I asked a question (What is between the sectors of floppy disks?) and received a few answers, one excellent one from someone whose English is not perfect. Someone edited the answer correcting many spelling mistakes. Then the answerer made a few minor changes of their own. There were still some grammatic and spelling issues, so I fixed them myself, and at the same time removed a section, that in my opinion, added nothing to the answer and was using condescending language. I feel that the answer was hugely improved by removing that block of text. I stated explicitly in my edit comment that I had removed that block because of its condescending language.
I don't have enough rep for my edits to be applied immediately, so it went into the review queue. The reviewer approved the edit and I could see that they have in the past improved edits before approving them. My edit was approved as-is.
However, the answerer has since edited their answer again, thanked me for my changes in the edit comment, and restored the section I removed, stating I "deleted too much". I quite deliberately deleted that block because it added no facts to the answer, just repeated what had already been stated in a factual manner but this time in a condescending way.
I don't believe condescending language has a place on Stack Exchange. I'm not personally offended by it, it's just that it's low quality. I've left a comment praising the answer in general and stating that removing that text improves the answer. I can't tell if the answerer has read my comment or not, but they were very active initially, responding quickly to edits.
I don't want to participate in an edit war, just help keep the quality up. If I saw that sort of language in an answer to someone else's question (questioning their behaviour/thinking, implying that's it's wrong to ask questions), I would consider it out of place there too.
What can be done to keep both of us happy?
- The NEW new "Be Nice" Policy ("Code of Conduct") — Updated with your feedback
Some people felt it [the old "Be Nice" policy] didn't speak clearly enough to arrogance or condescending language (that some might argue wasn't technically "rude")
Our goal is to have the best answers to every question, so if you see questions or answers that can be improved, you can edit them
- Rudeness and belittling language are not okay. Your tone should match the way you'd talk in person with someone you respect and whom you want to respect you. If you don't have time to say something politely, just leave it for someone who does.
- 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. If you're here for help, make it as easy as possible for others to help you. Everyone here is volunteering, and no one responds well to demands for help.
- Don't be a jerk. These are just a few examples. If you see them, flag them:
- Name-calling. Focus on the post, not the person. That includes terms that feel personal even when they're applied to posts (like "lazy", "ignorant", or "whiny").
- Bigotry of any kind. Language likely to offend or alienate individuals or groups based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. will not be tolerated. At all. (Those are just a few examples; when in doubt, just don't.)
- Inappropriate language or attention. Avoid vulgar terms and anything sexually suggestive. Also, this is not a dating site.
- Harassment and bullying. If you see a hostile interaction, flag it. If it keeps up, disengage — we'll handle it. If something needs staff attention, you can use the contact us link at the bottom of every page.
... Provide better answers of your own. Last but not least, edit and improve the existing questions and answers! By doing these things, you are helping keep Stack Exchange a great place to share knowledge of our craft.
Why can people edit my posts? How does editing work?
All contributions are licensed under Creative Commons, and this site is collaboratively edited, like Wikipedia. If you see something that needs improvement, click edit!
- It clear that the official policy is intended to guard against condescending language, although the word "condescending" does not appear in the "Be Nice" policy. It is covered by "rudeness" and "inappropriate". It's also clear that the answer in its current form is condescending
- Editing answers to improve them is actively encouraged, and this is clearly stated in many different places
- Once posted, the author doesn't "own" the content
So, in line with the policies of this site and all Stack Exchange sites, I edited the answer to remove the condescending language without affecting the factual content at all, thus improving it. I was aware that the answerer might object but that is not a strong enough reason for leaving condescending language in. The edit was reviewed impartially by a third user who determined that my edit did indeed improve the answer. My opinion and the opinion of the answerer don't matter; it's the site policy that determines what is acceptable and what isn't.