I like The NEW new "Be Nice" Policy ("Code of Conduct") — Updated with your feedback.

This new policy might be a good time to reflect on how we are doing with regards this policy in Ask Ubuntu.

I feel we are doing pretty OK, but I wanted to start this thread to allow community members to give some feedback on how welcoming and nice they think the Ask Ubuntu community is.

Thus feel free to post your score (which can be relative [poor, not sure, good, very good] or absolute ?/10) on the following points.

  1. Overall niceness
  2. Rudeness and belittling language
  3. Being welcoming, patient and assuming good intentions
  4. Not being jerks (name-calling, bigotry, inappropriate language, harassment)

The score is not the most important. If your score is not positive, please add a suggestion that might help the community to make the score better.

PS/ I know a poll format would probably suit this better, but I like everything in the same place with the possibility to explain a score.

  • I am going to accept an answer. If users still want post their experience and their concerns (especially also for new users), just go ahead and add it. If you have concerns, you can bring them up here.
    – don.joey
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 15:05
  • I think out of all of the communities, AskUbuntu is the nicest with their answers and feedback (especially to newby users and members). Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 9:10

5 Answers 5


I think we generally do pretty well. I'd like to think that's because we're just nice people but I think part of how we communicate is down to the site already being under the Ubuntu Code of Conduct (taken from the Global SE legal page):

When accessing the askubuntu.com, meta.askubuntu.com, or chat.askubuntu.com sites ("AskUbuntu"), Subscriber will also abide by the most current Ubuntu Code of Conduct, which can be found at http://www.ubuntu.com/community/conduct, and is hereby incorporated by reference, but solely with regard to AskUbuntu.

Being respectful to others is an underlining principal in our community. Some people don't always realise, others don't always get it right and some just don't understand (presumably because they've never earnt any respect)... But I think we stick pretty close to those guidelines and in doing so, check most of the boxes for the new rules.

I think we could probably work on how welcoming and accommodating we are with new users but this is largely going to be a shift in process, technology and documentation as the rest of the SE sites work out there's a gap. Until then, I'd just encourage people to talk to people as much as possible.

  • Nice to bring the Ubuntu Code of Conduct in as well. Forgot about that.
    – don.joey
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 9:56
  • "this is largely going to be a shift in process, technology and documentation" Can you be a bit more specific? How far is your template for certain questions? What are the things going on?
    – don.joey
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 15:05
  • I just mean that there are some sharp edges if you don't understand what's happening that can only be fixed by changing how the system talks to users. That is to say, there's only so much we users can do while the system is as it is. There are no current plans that I know of.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 15:33
  • One thing I think we should do more often is upvote around. For example, I always upvote a question to which I answer (if I deem it worth of the time to answer, why not? --- but I see a lot of users don't do it). This is the best greeting you can give to a newcomer. And sometime I just read and upvote what I think it's decently done (Qs and As). It's the way tex.sx works and I like it...
    – Rmano
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 8:24


I kind of wish some people were a bit nicer about not downvoting somewhat open ended questions or honest answers which are not vindictive or hateful.

  • If someone answers, "RTFM", yes, downvote it to oblivion.
  • If someone asks, "Why does ubuntu ****ing not continue to #@%@$#% with me?"; again, no problem with downvoting that.


If an honest answer is sitting at -1 or -2, there is no need to downvote it anymore unless it is critically bad advice. Instead I think people at that point should just comment,

"Thanks for taking the time to answer. The reason I would not encourage people to use this answer is x, y, and z"

Or if there is an open ended technical question such as,

"Is it more difficult to develop Ubuntu Touch applications in C++ or Go?"

Before flagging it to oblivion because it is technically open ended, I think questions like these should be given a grace period to see if an authoritative technical answer can be provided, because often there are high quality answers to these sorts of inquiries.

For example: Was developing WUBI a difficult endeavour? Why or Why Not?

Otherwise, to flag it out of the gate, as has been done to me, made me feel marginalized, and gave off the impression that the reviewers were trigger happy to exercise their modding powers at the sheer sight of a technicality, which came across as being "not nice."

My $0.02

  • I think RTFM as a chat is okay when used jokingly and with something very clearly documented. Otherwise, no.
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 8:02
  • 1
    Excellent answer. I like the part of starting comments with "Thanks for...". I love the notion of honesty when evaluating answers.
    – don.joey
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 9:06
  • 2
    "allowed to roam the wild for at least a few day" they should not, otherwise we would be doing a harakiri. Questions that ultimately will end closed and deleted, should be closed/deleted fast. More to the point, read "An alternative: out of sight, out of mind..." section of this answer, specifically the last three points. Oh, btw, niceness has nothing to do with downvotes/close votes, we are (should be?) first and foremost honest, if you question deserves to be downvoted/closed, it should be done so, to oblivion if necessary. Don't mix terms.
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 11:33
  • I would also seriously like to complain about using "HariKiri" to describe my suggestion; I find that to be pretty rude. Questions that ultimately will end closed and deleted, should be closed/deleted fast.; I disagree, and regard this as an Argument from Incredulity. Open ended technical questions which you may not think have an answer, often actually do, and are closed prematurely because of this. As to your last point; this is an issue I think of why this question was brought up in the first place, with people using "honesty" as license to be "not nice". What do you think?
    – Anon
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 11:59
  • I would just like to Qualify that I am speaking of "Arguably open ended technical questions." Obviously bad questions as I sampled before should be closed quickly.
    – Anon
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 12:01
  • 1
    i have to admit that I disagree with the "allowed to roam the wild for at least a few day" statement as well. Maybe you could consider changing it?
    – don.joey
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 15:22
  • Thanks for the suggestion. I updated it to "Allow a grace period", and offered an example of a question which had a quality answer authoritative answer available, but was closed because the question appeared open ended.
    – Anon
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 15:32
  • 2
    The grace period is implemented anyway (between putting a question on hold and closing it). If someone does have answer, let them comment or nominate the question for reopening. I agree with Braiam partially here - if it's gonna be closed, close it fast. Not so much with deletion.
    – muru
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 16:16
  • 1
    Open ended technical questions which you may not think have an answer, often actually do, and are closed prematurely because of this Most users here on au are inexperienced with Linux, some with computers in general. Although I agree that these open-ended questions could be solved, I don't think that our Q&A format is well suited for that: Solving these kinds of questions with these users takes a lot of time and lots of back-and-forth chat-style communication.
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 7:26
  • I'm speaking more towards somewhat open ended Technical questions; otherwise I agree, and to your point; new users are unlikely to ask open ended Technical questions. The grace period that muru spoke of... I am not convinced. Notice the comment on the answer as to why he didnt go into more details: I agree that I could have gone into more details, however I was expecting the question to be closed
    – Anon
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 11:47

Here are my own 2 cents.

  • Overall niceness: Ask Ubuntu is in my experience nicer than the other SO sites.

  • Rudeness and belittling language: OK. I do think that sometimes curse words are used without any reasons (RTFM is not better than RTM) and I feel that these curse words should be flagged more often.

  • Being welcoming, patient and assuming good intentions:

    • I personally did not feel very welcom at the start, but that is a) because I did not know the system and b) because I had a difficult technical issue that could not easily be solved. I feel there is a lot of insider knowledge which is not in the FAQ (about how fast you can get a downvote, for instance; or about when something is subjective). People were nice with me, I just really had to go through a paradigm-shift from forums to QA sites. Here I think we can help people with the shift. I think this awareness already exists. I also think that for complex problems we need to refer to the wiki a lot more often.
    • The tone in meta is often a lot harder than the tone in main. I don't know why this is the case, but it regularly gets to back alleys fights here. I think a) meta questions should be shorter and b) answers should focus on one element only. Sometimes you have to read a two paper essay to understand someone's point of view. I'd rather see that answer split into different arguments (posted as different answers) that can individually be upvoted or downvoted.
  • Not being jerks (name-calling, bigotry, inappropriate language, harassment): I have not seen a single jerk around here (if I follow the definition between brackets). Again my remark about curse words still holds (because I am offended by them).

Overall evaluation: 8/10

  • Ask Ubuntu is in my experience (a lot) nicer than the other SO sites. I've asked very dumb questions, mainly because of my lack of linux knowledge, and I've always have nice, well mannered and even cordial replies. And I'm so grateful!
    – Rosamunda
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 19:37
  • You have some points here, but I think anytime you take some genuine effort to ask a well rounded and well researched question the chances of getting a bad reaction from the community goes down exponentially. There will always be those jerks (not the ones you mention in your post) who will expect you to know everything, but most of us just want decent questions to answer. I believe lack of this courtesy is most often the cause for harder reactions to (meta) questions.
    – Seth
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 19:16
  • @Seth. Thanks for thinking along! I have to admit I am not sure I get your point. Are you reacting to my remark about the tone in meta? If so, are you suggesting that the questions should be better in order for the answers to be better? If so that would match my point about meta questions that have to be more to the point.
    – don.joey
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 21:43
  • @don.joey I don't disagree with anything you said, in my comments above I was referring to both the meta attitude and the difficulty of grasping the site at first. I simply wanted to point out, even if getting used to the SE way is hard at first, new users can still ask well received questions if they put some time into them. I know you weren't saying the opposite; my comment was more of an agreement + 2 cents more than anything else :) (I realize now I didn't write the first sentence too well, my apologies).
    – Seth
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 22:21
  • how is read the friendly manual offensive? it's just as easy to imagine g-rated version as not.
    – djeikyb
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 6:42

As a relative newbie, I'd like to offer some feedback relating to my experiences so far.

I have found the site very useful and would have liked to upvote the questions and answers that helped me, but for the seemingly vicious circle of "you can only take part if you have rep, you get rep by taking part".

I eventually had a question that did not appear to have been asked, so I asked it. Very shortly afterwards, someone pointed out it was very similar to two other questions (which I think highlights that the search facility isn't all that brilliant). However, I was asked to leave the question as it was worded better than the others, and I finally got some rep points!

It must have gone to my head, because I then spotted an unanswered question on a subject that I've had a lot of experience in, and jumped in. I thought I was posting a comment but it turned out I'd added an actual answer. Immediate downvote, no explanation, although I guess it was because the question itself turned out to be a duplicate, and a somewhat vague one at that. A mod kindly changed my answer into a comment and explained that I couldn't comment as I didn't have enough rep.

Maybe I should have looked more carefully at what I was doing, but it's certainly made me more cautious about answering any other questions.

So, what do I think of Ask Ubuntu?

  1. Overall niceness I'd say it was generally a nice and friendly place, and certainly more so than some other sites. That's largely based on how I see the users interacting with each other; my own experience is mixed.

  2. Rudeness and belittling language Can't say I've seen any, although some answers/comments can tend to have a 'being told off by the headmaster' tone to them.

  3. Being welcoming, patient and assuming good intentions I totally understand why it's in place, but the rep points system does make you feel like an outsider in a member's only club, which is not especially welcoming.

  4. Not being jerks (name-calling, bigotry, inappropriate language, harassment) Not seen any at all, so 10/10 for that one.

As don.joey has already mentioned, it does require some sort of mental shift to use a site like this properly when you're used to a discussion forum. But that's something for the users to deal with, not the site itself.

  • Thanks for sharing your experience. I am a bit surprised that you thought the answer box was for leaving comments, but it sort of make sense to mess the two up when you only see one form on the page.
    – don.joey
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 12:07
  • Until I came to post some, I had not really realised the difference between comments and answers - I just read the question followed by everything below it. I suppose to the uninitiated, the small 'add a comment' icon is easily missed when there's the large 'answer' box just asking to be typed in.
    – Carl H
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 12:19

I just confess here, with a sorrow in my heart, that the lack of intelligence in many answers overpowers my good manners.
Right now I saw a question which basically asks how to convert a video file into other format. The first answer says (in assertive way) to upload it to some web service. A month or two ago in a question "How to write a CD" I saw instructions how to attempt to install Nero in Wine. (Will it even work?).
I vote such things down, sometimes flag them, but I really think the authors of such answers deserve a word "idiot" as their permanent avatar. They not only produce garbage, they confuse newbies, waste time, sometimes make them do harmful things to their systems, and make bad impressions of Linux and this site.
Jokes aside, I think massively downvoted answers must carry a heavy reputational penalty for answer authors. Say, -1 removes 1 rep, -2 - removes 4, -3 removes 8, so on. Then voting mechanism will be able to relief the urge to call someone an idiot. This will also force users to promptly delete their own bad answers.

  • 6
    I disagree. As soon you feel overpowered and loosing your manners you need to stop reviewing. I've experienced the same as you did and nothing good comes after this point.
    – MadMike
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 7:23
  • Yeah. I will stop and cool down. And newbie will be installing Nero in Wine meanwhile. Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 7:45
  • I know how frustrating this can be. I'm supporting Linux live, on site ,in person, in my free time so... heads up ;)
    – MadMike
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 8:34
  • 2
    The best part of your post is the proposal to exponentially increase downvote penalties for voters. This makes sense. Not only does it punish downvote "trolls", but it also makes it feasible to downvote to oblivion only if you have done enough positive actions for the site.
    – Terry
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 14:16
  • I do not understand you. One can only downvote an answer once. Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 17:03

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