I recently asked a question about training for a long distance hike, and I felt like one of the answers was written with a condescending and rude tone.

I left a comment to let the author know that I felt like he was being unnecessarily rude, but I tried very hard to make sure that my own response was civil and professional, and I think it was.

My comment was deleted, though, citing the Be Nice rule, while the answer that I felt was actually rude wasn't edited to change its condescending tone. I agree 100% with the Be Nice rule, and I feel like my response was in line with it. I also feel like the answer I was replying to definitely violated it.

So, I'm genuinely surprised and confused as to what it was about my comment that violated the rule, and why the answer doesn't violate the rule.

I don't see a way for me to retrieve the comment, in order to post it here for others to critique, but maybe one of the mods is able to do that? If there was something rude about my response, I'd genuinely like to know, so that I can try to communicate better in the future.

cc @RoryAlsop

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    Couldn't find anything wrong with what Graham wrote. Not one thing. I read the initial answer and I find it absolutely fine. Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 16:30

5 Answers 5


The comments were flagged up for a mod, so I had a look. I left you the comment, and deleted the entire thread, because I agreed with it. Graham's answer was appropriate based on the information you had originally given in your question.

It was not condescending in any way, even for a new walker - but if it provided information you didn't need because you were not a new walker, then the solution to that would have been to provide that information in the question. It's never bad for an answer to have more information than you need - as the next reader may have more need of it.

What I did see was your comments to Graham that were less nice, which is why I agreed with the flag and removed them.


As the author of that answer...

As a long-time walker, I see too many people hit the hills who are completely unprepared. Most mountain rescue calls are for those people. If you'd said in your question that you've already done a fair bit of day-walking and you wanted to move onto longer trails, I would have replied with that in mind - and it would have been a shorter answer basically saying "try it and see". :)

Your question asked for information like you get for a "new runner" though, and as the partner of someone who's just started running training, I know those assume you have no running experience whatsoever. As you'll know, walking with a full pack is hard. If someone has never walked before, it's simply too dangerous for them to go straight into that without working up to it. I see no difference between warning beginners to walking that they aren't ready and they shouldn't do it, the same as (like I've done elsewhere) warning beginners to electronics off playing with mains voltages.

One thing you definitely said in your comments was that my answer added no information. I'd listed out a lot of areas for training, including the areas of the body which will need strengthening, and a few ideas of key skills to develop. Clearly they don't apply to you - but they definitely apply to a beginner.

I'm sorry if the answer doesn't quite give you what you, but I answered the question you asked.


I flagged the whole thing as needing moderator attention. There wasn't one comment or any single action that made me do it. I can see how one can take the answer as condescending, even though it was intended to be helpful. From there, the comments just seemed to spiral towards being not nice. I thought it was helpful for a mod to step in and remind people to be nice before things got out of hand.


Without seeing the comment, it is impossible to say what was "not nice" about it.

I read the answer and I found absolutely nothing rude about it. Was it condescending? It assumed you were a neophyte, and if you are a highly experienced hiker and backpacker, I can see that you might find all those caveats condescending. A better remedy would have been to edit your question to give information on your experience and better explain the reason for asking your question, for example, possibly you were planning a trip with less experienced hikers and did not want to push them too hard.

As for what you could do now to understand the problem with your comment, I have two suggestions. (1) Recreate your comment from memory if you can and post it in your meta question. (2) Ping Rory in Chat and ask him to set up a private room so you and he can discuss your concerns.

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    I definitely don't expect anyone to critique a comment they can't read, that's why this question asked a mod to post the comment here for others to see. Were you implying that that's not possible? I intentionally left specifics about my training out of the question, in order to make it generic enough to be useful to others. If the answers are specific to my situation, then it seems like other readers would have to do much more work in order to apply the answers to themselves, and the results would be less accurate. I've always thought that generic answers were the whole point of SE.
    – Ian Dunn
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 14:23
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    @IanDunn a mod can copy/paste the comment thread, but it is not quite that easy. That said, I am not sure seeing the comments will help. The thing to remember is that sometimes nuanced meanings can be lost in comments and it is better to assume people are trying to be helpful.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 15:15

I saw your comment and it was rude. You called the answer rude. You attacked the answer that you had been training and the answer was of no value to you. Your question said nothing of training. You said new hikers start at 8 and that is where you started. Starting at 8 miles a day indicated little or no training.

I saw no problem with the answer.

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