rather butt into threads with unhelpful comments like "Why would you want to do that in the first place?" or "why don't you look at X poorly written documentation page " was staggering. One forum user with 1,500+ posts even posted "you are such a n00b if you can't figure this out" in my question thread, even though my tech question wasn't one that is obvious or easy to resolve...

I seem to remember a time when people helped each other far more readily on the internet. Now there seems to be a new breed of forum user who a) hangs out at a forum socially all day b) does not bother to help at all and c) gets a kick out of telling you things like "what a stupid question" or "nobody will help you with that here" or similar... Where have the good old days gone when people much more readily gave other people step-by-step tips, tricks, instructions and advice?

The original submission claims the ratio of unhelpful comments to helpful ones was 5 to 1. Has anyone else experienced this? And if so, what's the best response? Leave your best answers in the comments. How do you deal with aggressive forum users?
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Deal With Aggressive Forum Users?

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  • by jddj ( 1085169 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @10:36PM (#53804821) Journal

    You're asking HERE?

    • Second that (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @10:55PM (#53804925) Homepage Journal

      You're asking HERE?

      I'll second that.

      It might be because nice people tend to lose patience and go away, so that the forums have nothing but griefers left.

      Lots of forums are completely toxic in this regard, and Slashdot has fallen prey to this as well. Post a non-insulting position about something that doesn't jibe with the group-think and you'll get nothing but insults. No thought put into it, almost a boiler-plate "you're really stupid" or "you're a racist".

      Try to contribute to Slashdot by submitting articles, and the toxic users will mod them as spam and get your account locked.

      They seem to think that any tactic in support of their end goals is OK, and they don't see the value of well-formed alternate opinions, and reasoned discourse. All they see is that opposition seems to be less over time [].

      They view it as "winning" when reasonable people lose patience with the griefers and leave.

      What's left is the toxic residue.

      • Re:Second that (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @11:16PM (#53805023)

        I just ignore them. And it's true, people have gotten ruder over the years. I suspect they don't know the answer at all and just want to belittle someone.
        However others I think are just clueless underneath it, and can't understand why someone would even want an answer to that question. The question is outside of their frame of reference. For instance, ask how to resolve a tricky issue with existing code in C++, and someone will inevitably say "that's bad style, never do that" as if people have the luxury to rewrite all code. Or some people just misinterpret the question completely; they skim past it and assume you were asking a different but simpler question (very common on stackoverflow, which has become nearly useless because of of the bad responses, incorrect responses, or the unhelpful answers with "I don't know how to do that in C but it's trivial to do in C# so you should use that instead" style).

        But overall, just ignore them.

        • Re:Second that (Score:4, Interesting)

          by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @12:30AM (#53805323) Homepage Journal

          I just wish they wouldn't pollute search results with a bazillion messages suggesting that people google it, such that any attempt to google it will fail.

        • Re:Second that (Score:5, Insightful)

          by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @01:36AM (#53805523) Homepage Journal

          I see problems coming from both ends. The people asking are just as bad, really.
          Some leave out important details like which programming language(s) or OS.
          Some post at an expert forum, and get upset if they get expert answers when what they wanted was unskilled user level answers and not how to run a core backtrace to narrow down a root cause.
          Some ask others to do a several hour jobs for them for free. (I'd mention a common factor for these type of questions if it weren't racist to do so.)
          Then there are the hit-and-run posters, asking a question, and never coming back to look at the answers or thank anyone who answered.

          But yeah, people who answer can be frustrating too. The most irritating to me are what I call Microsoft answers, which are cut and paste answers from articles, and while 100% correct are 100% unhelpful because they either apply to something different, or just define the problem without giving an answer.
          Almost as irritating are what I call tech support answers, where the person asking have given low level details and wants to understand, and some nincompoop says that he should reinstall or unplug and plug back in..
          Then there's the "works for me" crowd.
          And those who want to argue about why you do something. If someone starts with "in a mc68k environment with 256 kB RAM", chances are that he won't have a choice, so arguing that he should use a raspberry pi or cluster of octacore xeons instead is just derailing.
          And those who demand full logs and configuration files for questions where that informaton obviously won't provide any useful information. Questions about how to obtain an old version don't need full logs and config files. Really. Nor questions that contain enough details that the answer is obvious, or where a repeatable minimal test case has been provided.

          It goes both ways.

          • A lot of questions are general, and should not have to specify programming language or OS, and yet most stackoverflow commenters assume web style programming, javascript, on a peecee.

            I don't know my password on stackoverflow by heart, so It's hard to keep up to date on it, keep points increasing, etc. So I visit there when Google shows it as a response to my questions. That's when I noticed the irrelevant answers and I can't post a correct answer as my points are too low. Also when I can ask or answer qu

          • Re:Second that (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2017 @04:57AM (#53805907)

            We're all just simply discovering human nature for what it is.

            Once upon a time you HAD to work in a community to survive. Like being accepted in a village in medieval times. Excuse the over simplification but you could probably ask your neighbour for help if you didn't have any bread or they would share their apples if you shared your cheese and that built communities.

            These days you can make it as an individual because your rights and default entitlements by paying taxes have most replaced the need for a community. You can go to a food bank, you can claim welfare, ask for loans etc. These things do not depend on a community or a small group of people per se they are just services.

            Here's a basic question, why do I need you? why do you need me? I could die tomorrow and you'd never know, that's how important I am in your life. This basic reality also drives behaviour.

            If without me you knew you'd have trouble securing shelter for your goats in winter then it would be a major blow to your survival if I died but today? -today there are far too many people that are just dead weight really but I digress.

            What happens online is almost a direct channel of people's thoughts. There is no body language or polite in-person behaviour. Imagine what would happen if people's thoughts were exchanged directly. The content could be far far worse.

            That last point ties up nicely with my start. Human nature. While some of us aspire to do better and some in fact do, we humans are still mostly savages.

          • by houghi ( 78078 )

            People who do not ask correctly can be pointed to here []
            Often it is that they have no idea WHAT to ask. That can be solved by the above. It will show people who are willing to answer that the person asking has put some time and effort into it. Even saying "I looked for 'ABC + DEF' and found nothing" will show that it is not just somebody that is just somebody who wants the easy way out.

            On part of the people who reply, I believe it is due to a lack of people who are active on

        • Re:Second that (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @03:37AM (#53805715)

          And it's true, people have gotten ruder over the years.

          You have obviously never seen a USENET flamewar from 35 years ago. I have seen no evidence that people are any ruder today.

          • by nyet ( 19118 )

            No. 20 years ago, only 1 in 5 people were clueless about technical topics, so by and large, active posters in DIY tech forums knew what they were talking about.

            And if they had problems and questions, they knew what information to provide in their posts.

            Now, less than 1 in 5 participants have a clue.

            4 out of 5 have no idea how to post a technical question, and no idea how to give people who might be able to help the context they need to give useful advice.

            Bottom line: People on the 'net are universally more

          • Oh sure, I've seen that. The percentage of rude to normal though seemed lower.

        • Re:Second that (Score:4, Insightful)

          by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @06:22AM (#53806115)

          I believe people are becoming ruder because our sense of community is being eroded. There is no "us" anymore, no sense of belonging together (or belonging anywhere). This is the sad legacy of globalism.

          I visited Croatia the other day. There was a display of photos somewhere, and the corresponding descriptions showed a great deal of nationalistic pride. It felt like a breath of fresh air: people actually proud of what they were, and what they did. For one moment I felt that sense of belonging somewhere - and I'm not even Croatian...

          • Re:Second that (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @09:53AM (#53811261)

            I believe people are becoming ruder because our sense of community is being eroded. There is no "us" anymore, no sense of belonging together (or belonging anywhere). This is the sad legacy of globalism.

            I don't think society is getting ruder, in fact its the opposite.

            Also I cant see the link to globalism. Sounds like you're trying to frame the argument to blame something completely unrelated.

            I visited Croatia the other day. There was a display of photos somewhere, and the corresponding descriptions showed a great deal of nationalistic pride. It felt like a breath of fresh air: people actually proud of what they were, and what they did. For one moment I felt that sense of belonging somewhere - and I'm not even Croatian...

            And here it is.

            The problem about showing patriotism in many western nations is that certain people have relentlessly attempted to tie patriotism to nationalism. Sounds like they've been successful on you.

            Nationalistic pride is a bad thing as that says your nation can do no wrong. It is the belief that you are innately superior because you were born on this side of the border.

            Patriotic pride is not such a bad thing. It says you take pride in the accomplishments of your nation and your peers in the advancement of your nation.

            A nationalist is incapable of seeing flaw in their nation, a Patriot not only acknowledges that their nation can be flawed, but works to fix them.

            The problem here in England... in fact I'd say its the same problem in the US as well as Australia is that racist and xenophobic groups, such as the EDL in England have completely managed to co-opt the idea of patriotism to sell their own brand of hate. They've tied the idea of being a proud Englishman to their hate of foreigners and religions they don't like. I think this is a shame because there is a lot to be proud of in English culture, not the least of which is its openness and acceptance of others. However groups like the EDL or UKIP would have others believe you were one of them for being a proud Englishman or woman which as I said, is a bloody disgrace.

            Being proud of where you came from (I'm an Australian who lives in England) is not about beating down others, sadly that is what passes for Nationalistic pride in the west these days.

      • The exodus of the previous crop of moderators hasn't helped. The ones here these days just let anything go
        • Re:Second that (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @01:16AM (#53805463) Journal

          The exodus of the previous crop of moderators hasn't helped. The ones here these days just let anything go

          Methinks the "previous crop of moderators" lost interest after Trump got elected. Mission accomplished, so why hang around?

          We all know the Slashdot moderation system is based broadly on karma, but beyond that, it is something of a mystery. Part of me wonders whether some groups have discovered how to "game" the system by modding up their friends, who in turn mod them up, creating a false meritocracy.

      • At least Slashdot has a moderation system that usually quickly mods down these types of post, and you can set your own page so you don't have to have them.
    • Mod +1, Funny

  • Ignore them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @10:37PM (#53804829) Homepage

    Nothing requires you to do anything about them; just treat them as meaningless noise, and act the same as you would have acted if their unhelpful post did not exist.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nothing requires you to do anything about them; just treat them as meaningless noise, and act the same as you would have acted if their unhelpful post did not exist.

      That's easy to say. Malicious users can completely overrun a forum and render it useless. In fact this is a favourite tactic with many alt-right groups. There used to be a forum in my country run by a centre left political party (pirate party) that was completely overrun by alt-right and white supremacist trolls to the extent that it had to be shut down. The trolls celebrated the closure of this forum openly as a great success for the alt-right movement. You can try to moderate each post but with the number

      • Re:Ignore them (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Cheech Wizard ( 698728 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @11:24PM (#53805073) Homepage
        You are right. I have run a tech forum since about 1996 - Well, I actually started the forum part in about 1998. The first thing to understand is that over time things have changed. In the "early days" computers were not anywhere near as ubiquitous as today so most of the visitors were, while not techies as in this forum, but in their field of expertise. There were some problems, too. There were some people who would have 3 or 4 accounts and would literally start a discussion thread and then another of their "personalities" would post, and then a third one which would start a fight of sorts and get nasty. It took a few years but finally we got some code which, when an admin "marked" an account, that person could post (people did and still do have to register and be logged in to post) but the post would be invisible to everyone except that user. It didn't take too long - Maybe a year or so - Where we had things totally under control. People who were abusing the forum eventually got tired of trying to disrupt things. And the forum was/is small enough (well, these days with Facebook, Linkedin and such taking over people's interest is is) that control isn't an issue. And - We do have a lot of very long term moderators so someone is online most of the time. One thing I have noticed is that since the election of the orange one there are some forums I have stopped visiting. I'm typically a lurker (as I am here - Rarely log in but do visit every day as I have for years) but even some very good discussion groups are becoming pretty stupid. Trump this, dems that, typically where politics shouldn't be a part. I'm finding ore and more free time as I back away from visiting old haunts. Then again I'm almost 70 so all of this is old hat, so to speak, for me. I do miss what I call the "good old days". Even the vulgarity in the first posts of this discussion turned me off. I have seen this problem so I did log in to comment, but the vulgarity alone is telling me to keep to the headlines and to not bother to read the comments (much less log in to help people).
        • Re:Ignore them (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Mister Transistor ( 259842 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @11:54PM (#53805201) Journal

          VBulletin, very popular forum software, has a feature called "Global ignore" that does what you describe. I used to run a large well-moderated professional discussion forum and if we got a jerk in the rolls we would first warn him, then either put him on global ignore or "miserable users", which is hilarious. It would take people sometimes months to realize they were being muted, sometimes they never did figure it out.

          Miserable users was pretty funny, if you decided the person had to go but was big enough of an asshole you wanted to still have some fun, you would turn this on. It would:

          1. Slow response (time delay) on every page (20 to 60 seconds default).
          2. A chance they will get the "server busy" message (50% by default).
          3. A chance that no search facilities will be available (75% by default).
          4. A chance they will get redirected to another preset page (25% & homepage by default).
          5. A chance they will simply get a blank page (25% by default).
          6. Post flood limit increased by a defined factor (10 times by default).
          7. If they get past all this okay, then they will be served up their proper page.

          After that you just waited for them to get frustrated and leave of their own accord. Passive-Aggressive Nirvana!

          • Re:Ignore them (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @02:58AM (#53805665)

            Please be clear. What you were doing was not merely moderation, it was bureaucratic censorship. It can feel very powerful to control communications this way, but it's very dangerous because it encourages such clandestine abuse of clients, colleagues, and customers by example. It's very gratifying to be one of the "in" crowd that can enforce such arbitrary standards, but it leaves the lesson that such secretive, unannounced abuse by moderators is typical and should be accepted.

            If I found such behavior in use on a forum I frequented, I would feel compelled to leave, even if the remaining content were of notabily better quality with this moderation in place. I would not feel able to trust the administrators of the forum because of such secretive censorship.

            • Re:Ignore them (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Mister Transistor ( 259842 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @03:36AM (#53805713) Journal

              It was far from typical. On the board we had about 8,000 users, and of them, only about 4 had to be dealt with this way. We ran a forum for professionals and good behavior was the norm, but we did get an occasional idiot from time to time. Otherwise the membership very much appreciated the professional atmosphere and the lack of trolls and morons.

            • Re:Ignore them (Score:5, Insightful)

              by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @07:24AM (#53806225) Journal

              Please be clear. What you were doing was not merely moderation, it was bureaucratic censorship.

              No, you be clear: it is not censorship, it is you whining. I am a mod on a forum which has occasionally used nefarious means to get people to go away. The community standards on the forum were very clear, and the mods bent over backwards to avoid banning people. People were given short bans, second, third and even fourth chances, and even put on the mod queue to avoid banning them. But some people just needed to go.

              If I found such behavior in use on a forum I frequented, I would feel compelled to leave, even if the remaining content were of notabily better quality with this moderation in place.

              Everyone likes the good discussion, but few people seem to like the effort involved involved in stopping it turning into a 4chan style shitpile. The mods time is finite.

        • OK, are you really me?

          I'm 71.

          The invisible thing used to piss me off!

          Not many chat rooms had it, but it would take time for me to figure out that I had been silenced to all but me.

          I think it was called, "mute."

          Anyway, like you, I have been at this a long time and I gave the following advice to members who were frustrated with trolls:

          No one comes here to be ignored. It is the maximum insult.

        • Re:Ignore them (Score:5, Interesting)

          by hughbar ( 579555 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @05:43AM (#53806021) Homepage
          Thanks, I'm 66 and notice the same trends. I've worked in the industry since about 1976 and (like you, probably) was around when email was 12334^7ds@somethingobscure.tld and the web had just about started

          So the population has changed from the technical and well-educated to 'everyone'. Nothing wrong with that either, potentially there are great benefits. However, we need to have a serious set of discussions and reflections about civility of discourse and free speech. For example David Graeber, one of our most interesting Brit economists, here: []

          @CrispinSartwell clearly many forms of speech ("pay me 10% of your profits or I'll burn your store down") are not & should not be protected

          That's an obvious example, but makes the point. Discussion can be robust without being vulgar too, I actually feel sorry for people whose sole means of expression of **** ****$! (OK when hitting thumb with hammer, of course) etc., they probably have quite unhappy and emotionally poor lives.

          As to remedies, I think it's clear from the simple example about that some forms of speech are not protected, so I am in favour of channel 'kicks', timeouts, invisibility markers and other suppression tools used judiciously by moderators. I also believe that, as part of school, we should be taught about debate as a core subject, it's the thing that keeps us from braining each other with rocks when we disagree.

    • This.

      With a 5-1 unhelpful ratio, I'd consider shutting it down and shift to Facebook.

      The problem with that is loss of anonymity.

      You could also shift to Twitter, but it's messy.

      There was one forum site where it was mostly self-modded in that members could click on, "Report," and the comment was auto-deleted by script if 5 people concurred.

      That worked pretty well.

      When I discovered how that worked, I used it to my advantage. I would Report a post, clear the single cookie that said I had already objected, and R

  • by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @10:37PM (#53804831)

    The original submission claims the ratio of unhelpful comments to helpful ones was 5 to 1.

    Seems like a good ratio.

    And if so, what's the best response?

    You ignore the unhelpful comments. I mean, they aren't really hurting you, are they? All you really need is the one answer that solves your problem.

    • Frequently I get sensational fluff. OOO Wow! - not all that helpful unless it is a "show off" type thread.

      Frequently I get a person who won't answer anything ask for more information then let others follow up. - Sometimes this actually qualifies as very helpful, but mostly not so much.

      Some sites I frequent are more about hands on things like building model airplanes (RC and CL) so I'll get a a vast number of often CONTRADICTORY means to achieve the same goal. This can be very hard to filter out the sign

  • Next question.

    • There is a plugin for some forum software that allows you to cause them all sorts of hell.

      Sometimes it will error out, other times it will work, it gives the illusion your site is having lots of problems and depending on how you set it, drive them mad. Most will simply tire of it, especially if you ramp it up slowly. Some will figure out something is fishy though, at which point you have to do something more, but it sure is fun watching them squirm. I reserved this only for those who are there to causing
  • by bargainsale ( 1038112 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @10:45PM (#53804869)
    I have to wonder whether asking this on /. counts as a sort of metatroll ...
    • I don't know if it counts as a metatroll but, we might finally find out what infinite recursion looks like on an internet forum.

  • 1. Use a forum's ignore feature
    2. Grow a thicker skin when someone says a mean thing online.
    • I tried to get people to use the "Ignore" option for disruptive people - For many people it just never did sink in. Unfortunately, for mods and admins the ignore function doesn't work for obvious reasons.
  • Shadowban them ;) (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @10:49PM (#53804889)

    Then they think they are changing the world and you and your users get to move on.

  • Wade through... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mhkohne ( 3854 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @10:51PM (#53804907) Homepage

    Honestly, if there's a stack exchange site (for instance, for programming questions) for it, I ask there - the Q&A focused design is far from perfect, but the 'attitude' answers don't last long, and are removed pretty quickly.

    It's got other problems of course, but for this particular problem, the Stack Exchange model works pretty well at keeping the stupid and useless answers to a lower level than other sites.

    Beyond that, you've got to search out communities that aren't full of jerks and a-holes. Sadly, there's at least one in every crowd, but some communities are better at ejecting bad actors than others.

    • Not always. I see good questions dismissed by those with lots of points with excuses of "it's a duplicate" because they didn't bother to read the question thoroughly, and the wrong answers modded up because the wrong answer givers have lots of points. People with lots of points in one field will then go to a different field where they are ignorant and try to give answers there. It's not a popularity contest, but people try to be popular by butting in and giving the wrong answers anyway.

      • by sribe ( 304414 )

        I see good questions dismissed by those with lots of points with excuses of "it's a duplicate" because they didn't bother to read the question thoroughly

        And the jackasses who close questions as not related to programming when the questions are clearly related to programming, but just happen to involve another subject as well, for instance questions about network programming...

  • "Why would you want to do that in the first place?"

    Non-answers are the worst!

    I at least try to offer something else as an alternative in a polite manner, after I try to answer the actual question (or state that I don't actually have an answer, but the alternative might hopefully provide something useful).

    • by Sebby ( 238625 )
      And yes, I fully realize I didn't actually answer.... because I don't have an answer..... or an alternative :)
      • Re:Non-answers (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sebby ( 238625 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @10:58PM (#53804943)

        .... but, what I would do is just ignore, as others have already stated.

        If I ran a list/forum, I would specifically state in the Terms that 'newbie' questions should be expected, and any condescending responses would result in immediate suspension. If users don't have anything helpful to respond with, they shouldn't bother responding.

    • Even worse is "No-no. You don't really want to do that".

      • Even worse is "No-no. You don't really want to do that".

        If what follows is an explanation of why, followed by a better approach, I don't see the problem. But without that, I see your point.

        • No, what one does is provide the answer as requested, then offer that there is another solution if circumstances permit.
          The problem you don't see is that the "better approach" will be an order of magnitude more complex and advanced than the otherwise workable one which the requester has been squaring up for. Like refusing to answer someone's batch file question because you really think they ought to handle it in Python or Rails.

    • Usually it's a case of needing to understand the actual use case in order to be able to provide alternate options.

      Usually it means "The thing you're trying to do is dumb for a number of reasons, but since you haven't described what the *actual* goal is, but instead only what a possible implementation might look like, it's impossible to tell you why it's dumb and what a better choice is."

  • by rossz ( 67331 ) <{ogre} {at} {}> on Saturday February 04, 2017 @11:00PM (#53804951) Homepage Journal

    I blame the perl community. If you asked a question in the perl news groups, instead of a short answer you'd get paragraphs explaining how much of an idiot you are for not knowing the answer or not knowing which document (out of tens of thousands) had the answer to your question.

  • Nothing New (Score:5, Informative)

    by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @11:01PM (#53804953)

    It's been like that since the Internet went mainstream in the 1990's, and even when the Internet was opened up to Universities before going mainstream. The overall proportion of useless forum idiots has probably stayed relatively constant for the last 20+ years (and probably even before Web forums overtook Usenet).

    The problem probably seems worse now because the Internet population is much larger than it was back then, making the absolute numbers larger; but the ratio of idiots to the entire population is probably in the same ballpark as back then.

    The answer has always been the same: you must ignore them, and don't feed the trolls. At least on Usenet, we had the twit filter that would allow us to list the people we wanted to automatically ignore.

    • Even before it went commercial and public, some fora were completely burnt down waste land. and soc.women flame wars were the ones that probably coined the term. The caste wars in soc.culture.indian and the Sriankan civil war reverberating in soc.culture.tamil, it was not pretty.

      But ages before Yelp and Amazon review, there was this "Indian Travel Agents Survery" circulating in soc.culture.indian.*

      You could always post, "Would some kind soul point to me some code about circumsphere calculation of

    • Re:Nothing New (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @01:32AM (#53805505) Homepage Journal

      StormReaver is right, this is nothing new. I ran into some remarkably foul examples on Usenet in the '80s.

      Managing a forum is one of the most challenging jobs I have ever had. One tool that is more powerful than it appears is setting a good example. If the moderators are frequent posters they can set a tone for the place. Then the jerks will be the exceptions. A positive feedback loop begins when good people are willing to stay and they create a space where more good people want to hang out.

      Leave the jerks in place and it's a down-spiral to Lord of the Flies.

  • Easy trick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quietwalker ( 969769 ) <> on Saturday February 04, 2017 @11:03PM (#53804961)

    Just avoid the python groups, and you'll avoid the spots where most of these sorts of people hang out.

    In a more serious vein, I haven't seen this happening excessively. I've spent a good deal of time on a large number of forums and irc channels, and by and large, this doesn't seem to be happening frequently in the way you describe. I'm not saying that you haven't experienced this, it's just that in the last 20 years, there haven't been a lot of know-nothing folks just spamming "you suck noob" to any given question.

    I can guess why; in any technical discussion it quickly becomes apparent who does and does not know what they're talking about. In fact, many quickly devolve into a special-case-knowledge comparison contest. The unhelpful person is ignored or derided by the masses as a whole. They quickly leave. That's why they're just not around.

    That being said, what I have seen is people asking other people to do their work for them, including but not limited to: easily googleable questions, questions specified explicitly by documentation, questions that require more information to answer than is given, questions that could easily be answered by trying it out in a test, and so on. 95% of the time, these folks are inexperienced in technical forums as a whole, and don't understand that they're being lazy and trying to shift work they could easily do onto others because of it.

    This is irritating, especially in channels of 300+ people with new folks jumping in and asking a single question and popping out, never to contribute, once every 2-3 minutes. Especially when many of them appear to be homework.

    The best option for these folks is to ask them to read [] , especially the whole of [] , before asking another question.

  • Leave the forum (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WolfgangVL ( 3494585 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @11:04PM (#53804965)

    Some forums are completely toxic. Fuck reddit.....

    On the other hand, read the stickies, use the search, and for fucks sake, RTFM before you ask for help.

    You are either
    1.) On the wrong forum.
    2.) posting off topic.
    3.) not trying hard enough to "self help"
    4.) Ignoring the 'READ THIS FIRST" thread.
    5.) Fucking retarded.

    Sometimes, the problem is you. Tough love. Not trying to be an asshole, but ther sheer number of people who can't seem to follow simple directions is staggering.

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @11:07PM (#53804979) Journal

    As far back as the early 2000's or late 90's, I remember running into this same attitude all the time in the IRC channels for Linux.

    They used to be one of the best places to get assistance, but also the best place to get verbal abuse from half the users in the channel in the process.

    So yeah .... sure is irritating, but nothing new by a long shot.

  • People are dicks. More at 11.

  • April 1st...

    It's *always* been that way. Always. Some places are probably worse than others which might have to do with what you're asking and where...

  • The problem with forums these days is they're full of repeat questions and answers. People that have been around for a while get annoyed, just search for your question in Google and you get hundreds of the same answers over a variety of forums. This clogs any search function including Google with pages of duplicate information while the real gems or more deep information such as why an issue appears gets buried while answers get briefer and more shallow every time someone asks the question.

    If you don't want

  • by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @11:15PM (#53805013)

    I would see if there was another forum that was better. If the users in a forum are too elitist and unfriendly to newbies then there are probably other people who also view the forum in the same way, who have left to form (or liven up) another forum.

    I am active on several forums where yes, such users as you describe do exist, but there are also almost always friendly users who see it as their task to help newbies out. You could perhaps wait a little while for that person or people to post.

    That said, on many forums that are related to a hobby, you are expected to do your research before posting. Some have Wikis or other informative posts with info on how to do certain things.
    Too many times I see newbies create a new thread the first thing they do, in which they ask for someone to do all the work for him - and that never flies.

    Instead, show that you do have some knowledge and that you are looking for a missing piece in a puzzle, people's opinions and advice.
    Your post should also be simple to read, specific and to the point. People should ideally find out already from the subject headline what you are trying to find out. A thread with the subject "Somebody please HELP ME" and a post that is one long run-in sentence does not work. (I see those threads all the time, unfortunately)

  • Just Google It! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by darkain ( 749283 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @11:23PM (#53805063) Homepage

    A buddy of mine and I were considering writing a script that would search Google for forum posts that had the first reply being "Just Google it", and reply with a "FUCK OFF" type message.

    I'm sure you've all seen that though. You search Google for an issue you have, see a forum topic that perfect describes the issue, and literally only 1 reply, telling you to Google it.

    This is why I love sites like StackOverflow or GitHub. That type of anti-community behavior is highly looked down upon on those sites. Is the qustion a dupe? COOL! Just fucking link to the initial question then! Can it be found on Google? Sweet, then fucking link to the results!

    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      Can it be found on Google? Sweet, then fucking link to the results!

      You want to know what really rustles my jimmies? It's when someone asks a question, gets some suggestions that don't work, then posts "I fixed it on my own, thanks!" Without a single mention of WHAT THE FUCK FIXED YOUR PROBLEM. Ten years later, guess what the only Google hit for the problem is?

  • If I want to rise to it, I may respond in kind - dependant on the netiquette of the site I'm on, stickies in the forum, if I'm a regular, my mood, if I'm bored and fancy some lulz, or any other number of complex reasons. There's no "single" good reason to respond. It depends on a complex matrix of factors.

    Alternatively, if I can't be assed to respond, I'll ignore the comment and move on with my day.

  • I've noticed as well the number of posts from those whose prose makes me reach for the Nomex undies, not just in technical areas. The urge to respond either with salient points or in kind is one that should be resisted. It doesn't help you, and only lets those posting them "count coup" on you and encourages them.

    For some, the keyboard interface to a computer is all the excuse they need to set aside any form of self regulation, empathy, or modicum of civilized behavior. They are indeed damaged human beings,

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @11:28PM (#53805101)

    One forum I have helped moderate had a number of moderator tools:

    1) You could edit any post. Often some flamebait line comes as a single line at the end of an otherwise reasonable post. You can just edit out the flame and send them a message explaining that they should be more respectful of other forum members.

    2) You could delete a message. Some messages were just pure troll or flame, again you can just delete them and explain to them why it was removed. Then they can argue with privately instead of in the forum where it annoys everyone.

    3) Temp ban. We also had the option to ban a user for a few days. That was great because someone who just was really hot and kept posting sometimes would be perfectly fine with a few days to cool off. Lots of people know when they are unreasonable and are fine after some correction, then they are productive forum members.

    4) Remove. Sometimes people are just so grating, that really there is no option for the well-being of others other than to remove them. Sure they can register under other usernames and come back, but often these people have such distinctive writing styles that a moderator can recognize them right away and just ban new users with a similar stye or message.

    In general I would say, as a moderator you should give more leeway to people who have been on a forum for a while, but brook no nonsense with new members or repeat violators. Moderation is inherently a grey area anyway, so every action is a judgement call... it's best if you can have a few moderators so they can discuss options amongst them and come to a reasonable solution.

  • This happens on every forum. Something like this...

    Me: Hi, my game crashes with error code 0xF00.
    Mr Stickler: We need a full dxdiag report or we can't help. Read the rules.
    Me: Here you go. (posts 5 pages of garbage)
    Mr OneUp: I see you are running a R2999 graphics, you should buy a GT5000 like me.
    Me: Card is fine. Next?
    Mr Doofus: You need to reinstall windows. I do it every night.
    Me: Not gonna happen.

    And then the thread dies.

  • by Razed By TV ( 730353 ) on Saturday February 04, 2017 @11:56PM (#53805207)

    "Why would you want to do that in the first place?"

    I find a number of people can't think "outside of the box". They have their preconceived notions of how things work, and things cannot evolve within their realm of observation. Advancements can only be made by people they don't interact with. Advancements that defy this rule are flukes.
    For them, the question is not, "Where can I be?", but "How can I stay where I am?"

    For this person, the natural response to the question "How can I do X?" is not one of science, of exploration, of expanding knowledge and understanding.
    It's "Why would you want to do X in the first place?"
    Nevermind that the tool you create today may have a greater use tomorrow. If this person had their way, we'd still be wiping our asses with our bare hands.

  • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @12:08AM (#53805237) Homepage Journal

    Rule #1: You cannot win.

    Rule #2: The only way to not lose is to not play.

    Rule #3: There is no Rule #3.

    Ignore them. Any other action is encouraging them.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @02:42AM (#53805649)

    Some people ask intrinsically annoying questions.

    Case 1: The case of the missing context

    1. They have a problem they want to solve
    2. They arrive at a solution they want to implement
    3. They fail at the implementation -- perhaps because it's an inappropriate one for the original problem
    4. They go on a forum
    5. They request help on how to implement their solution, giving no context, and leaving the original problem out entirely

    This. Is. Major. F'ing. Annoying.

    If they simply told us what problem they were trying to solve, rather than asking how to implement their particularly bad approach to solving the problem, they'd likely get a large number of helpful answers.

    Case 2: The mysterious homework I don't want to do myself

    1. They get a homework assignment
    2. They have some constraints
    3. They arrive at a particularly bad implementation based on those constraints
    4. They fail at the implementation
    5. They go on a forum
    6. They actually communicate the problem they are trying to solve (miracle of miracles!), but they won't talk about other solutions to the problem, because other solutions won't fit the artificial constraints placed on the problem as part of it being a homework assignment

    This. Is. Major. F'ing. Annoying.

    We suspect it's a homework problem; the professor at IIT gives the same problem to their class each year, and it's that time of year again. They won't confirm this, because we know they are supposed to do their own F'ing homework, and won't help them cheat, if we know for sure they are asking a homework question.

    Case 3: The googles, they do nothingk!

    1. The solution is well known
    2. You are too lazy to look it up using google
    3. Instead you go on a forum and ask the question
    4. Even though if you asked google the same question, the first hit you'd get is something from two years ago, in that very forum
    5. Anyone who was around two years ago realizes you are using the forum as your own personal search engine
    6. They give you shit for it -- shit you actually deserve, for being a lazy ass



    * Do a little research before you ask; someone else has probably had the same problem before, and the answer is already out there
    * If not, communicate the problem you are trying to solve
    * Your solution is obviously not working, or you wouldn't be asking: it's not interesting, because it doesn't work: don't ask us to fix it
    * Don't be so married to your solution that you are unwilling to communicate the problem, and consider alternate solutions

    If it's homework:

    * Some people (10%) will actually help you with these -- they are being assholes by robbing you of a learning opportunity
    * They figure it's a win-win
    * You get the homework solution so you get a passing grade
    * You don't actually learn anything in the process
    * You are not competition for jobs which would require an actual ability to solve this kind of problem
    * Most people (90%), will give you shit for being a lazy ass and not doing your own homework


    The negative reactions you are getting: maybe it's not them; maybe it's you.

    Watch the scene with Charlie Sheen giving advice to Jennifer Grey in the police station in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" again. Seriously: it's probably you. []

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.