In the last week there has been a spike in some sarcastic comments. I've removed the names on ones that were completely erased:


  • User 1: It's a bit minimalist for my taste...
  • User 2: Use of white space is astounding!

Does this help the user? Does it add anything to the question? No. Is it really that difficult to just say, "You forgot to include a screenshot." We're not even telling you to say, "Hi, welcome to the community. Unfortunately you ..." We're not asking you to be nice at all. We are telling you not to be rude.

Jobs for a multimedia major

  • Zach: This is quite a broad question... You could be a videographer, photographer, manager, musician, poet, fry cook etc.
  • Daniel: Multimedia is a fry cook's major? Not helpful man

In this case it was easy enough to fix so moderators edited out fry cook and removed the continuation. The additional jab was uncalled for and unhelpful. It does however highlight a perfect example of what new users think and why these additional comments get flagged.

Software recommendation for converting pencil drawings

  • User: First look into a new keyboard. Your CapsLock appears to be stuck.

Simply saying, "Please edit your question so its not in all caps" or editing it like another user nicely did would have been an appropriate action.

How to make spirals into endcaps for strokes?

  • Scott: Practice. Practice. Practice. Create one and you can then just duplicate it where it's needed. There's also a Spiral Tool -- What have you tried??? If anything..
  • Rupi: I have tried doing it one by one, but my question points out if there is a way to make it automatically after that. This is a forum, if you're not going to help just leave so others can
  • Scott: Wow okay... but erm... this isn't a forum. I merely asked what you have tried, that's all. In fact, I even pointed you in the right direction. I wasn't trying to be rude. I was trying to see what attempts you've made to get a better understanding of your experience with Illustrator. I don't have to help though. Good luck!

(note: these were completely erased however Scott chose to bring it up in chat so its public record from there which is why I didn't remove the names)

Scott's initial comment wasn't as bad as some of the other blatantly sarcastic ones above but is a bit harsh. And was clearly taken that way by Rupi.

As you can see by the replies from new users this isn't the moderators taking your stuff the wrong way, its new users taking your stuff exactly how you said it --- as sarcastic jabs at them. At times this means we have to moderate.

If you think we're overstepping then please take it up with StackExchange by using the Contact Form.

  • 2
    I appreciate the edits! Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 6:22

3 Answers 3


I feel like there's an easy compromise here.

The rule is, be nice. It's possible to be sarcastic and nice.

Laugh with, not at, and also help new users fix whatever problem prompted the comment; being extra careful to make it obvious that you're laughing with, not at, because the internet is a terrible place and text-based communication is always misunderstood.

Using the examples in the question:

1. [the one where a new user asking for feedback on a logo forgot to post the logo]


  • User 1: It's a bit minimalist for my taste...
  • User 2: Use of white space is astounding!


  • User 1: It's a bit minimalist for my taste... :-) p.s. I think you forgot to add the logo! You can edit it in using the link below your post
  • User 2: Use of white space is astounding!

These were pretty funny, I thought, and anyone who forgot the essential part of the question should be able to see the funny side. The only problem is, they didn't also help the user fix the problem in a friendly way, which is why it might look like cold mockery and not a friendly, helpful joke.

2. [the one all in block capitals]


  • First look into a new keyboard. Your CapsLock appears to be stuck.


  • First look into a new keyboard. Your CapsLock appears to be stuck! Joking aside, you're more likely to get a good answer if it doesn't look like you're shouting. You can use the edit link below your question to change it.

Again, we just need to make it explicitly clear that this is a friendly joke, while actually helping them get the good answers they want. There are some corners of the internet where typing in all caps is normal (weird, I know), and some places it's not associated with shouting (e.g. a German friend once told me that to them, all caps signified a deliberate, precise tone of voice), so we should also help people see why something's a problem.

3. [the "what have you tried" one] p.s. welcome back, Scott!

Like Ryan I also think this one isn't too bad, and does contain genuine efforts to help. But it's a good example of how little things can come across more aggressively than they're intended to. If this:

  • Practice. Practice. Practice. Create one and you can then just duplicate it where it's needed. There's also a Spiral Tool -- What have you tried??? If anything..

..was this:

  • Practice. Practice. Practice. Create one and you can then just duplicate it where it's needed. There's also a Spiral Tool. What have you tried?

...there'd be no problem at all.

We're just removing the "???" (which looks shouty) and the "If anything..." (which looks like we've made our minds up that they probably haven't tried anything, and judged them already). The original wording reads like it's venting built-up frustration, which is rather unfair since Rupi only posted once (presumably many other people's posts caused the frustration to build up).

I think it's worth remembering that, while the 10th non-SE-standard question you see in a day feels like "Urrghh, not again, don't people ever learn?", chances are each one is the each person's first. So, no, this person hasn't yet had a chance to learn about our site's high standards; same as the last person.

The problem is with the SE UX design which gives users a big, tempting, forum-like empty box as the first google result for "Graphic Design question" but doesn't tell first time users in any effective, user-tested way that they're supposed to use it differently to every other such box they've used on the internet.

It sometimes feels like we're a doorman whose job is to stand next to a door that says "PUSH", telling people that actually, they're supposed to pull. It's frustrating, but it's the situation that causes the frustration. If we growl in exasperation at the 10th person who pushes the door that says "push" in one day, as if they personally pushed ten times today, because we're sick of different people making the same mistake, that's not classy. That 10th person has no idea that 9 other people made the same completely understandable mistake today.

  • 2
    Thanks, very well said. I thought more on it last night and researched joke comments / sarcastic comments and found this to be entirely true. You worded it much better than I probably would've. As long as the first comment is something nice and helpful then jokes go over much more light hearted than if the first, and possibly only thing, the new user sees is a joke towards them.
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 12:43

Do the mods hate fun? No, but we've identified this as a real problem. It might not be as noticeable to all, but it's put right in front of our noses once flags start flying.

One thing I'd like to emphasize is that all the questions Ryan has listed as examples are from new users. This site sees people from all cultures and countries; stepping in to an already established community can be intimidating. A barrage of sarcastic comments on their question is not helpful, and it seems to evoke the fight-or-flight response. They either lash out, or they leave and don't return. Neither outcome is positive.

We can have fun. But we ask that you keep yourselves aware of how your communication might be received. Things like bolding random words, using more than one question mark???, citing how long you've been working in the industry so you're right and they're wrong, and of course the sarcasm can all alter the perception of your tone to be a negative one. Even though your intentions were good doesn't mean everyone will see it that way. Be mindful of that and communicate in a constructive manner.


I really struggled with the decision to post this.....

I'm certain it will be perceived as insubordinate or inflammatory when really it is not intended to be. Believe it or not, I'm smiling. I'm light-hearted and in a good mood. I'm not angry with anyone. I don't wish to prove any point. I have no "dog in this fight". I'm merely posting my perception of this stance by moderators.

A bit of history for those unaware.... I was a daily contributor to this site for nearly 4 years. Saw it graduate from beta. Saw all the moderators become moderators. However, I've been away from this site for about 6 months now. I was essentially driven away by "drama". I truly hate it. And I find internet drama just deplorable and unsavory in any form.

It was honestly my hope that being away for several months would let the drama die and I could go back to enjoying the site the way the first 3-4 years were enjoyable. You know, having fun, joking around with regulars, everyone understanding that we had common interests and were all seeking to come together around those interests and improve our skills. I mean my skills improve by sharing my knowledge and experience with others. I completely enjoyed every little bit of effort I put forth into my answers and questions here.

However, it seems that rather than the moderators understanding that people are people and you can't really dictate how a user chooses to share so drama can and probably will happen at some point, they've seemingly pinned a previous issue on me. And now my perception here is that i'm seen as "Typhoid Mary". Really? I contributed daily for literally years with no real problem. Then there's an issue with one other user and now I'm Satan himself?

I popped in for literally 2 minutes yesterday only to be met with rudeness and clear animosity after this comment (which @Ryan uses as a "example of rudeness").

Scott: Practice. Practice. Practice. Create one and you can then just duplicate it where it's needed. There's also a Spiral Tool -- What have you tried??? If anything..

Really? Please read that with the biggest smile you can put on your face. Now, read it like you were reading it to a 3 year old child. Read it like you'd read it to your grandmother. Read it like you'd read it to your girlfriend/boyfriend. Is there any malice in those words?? Hell no. There was no malice in my heart when I posted that. If it's read with malice, it's the reader's fault. Not mine.

It offered an opinion, a direction to find a solution, and then asked what the user had tried. If my last comment were allowed to remain, I pointed all this out the user.... But alas moderators deleted that comment before the user could actually see me apologize if they percieved my first comment as anything but friendly. I mean I can't even guess what's in any user's mind when they read. In short I can't control how others read 8-bit ascii text. If the moderators want transparency, they'd also post that follow-up comment from me. Seriously guys.. come on.

Yes the moderators will deny this and say it's my fault and I was being "passive aggressive". However, I've been gone for months!!!! What axe could I possibly have to grind?? Maybe they were just having a bad day? Maybe something else was going on?

I've been away, I have no clue what other issues, if any, may exist. I was honestly just dumbfounded (I repeat dumbfounded) by the reception I received. It was the most unfriendly, angry, rude, unwarranted reception I've ever received. I was completely taken off-guard and was essentially blindsided by this complete rancor, so much so I really had no clue how to handle things. And it seems whatever I tried to post (in chat) was only twisted to gain more rancor. The really, really sad thing is by taking this stance the moderators themselves are perpetuating "drama". In an effort to prevent "drama" the moderators are causing drama.

I really want no part of this drama the moderators are stirring up. Again, this is why I struggled with posting this. I'm aware that this post may be perceived as food for their fire. Unfortunately, I have 2 options as I see it... just go away and forget how great this site once was, or make some sort of effort to correct, heal, patch, what's been done to hopefully get things back on track. If not for me directly, then for the staff. My perception is the staff has lost their way. They are trying to control everything, right down to personalities. Again, my perception, maybe I'm wrong. But it seems frankly quite a stretch to tell users "sarcasm" is not allowed. All humor is sarcasm, it just depends upon your personal point of view.

In any subjective field where one puts, what they perceive, as their "heart and soul" in the work, one must have a thick skin. It can be very difficult to take criticism or hear something you've created isn't received well. However, that's the nature of the field in many areas. Design is no different.

In addition, when questions or answers are posted without any real thought or effort behind them, it's not unheard of for other users to ask about them. Asking does not mean there is malice or rancor behind the query. Seeking more information should never be seen as a "problem" or "issue". I wonder where the mods are getting this perception on a Q&A site?

On top of this, human nature is that when one is having a good time, enjoying themselves, and generally trying to be light-hearted... guess what... then tend to kind of joke around or make statements that are trying to be a bit humorous in nature. Now, it's very easy for someone with no sense of humor to take such statements completely differently than they were intended. This is even more true on the 'net where you read in your voice not the voice of the person who has posted something.

To be perfectly honest, if no one is ever to post anything which could be remotely construed as "sarcastic" then why post at all? Face it, what you perceive as playful and helpful, I can perceive as sarcastic.

Coddling the "feelings" of all users is a long, arduous road to hoe, good luck.

The mods have essentially stated "NO JOKING AROUND AT ALL" This is frankly, ludicrous.

You all have gone completely crazy and I suggest the moderators stop trying to control the personalities of users and let them just be users. If a problem arises, then step in and handle it. But this sort of preemptive "you must have the personality we dictate' directive is just against nature.

If moderators are targeting a specific user or group of users... stop being a wimp about it and state that. Your ambiguity serves no purpose other than to "stir up drama" which you claim you are trying to prevent.


I hate to be the one to point this out, but the moderators can't control personalities. Moderators are stirring up drama while claiming they are trying to prevent it. Let users just be users for heaven's sake.

  • 3
    Since you returned at least 4 of your comments have been flagged as rude / not constructive by others. The moderators spoke and decided after one more we would send you a warning to tone it down. Not a suspension just a friendly reminder. That's in 1 week, 4 flags against you. I can't speak for the other users or other mods but I never have or will hold a grudge against you. Yesterday after again having to temper one of your comments you came in to chat to question if we were targeting you. No, we weren't. If your tone doesn't reflect in your writing than change your writing.
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 19:31
  • 3
    ...or if you don't change your writing since it is entirely up to you, than like Joojaa said, don't get offended when we have to edit and delete it at times.
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 19:32
  • 4
    @Ryan again.. I can't control how users read things. Are you stating that any flag is weighted the same as any other flag? Face it, we all are aware that new users who don't get the answer they want can flag or down vote stuff. Your'e essentially stating that those types of flags have as much merit as legitimate flags. All I know is my last few visits here have been nothing but friendly. If they aren't perceived that way.. well... I can't account for the lack of a sense of humor.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 19:41
  • And I wasn't offended you deleted comments yesterday.. I was a bit surprised... which is why I asked. I felt slapped for no reason so I ask.. and got slapped some more. Which is neither here nor there. I'm NOT going to perpetuate this.. but really my second comment on that question showed I was just trying to be helpful and gain some understanding of the user's experience and knowledge, that's all.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 19:42
  • And thank you. you have confirmed that I actually am Satan himself around here and all humor is no longer tolerated. At least you've cleared up that ambiguity. So again. Thanks.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 19:44
  • I'd also point out that my capslock comment (yes that was mine as well) was Up voted what 4, 5 times??? So uhm... yeah humor sucks. You all have gone mad with power. Sorry. You've lost it.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 19:48
  • 3
    If you feel this way, as initially stated by Ryan: If you think we're overstepping then please take it up with StackExchange by using the Contact Form.
    – user9447
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 19:52
  • @Darth_Vader -- Matt, that would require me really caring what you all are doing around here. I no longer do. I posted this as a last ditch effort. Clearly it's not fun around here (at least for me) any longer and the troll succeeded. I really don't enjoy contributing to sites that refuse to allow humor. Quite a shame. I considered you all kinds of pseudo friends. Guess that was completely one-sided. Good luck to you and your endeavors,
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 19:55
  • 1
    Again, this is your drama not mine. I'm not contributing any further to this.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 19:58
  • 4
    Thanks for providing some context. I am with you that the way one reads your post has a great effect of the impression they get from it. However I don't agree with your view of the moderators being pitted against you, though I see how you could get that impression. I hope you continue to contribute to the site as you have greatly helped in the past. Perhaps we can collectively be more conscious of our comments and possible interpretations of them Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 20:30

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