This is not a rant! These are my initial thoughts in a discussion which I'm hoping other people will want to engage with. I want to hear your opinions on the following questions which I put to you.
I have been using Stack Overflow and Ask Ubuntu on and off for a few years now. I used to use Stack Overflow much more regularly, but then I experienced a phase of unpleasant exchanges and decided I would try and avoid the site in future if possible.
This hasn't worked out all that well for me, as now when I use it I tend to ask more awkward questions because I can't find the solution myself - this tends to lead to arguments or confrontation regardless of how one phrases a question because the so community seems to have a high percentage of users who react badly to awkward questions. (Keep in mind this is just my personal experience over a few years. You might think differently and not agree.)
Perhaps this is a controversial statement? Call it trolling or just offhand or perhaps confusing and unconstructive comments if you will, but my personal feelings are that I will be treated much more politely on ask Ubuntu than stack overflow.
Why do I compare these two sites? Mainly because I haven't used the others that much. I feel as if I have enough experience of both to make the comparison.
What is the cause of this? Are Ubuntu users more harmonious as their operating system of choice is less likely to cause outbursts of rage than other operating systems? Is it that ask Ubuntu is just geared towards being noob friendly and so we are more patient here? Or is something else going on?
I want to know about other peoples experiences of other Stack Exchange sites. Is this pattern repeated elsewhere? Do you agree with my feeling that stack overflow can be hostile at times or have you never experienced this yourself? I guess its possible that it's just me, or my interpretation of the users there, or that I've just been unlucky, but I dont think this is the case.
Finally, is there anything that can be done? Should we even try to do something? Perhaps it would be better to do nothing because there isn't enough of a problem here to worry about or because it isn't morally right to try and influence other users behavior? What do you think about these points? When moving a discussion to chat, a pop-up appears reminding users to be polite - so there is already a system in place, perhaps due to past problems.
Perhaps sometimes cultural differences come into play also. It would seem difficult or impossible to homogenize the cultural expectations of a global user community.
Why do I ask on Meta here and not Stack Overflow? The reason is simply that I think here this question will produce less negativity than on Meta Stack Overflow. I suspect putting it here, although obtaining less responses, is less likely to descend into chaos. (But let's see what happens, I could be wrong on this too.)