If I find another user's behaviour rude or just bothersome, is it okay for me to point that out and start q discussion about it?
I am not a mod here. But I would say tht if you dislike or find troublesome the behavior of another user on the site, it is acceptable (and not a CoC violation) to start a discussion about that here on Meta, provided that you:
- Address the behavior, and not the person doing it;
- Word your comments politely, and remain polite throughout the discussion;
- Assume that the other person acted from good motives;
- Give reasons why you think the behavior undesirable on Law.SE;
- Are prepared for the possibility that others may disagree with you, and say so;
- Are prepared for the possibility that others may choose to discuss behavior of yours of which they disapprove
- Not insist on prolonging the discussion hen it becomes clear what the community view is, and that relevant opinions have been expressed.
Ideally, such discussions should be rare!
I agree with David Siegel's excellent answer with the caveat that very few people with a gripe about a particular user are able to pull off that level of civility! In practice it seems that "calling out" an individual in a public forum is per se so aggressive that civility on both sides is almost impossible.
In general I would recommend using flags and relying on moderators to address it. Dealing with those sorts of complaints is a significant amount of what moderators do. Moderators provide a buffer of objectivity, have tools to contact users discretely, and can apply suspensions when warranted.
(If the user in question is a moderator then it's not inappropriate to raise your issue here on Meta, but only because moderators have a particular and elevated level of accountability to the community.)
You can try to engage the user in a chat room – but still abiding the guidelines enumerated by David Siegel. If you can't summon the user in chat you can ping a moderator into the Sidebar and we can create a room for it, "superping" users who may not otherwise be in chat, and keep the room private when appropriate.
Apply Hanlon's Razor
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
And be mindful that the "stupidity" may be on the side of the reader and not the writer of the hurtful behaviour.
Written communication is hard. It takes a lot of effort to clearly write down your thoughts in the way you want to present them. It also takes an effort by the reader to divine the writer's intent - particularly if the writer did not put in the required effort.
No one is writing novels, judgements, essays for publication in the New Yorker, or articles for the Harvard Law Review here so no one is taking a lot of time with their questions, answers, or especially comments. If you are reading "rude or bothersome" it doesn't mean they were writing "rude or bothersome." At least, not intentionally. It's usually better to let these go through to the keeper, or, for the Americans among us, don't swing at pitches in the dirt.
This segues to my next point: we are a diverse group. Not all of us have English as a first language and those of us that do, do not have the same English as a first language. Rude and bothersome might just be limited vocabulary.
More importantly, we represent diverse cultures with different cultural values. There is a whole field of sociology devoted to this but to give just one example, what might be straight talking in one culture might be unspeakable rudeness in another.
If it breaks the rules, let us know; if it doesn't let it go.