I'm more active on a few other sites, but I wish to learn from sites that are doing particularly well.

I noticed from these:

that mods have never needed to suspend a user on this site. Some users were suspended by "community" which I think refers to users that are automatically suspended due to serial voting (or by CMs?).

This observation appears to be rare, and perhaps unique to Retrocomputing.SE.

I wonder what perhaps some of the strategies the community here have employed, that have allowed the community to prevent problems from escalating to the point where users need to be suspended to cool down (for example), or users feel that they're downvoted so badly that they need to make sockpuppets to keep their questions afloat?

Do we never have to face "rudeness" from any users? When it happens, what do people do? Are there any case studies or examples of how the mods here were able to cool it down, that we at other sites can learn from? Anyone that things they have something to say about this, would be very welcome to perhaps share their experiences and wisdom so that other sites can learn.

  • Teach your trolls to use a new account every time they post a question, making suspension useless :) Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 12:45

3 Answers 3


Everyone here is nice. The absolute worst behaviour ever has been minor rudeness and snark; in fact, here's my helpful flag entry for one of the worst incidents I've ever seen:

I've edited it to remove some of the more objectionable (slightly condescending) sentences.

Those "objectionable" sentences were a couple of "you've completely misunderstood that bit" remarks in an otherwise great answer.

Other than that, I recall handling:

  • Three heated arguments in the comments.
  • A couple of users posting meta questions on main.
  • A user posting a lot of comments as answers.

And… that's it, from the community. Of course, there were spammers every so often, and that kind of thing, but moderating those semantically means that Community ♦ does the actual suspension, even if a moderator hammers past the 6 spam flag threshold (which doesn't happen much, nowadays; you're all pretty good at dealing with that kind of thing).

If y'all used The BBS and stopped chatting in comments all the time, I'd have very little moderation to do. Except… I've got a suspicion that the chatting in comments might actually be one of the reasons everyone is so nice; Retrocomputing Stack Exchange feels like a community, even if you're just on the peripherals of it.

(But seriously. Chatting in comments is bad. Use the chat room.)

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    I enjoy the comments - both reading & writing them. SE chat has issues. I have tried it a few times and been totally turned off every time - not due to any specific chats, but rather due to the way it works. Fortunately, Retrocomputing (and DIY, which is the other place I visit frequently) both tolerate a reasonable amount of comments, unlike some other SE sites. Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 15:57
  • @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact What kinds of issues?
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 17:16
  • I don't remember exactly. But (a) the UI just seemed ugly, compared to the relative elegance of the main SE site, (b) conversations hard to follow and to connect to individual Q&A (which to me is the most useful form of chat - if I want to chat with a bunch of like-minded people but not in the context of specific questions, there are other ways I can do that, perhaps not even involving computers (at least before COVID-19)). Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 17:30
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    One thing we're looking at in Codidact is threaded comments to make it easier to follow a conversation within comments instead of having to make a separate chat area, and by auto-collapsing comment threads keep the list of comments on a given post relatively short except when deliberately expanded. Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 17:32
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact Also look at what TopAnswers is doing – they've basically gone the other way, and I think that works quite well. Not sure which would be better for Retrocomputing, though. (Aaah I'm having a discussion in the comments! I've become what I swore to destroy!)
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 17:45
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    This is Meta. The nature of Meta is a discussion about issues, so comments are OK :-) Codidact and TopAnswers are parallel development efforts, with some overlap. Feel free to join up with one or both. Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 18:20
  • While I understand the leeway given in the comments, I'd think it to be helpful if we can keep the advertisement for competitors to a minimum. It is not necessary to compare the SE chat to other chats considering the chat UI is not under active redevelopment.
    – Mast
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 11:40
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    @Mast We can still discuss things that aren't currently being developed. (Plus, Codidact is one of Worldbuilding's Community Promotion Ads; I don't think we should avoid the topic when it comes up just because different organisations are running the sites. We can talk about [ee.se], so why not TopAnswers?)
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 23:14
  • In chat? No problem. But it has no place in comments, especially if it's only tangentially related to the post like here, IMO. See your own posts last paragraph.
    – Mast
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 4:06
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    @Mast Meta's different, but I do see your point.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 11:56
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    As a moderator of Software Recommendations SE, I can relate to wizzwizz4's post. We also have a great community with people who choose to act nicely (it is a choice, after all). Except for the rare spammer, we almost never have any reason to even think about suspending a community member. Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 1:09
  • Someone got suspended! Santa must be very upset! Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 18:29
  • @NikeDattani It remains to be seen which sequence we're following. It could be bad, or worse, also bad, unexpected, extremely bad, even worse, or kinda meh.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 20:20
  • For someone who knows about the OEIS, your participation on MathOverflow is surprisingly small! Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 20:24

As a moderator on StackOverflow (where we suspend people a lot), I can say that Retrocomputing is really different.

On StackOverflow, we often see desperate people trying to make their project work/cheat on their exam/assignment and getting their questions closed/downvoted to oblivion, just because the questions are bad or contain "URGENT" or lack detail, are "do my homework" questions. So it can become heated quickly, which can lead to warnings and then suspensions.

It's probably the same issue on SuperUser, as people are desperate about their hardware and to be able to complete their exam/assignment...

The size and number of users makes it also easier to create sockpuppets to inflate reputation, and get privileges / avoid question blocks and be able to ask more bad questions. That can also lead to account deletions (of socks) and suspensions.

On Retrocomputing, people asking questions don't have their job/graduation at stake. They're just curious about retro stuff, but most of the time they googled/did a lot of research before asking their question (because it's easier!). There's a lot less pressure there.

And when answering, it's not a race for the fastest answerer in the very minute the question is posted. That allows more detailed and documented answers (not talking about my guesswork :)). So the competition is much more friendly. There aren't that much "copy/paste" answers than on StackOverflow.

And yes, compared to other SE sites, the people here are super nice.

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    And the nature of the forum is that it attracts more, ahem, "well-matured" members.
    – dave
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 12:24
  • Slightly off topic, but you mentioned SO suspending people a lot, and while I'm not sure I have ever been suspended, I have been given low-reputation states that prevented me from making comments, several times. While it is understandable that SO wishes to provide a high-quality platform, the experience of users can be very unhappy indeed. Having questions that are important to making progress in a software project be disabled often makes one very hesitant to post questions at all. It can be traumatic to ask a question and then get effectively criticized in all the ways that SO has developed. Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 20:36
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    yeah I know. But the first mistake of those users is that a Q&A site can't replace a tutorial. You have to be trained/know the basics to ask a proper question. You can't just learn a language just by asking questions to random people on the internet. Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 20:38
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    I dunno, @another-dave: age in years doesn't necessarily correlate with civility. Ham radio forums are full of very experienced people who quite often have no concept of helpful online behaviour.
    – scruss
    Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 19:44
  • @DavidSpector I just checked: your SO account is spotless. Not a single suspension or warning. We need more users like you :) Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 20:09
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    Stack Overflow appears to me to suffer from the mismatch between its stated desire to be a forum for "professional and enthusiast programmers", and the reality that many if not posters just want someone to do their homework, or else are not particularly well-versed in the basic concepts of their trade. Everyone's got to start somewhere, but SO does not seem to want to be that "somewhere". Thus the discord.
    – dave
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 0:23
  • @Jean-François Fabre Interesting. If my record is so spotless, why is my experience on Stack Overflow that people criticize me for asking what I think are good questions, then a cascade of automatic status changes puts me again and again into a state where I can't ask further questions, and my existing question is closed (effectively deleted)? SO is very unfriendly to me, even though I try to be good and to help others. I'm constantly attacked there and must defend myself by correcting misunderstandings about my intent. I'm not trying to cheat on my homework or any such thing. Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 13:08
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    yeah, I see that you're blocked from asking since 19/07. For me it's pretty unfair as you have a lot of good/okay questions and a lot of good answers. But this is an automatic block, mods can't do anything about it. You have to edit your questions to improve them. Note: deleted questions count towards question ban too... You'll have the opportunity to ask a new question in ... a few months?? : make it count Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 13:25

The relative calmness (as opposed to "heated discussions") here very probably results from the topic and the crowd interested in that topic:

  • There's rarely a sense of urgency in requiring a proper answer - the computers we work with have been around for 30, 50, even 50 years, there's not much point in pressing for an answer within a day...
  • No one's job or career is at stake or depending on an answer here, which I guess is very different from, for example, Stack Overflow.
  • There is definitely no "Retrocomputing Homework" - We simply don't have to deal with such stuff
  • I have the feeling most of the punters here are regulars - Someone signing up, asking one question, and then leave is very rare. And regulars have the advantage to get used to the tone and culture of discussion before things get heated. It's much easier to build a community with regulars than with occasional visitors.
  • My take is that the age structure of the punters around here is different. I got no proof of it, but I would guess the average age is well over 45. It's far easier to be nice and relaxed when you have the advantage of some decades.

I'm not sure what the statistics say on other, similar areas - But would guess you can learn the same thing with regards to community culture from "Gardening" ;)

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