Most people would agree that pockets of the internet have become quite toxic in recent years. Stack Overflow is one such pocket. Despite its original policy requiring users to “be nice,” Stack Overflow has become a place where people are anything but nice to one another. In response to the toxic level of negativity that has bred there, Stack Overflow recently updated its code of conduct to promote, “kindness, collaboration, and mutual respect.”
Code of Conduct Changes to Be Aware Of
Founded in 2008 as a Q&A forum for programmers, Stack Overflow has become a robust online community with over 50 million monthly visitors who meet and share information. Its “be nice” policy has been in effect since the site’s launch, telling users to, “Treat others with the same respect you’d want them to treat you. We’re all here to learn together. Be tolerant of others who may not know everything you know. Bring your sense of humor.”
Despite this longstanding policy, Stack Overflow has developed a reputation for meanness. Established users tend to be unwelcoming to and a bit hard on newbies and people simply aren’t nice to each other. After an extensive consultative process, the site launched a new Code of Conduct. The main tenets users should know include:
- If you’re there to help, be patient and offer support to people struggling or in need of help.
- Be clear and constructive when providing feedback and be open to receiving feedback.
- Be kind, friendly, and careful with jokes. Avoid sarcasm. If you find yourself unable to respond in a kind and friendly manner, don’t.
- If you are in need of help, make it simple for others to help you by following all guidelines.
They also provide specific examples of unacceptable behavior and language that includes things like:
- “You could Google this in five seconds.”
- “If you bothered to read my question…”
- “Are you speaking English? If so, I can’t tell.”
- “I came to get help, not to get my question edited.”
Enforcement of the new code will be conducted on a case-by-case basis by the moderators. The first offense will generate a warning. Repetitive violations will result in account suspension and extremely harmful or destructive behavior will result in account expulsion.
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