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I don't know why but from time to time when I post an answer in a forum, it goes unnoticed for a while and then several weeks or months later, while the subject is well advanced, someone quote me, and answers with a short and quite sharp and disrespectful answer like "Duuuuuh you were wrong at character 6 line 8 it is not thing A but thing B".

How should I cope with that kind of people ?

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    Is there any reason why you can't just ignore them? – Robzor Sep 1 '17 at 16:13
  • I can ignore them but I was wondering if there was someway to answer kindly about it. By the way it is not one forum and one user just a situation that happens randomly. – Kaël Sep 1 '17 at 16:39
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    Personally, when I get responses like these (in any context), I tend to answer them as if they had responded politely (ignoring the tone entirely). So in your case, I would probably go something like: "Oh my god, you're right, I didn't see that. Man, it's so easy to miss these things. Good eye." From experience, if you as much as mention how unpleasant the response is, you will only receive vitriol from the person. Ignoring the tone is the only way to really avoid escalating comments, in my opinion. – Tama Yoshi Sep 1 '17 at 16:49
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    Are these cases where the person is correct but rude, or cases where they're both disrespectful and incorrect? – HDE 226868 Sep 1 '17 at 16:58
  • Hmmm there are both cases. Today the one I read was correct and kind of rude. So definitely I shall admit my error. Yet the rudeness of the answer acte as a brake. – Kaël Sep 1 '17 at 17:11
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In cases like this where it is some random online commenter, I say kill 'em with kindness. But you have some options:

  1. Respond in kind. Generally a bad idea. This will likely just antagonize the commenter and escalate the situation.

  2. Ignore. This is fine! If the issue is already resolved or forgotten for you, no need to keep discussing it. (Although it is nice to future readers who have the same problem, if you come back and describe how it was resolved.)

  3. Call out their rude behavior. This can be a little risky as it may also antagonize them. However, if you do it politely (a thank-you for the effort goes a long way), it could also be a learning moment for them. "Not everyone knows that, and it's a difficult problem to search for online. Thanks for the response though, I appreciate you taking the time to provide a solution."

  4. Respond with kindness. "Thanks! I did figure that out / worked around this issue, but I'll keep that in mind for next time."

  5. Report them to the moderators, particularly if this is a repeat offender. Chances are you aren't the only one to notice this, and perhaps a warning from the people in charge will prompt them to change their ways.

Also, consider for the future you can usually avoid these sorts of comments by updating your own threads with the resolution you found. This way you don't get people commenting a month later, and nobody wastes time on a problem that doesn't need solved anymore.

I've asked a few dumb questions on StackOverflow in my time and being humble goes a long way. People often mirror your own attitude: if you are polite, they are less likely to continue responding rudely. And even if they continue to be rude, you still look good :)

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Ignore, or, if possible, flag

When someone says something rude, or points out how you're wrong bluntly, it can be pretty hard to resist that feeling to retort and argue with them. There's rarely anything to be gained from an argument, though, whether on a technical point or just arguing over whether their response was rude.

You can't win an argument, because if you lose, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior, you hurt his pride, insult his intelligence, his judgment, and his self-respect, and he'll resent your triumph. That will make him strike back, but it will never make him want to change his mind. A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

— Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

It's likely to be challenging to confront someone who's left a blunt, or even rude, comment. Most forums, though, have systems to discourage rude or offensive posts. For example, Stack Exchange sites have a Be Nice policy, which discourages rudeness and belittling language. The vast majority of other forums have similar systems to flag posts, although the level of civility expected may vary (some may tolerate posts like the one you mention, and some may not).

If it bothers you, flag and let a moderator handle the situation. They've been given the responsibility, and are likely to be in good standing in the community, so their words probably carry a lot of weight.

If the community you're in doesn't see a post like this as a problem, then your only real choice is to ignore it, or take it in your stride and respond as if it had been written politely.

For messages that are a little blunt, but not outright rude, it's up to you how you proceed. If it really bothers you and is hurtful, it seems logical to flag and escalate it—after all, a community that doesn't respond when users are uncomfortable perhaps isn't one worth being in. But if it's just trivial, either ignore it and move on, or, if you're willing, respond positively.

Debrett's also publishes an etiquette guide on How To Respond To Rudeness, weighing the pros and cons. As they state, responding in kind is great for letting off steam, but it doesn't really help a lot.

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It's called trolling. The point of trolling is to elicit an emotional response, not to advance a discussion or help anyone. There is simply no good way to respond to a troll unless you are interested in trolling them back. If you don't want to troll back, then the way to cope with trolling is to ignore it.

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    From experience, this is not always true. I have had a lot of very rash answers from people that just cared a lot about the topic at hand. By answering them politely (ignoring the tone), I actually managed to change their tone and have a more edifying conversation with them. I agree though, that if they persist being rash, they should be ignored. – Tama Yoshi Sep 1 '17 at 17:02
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    I don't think the behavior described by OP is trolling. The example sounds like the response does provide useful information, but is just written in a mean tone. – Em C Sep 1 '17 at 17:08
  • Sometimes it might look like trolling buuuuut it is more like someone trying to correct a very old answer and this is not I would call troll. Anyway thanks for the feedback – Kaël Sep 1 '17 at 17:28

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