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In the recent question regarding Carrying a handgun in other countries with a US concealed carry permit, a couple of the (highly-upvoted) answers contained a slightly snarky sentence at the end:

From one of them:

I'm sorry, just because you're a US Citizen doesn't mean you get to overrule the laws of other countries. ;)

and from the other:

Being a US citizen doesn't grant you any special exemptions over local laws.

Honestly, these don't seem particularly egregious to me and they did actually convey some useful information that was actually important for answering the OP's question (namely, that rights you may have in your country of citizenship don't preempt the laws of other countries you may visit.) However, a few people objected to the snark in these sentences in the comments to those answers and one user edited both answers to remove those sentences (and both edits were approved by the community.) I subsequently edited both answers to restore the useful information in a less snarky manner.

So what I'm wondering is:

  • How much snark is allowed in answers?
  • Is editing the preferred reaction when someone deems part of a post overly snarky? Or is a comment preferred? (Or even a flag, though a flag seems like overreaction to me?)
  • When someone does edit out something like this (particularly when it contains information that is actually useful for answering the question,) is it correct to subsequently edit in attempt to restore the information in keeping with the original idea of the answer, but sans the snark? (i.e. Was my reaction to the edit correct here or should I have commented, flagged, reverted, ignored, etc.?)

Clarification:

I didn't personally find either of these statements to be offensive. A slight bit of snark did seem like it might have been present, just due to the context, but I didn't personally interpret either of those statements as having been intended to be more than very slightly snarky.

This meta question was intended primarily for the purpose of answering the exact questions listed above, not to imply that these specific posts were actually worthy of any action. The reason I used them as examples here was that other people apparently did interpret them as being offensive, as evidenced by multiple comments, flags, and then the statements actually being edited out.

  • @pnuts Yes, I agree that they weren't overly snarky. Had someone else not edited those parts out, I wouldn't personally have done anything about it. – reirab Aug 21 '15 at 4:46
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    I don't it's welcomed overall, but I suppose I prefer a well-intended and traceable edit over a moderator acting sneakily in a questionable abuse of mod powers. In your case the original authors were given a notification and your stuff has been generally perceived as well-intended. – Gayot Fow Aug 21 '15 at 11:01
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    I don't see how my statement could be considered "snark" and I reject the implication. The OP asked specifically about the U.S. If he had a licence issued in the EU, for example, the answer would have some important differences. – Michael Aug 22 '15 at 22:24
  • @Mikaveli Like I said, I personally thought your answer was fine and I wouldn't have touched it if someone hadn't just edited that sentence completely out. I think the problem stemmed primarily from some rather inflammatory (now deleted) comments on the question, which had angered people before they even got to the answers and one of them took it out on your answer (and others, too.) Like I said in the edit note, feel free to revert if you want; my edit was mostly just trying to restore your point without starting an edit war. – reirab Aug 23 '15 at 4:05
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I'm a bit peeved my answer was edited actually. The OP specifically asked whether being a US citizen meant he could still carry a gun, and I addressed that directly, with a wink as well.

But whatever. I'm just trying to answer people's questions. 1500+ answers in, if someone feels one is a bit 'snarky', go for it. Raise a meta on it. Whatever. To be fair, I'm more pleased with your re-edit of it, than ryan's simply removing what was a direct answer of the OP's wording, and was in no way (IMHO) snarky.

Similarly with the second one, the OP SPECIFICALLY asked whether being a US citizen granted him more rights. We're addressing the question!

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    Personally, I don't think it was snarky at all. I would interpret it as friendly, especially with the wink. So while I have no problem with it, I can see why the wink may get interpreted as "snark". In those cases I think it's worth keeping in mind how incredibly international / diverse the Travel.SE community is. A lot of phrases and gestures may not necessarily be interpreted in the same way by second-language English speakers etc. I found the edit was actually a good one that was...a way of wording that was less likely to be misinterpreted. – Ankur Banerjee Aug 21 '15 at 8:55
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    Yes, I agree that you were addressing the question, which is why I tried to add back at least some version of that text until you had a chance to decide what you wanted to do with it. I was actually a bit surprised that ryan's edit got approved in the first place. Had I been reviewing it, I would have rejected it as deviating from the author's intent. – reirab Aug 21 '15 at 13:26
  • Is there a hurdle controlling access to the edit history? – Gayot Fow Aug 21 '15 at 19:57
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    I'd echo this answer. Coincidentally there were originally some aspects of @Gayot Fow's answer I disagreed with, but my approach was to comment - allowing a mutual understanding and not just steamrolling someone else's words. – Michael Aug 22 '15 at 22:27
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I'm sorry this question was posted here and not at a site-wide board.

I say this because each board seem to have its own level of tolerance. I am a mod and high rated member of Money.SE, and run into this issue daily. On that board, we are constantly reminding members to not assume the question is US-based unless the OP says so or offers a country tag. But I'm also responding to member who sarcastically remind others in an unkind way that the US isn't the only country in the world.

The 2 quotes in the question here are far below the bar for being offensive. The comments or line in answers that get edited are the ones that I'd consider ad hominem attacks, literally calling someone "stupid (or arrogant) American." Just pointing out the world is a big place and our rules don't follow us around the world is fine, in my opinion.

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My two cents:

  1. A slight bit of snark or sarcasm (such as I perceived, perhaps incorrectly, to be intended in the sentences quoted in the question when I first read them) is fine and can lighten the mood a bit under some circumstances. However, it's usually for the best to err on the side of less snarky if there's any significant doubt over whether it's likely to be perceived by some as running afoul of StackExchange's "Be nice" policy. Special care should usually be taken when the context of the post is one about which people tend to have strong feelings, as people are more likely to interpret offense there when none was intended.

  2. In cases where I feel the level of snark is beyond what's acceptable in keeping with the "Be nice" policy, I prefer to comment and let the author edit as they see fit. In extreme cases (such as when the poster is actually attacking another user or otherwise posting something that is intentionally inflammatory,) I sometimes just flag instead. In cases of posts that are mostly useful but only have slight bits that are objectionable, I definitely tend more to comment than to flag. On the other hand, posts that consist entirely of attacks, I tend to flag (or vote to delete.)

  3. This situation was unusually odd. Normal site-wide SE policy is that edits can be used to "clarify meaning without changing it." Normally, edits which do deviate substantially from the original author's intent that go through the review queues will be rejected for such deviation. However, both of the edits that removed that two sentences quoted in this question were approved (for reasons that remain unclear to me.)

    Given that at least the idea being conveyed in the quoted sentences was necessary to actually answer the question, it seemed to me important that this information be added back to the posts. However, I also noted that at least two users had commented to the effect of finding the sentences offensive. Not wanting start an edit war, the best compromise I could think of at the time was to edit the posts in such a way as to restore the idea being conveyed in a manner that people would hopefully be less likely to find offensive. Given that I'm very reluctant to change someone else's words, I also added an edit note on both edits for the answerers to feel free to revert my edits if they wanted once they had a chance to get around to sorting out what they wanted to do with the post.


While these are my views and rationale, etiquette seems to vary somewhat from one SE site to another and the situation addressed in the third point was one I don't think I've encountered on any SE site before. As such, I wanted to try to get a better idea of the views of the Travel community here on Meta on these points. I'm especially curious to know what others think about the third part of the question, as that was an odd circumstance I didn't really see a good way to address it (only a "least bad" way.)

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Well since a meta opened up and I was the one who made the disputed edits I guess I'll give some context.

The disputed line that people keep claiming they are answering is:

But since i'm a U.S. citizen, does that apply to me?

Which easily could be re-written:

But since I'm a citizen of a different country, does that apply to me?

And I believe the policy of StackExchange in general and the policy that is heavily followed on travel.se is to make answers as broad as possible so they help the most amount of people possible. With that in mind like I said in a comment, reirab's edits are great, because they follow this policy.

Finally I'll re-iterate something else that I said to reirab in a comment. In my opinion, if this had been about a person from any other country it would not of generated the answers or the attention that it did.

As is because it's about a "stupid American" this answer https://travel.stackexchange.com/a/53161/4453 which honestly is useless, is allowed to stay and get 50 upvotes cause it makes fun of the "stupid American". The guy doesn't ask about the UK for one he asks about dangerous countries. That aside the entire second half of the question, as researched as it is, it's still total speculation of what would happen and assumes the absolute worst about the traveler.

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    You use the phrase "stupid American" in quotes. As if it was said elsewhere. Please note that you're the first to actually do so, nobody else in this thread or the main one considered anyone to be stupid. – Mark Mayo Aug 22 '15 at 5:11
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    In fact you may well be the first on this entire site ever to use said phrase – Mark Mayo Aug 22 '15 at 5:12
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    @ryan I feel the edit to my answer was completely unnecessary - the OP asked specifically as a U.S. citizen - and I answered helpfully and neutrally. Being from the U.S. is also quite relevant - as there are few other countries with similar gun cultures. I have seen U.S. travellers just assume they could just travel with their handguns quite legally. I have never seen this assumption anywhere else. – Michael Aug 22 '15 at 22:08
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    @Mikaveli I have seen the assumption that rights from your home country could allow you to violate laws of other countries, though. For example, this question from an Australian traveling to the U.S. – reirab Aug 23 '15 at 4:03
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    @MarkMayo I think the quotes were intended to significant voice inflection that is not well communicated by text, not to be an actual quote from anywhere on that question. At least that was the way I read it, anyway. I think what ryan was referring to is a stereotype of Americans that was invoked more than once in now-deleted comments on the original question, though not by that specific name (same idea, though.) – reirab Aug 23 '15 at 4:23
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    My previous comment should say "signify," not "significant." I have no idea why I typed that (unless I got "auto-incorrected" by my browser.) – reirab Aug 23 '15 at 6:49
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    It's also possible someone from another country wouldn't have asked the same question in quite the same way… But if you think the question could/should be rewritten, why not take it up with the OP instead of getting so worked up about answers that directly address it? – Relaxed Aug 23 '15 at 8:20
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    I wrote the useless "stupid American" answer. The first and second sentence said that there is no transfer of gun rights (which is correct, the right to transport it is not comparable with the right to wield and use as Mikaveli pointed out). If it were obvious, the OP would not have asked. The third and fourth sentence are telling the OP with an counterexample what the consequences are if his assumptions were true. The last sentence is a hidden warning because his priority to feel safe could have suggested the OP to "forget" the weapon to mention. – Thorsten S. Aug 27 '15 at 13:14
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    I must also say that you should be aware of cultural and personal differences. My highest voted answer here is a translation of an essay written by a German-American of the difference between German and American culture. I fulfill the German stereotype to be uncomfortably direct bordering on rude up to eleven so you should be very careful to judge my answers from a US perspective; reirab already accused me in another stackexchange to be anti-american. If you want to know how I think and what I mean, ask. – Thorsten S. Aug 27 '15 at 13:26

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