Down Goes the Ladle: Understanding Code Forum Culture


Ah, online code forums.

They can be a great place to give and receive advice cordially.

But sometimes the vibes can be a bit…. harsh.

I hadn’t spent too much time on code forums before this semester. What experience I had was on the MrExcel forum, and I never had a problem.

But my current research involves textual analysis in Python and R. I often need help.

And then… I sheepishly enter a forum on my best behavior, doing all I can to avoid this scenario:


What gives?

The ladle comes down. “This is not clear. We are not a code-writing service. You cannot expect me to answer this.”


Why do some forums seems so cordial, while others nearly uncivil? How do these norms and cultures develop? 

If you are a frequent visitor to online code forums, please leave a comment or message me. Where do you like to visit and why? Any theories on the culture of various forums?

I’m doing a short research study on this phenomenon for a course this semester — your insights are most helpful.

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