If you start posts with “I don’t”

First: I’m not a mod.

I just notice that when someone starts a post with a negative
“I don’t agree.”
“That’s wrong.”
“It doesn’t work like that.”
That’s all language that asserts (a little) “I know better” / “I’m staking our a place of opposition.”

In my experience anything else in the post isn’t as likely to be useful, and it’s likelier that the thread details after. So I tend to breeze past those.

But what can you do?

Why not try
“I’ve had a different experience…” (And say what it is!)
“Why do you think that? Are you saying (restate as you understand it)”
“It works like this: (and explain)

I just find a little positive phrasing goes a long way to convey that I’m being constructive.


Mod here: also, feel free to flag comments using the Something Else type and tell us your concern. If there are posts/replies to threads that are bringing you down and maybe making you engage a little less each time you see them: flag them and let us know.

Note: if you are worried about tanking someone’s “karma” on the site by flagging, don’t be. Mods are responsible for determining if a flag will have that affect.


While it is true that how one opens may indicate intentions, I feel that generalizations, as well intended as they may be, are inherently unhelpful. The assumption that something as mundane as opening message with “I disagree” is a red flag seems to me to be against the inclusivity policy and its “always assume best intentions” clause. I mean, we’re all humans, we oftentimes think we’re great at figuring other humans out, but really aren’t that great and tend to remember bias confirming events. :slight_smile:

If you can’t recall even a few quality posts starting with “I disagree”, are you sure there weren’t any as opposed to the good ones blending in with all of the other great content? I can recall at least a few rather blunt “nope” messages on this board (and context and authors) that I found extremely insightful and :heart: as a result. Perhaps it just so happened that you weren’t reading those or already knew what people were writing about. I most certainly did not. In other words: I disagree and let me explain to you why. :wink:


I agree that words are important and difficult, but to me, some of the items listed in the “why not try” category are more offensive than those in the “negative” category – “It works like this” in particular sets one up as an authority in a way that “I don’t agree” or “I think that is incorrect” do not.

I think it’s more helpful to present one’s disagreement politely and respectfully than it is to try to remove negatives from the disagreement.


I’m actually interested, @_ry, what prompted this topic? There are things I find, uhm, questionable?[1] from time to time but I don’t think anything I’ve seen merits a hammer. With constructive on one end of a spectrum and destructive on another, I simply can’t say that I’ve seen a single thing around here that was destructive.

I’m perfectly aware that almost any content may be hard for some people to consume and I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to be upset over what I wrote (and I’m bound to fail, so I’m open to getting schooled whenever this happens) but if I’m not mistaken this wasn’t the point of your original statement (unhelpful vs. triggering content).

[1] I’m not sure questionable is the right word but some things just feel mean… until I remember that my interpretation says more about me than the original author; FWIW confrontational stance is what bothers me more than “nope” responses but, again, that’s probably more on me than on individual authors :confused:

I’m happy to say that I engage more with certain posts. Leading with something that tries to help or tries to understand… it’s the best. Feels more like a constructive conversation rather than correcting and shutting down.

I posted this way precisely because I don’t want to call anyone out - I just want to offer my experience and a suggestion.