mailing list nastiness

I subscribe to a lot of mailing lists, mostly to do with web development, and in particular to do with web standards, there are some very clever people on the many of these mailing lists and so most of the time I lurk quietly reading, and learning a lot.

However, some folk (as a generalisation they tend to post from Hotmail accounts, don’t sign with their real name and leave no identification in the form of their own web site URL so that we can see who they actually are and view their own masterpieces) seem to think that they have the right to be nasty, really nasty to people who post asking questions, particularly where that person might be new to the subject matter.

I don’t understand this, even if the person dealing out the personal attack just happens to be a CSS/XHTML or whatever god, they aren’t going to help anyone to get their head round the issues by attacking them personally. Saying ‘your site looks like crap’ never helps anyone, and might just put them off trying to find out more about the subject.

Of course it is important that those who join mailing lists and seek advice ask questions in a polite manner, and give as much information as possible to show that they have done the obvious checks, but everyone starts somewhere.. and there are several lists I subscribe to where I have many of the regular posters automatically filtered into the trash – not because they have ever attacked me personally but because I am really sick of the constant stream of negativity and nastiness coming into my inbox!

People who answer questions may like to read this, I know that I’ve answered posts in a manner that probably wasn’t always helpful in the past so it was useful reading for me – thinking about being clear so that your meaning isn’t confused by someone from a different culture is something I need to remember!

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