To the newcomers:

I am thrilled that you have come to this site. I am excited that you want to spend time contributing to this site, and even more so that you want to learn more about Christianity. The users like you make the content on this site and they are what make it fun.

However, you may be tempted to jump into the deep end of site policy and moderator actions before you actually know how to swim. I certainly did when I first started on the site and made a terrible a-- of myself. I hope that you can avoid that embarrassment and take my advice here in this post.

Before you go any further on this site and even in this post please read these meta posts:

There are about four stages of frustration on this site that I hope you can avoid completely.

  1. You think you have made a really good post, but the community does not and you cannot understand why.

  2. You see questions that are good, but they get put on hold and closed and you do not necessarily agree with the reasons.

  3. You are butting heads with the mods and they never admit they are wrong or listen to your suggestions for site policy.

  4. You think the mods and everyone else who tries to help you is a jerk and think they are making the site worse.

These four steps are a progression that I have noticed in new users that eventually leads to the user never coming back or deleting their account. Some users have skipped one or two of them and others have hit every single one before being suspended or never coming back.

My hope is that you avoid all of these completely and become a regular, happy, and productive user of the site.

Stage One

Your chief complaint will likely come from the frustration of making a bang up answer or question that is good (and we agree), but it gets downvotes and little to no upvotes. The posts also likely receive criticism from mods and high rep users, but you are having trouble understanding what the issues actually are.

That's okay. Almost all of us made posts like that when we started out. And occasionally still do. Just take the bumps, try your best to see what the issues are, then try again. Don't worry too much about the actual post in question unless it is really important to you. Let it be what it is, then wait for another question to answer or make another question that interests you.

Here are some meta posts that might help you if you are in this stage:

Stage Two

Your next complaint will likely be that questions are good (and, again, we agree), but they get put "on hold". If you currently do not understand the reason, for now, just trust the mods and the community members that are listed with the reason. I know it is frustrating, but believe me, as someone who has been there too, you will be much happier using the site if you just take the lumps, trust that the mods and users are trying to help you, and then try again with what you learned.

Here are some meta posts that might help you if you are in this stage:

Stage Three

Your next most likely complaint is probably that the mods do not admit that they are wrong. Well, that's because they are probably right. All our mods have been around for years. They know what they are doing, and I have seen all of them spend pages and pages in chat and comments trying to help users just like you with exactly the same issues that you have. Remember that nothing is new under the sun and your concerns about this site are very likely no exception.

Here are some meta posts that might help you if you are in this stage:

Stage Four

Finally, if you have not taken the above suggestions, you probably think that the mods are jerks and everyone else who is trying to help you is too. You have probably even accused them of not acting like a Christian should, or at least thought it. They are the reason the site is not fun for you and if they would just listen to you the site would be better. You couldn't be further from the truth. These guys keep this site moving, alive and well oiled. For those of us who have been around long enough to see them in action many times, we give them the utmost respect.

But let's just say this is where you are right now. That is fine. Unfortunately, what has led you to this stage has probably made you extremely defensive and combative and maybe even rude. We are still patient and hope that you can come through (maybe you have noticed that mods have not suspended you yet, but rather are still spending a lot of time on you).

You are probably a well intentioned person and have only acted according to what you think is right. We do not blame you for that. But now, more than ever before, you need to seriously and deeply evaluate what you are thinking about this site and the people you have interacted with on it. They are well intentioned too. Their primary concern is the quality of this site. Their next concern is the user that contributes to that quality.

That is you! You are the user they care about because you make the site what it is. If you do not understand their reasoning for what is "quality" and what is not, then just trust them for now and heed their advice. If you feel like they do not listen to what you are saying it is because they have already heard it before and thought about it long before you were even a username on this site. You will understand soon enough. They are the master black belts and you are the new arrival and have barely dirtied your snow white belt. In time you will wear a black belt too, but for now, listen to your masters (mods and high rep users who are trying to help you) and heed their instructions.

Users in this stage are why the following meta posts were made:

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This is amazing! Can I award a bounty on it? –  Affable Geek Jul 6 '13 at 1:58
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Typing fifteen characters to say: like –  pterandon Jul 6 '13 at 1:59
    
@PaulA.Clayton Thank you. I have corrected it. The site always needs willing proofers. If you are willing to make spelling and grammar corrections you can just go ahead and do them. You don't have to ask. –  fredsbend the Grinch Jul 11 '13 at 18:44
    
On Meta one cannot make suggested edits (even on the main site, suggested edits need to be six characters or more--yes, one can cheat). I do not have even half the reputation required to make non-reviewed edits. Edits also bump posts in activity lists (like the main page) which makes them less attractive when clarity would not be noticeably improved. –  Paul A. Clayton Jul 11 '13 at 19:18
    
@paul I see. Well carry on then. –  fredsbend the Grinch Jul 11 '13 at 19:21
    
This "question" should be required reading of all newcomers. In vBulletin software, admins can make a thread "must-read". Is that available on SE software? –  Adrian Keister Jul 20 '13 at 18:42
    
@Adrian I think the faq tag is similar. Caleb has since added it. –  fredsbend the Grinch Jan 22 at 21:04

3 Answers 3

New users: Do NOT use the old, highly-rated questions from highly-rated users or mods as a template for your own.

Even if they seem very interesting, politely worded, drew expert Q&A answers, and generated no rancor. The standards for a good question have changed so as to make many (hundreds?) of them fitting for "Reasons to Close". There is a very good reason for neither deleting the "newly bad" questions nor realizing the new guidelines are overly harsh and don't really address the issues that caused prior rancor.

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The same applies to answers. –  Ryan Frame Jul 11 '13 at 13:58
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Yes, if it is older than 6 months you should not use it as a template. –  fredsbend the Grinch Jul 11 '13 at 15:32
    
You may however, use all my (non-closed) questions as a template. Not to boast of anything except that which is boastable, but being a survivor of Programmers I knew what we were in for. –  Peter Turner Jul 11 '13 at 16:38
    
@fredsbend as user #4 (technically #1) I kind of take issue with that statement, I've seen the quality of questions stay very consistent over the year and a half or so of the site being live. The only time things were really bad was when the materialist fanboys poured in to celebrate our graduation from private beta. –  Peter Turner Jul 11 '13 at 17:02
    
@PeterTurner I agree that a good portion of the stuff older than 6 months is is good and on topic, however, it seems to me that nearly all the open questions in the last 6 months are as well. Therefore, why take the risk in giving a poor question as a template? –  fredsbend the Grinch Jul 11 '13 at 18:41
    
@PeterTurner: I don't think anyone is saying old questions aren't as good; but some questions (such as this) would probably be closed today as too broad or opinion-based, but seem to have been popular in the past. The fact that it has been upvoted does not necessarily mean it makes a good template; new users won't know that, and (theoretically) more recent questions will fit the site's current scope/guidelines. –  Ryan Frame Jul 11 '13 at 19:13
    
    
Do we not apply Historical Locks here? –  the dark wanderer 2 days ago

I've noticed that most users who are received very negatively or in a mixed manner by the community leave as quickly as they came, although some don't:

50 Users Who May Need Some Feedback for Improvement

Most users will find that they are positively received by the community, despite some hiccups inherent to the learning curve:

Overall Community Impression of a User

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lol you posted this at the same time the data explorer went off line to move to NYC, I'll check it out when it comes back online –  wax eagle Jul 17 '13 at 16:52
    
haha nice - whoops! –  Dan Jul 17 '13 at 16:57
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IMO, how well a user is received is almost exclusively about his attitude and his ability to improve. If He has a crummy attitude he looses credibility very quickly. If he continually posts crummy content and cannot seem to improve based on the suggestions he looses credibility with every post. –  fredsbend the Grinch Jul 17 '13 at 18:23
    
It looks like my queries were not saved. I hope that is temporary. That was a lot of work. –  Dan Jul 17 '13 at 19:16
    
After the migration, that is. –  Dan Jul 17 '13 at 19:18
    
@Dan something was borked with the backups and was only just found out. The devs are on it and hopefully correcting the issue. –  wax eagle Jul 18 '13 at 0:22
    
still not there - oh well –  Dan Jul 18 '13 at 18:22
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It's back!!! The SE team restored them for me! –  Dan Aug 8 '13 at 17:39
    
Thank you for this Dan. I don't particularly agree with the way the terms positive and such are being described here, but this is useful information to see. If you could put in a column that shows suspensions and date of suspensions then that would be cool. Also, if you could have a column for flagged chat questions. Some users are "mixed" on the site but quite "negative" in chat. Flags might help show that. –  fredsbend the Grinch Aug 8 '13 at 21:43
    
Out of curiosity, why the use of floating point and casts and not multiplying the other side of the inequality by 10 or 3? Is overflow an actual concern or is this just defensive programming (i.e., good habits)? (I am not a programmer and tend to be overly concerned with computational efficiency [and I know just enough to be dangerous--integer multiply is cheaper than casts to float, multiply, and cast to integer].) –  Paul A. Clayton Aug 8 '13 at 23:31
    
@fredsbend I may just have to play with that. –  Dan Aug 9 '13 at 5:18
    
@PaulA.Clayton because I'm paranoid. –  Dan Aug 9 '13 at 5:18

fredsbend, it looks like you put a lot of effort into that content and it comes across as genuine, thanks for that.

What I might venture to add -- with a significant measure of deference to the community, bearing in mind that I've yet to make substantial contributions to the site -- is the following:

  1. At least until the second coming, there will always remain theological dissension on the nature of the human heart, whether people are "basically good" or otherwise, Total Depravity vs. Semi-Pelagianism, etc., etc.;

  2. For a variety of reasons, life tend to run much more smoothly when we practice patience and forgiveness, and hesitate to attribute malicious intent;

  3. However, it is also important to bear in mind that there are some people who, for whatever reason, happen to be at a place in life where they just want to inflict damage, and aren't interested in listening to anyone. Many of us have likely, at some point, watched an online community -- from old WWIV BBS's to modern internet message boards -- get torn apart by a relatively small, but vocal group of immature users with a severe empathy deficiency.

I wouldn't presume to offer any prescriptions about any course of action to implement, and I may well have inadvertently and unknowingly stepped on some toes myself. And maybe the community here has some ability to reform wayward users that I know nothing about.

Still, it seems worth pointing out that there may be a certain line that denotes a requisite level of intellectual maturity.

Here's hoping that any users that may find themselves on the wrong side of that line are able to reform their approach sooner rather than later, and make a positive contribution. Thanks.

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Typo: "life tend to run much more smoothly" --> "life tends to run much more smoothly" (i.e., tends not tend) –  Paul A. Clayton Jul 6 '13 at 3:28
    
You're doing just fine. Keep up the good work. Though you do have a propensity for answering off-topic questions, albeit in an on-topic and upvote worthy fashion. –  fredsbend the Grinch Jul 6 '13 at 6:33
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I think not only "professionalism" but Christian charity require presumption you yourself are at fault, and misunderstood other guy. Protecting yourself against people who want to inflict damage will turn the clueless and frustrated into the same. Violence begets violence, so to speak. –  pterandon Jul 6 '13 at 18:24

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