I accepted his apology, and further replied that I don’t take offense in it; but when 2 out of 13 replies in a discussion are negative, non constructive and borderline insulting, and when they receive most of the positive feedback (likes), I believe it’s not hard to see how this comes across as an attack (not from a specific individual).
This was just a symptom of a larger problem, in which some of us feel unwelcome in this community for reasons we believe are unjust. As I said earlier, I find some of the fault of this problem with my own communication, but I think it’s irresponsible to direct all the blame at me.
I think it’s worth considering why I am often being argumentative. Perhaps I’m not getting a clear response for questions or counter-arguments that I’ve made that I find valuable; perhaps others miss my points and respond in ways I find irrelevant; perhaps I’m being argumentative in response to others’ argumentativeness.
Communication goes both ways. It’s easy to hide behind the excuse of “we all find you argumentative and therefore you are in the wrong and we are not”, especially when this community is so small and so statistical arguments are almost meaningless. I’m not necessarily the only one who behaves in said negative ways; I just happen to be on the wrong side of the fence.
I don’t believe this is the right strategy here, but then I’m not an expert in this. I believe that such minor violations should be handled on the spot; by “handled” I mean removed or condemned (punishment such as banning is an entirely different thing).
I speculate that it would take far too long for a user to accumulate these violations and trigger a moderators’ response. That is because this community is small and the amount of comments is rather low, and also because it seem that for the most part the community share the same set of opinions (one might consider this an echo chamber), and these violations are generally directed towards those of opposing opinions.
Meanwhile, until moderators get involved, these violations slowly creep in, distancing other community members, further lowering the number of comments, discussions and variety of opinions.
I don’t think this is the major issue here; in fact, holding the belief that it is the major issue, is in my mind a symptom of the actual issue. It implies that the negativity and hostility is caused by people derailing discussions with off-topic comments; but rather, I would argue that the core of the problem here is the dismissal of others’ opinions as off-topic, even though these others see them as on-topic.
Telling someone that their arguments are irrelevant, off-topic, or based on factually incorrect positions, but without explaining why that is, comes off as an insult.
It’s hard for me too, especially when many of the “likes” to that feedback come from people who never interacted with me; it’s even worse when such people try and hand me advice on how to behave, and imply that I often make mistakes, despite never bothering to point them out and correct me. I’m not sure if that falls under “passive aggressive” behavior, but that is surely not a constructive feedback.