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The comment to this question on the screenshot below got promptly deleted.

enter image description here

What was wrong with it? Which Law.SE term did it violate? If it did, in the opinion of whoever deleted it, contain something prohibited, what was it, how do we define it and what test do we apply to see if the content reaches the threshold?

3 Answers 3

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Starting the comment with "do you assume" makes it seem somewhat unfriendly and sarcastic, IMO. The same view could have been expressed by something like:

Please be aware that laws differ significantly in different countries, and that Law.SE draws readers and posters from all over the world.

Can you see the difference in tone? I don't think a single "please" constitutes "mawkish pleasantries".

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  • This form will not find out how come the user did not specify country/jurisdiction. That was the main thing I was interested in.
    – Greendrake
    Apr 21 at 0:58
  • And yes, I do see the difference in tone — a minor shift towards mawkish pleasantries (although not reaching those of course). I think the tone gauge/sensor of many people is off: they tend to perceive perfectly neutral stuff as unfriendly/sarcastic etc. unless clear indicators of otherwise (e.g. "please") are added. This is frustrating and I stand for it to be corrected.
    – Greendrake
    Apr 21 at 1:08
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    @Greendrake I perceiveyour orginal comment as mildly sarcastic and significantly although not strongly unfriendly. Indeed the more I read it the more strongly I feel that way. And i still fail to see any legitimate reason to inquire into why the user failed to supply a jurisdiction, but if you really wanted to know that, it would be possible to politely ask about it directly rather than the oblique "did you assume". If I see such a comment in future, I will probably flag it as unfriendly, depending on the exact wording.. Apr 21 at 2:13
  • With such a sensor of unfriendliness as you have, I won't be surprised if the mere lack of ", sir" at the end of comments will soon be perceived as rude. We all come from different cultures here, so I believe decisions should be made based on objective tests rather than subjective perceptions.
    – Greendrake
    Apr 21 at 3:07
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    @Greendrake I don't know of any objective test for politeness. That is why we here depend on trusted moderators, and on flagging by community members, and on discussions such as this one. I would never demand a "sir" as a standard of politeness on a site such as this. I don't think a single "please" is unreasonable, but the point is not to write things likely to put off a legitimate new user, who does not know the rules or problems of the site. Starting a comment with "did you assume" feels critical, and suggests "you were stupid not to realize otherwise". in my view [...] Apr 21 at 3:27
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    [...] @Greendrake I am not a mod, and cannot delete anyone's comments except my own. But when dealing with a new user, I hope you will ysake extra care not to write things which might be mistakenly seen as hostile or aggressive, even though you did not intend them that way. Apr 21 at 3:31
  • I am consciously reluctant to take that extra care because I stand to promote objectiveness, critical thinking and self-criticism. I don't think it is inappropriate to pour some cold water on new users to motivate them to think when asking questions (if they don't seem to), and if they won't, it is not at all inappropriate to put them off. This is not a blabbing site like Quora after all. If the community does not share these objectives, I would rather not participate at all than adapt.
    – Greendrake
    Apr 21 at 3:50
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    @Greendrake I cannot speak for the community. I do not share those objectives and indeed think them harmful. I agree that we should encourage users, particularly new users, to ask good questions, which will often include "objectiveness, critical thinking and self-criticism." But in my view this is usually better done with positive feedback and polite explanation, with the goal of teaching, not excluding. Obviously spammers and those who abuse the site are in a different category. But otherwise, I do not think a modicum of politeness does harm, and it my help us have a new productive user. Apr 21 at 4:22
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That comment unnecessarily violates the code of conduct. It could easily have been phrased so as not to contain "subtle put-downs or unfriendly language," and to "avoid sarcasm." Since it was directed at a new user I agree that it warranted prompt removal.

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  • So, what exactly was a "subtle put-down" or "unfriendly language" in the comment?
    – Greendrake
    Apr 19 at 14:08
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The comment was deleted because the mod jumped to the conclusion that it was purported to criticize or humiliate the user.

The actual intention was straightforwardly direct and not subtle at all: to find out how it happens that users like that omit the country/jurisdiction. What is their way of thinking? I was genuinely curious.

Whereas I agree that the angle of view taken by the mod is not totally impossible (which was exactly why I took the screenshot as I thought the comment could end up deleted by this particular mod), I find it totally unacceptable that one has to dress their perfectly neutral comments with mawkish pleasantries just to avoid being perceived as unfriendly. The expectation is that people (both new users and mods) apply critical thinking and don't assume negativity without evidence.

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    The common "please specify a jurisdiction" comment does not have to be dressed up. Here's a simple, neutral example: "Which jurisdiction did you have in mind?"
    – feetwet Mod
    Apr 19 at 16:27
  • @feetwet That question will not find out how it happened that the user did not specify jurisdiction in the first place.
    – Greendrake
    Apr 19 at 16:29
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    @Greendrake Many people are not aware that there even is a legal system difference between states or countries.
    – Trish
    Apr 19 at 17:05
  • @Trish Fair theory. An instance of that was exactly what the comment was directed to test. Or, whether people assume that only their country's users use websites they happen to be on. Or something else that I could not even think of.
    – Greendrake
    Apr 19 at 22:04
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    @Greendrake Why do we need to test or know what the poster's knowledge was? We can explain the actual situation without quizzing the poster. Apr 21 at 0:46
  • @DavidSiegel New users not specifying country/jurisdiction is a common issue on Law.SE. I think it can and should be resolved, or at least mitigated. To figure out how, we need to know how it happens: what makes users not specify it.
    – Greendrake
    Apr 21 at 0:55
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    @Greendrake I don't see any plausible way to "resolve" it, nor any need to mitigate it. And do remember that our policy says that there is no requirement to provide a jurisdiction. Comments that suggest otherwise are out-of-line, in my view. Apr 21 at 2:08
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    I would guess it's the same reason many new users on RPG.SE forget to specify the RPG system and edition they're asking about – they don't realize that it matters, or don't know that other systems/editions exist (and may have different rules). Sometimes it doesn't matter, because the problem isn't specific to any one system/edition – but if it does, you can always ask the author to clarify as needed.
    – V2Blast StaffMod
    Apr 21 at 14:40

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