A Mathematicians Anti-rant

Constructive criticism – A viewpoint from the soap box

Lately quite a few comments trickle in to mathblog, and I absolutely love that. Everything from pointing out mistakes, showing solutions, given pointers for other solution methods and all the way to disagreeing with me.

As everyone who has posted a comment also know, is that I hold all comments for moderation. I do that mainly in order to avoid spam (the counter now at 36498 of those), but also moderate the comments, in case there is something which I don’t find belongs on the site.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all the categories of comments mentioned before, especially the last kind. I learn from them I really do. But there are one kind of comments I don’t like. Comments which comes with non-constructive criticism  A few days ago I got the one worded like this (anonymised of course)

Then again, that YYY is of course not at all what XXX is doing. His horrendous code should have tipped you off that he probably doesn’t know what he’s doing.

This was a comment to a comment, so it doesn’t hit me personally. And while the poster might be absolutely right, this brings absolutely nothing positive to the site. And therefore it will never escape the hell of my moderation queue.

You might start blabbering about your freedom of speech. Fair enough, but I don’t care. I will moderate this private site as much as I like! And don’t get me wrong, I wont to hear about mine and other mistakes, but when you point them out do so in a constructive manner.

If you want a comment like this to do through do something like

XXX is wrong, since that method of doing YYY is not correct because…

And even better, add

Instead you could do it by using ZZZ

So while I do encourage people to discuss and disagree, do it in a sober way which is constrcutive, otherwise I will moderate the dialog

Thank you!

Posted by Kristian

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