We all want the community to grow right?

Then why are we mean to new users? They need guidance not snarky comments or piling on to close their questions as unclear what your asking or too broad without one comment asking for clarification or trying to help them understand how the site works.

Two that I came across this morning for example. This happens a LOT. These are just this morning. We can't expect to grow the community when this is how we treat new users.

Posted Answer by new user

Cc is a engin power capacity so cylinder capacity

The comment posted by an established user

Wrong. CC is not power capacity. Please see the accepted answer, which is correct.

While I completely agree that the answer is wrong, we could have been a little nicer and welcoming to the user.

Then there's this question, closed without a single person trying to help the user understand how the site works. This would make me leave and never come back. Is this what we want to do with new users?

enter image description here

Now some of the users are just trolls and I don't have any problem just deleting their content. These are not the new users I am talking about.

So why are we so mean to new users? Do you think the user is unsalvageable and that they won't become a good member? Do you just not have the time to write comments or ask for clarification? Or is it some other reason?

Remember Be Nice

Your tone should match the way you'd talk in person with someone you respect and whom you want to respect you.

Be welcoming, be patient, and assume good intentions. Don't expect new users to know all the rules — they don't. And be patient while they learn.

Along the same lines this question is another example.

enter image description here

An answer to this question was called out in the pit stop because it needed some love (up-votes) because it was a great answer. But what about the question, could it not use some love too? This is a new user that wrote a good question that only needed a little editing help from and established user. The user even used the comments for answering questions and providing additional information. They are trying and putting effort into getting help yet not a single up-vote! Please be generous with up-votes to new users if they are even kinda getting it right, it's makes them feel welcome!

I came across the following question this morning. This is a great example of how we should be treating our new users. They don't understand it's not like a forum so they post a question as an answer to another question. Moose was very nice in explaining what the new user needed to do, and flagged the question for a mod. I deleted the question cleaning up the site, but the user got a quick welcoming response from the community, and now even though it's deleted off the site the user can still see their post and see the comment on it.

enter image description here

  • 3
    Following up on the be nice: a reasonable rule for getting along with strangers is don't be the last jerk in the conversation.
    – Bob Cross Mod
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 16:37
  • 5
    I couldn't agree more with you Larry. I hope I'm not one of those "jumpers on" type people. I've always been an advocate of "be nice" ... I think a few of the newer users who we have brought over from other SE realms aren't on board with the idea yet. There is a lot of contention on other SE sites which have already graduated, which I don't like. One of the reasons I've been (mostly) active here and not on the others is because there really isn't a lot of "nice" going on in most of them. I hope we can maintain our civility and keep newbies around while we train them to be better at SE. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 0:09
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    Thanks for calling this out. Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 0:31

5 Answers 5


I can't agree with you more

I think in general many of us have worked very hard to welcome new users and show patience regarding their first few questions. Make some good edits for them. Using a little formatting. Essentially, lead by example and show them how it's done. Guess what, they improve. It's not a shocker.

...but, many people have just been plain jerks to new users. Demeaning a bit. Pretentious. I find it gross. It needs to stop. We are trying to build this site and retain users. That's what I don't think many understand that may be newer.

This isn't SO with 30+ questions an hour. This is Mechanics Beta with 12 questions per day!. Let's not drive away our users. Let's embrace them and show them how it's done. Let's not roll like judgmental hard asses. There is no benefit to us or the new user.

Attraction. It's an amazing thing. So is kindness and patience. Let's use our tools and retain users. We have so many amazing new users that are contributing great content. Let's attract more of them.


I completely agree with you, sometimes a warm welcome is all it takes to add another member to such a community.

However, you've got to admit - some questions are so absolutely horribly written that it makes you want to just sigh deeply and close the tab immediately. The only reason most of them get any attention at all is that some good souls with terrific deciphering skills turn them from muck of semi-english words into something actually readable and we don't get to see the brain-hurting part. And it's usually not because of inferior english skills, just plain laziness. Seriously, if you want some help - put at least minimal effort into your question. Hard to help a person if you can't understand what his problem is.

I know it sounds mean, don't beat me too hard for this. I am not saying anyone should be mean to these users, I just believe that everyone should put some effort into their postings. Especially since this is basically becoming a database of motor vehicle related knowledge. Poorly written questions and answers don't offer much value.

  • 1
    I agree. I feel as if people need to put some effort into a question, and I have often edited horrible questions with an essay all in 1 paragraph, with no punctuation at all!
    – George
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 14:31
  • One thing to keep in mind is that many of these folks who are struggling with the English skills may not be native speakers.
    – dlu
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 14:12
  • @dlu Those are not the cases I am talking about here, as mentioned in the text itself. Even if your English is not perfect you can put the effort to provide some minimal punctuation, translate the words that you are struggling with and check their grammar. A lot of the times it's just an all-caps block of seemingly random words. Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 10:23

I feel like we need to be more careful when we close questions and delete answers with new users Instead of just closing a question, we should give a comment of why we are closing/deleting it, even if it is just one of the generic comments from review or something, so the new person can see the right way to ask a question.

I feel as if we carry on allowing these snarky comments and closing questions, instead of dealing with the root of the problem. This site is probably one of the hardest to police, as people do not care about the right way to answer a question, as they just want their car to work again, as lots of people depend on their cars. I feel this is the root of the problem, and instead of isolating these users, we need to nurture them. If we carry on this way, it can probably frustrate new users as they do not know what they are doing wrong, and they then go to find another site.

If we want to graduate and increase our voter population, then we need to encourage new users, by nurturing them, which in turn will encourage them to return, and perhaps post some great answers in the future :)

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    Completely agree with you. Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 0:31

Thank you for posting this! It seems like it should be common sense ... but even common sense needs a good refresh every once in a while! Kudos to you! :-)

With power comes responsibility. I think it is important to take pause before closing a question to really determine if closing is more of a personal preference rather than required to preserve the good of the "community".

Don't shoot the messenger ... or ... Don't throw the baby out with the bath water ... or ... Don't cut off your nose to spite your face (OK, you get the message). Take a moment before closing a question or lashing out at the question asker to determine whether there is some nugget of helpful, useful content amid the typos and grammar goofs. Don't just close a question or chastise the asker because it is poorly phrased. With a little guidance, some direction and coaching, that person may later turn out to be one of the greater contributers.

Good teachers teach ... but also learn from their students.

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    Please explain the down vote ... I'd like to learn from the experience. Thanx!
    – Ceylon_17
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 21:34
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    exactly. That's the whole point of this question and the effort to be more civil. A drive-by downvote is not helpful. Frankly, a suggestion in a comment without a vote at all is often more useful than a downvote.
    – Bob Cross Mod
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 13:31
  • Agreed! Thank you!
    – Ceylon_17
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 14:40
  • Very nice. Can't agree w/ you more! Thanks for the post. Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 23:36

I use this site many many times a day and I see this kind of behaviour everywhere on nearly every SE community.

I come from a Wikipedia editorial background, which in my opinion has a MUCH nicer community than StackExchange, having spent nearly 10 years on the site. To understand what I mean by this, please take a look at WP:BITE. One quote on this page rings true anywhere:

"Nothing scares potentially valuable contributors away faster than hostility".

One thing I find with SE is the amount of people wanting each question, comment and answer to be like a professional white paper. Now, I understand difference between SE and Yahoo! Answers, but we can be a little over-the-top here. We forget that all people want is an answer to their question. They may not be a professional with 20 years of experience in their field who knows the best places to research or have the contacts available on hand to ask.

The whole point of this site is to ask and answer questions!

Of course, there are always going to be people who have a "greater-than-thou" attitude and we just have to put up with them, but the minority of people here could do with a reality-check. Just be nice to each other. It's not hard.

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    Weird - I have found the non-SO parts of SE very friendly, but Wikipedia incredibly anti-new users, with no information given when rejecting updates etc. So much so that I gave up entirely on Wikipedia...
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 12:46
  • I agree, any community is quite difficult to bond with at first. Wikipedia has improved with the introduction of the Teahouse, which is a space new editors can be "tutored", for want of a better word, into creating quality articles and also gives you a footing in the community. I think SE is lacking an easy way to communicate with other, and especially new, members.
    – James Hyde
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 13:18

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