Looking for good resources for learning to communicate in a kind community



The first case of condescension in a post has happened.

If a user says something that is condescending (or otherwise inappropriate for this community) but perhaps just needs guidance to help them do better (as opposed to outright trolling or malicious intent) what resources can I point them to for learning how to communicate better?


I don’t know of any resources off the top of my head, but maybe just having a general code of conduct (I’m a fan of this one) that you can point people to?

I’ve just now realized that the FAQ contains information similar to a CoC, so perhaps linking people there with an explanation of what specifically they violated could be helpful.

Then again, there are also people who only want to be jerks, and there’s no helping them, so you might be fighting a losing battle.


They aren’t sufficient, but I really like the Recurse Center’s social rules:
No “Well Actuallys”, No “Feigning Surprise”, No Backseat Driving, and No Subtle-isms. They delve more deeply into them on their website. Doesn’t cover every case, but I think no “well actuallys” and no “feigning surprise” help cover some common types of condescension…


Love this question! I’m going to watch it for other answers, and try to remember to revisit that Recurse center link on occassion. Thanks for sharing that @ctaymor!


I think there could be some useful info at http://lgbtq.technology/ and https://wealljs.org/. Both sites are large Slack communities and have done a really good job figuring this kind of thing out. There are, of course, differences between a Slack community and something like this site, so some alterations would need to be made. I’d recommend checking out both the CoC and culture docs for both communities.


There were some good suggestions, and people giving examples of unacceptable behaviour, on the Twitter thread that sparked the creation of this community.

Non-violent communication is one useful tool.

I agree with the need for a code of conduct. Here’s one that a Facebook group I’m in developed - it has served us pretty well. It could be adapted for this site.

  • Focus on arguments, not people (no ad hominem attacks)
  • Address others respectfully
  • Avoid stereotyping of other groups
  • Don’t discriminate or be judgemental
  • There are no “stupid” questions or answers
  • Assume good faith by participants in discussions
  • Don’t assume that you know what someone else means by what they have written / said
  • New members are encouraged to contribute
  • Keep it confidential who said what
  • Don’t reveal personal information outside the group


Modelling is the best solution. Assuming they are not deliberately harassing, giving a kind and empathetic reminder to the contributor that this is place is optimized for kindness should be all what it takes. I don’t know if the platform allows for private messages, but sometimes a kind private message is all what you need to curb these behaviors. A short note explaining and allowing them to edit their message should be enough. Private messages are best because it prevents the person to feel publicly humiliated, so they have a chance to save face. If it has to be be public, then it is a matter of being super careful when pointing out that they weren’t kind.

Even if the person who wasn’t kind doesn’t get it, other people will pick up on the kindness given. And that will help cement the culture of kindness.

The site sort of looks like SO, so many people will unconsciously use the SO behaviors. A lot of dev communities run in a Lord of the Flies fashion, so people coming from those communities may slip now and then. This is particularly the case with beginners who desperately want to be “real” programmers and whose only role models they have run into are people engaged in condescension battles.


I’ve not participated in the community, but the Change My View sub-reddit has some very specific, explicit rules for how to communicate with folks: https://www.reddit.com/r/changemyview/wiki/rules

From the interviews I’ve heard the rules, especially those for commenters, along with aggressive moderation, and the incentives implicit to the community have had a pretty solid impact on the quality of discourse there. There might be some useful nuggets to take away there.