Condescending responses to tech questions


Ivan Kwan summarised why most of Reddit is awful:

I’ve spent nearly a year on r/singapore (Singapore subreddit), and I feel like it’s just not worth my attention anymore. The conversations there make it seem like it’s filled with edgy teenagers, trolls, and people trying too hard to be intellectual.

Twitter is arguably worse, but at least I’ve culled my following lists over the years, and instablock predictable trolls. But I am subscribed to r/sysadmin and a few others on Reddit, and both these said more than I could have regarding soliciting help online. CuddlePirate420:

… not as bad or as condescending as StackOverflow’s philosophy which questions your very reason for even existing. “You want to know how to do X? Why on earth would you want to do X? Knowing nothing about you or your needs, I guarantee what you need is Y.”

Empathy is hard. Dr_Midnight in response:

Experience has taught me that this mindset is extremely pervasive among programmers, and that it is not solely present on StackOverflow. Programming-language related IRC channels on freenode are among some of the most toxic places on that entire network when it comes to the sheer level of condescension and echo-chamber-like behavior.

My favourites were from Linux people saying using $distro would solve my FreeBSD problem, or that the solution to DOS or NetBSD on my vintage 486 or Pentium 1 tower was… to not use them. I counted sixteen references to actually on a thread before I turned off comments in 2012, with a subset naturally calling me an idiot contrarian. Because naturally if you use something others don’t, you’re just doing it for the sake of it. Or soju, or whiskey, or whatever.

I’m on board with Merlin Mann’s why am I not a potted fern? response. At some point it’s the only rational thing to do.

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