(Originally published on meta Stack Exchange by Jon Ericson.)

Welcome to the Unicorn Meta Zoo, a podcast by members of the Stack Exchange community team. If you want to avoid spoilers, jump straight to the audio (transcript).


hairboat Juan M Jon Ericson

We are talking about how we handle difficult users.

  • If you've never played Lemmings, fix that.

  • Wikipedia's Assume good faith policy.

  • Don't flip the bozo bit. (Not defined in The Jargon Lexicon as I assumed.)

  • Our Code of Conduct.

  • For many years, we relied on a general be nice policy.

  • I'm not sure if this is the article Abby was talking about, but The Paradigmatic Nature of Biblical Law is something our team has discussed over the years. A key quote:

    Ancient laws did not work this way. They were paradigmatic, giving models of behaviors and models of prohibitions/punishments relative to those behaviors, but they made no attempt to be exhaustive. Ancient laws gave guiding principles, or samples, rather than complete descriptions of all things regulated. Ancient people were expected to be able to extrapolate from what the sampling of laws did say to the general behavior the laws in their totality pointed toward. Ancient judges were expected to extrapolate from the wording provided in the laws that did exist to all other circumstances and not to be foiled in their jurisprudence by any such concepts as “technicalities” or “loopholes.”

    If that's not the right link, it's still fascinating. ;-)

  • Many of the CMs took the TKI conflict style assessment a few years ago. Most of us preferred conflict avoidance, which probably explains a lot.


Juan remembered that Abby mentioned that difficult users are not always "negative", but couldn't remember the other word she used. Listening back, I can't tell what word he forgot. Maybe "problem"?

Since this podcast was recorded back in April, if you are having a conflict with one of us right now, we weren't talking about you. After many years of interacting with members of the community, we've accumulated plenty of experience with just about every sort of person you can imagine. So any similarities to specific individuals are entirely coincidental.

What do you think?

Take a listen or read the transcript and respond in the answers below.

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