This caught my eye in the blog, here are some changes that they plan on making:

Getting to the <3 of the problem. (Here’s where we plan to start.)

As of last week, we’re prioritizing this and staffing it with talented employees from our Executive, Community, Data, Design, Research, and Engineering teams. We’re listening to our community and those sharing their experiences. I want to thank those of you who’ve been vocal about the need for improvement. It hurt to hear, but we needed to hear it.

We’ve started with user research, and we’re keeping an open mind to all ideas. There are opportunities to work on things like reviewing site copy for inclusive language. Maybe it’s time we re-visited things like our “no pleases or thank yous’” rule. (It serves a valuable purpose by keeping signal high, but also suggests that we just might be Zuckerbots who aren’t even trying very hard to pass as actual humans). In any case, here are some areas we’re planning to focus on first:

Let’s shift from “don’t be an asshole” to “be welcoming.” Many people don’t realize that we already have a code of conduct (cuz we gave it a funny name). Or that it already includes concepts like “belittling language is not okay” and “Be welcoming, be patient, … and don’t expect new users to know all the rules — they don’t.” But we need to show it to all users, and empower them to help us enforce it. In the longer term, I’d like us to aim for something closer to what Jon Skeet told me about his experience attending a pride parade (as a cis straight dude): “I wasn’t just tolerated; I was made to feel like the community was actually better because I was there.”

Let’s do something about comments. Condescension and sarcasm have been reluctantly tolerated in comments for too long. We’ll research possible feature changes, but let’s start by working with the community and our community managers to start flagging and deleting unkind comments now.

Let’s make it easier for new users to succeed. No, I’m not shifting the blame. We set them up for failure, and our power users have been asking us to help them for ages. We’re planning to test a new “beginner” ask page that breaks the question box into multiple fields – one for each of the key things answerers need to help:

“What did you want to happen?”
“What actually happened? (Include any error details)”
“Paste the shortest block of code that reproduces the problem. (We’ll format it!)”
“Describe what you’ve tried so far (including searches, etc.)”

Let’s stop judging users for not knowing things. (We’re a Q&A site!) It makes me sad when someone get downvoted for posting a duplicate. We should better surface them in the posting flow, but it’s not reasonable to expect askers to find dupes consistently. Users aren’t “too lazy” to search; searching takes less work than posting.

And little makes me sadder than comments on answers saying, “Don’t answer questions like this – it encourages them.” Now, some questions are off-topic. (I’m genuinely sorry, but we simply can’t explain how a glass pitcher can smash through a brick wall with no apparent injuries; we are a programming site.) But it’s totally cool to answer questions without giving a grilled poop sandwich about exactly what’s allowed. It’s fine to volunteer in one way without being expected to read and enforce every rule and meta discussion since forever.

Let’s reject the false dichotomy between quality and kindness. Quality matters because it means posts can help more people. But a larger, more diverse community produces better artifacts, not worse ones. We need to stop justifying condescension with the pursuit of quality, and we need better tools and queues to help power users trying to keep quality high.

It will be interesting to see where this ends up and what new guidelines will be issued and changes made to the site.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Looks like your typical email from HR saying they're reforming a lot of concepts in the business. Doubt there's going to be much change. (To put it bluntly) I don't see particular people on this website to really change their attitude. \$\endgroup\$
    – user103380
    Apr 30, 2018 at 23:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Funny.. I've been thinking recently that as my rep grew, I've slowly transitioned from humble to confident to too self-confident to occasionnally borderline asshole. I guess it's a good timing to give a fresh look at this, then... \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    May 1, 2018 at 7:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KingDuken Some won't but you can always encourage other people to change their behavior. Previous top down guidelines have made a difference. \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike Mod
    May 1, 2018 at 15:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ There should be another guideline, which encourages to grow thicker skin, instead of complaining that the world isn't nice to them. \$\endgroup\$ May 1, 2018 at 19:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ There should a checklist ; did you include all relevant specs; application ; actual vs expected results, block diagram schematic photographs? Is your skill level obvious to the reader, Which could easily be put in your profile, are you looking for an answer useful only for you or general answer which has been asked already. Have done your Due Diligence ( search) ? \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2018 at 21:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ One thing to note for sure is that the electronics stack exchange is two magnitude nicer than StackOverflow. While we can benefit or improve, I don't think that we were the prime target for that particular post. @NickAlexeev I'm 50/50 about that one. It all depends on what previous experience the user is. If he is a newbie and is warmly welcomed, he can be breed into an asset. Otherwise, he can skip town or worst (IMO): stop learning altogether. Engineers are way better than before at social skills, but we're still stereotypical associated with a no filters and blunt kind of personality. \$\endgroup\$ May 6, 2018 at 18:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Some of this could be good. But there are some people who have been allowed to be an asshole for so long that they just won't change and no one will ever do anything about it. I see a lot of new users being treated unfairly. Sometimes things need to be said, but sometimes certain comments are just unnecessary. And flagging doesn't usually do anything as it's usually ignored. So while this is a good idea, I doubt it will have much of an effect here \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    May 8, 2018 at 12:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with Tony Stewart: there must be a checklist. It is not easy, but it can be done, and automatically enforced. Also I think there should be an "admission test", sort of "fitness for electronics". This site must use some AI tools to administer the test for newcomers. The level and tone of answers will depend on "fitness level". \$\endgroup\$ May 10, 2018 at 2:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AliChen yeah a checklist is a good idea. Would be helpful to make it easier for newcomers to write better questions. But with comments, sometimes people are just rude and Generally just being assholes because they can. With some people moderators don't really seem to care that much. There are better and more helpful ways to critique rather than just being a dick to feel superior \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    May 10, 2018 at 6:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MCG, no, people are sometimes acting aggressively in comments not because "they can" and not for feeling of "being superior", but because they are really upset with attitude of some askers demonstrating brutal disrespect for Electrical Engineering as discipline. I noticed that many of these kind of OPs are software developers, programmers. My impression is that it is them who feel superior, (likely since they are "computer scientists"!), and their frequent tone is like "I don't know nor don't care much about your EE shit, explain to me where this current going, show all your work). \$\endgroup\$ May 10, 2018 at 7:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AliChen I'm not talking about the ones that come here and disrespect. I know the ones you're on about and yes, they are very frustrating. I mean the ones who genuinely want help bit because they don't have the knowledge of some people and miss a few things they didn't understand was important, they get talked to like they are an idiot and get people being rude. Things like that put people off engineering and there's a lack of them as it is! \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    May 10, 2018 at 7:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AliChen Agree with MCG. Better explaining why the the flag wasn't accepted avoid further unnecessary flags. A dry and unsigned answer doesn't help. Even here I see passive agressive answers from two of the three old users that commented. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dorian
    May 10, 2018 at 12:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AliChen so you're saying people should instantly have all those skills the second they decide to become an engineer? That's ridiculous. I certainly missed information and overlooked things at the beginning. It's called learning from mistakes. Everyone makes them. Call people out on them for sure and request clarification but there are nicer ways of doing it than insinuating the person asking is an idiot. I've had a few times where I've overlooked something and when it was explained it's just clicked and I haven't made that mistake again. \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    May 10, 2018 at 16:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Basically, get clarification from people if you need it, but don't be a dick for the sake of being a dick. Many people here do that, despite your previous comment \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    May 10, 2018 at 16:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MCG, people shouldn't just "decide to be an engineer" in a second. If you didn't assemble preschool toy puzzles faster than others, if you had never connected a mini light bulb to a lantern battery as a kid, if you failed to interconnect all 200 pieces of an electronic learning kit without a single error (or never have it/tried), if you haven't been in top ten in math class, then you shouldn't just "decide to be an engineer" because it is "cool", you might look to get some other profession. It will save you a lot of frustration. \$\endgroup\$ May 10, 2018 at 17:11

1 Answer 1


Before getting all worked up over that blog, please note that it got shot down pretty heavily by the SO users and it's been a major hot potato over at SO meta for the past two weeks:

And so on. Everything there's to be said about the blog has likely been said on SO meta already.

However, the root of the discussion very much applies to EE as well. We have the very same problem with low quality questions, sometimes followed by rude comments.

So far the only concrete result has been a change in chat moderation which affects those who use the EE chat rooms. (Yes, we have chat rooms!)


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