Don't get me wrong, but did you noticed that lot's of posts and comments are unkind/sarcastic/unfriendly in this community?

I am a member of several SE communities, but security is outstanding when it comes to number of mean comments.

Offensive comment deleted

Any idea how this can be fixed? How to show people that it is nice to be nice to each other?


Let me be give you an example. I asked a question. It was flagged as off-topic. I read the rules again, and I disagree with off-topic flags, so I asked in comments to my question if someone can explain his off-topic flag. The result was that my comment was deleted. Do you really find it helpful, supportive or friendly?

  • 10
    Perhaps calling the members here "socially disabled technical geeks" only compounds the problem.
    – schroeder Mod
    Sep 14, 2015 at 14:30
  • @schroeder I updated sentence accordingly. I shouldn't call people like that. Sep 14, 2015 at 19:16
  • 1
    You did not ask about the off-topic flag in comments. I'm the one who deleted 2 comments because they become obsolete with the edit you made to the question.
    – schroeder Mod
    Sep 15, 2015 at 20:46
  • 5
    Perhaps you are taking downvotes too seriously or personally. The tooltip text for downvotes simply says "no research effort, unclear, or not useful". I realize that downvotes can be frustrating.
    – schroeder Mod
    Sep 15, 2015 at 20:51
  • @schroeder I don't refer to those 2 obsolete comments. There was another comment where I directly asked to explain off-topic flags. Sep 15, 2015 at 20:52
  • I'm looking at the deleted comments, and there are only the 2 I deleted.
    – schroeder Mod
    Sep 15, 2015 at 20:53
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    I find it ironic that this post is the most unfriendly and offensive post I've seen on this site in quite a while, so much so that a moderator had to edit out insults from your question. Perhaps some introspection could help here, and you could clarify specifics of this unfriendly behavior you've encountered? Having a question closed is not really a sign of unfriendliness...
    – AviD Mod
    Sep 16, 2015 at 8:50
  • 1
    If you think Security.SE is harsh towards crap questions, take a look at Server Fault. Sep 20, 2015 at 12:45
  • 6
    A user complains the community he joined is unfriendly by calling them a bunch of names...
    – kalina
    Sep 22, 2015 at 14:07
  • Everybody: Notice how this question has a negative rating? I have observed that users on Security.SE downvote things simply because they don't like or don't agree with it, rather than by any objective criteria. You could simply choose to not upvote, but instead you downvote. I don't find that behavior with other SE sites. I agree with @MichałŠrajer, this community is unfriendly.
    – DrSheldon
    Sep 13, 2018 at 18:24

5 Answers 5


I am active on many SE sites, and moderate quite a few, and in my experience, Sec.SE is one of the least aggressive and mean. Here I see people making friends, helping others, including guiding new folks and beginners to security.

Maybe you are just seeing comments being allowed to stay around longer - on some sites they are removed quickly and individuals suspended or banned faster. Or maybe you are seeing the banter between friends who have interacted for some time here.

So, maybe this is just something you have experienced, and I have to say, as @schroeder commented, your language in the post above would definitely make people annoyed with you - it is very intolerant, so I hope you will improve your attitude, and perhaps that will lead to others tolerating you.

  • 1
    You show a good example how I would like people interact here. I agree that I crossed the line with the comment you pointed out. I was annoyed with downvotes without any comments. It's very common on sec.se. Sep 15, 2015 at 19:47
  • 5
    There isn't actually a requirement to comment when down voting. We encourage it, but SE doesn't mandate it.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Sep 15, 2015 at 22:20
  • @MichałŠrajer especially on Meta sites, downvoting a question is often simply a sign of disagreement. (Voting works differently on meta sites...)
    – AviD Mod
    Sep 16, 2015 at 8:51

First, I have a little experience with other SE sites as well. On my opinion, the security SE is not so bad, especially compared to the Serverfault or the Electronics SE sites.

The main problem behind is that there are very different people around here, practically we could talk about two different "population":

  1. People from an experimental viewpoint. They tend to have smaller reputation, asking practical questions, mostly they aren't security specialists, but have an above average affinity to the security.
  2. People from a professional or theoretical affinity. They tend to have higher reputation, see the world from a more theoretical viewpoint, and they are either in the academical sphere or they are specialized into security.

These groups see the world from a partially incompatible perspective:

  • Many of the questions of Group1 are bikesched questions for Group2. Bikesched question means the questions resulting long comment-chat with few really new information, with the unsaid goal from the parttakers to vote eachother up.
  • Content of Group2 is often irrelevant / ununderstable for Group1.

There is another effect, the SE sites as they mature tend more closed and narrow their topics. It is not an SE problem, every community on the net behaves on this way since first irc channels. There is no real fix for that, but mods/admins knowing this and actively working against the phenomenon can delay this by years.

What can help:

  1. Decode the said and unsaid wishes of others, it often helps a lot.
  2. Don't give it up. If you got some negative backslash, decode the reason, change your attitude and formulation, and restart.
  3. And don't worry! It could be much worser.

I'm a new entry to SE and started out with security.

My experience has been great! The community has pointed out mistakes in my answers. This has made me learn to frame my answers better.

The community has moved my question to other forums. It made sense when they gave the reason.

I have noticed that the community even modified questions to suit the policies and save the question from moving to a "hold" state.

But the community expects you to do your basic homework. And obviously not post stupid questions!

A question like "I want to hack my sister's facebook account" is an open invitation for ridicule and spite.

  • Well, I don't mind if someone point out mistakes in my questions/answers. We are here to help each other after all. However downvoting without any comment is quite opposite to helping and it's very popular here. Sep 15, 2015 at 19:53
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    @MichałŠrajer Do you find that in the other SE communities that people explain their downvotes? In my experience in other communities, it's the norm to not explain.
    – schroeder Mod
    Sep 15, 2015 at 20:48

Although Security Stack Exchange is better than many sites, I agree that people are petty about being on-topic, and particularly with close votes. I asked one about Windows 10 that I think is a really useful question for the site, and to my surprise it was closed. I've also had a question closed by community votes then reopened by a moderator. The way the close vote queue works seems to encourage a kind of hive mind, where a single close vote quickly progresses to five. To be honest, I've largely given up on asking questions here, although I do enjoy providing answers.

The guys on StackOverflow have discussed this issue at some length (sorry, I don't have links to hand). They talk about signal to noise ratio, and reckon you need to be strict about keeping posts on topic to keep the signal high. I don't agree with that, I am lenient about posts which are borderline. I think signal to noise ratio is not that important, because search works well. But the thing about being part of a community is that you don't get to do everything your way.

A couple of things that may cheer you up:

If people read your post and think "interesting question but I don't know the answer" they tend to move on without comment. This inherently means that comments visible will be more negative that the general mood. That's life online - either deal with it, or stop using internet forums. Also, I tend to reserve upvotes for things I am particularly interested in, and I don't "sympathy upvote" if a reasonable question is already downvoted, because that causes a net rep change of +8, practically the same as a straight upvote.

Also, consider that the knowledgeable people on this site are mostly motivated to answer interesting questions. Whether it's to practice writing skills, build an online profile, whatever. That is their primary interest; helping you out is secondary. If you don't like that I think your only option would be to pay a consultant to answer your questions. The experienced guys here will charge $1000+ per day - but you're getting them for free.


This is a problem with the internet not just this site. The barrier of the screen allows people to behave in a manner they would never dream of acting in real life. This is supposed to be a site for professionals and as such leads to many people using it as excuse to have an intellectual pissing contest. All the usual traits are in their full splendour; arrogance, naivety, pedants, self-righteousness, rudeness and unfriendliness. These displays may or may not be dressed up in school yard levels of ‘randomness’, sarcasm and/or humour, the likes of which if you were unfortunate enough to experience in real life would no doubt make you roll your eyes so hard your face would do a backflip.

Throw in some (not all) long term members appearing to have formed a sycophantic, back slapping club in the form of an internet based clique and this place can appear unfriendly, especially when clique members and want to be members descend on dissenting voices in borg like fashion to ensure to themselves and others that they are in fact superior and beyond question or infallibility.

But none of that really matters, it is all just irrelevant noise.

The thing is, there are lots of very intelligent, well informed people here, very credible people who can provide a great deal of insight on information security related topics and when it comes down to it, that is the only thing that counts. Some of these people have commented on this very post, some are very friendly and some not so much (although the unfriendly people are the minority and it usually says more about their psyche than anything else). The main thing is the information that can be gleaned from the people here, as long as that is good, let them have their internet ways, manners and customs.

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