This was Nth time I got summoned to handle giant ugly devolved comment thread. So I feel some things need to be said (and discussed if anyone feels like it).

I am very glad that we get more and more actively involved users, that are happy to step in and explain things to newbs. However this can get way too intense when newbs are not quite cooperating.

This is how forums start to devolve and fall apart - when old timers have certain algorithms about "their turf" perfected to the point of knee jerk reactions.

I get where intensity comes from. I get same reactions to the same situations - I am intense rugged old timer myself here. :) However there is that diamond thing next to my name that inclines me to shut it and think how it reflects on us as site and community.

Rule of third comment

So I'd like to propose a simple rule, let's call it rule of third comment:

  1. Feel free to point out issues with question/answer in your first comment.
  2. If it's not going well - politely point to meta (and optionally chat) in your second comment.
  3. There should never be third comment.

If you feel like writing a third comment - step away from the thread, ping moderator (if it looks serious enough) and take a walk.

These are situations for which mod position exist:

  • our position pressures us to work to defuse situation rather than pour oil on it
  • we are empowered to actually do something about it - from enforcing rules to making things (and people) disappear

Third comment is a point where mod should be involved instead of comment. Twentieth comment is too late and much more messy than it needs to be.

  • 6
    I blame kaiser .
    – Wyck
    Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 18:34
  • 2
    @wyck Who's not?
    – kaiser
    Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 19:01
  • 1
    Could we possibly link to some examples that are not acceptable? I haven't seen the issues you are talking about, because I'm not as active on here than I once was.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 8:50
  • @Brady Just search my comment history :D Ok, not kiddin' around: I think we should avoid that. It's like nailing someone to a wall. I'm against using people as example, even if we don't agree with how they act. At least the same could have happened to us all: Some community takes you (as person) as a bad practice example. That's imho simply not ok.
    – kaiser
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 9:51
  • @Brady it's hard to come up with examples because cleanup usually consists of torching whole thread. When you see comments that take a screen (or two) with a lot of exclamation marks - that's it.
    – Rarst
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 10:14
  • Is there any easy way to invite people to chat? What about those without enough rep to use chat? Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 11:12
  • @Stephen Harris meta should be first destination. Chat is much more informal and folks there only deal with things on friendly basis, can (and often do :) tell to go take a hike.
    – Rarst
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 11:21

2 Answers 2


If I read something like that again, I swear I stop breathing until it's fixed! Like a boss!

Picture courtesy of [lolhome.com](http://www.lolhome.com) - no terms found, that deny the use here.

Picture courtesy of lolhome.com - no terms found, that deny the use here.

  • 1
    Ok, big fluffy thing... Ehm... What?
    – Rarst
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 10:15

Personally, I strive not even to get to a second comment, if such comments are about the OP, or the process, or anything other than clarifying the OP's question.

You can generally ascertain from the response to that first comment, whether or not the person responding has much interest in "learning the ropes" of how SE network sites, or WPSE in specific, are intended to work. IMX it is rarely useful to engage beyond that point. Either the person will "get it", and avail himself of the FAQ and other resources, or he won't.

Here's a recent example: Where are my posts linked to? I keep getting a Not Found Error, and I have no single.php page

I think - I hope - I handled that one well. But if I didn't, well: Meta is a great place for constructive criticism. :)

  • 1
    In the comments on that answer you ask the OP to clarify the question. These comments should go to the question, not to the answer. It is easier to clean up the comment threads later when we see that the requests were fulfilled in the question edits.
    – fuxia Mod
    Commented Sep 21, 2012 at 2:26

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