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I seem to have picked up a new user who is demonstrating more interest in chat-style demolition than in adding constructive answers. Alas, he seems to be tracking me personally.

I don't want to down-flag him or list his comments as offensive, as he looks to have a strong computational chemistry background and I think could be a useful contributor. On the other hand, since this for me is just volunteer time for a new group, the adage "I don't need this" certainly comes to mind... :)

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    $\begingroup$ As an aside, the “I don't need this” argument is certainly true for everyone here! $\endgroup$ – F'x May 12 '12 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ :) yes... and the weather on the east coast is simply gorgeous today, so why am I even checking this right now? Later folks! $\endgroup$ – Terry Bollinger May 12 '12 at 16:15
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I don't think anyone here as enough posts yet to warrant any accusation of “systematic” behaviour. You are a frequent user of Physics.SE, so you probably don't need the generic description that follows, but I'll leave it as a general note to new SE users on this topic.

Disagreement on SE is common, as it is in science in general! [1] It's even healthy in the long term, because it is a sign of diversity of viewpoints and results in better answers. The way it is handled is by comments, competitive answers and community voting. Flags are an orthogonal system, designed to handled improper content (off-topic post, spam, hate speech, bullying) or behaviour (less common).

In the beginnings of a SE site, the situation is a bit more complex: we all want it to thrive and we still have few users, so I tend to think that we do upvote more cheerily. Also, we don't yet have proper moderators to handle flags, so they are currently dealt with by StackExchange team members who might not have an overall view of the community and site (but of course, Big Brother is watching us!).

Now, regarding your specific question, we can only discuss specific behaviour. If you feel you have been smeared somewhere on the site, in a way that does not adhere to the SE standards and/or scientific discourse, please give links and we can discuss. I tried to dig a bit, and in the three cases where I saw your answers contested a competing answer was proposed, which seems like a fair behaviour to me.


[1] Actually, I consider that it is actually much more common on wide open sites like SE, because people with very different backgrounds and “academic level” will see things differently and they might answer the same question with very different viewpoints. Some people will be self-taught, some will have a generic undergrad-level understanding of chemistry topics, some people will be experts but only in a few topics, some high-school teachers might have a very broad knowledge but few practicals skills, and maybe people with a longer career behind them will have a very good sense of how things happen but not much experience in formalizing it. What I mean is that we probably want Chemistry.SE to be something like a big tent-style community.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks F'x. In Physics I usually try to address questions by people who genuinely don't know much about physics, but are serious in wanting to learn. That means I am very careful to avoid using words that are both useful and far more precise, but which I know very well will just cause most questioners to throw up their hands and never try again. I have huge respect for good, in-depth algorithmic work and I'm not trying to compete with such work, even when using easy English and analogies gets me up votes. To help I try to point to quality algorithmic answers when they are available. $\endgroup$ – Terry Bollinger May 13 '12 at 3:26
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm, came here to answer this as well, looks like you already have all bases covered. @Terry, don't be disheartened by accusations of being incorrect--civilly work them out, and come to a conclusion. Coming to meta is good, since comments are ephermal and aren't noticed by the majority of the community. $\endgroup$ – ManishEarth May 13 '12 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @Manishearth! $\endgroup$ – Terry Bollinger May 14 '12 at 2:03

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