How to set up viewing preferences to automatically exclude postings of certain specific users?

Just as it is possible to automatically highlight postings if they are "tagged" with various keywords, it is also possible to ignore postings if their tags are on a user-specified "ignore list".

Question: Is it possible to set up a user-specified "ignore list" not based on the postings' tags but based on who posted the queries?

Some background to this question: While this site is, overall, remarkably free of trolls and spammers, once in a while a user persists in posting poorly phrased and unclear questions -- and then is remarkably very quick to respond aggressively and challenge anyone who dares to point out that their postings are less than clear with over-the-top aggressive language. Such a user frequently has no qualms of accusing anyone of trolling, bias, lack of decency, and worse.

I've learned the hard way that trying to engage such users politely and attempting to have a productive discussion is utterly useless. Indeed, such engagements should be avoided entirely as they meet the criterion of the (originally Italian?) piece of advice, "Don't wrestle with a pig -- you get dirty, and the pig enjoys the wrestling match."

Ideally, there should be a method to enable me (and others) to place all queries posted by pig-type users on an "automatic ignore" list. Does this site provide such a method, or can it be created without too much knowledge of html programmming?

• Yes, if such an option exists, it will allow you to escape from those users. And everyone could do the same. Yet I am wondering at which point it becomes a case for the moderators, who could simply remove the post and ban that user. This might have advantages and disadvantages. A disadvantage is that some may call this censorship, an advantage that other users may not have to get exposed to these conversations. – user121799 Jan 8 at 3:42
• +1! If this option doesn't exist, they should invent it! (Btw, I don't think the criterion is Italian, but perfectly matches with someone @marmot and I are thinking of). P. S. = This way I wouldn't have to check my do-not-answer-to-this-one list! – CarLaTeX Jan 8 at 4:05
• I guess your proposal has been discussed here on the "main" meta site. – user121799 Jan 8 at 4:45
• I very much agree with @marmot. It is either a case for the moderators or you just have to withstand the rudeness. Just look over to Twitter and the level of discourse there. You'll find that people are only communicating with their self-made filter bubbles, treating everyone else as enemy. Therefore -1. – Henri Menke Jan 8 at 5:32
• @HenriMenke - Just so I understand your downvote (better): What exactly about my posting prompted your downvote? Put differently, what about my question, "Is it possible to set up a user-specific 'ignore list' not based on the postings' tags but based on who posted the queries?" is so bad? I'd like to understand your viewpoint better. Incidentally, (a) I don't use Twitter at all, for several reasons, and (b) why would the claim that things are better here than over on Twitter justify not providing an additional intervention tool to those who desire to have one? – Mico Jan 8 at 5:41
• @Mico I don't think blocking other users is solving any problem. It has actually adverse effects, driving the blocked parties further apart. Even though you are skillfully phrasing your question, I read between the lines that you are asking for such a feature, with which I strongly disagree. – Henri Menke Jan 8 at 5:46
• @HenriMenke Moderators are too good, imho. There have been cases, which moderators know, where a user should have been banned for a while, but no action was taken - as far as I know. – CarLaTeX Jan 8 at 6:11
• @HenriMenke Yes, this secrecy about ban rules is quite annoying. I perfectly understand privacy problems, but a bit more disclosure wouldn't be bad. – CarLaTeX Jan 8 at 6:19
• @Mico Perhaps it is from Southern Italy, I don't know, in Milan I have never heard it :) – CarLaTeX Jan 8 at 7:24
• + 1000000000 if I could! I had an ignore user user script in the past, unfortunately the new site design broke it and I observe a noticeable effect: I was much more related if I don't see the posts of some specific users. – user36296 Jan 8 at 9:13
• On reflection, I think it's a good idea. By not answering the questions of some contributors, it will allow other contributors to answer them and learn LaTeX. – AndréC Jan 8 at 17:34
• @Mico See LinkedIn :). That is a very big loss for the community in my point of view. – Dr. Manuel Kuehner Jun 13 at 20:17
• I agree with @Dr.ManuelKuehner. This really is a loss. You and I have helped so many users with our bibtex answers (among other things). I'll miss the help. – Alan Munn Jun 13 at 20:27
• So, please, take some time off, but avoid deleting. – egreg Jun 13 at 21:04

I would find some kind of ignore/mark user functionality incredibly helpful primarily to make enforcing my personal do-not-answer-to-this-one (to use the the nice name @CarLaTeX invented) list easier, which is important because this is the only real lever(*) I have for users who (in my personal opinion) do something wrong.

(*comments and downvotes don't really have any effect, they are often just ignored)

Why an ignore/mark functionality cannot be replaced by moderator actions or bans?

There are three kinds of users who end up on my do-not-answer-to-this-one list

• users who ask question after question without upvoting or accepting the nice answers they got to their previous questions. I usually leave a comment below their previous questions explaining how and why to accept an answer and if I encounter this user again and no answers have been accepted (or some other reaction, like the answer does not solve the problem because xyz) I add these users to my list because this shows that these users don't appreciate the time and effort we put into answering their question

• users who continue to post questions without MWE even after having been asked to do so multiple times

• some other triggers, which can be summarised as "users who don't appreciate that others sacrifice their spare time to help them for free" (this is a bit vague, but various strange things happened which don't fit into a narrow category)

This clearly shows that not all behaviour that (in my personal opinion) is incorrect behaviour of users is something that mods can help. Not accepting answers, ignoring comments etc. is all perfectly in agreement with the rules of this site, it is just something I personally don't like and I think the other options provided by the site (commenting and voting) are not as strong as not answering questions of this special kinds of users.

Luckily this only affects a tiny fraction of the users. From the 145 000 users of tex.se I have 22 on do-not-answer-to-this-one list

Experience with ignore/mark user functionality

22 names sounds not so much, but with cryptic user names like user123456789 (dummy example) they are nevertheless hard to remember. Therefore I used a browser addon in the past, which would mark posts from users on my list with a red rule so I can easily notice.

(The addon I previously used was https://bures.io/products/favorite-users/stack-exchange/, unfortunately the new "responsive" site design broke it and it no longer works for questions and causes various formatting issues)

The main effect was that I was much more relaxed. My default assumption was that every user was well behaved unless the post had a red rule besides it and if the question itself was reasonable posted it should have an answer. This made spending time on tex.se much more enjoyable.

Now in the post apocalyptic new design world, there is this constant subconscious fear that I might be giving answers to users from my do-not-answer-to-this-one list (which is probably my own fault because I'm often too lazy to check each and every user name if it is on my list).

Reasons against an ignore/mark user functionality

I see two main reasons why this is a bad idea

• the philosophy of stackexchange always was that all actions (voting, answering etc.) should be based on the post itself and not the user, that all users should be treated equally. IMHO The Powers That Be broke this rule themselves by these "new user" warnings signs in triple occurrence, so I don't consider this a valid reason anymore

• the mission is larger than answering the question of a given user -- the aim is to also build a database of knowledge for future users. I think this is a valid concern. Personally I would therefore prefer a way to mark users instead of completely hiding the questions, then one could make exceptions if a question sounds useful enough for future users.

• +1, I totally agree! – CarLaTeX Jan 8 at 17:57
• @CarLaTeX Especially with the name of the list? – user36296 Jan 8 at 18:02
• Also if you call it pig list :):):) – CarLaTeX Jan 8 at 18:03
• You can maybe use a rewrite rule to change any username on the exclusion list to NONONONO or something. This should be much easier to code. – Johan Jan 12 at 21:58
• @Johan This would probably work, unfortunately writing something like this exceeds my user script knowledge. – user36296 Jan 15 at 14:38

This does not address the question itself, but my opinion regarding this feature request.

I also have a list of special ones and when i encounter a question of one of these users I think Ah, it's you again.

But i don't just ignore them if i have the time.

Imagine a high-school teacher or university professor would ignore a student just because he is a pain in the \ldots.

We have to at least try to treat everyone with respect. In real life and in this limited internet part of (real) life.

• I admire your attitude. But I don't think the teacher analogy works that well: It is a teacher's job to teach and deliberately ignoring children they have been assigned to teach would indeed be an issue. But people on this site are here as a hobby and should be allowed much more freedom to do what makes them happy. I also don't think it is nearly as rude to ignore someone's question on this site as compared to, say, someone coming up to you in the street. I wholeheartedly agree with your last paragraph. – moewe Jan 8 at 14:27
• @moewe I ignored people in real life and told them to get away when i didn't have the time. Perfectly ok i think. But it needs to be time-limited. People don't rot away in jails forever, even they get a second chance. – Johannes_B Jan 8 at 14:30
• Exactly, my point was that in the context of this site it would be 'even more OK' to ignore people than in real life because here they do not come specifically to you and there can be no real expectation that you would have to deal with them or their issue. As for second chances, I don't disagree. – moewe Jan 8 at 14:44
• @moewe To be clear: I am perfectly fine with ignoring questions or tags. But not based on the fact who is posting the question. – Johannes_B Jan 8 at 14:46
• I'm ignoring questions by (imo, of course) rude or unfair users. I have not much time to spend here, I prefer use it helping other people. Btw, there was also a person who was cancelled from the list because his/her behavior changed. – CarLaTeX Jan 8 at 18:02

I have slightly different view from what may be read between the lines in your post and the existing answers. Certainly it is not up to me to tell you what measures you may or may not implement to ignore users. However, if I understand your request correctly you feel disturbed (or even harassed) by the behavior of certain users. As I said, I do think that it is your right to automatically ignore such users.

On the other hand, who do you think will stand up to those if not high-reputation users like you?

I personally would like to argue, thus going to some extent into the direction of Henri Menke's comments, that, as long we do not have clear rules that prevent users from misbehaving in the way you describe, it is our job to micromanage these issues by contradicting them in comments, of course without using inappropriate wording and so on. Given this post, I do not think we should dump this entirely on the moderators, unless they tell us we should not interfere.

My opinion is not very strong, but I would like to argue that if these rogue users do not get moderated by ourselves, meaning in particular by the more senior users, then this may send unfortunate signals to those who are considering to contribute more to this site.

• You asked, "Who do you think will stand up to those if not high-reputation users like you?" I have no idea, and I officially no longer care. As of some time later today, or maybe tomorrow morning, my rep count will be exactly zero, as I've asked the site administrators to delete my profile on TeX.SE and all other StackExchange sites. I received another gratuitous downvote earlier today, and I decided right there and then it was going to be the very last downvote I'd ever receive on this site. – Mico Jun 13 at 19:27
• @Mico Sorry to hear about your decision! Let me stress, however, that I did not downvote any of your posts. – user121799 Jun 13 at 20:44
• @marmot - Many thanks for your kind words and support. – Mico Jun 13 at 20:50

Just as a side note: This quite comes to our policies which are not quite what The Powers encourage. The standard procedure for poor posts is (1) downvote, (2) wait for edit and improvent, (3) undownvote and possibly upvote. Users with repeated negative scoring get banned eventually.

As we don't like downvotes, the balance of the ban algorithm is off. I'm quite sure I know about specific users here that would have been banned a long time ago, given we had used to follow the standard voting procedure.

I don't have a solution really, this is just a related observation, too long for a comment).