I closed my account and it will be effectuated within 24 hours. I received an indirect personal attack on my posts. I also do not like how quickly sincere questions of (new) participants are downvoted or labelled as a duplicate because a couple of years ago a similar question was asked. These responses are mostly targeted at questions that criticise (or question) current practices in science.

Current practices work for those affiliated to established research groups. Current practises do not work for minorities like me, and practising science comes at high personal costs.

For those personally criticising or downvoting participants who have the courage to raise their voice, I would like you to ask yourself the following questions first:

• I am working in an established research group?

• Does my group’s or supervisor’s reputation benefits how my work is received?

I really hope, one day you will experience the joy of being generous, the joy of lifting those in your circle of influence. Yes, science works for you but that does not devaluate the experience of others.

I also hope, some day you will understand that we all go to processes in which we search for how relate ourselves to experiences and circumstances. Do not judge too quickly. This is a necessity for human growth.

I especially want to thank some participants. @Allure for your honesty and ongoing search for truth and improvement. @Buffy for your quest for humanity. You have to reach a certain level of experience to practise such wisdom. I am not there yet but I promise I will shepherd those in my care. @Scientist for your brutal honesty, courage and believe in righteousness. Science needs people like you. I will remember your response: “do not fear (…).” . @user3209815 for your sincere response to one of my questions, which many would see as a rant.
Finally, I want to thank all the other community members who lifted me up or provided useful feedback. May your lives and careers prosper.

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    This will almost certainly be closed and deleted, but before it is, I'd ask you to reconsider. While I may not always agree, I've found your posts thought provoking, which is something we all need. I've attracted some "extreme dislike" here and been called vile names - posts removed, of course. You might ping me in the chatroom if you want to chat about this. – Buffy Aug 21 '18 at 10:59
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    Any post that you feel is inappropriate, especially attacks should be flagged. The moderators can intervene though they tend to be permissive here, I think, compared to other SE sites. – Buffy Aug 21 '18 at 11:04
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    Come visit chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/2496/the-ivory-tower, the main chat room. – Buffy Aug 21 '18 at 11:10
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    @Alice To draw more attention to your question, maybe change the title to "Why I've closed my academia.stackexchange account and what you should do about it" or something similar. – user2768 Aug 21 '18 at 11:40
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    Although I do think we can do better with (new) participants, any participant that asks a duplicate question is devaluing the usefulness of this site, because information is then distributed, rather than centralised. But perhaps you have a different perspective? Regarding trolling/attacking users, I completely agree, I have experienced it myself. I wish you all the best for the future. – user2768 Aug 21 '18 at 11:44
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    It may not be your aim to explain your experience and reasoning with this particular post, but just in case it is: I, as someone who has little involvement with the community or individual participants, lack a lot of context and therefore hardly understand what's wrong, in your perception, and how one could improve. In other words, your post may not be "accessible" to a wider audience here, but if that's not your intention, then that's fine too as far as I'm concerned. – RQM Aug 21 '18 at 12:14
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    But if there are trolls here, don't let them win by chasing you away making the average contribution worse. – Buffy Aug 21 '18 at 14:08
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    @Buffy I am either not controversial enough or the site has gone badly downhill since I was really active around here (multiple years ago by now), because I literally can't remember more than 2 or 3 instances of people actively being rude to me despite posting multiple times a day. – xLeitix Aug 21 '18 at 14:42
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    @xLeitix, I think it is pretty rare. A few newcomers in their first days haven't yet absorbed the culture and say inappropriate things. Once the trolls learn they can't troll they are likely to go elsewhere or else clean up their comments. But on some topics like copyright people can get pretty hot. But if you never get down voted you aren't working hard enough. :) I sometimes give answers that, while likely correct, say things people just don't want to accept. They want to bend the world to their will. – Buffy Aug 21 '18 at 14:48
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    I don't know what the personal attack was, but I noticed that the person who made it apologized and deleted the comment (assuming it was the one you described as such in a comment). – Bryan Krause Aug 21 '18 at 19:33
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    I'd also add that some of the struggles that are themes in your questions and answers about problems in science particularly around peer review are not exclusive to you, nor has it been my perception that this stack has much of a bias in favor of the status quo - if anything it seems to be the opposite. It seems like you are having some personal issues with academia as a whole, and yet you talk of publishing 3 papers during your PhD - many people would see that as highly successful, so I think it's worth taking a careful look at where your dissatisfaction is arising. – Bryan Krause Aug 21 '18 at 19:38
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    Yes dupe questions are not 'bad' at all, in fact SE encourages dupes to live - they enhance accessibility to the original question. There's a meta post somewhere on SE meta main. – AliceD Aug 22 '18 at 7:39
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    If you wish to discuss specific events/questions, please start with providing a link to them and explaining what you think is wrong with them. For instance "my question was marked as duplicate because a couple of years ago a similar question was asked" seems like things working as intended, to me. – Federico Poloni Aug 22 '18 at 9:32
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    One observation; I think this shows how many of the frequent accusations of unwelcoming behavior (throughout all the stack exchanges) are not driven by explicitly rude comments, but by how the SE process itself (up/downvoting, closing dups, enforcing topic guidelines, etc.) can often SEEM like an attack on the poster's value. – Ask About Monica Aug 23 '18 at 18:41
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    @kbelder Not only that, but the system doesn't notify you (for some godforsaken reason) when your question is closed or marked as a duplicate or whatever, and you aren't told what it means or how to fix it, so a lot of users get their question closed unknowingly, they don't get any responses, and if they check in later, their question is locked and they don't understand how to fix it. When was the last time a new user had their question closed and they fixed it and got it reopened? Plus, no one goes back and checks on things they voted against – Azor Ahai -- he him Aug 24 '18 at 18:21

It's a pity to see you leave, but as somebody who has been around this community (at times more, at times less) for a few years now, I feel you are misjudging the intentions of the community.

Particularly, I am talking about this paragraph:

I also do not like how quickly sincere questions of (new) participants are downvoted or labelled as a duplicate because a couple of years ago a similar question was asked. These responses are mostly targeted at questions that criticise (or question) current practices in science.

The reason why these questions tend to be closed as duplicates isn't that people hate to challenge the status quo (I would wager that the average community member here is significantly more progressive than most of our colleagues), but that we literally had all of these questions before, usually multiple times.

You may respond that some of these questions are important enough that they should be revisited every so often, but that's unfortunately not at all how a Stack Exchange works. Once a question is asked and answered, the topic is done. I would argue that this is primarily what differentiates a Stack Exchange from a forum. I agree that this does not work well for certain types of questions, but those tend to not be overly well-suited for a Stack Exchange in the first place.

You may also respond that the fact that the person asking the question is a minority makes it a different question which should not be closed. This is absolutely a fair comment. If the circumstances of the poster are made clear in the question (ideally already in the title), and these circumstances actually make the situation and likely answers differ from previous questions, I would personally be more than happy to leave a question open or vote for re-opening it. In fact, I would argue that questions related to problems minorities face in academia are generally handled pretty well. Take, as a recent example, this question about whether not being able to apply for state funding is a problem on the academic job market.

Personal attacks in answers or comments are of course not ok. These can and should be flagged and removed. However, closing a question as duplicate or downvoting a question is not a personal attack, even if you disagree with the closing or voting (not saying that this is what you meant with "indirect personal attacks", but I have seen cases where posters were offended when their question was closed).

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    Great answer but I disagree with Once a question is asked and answered, the topic is done. If you know something has changed, then a question can be revisited. If you think something has changed you can start a bounty because answers are out of date. – StrongBad Aug 21 '18 at 16:01
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    @StrongBad I feel this is the aspect that does not work well, at least here. Can you think of a case where this actually happened, because I certainly can't. To me, the subjective impression is that once a question is asked and answered, the topic is for all practical purposes dead. – xLeitix Aug 21 '18 at 16:45
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    @StrongBad "Start a bounty" also has an obvious drawback -- you need to have enough rep to "spend" on the bounty. Perhaps not a consideration if you have 10k+, but if you're a new user on the site who feels an old question is not adequately answered or feels a new take is needed, you're SOL because you're not "rich" enough to endow a bounty. (Or doing so would substantially affect where you are on the privilege track.) – R.M. Aug 22 '18 at 18:22
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    @R.M. I bet we have a fair number of users besides myself who are happy to start bounties for new users. They just need to ask in chat or a comment or someplace that someone will see (which of course is not easy if you are new to the system). – StrongBad Aug 22 '18 at 18:29
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    @StrongBad I think a new user won't be aware of this strategy out of inexperience – Scientist Aug 25 '18 at 14:06
  • A community can not have intentions. The creators of a community can have intentions and the users can have intentions or maybe some third. So which do you mean? – mathreadler Aug 31 '18 at 20:24
  • @mathreadler The collective behavior of a community might show intentions, which might or might not be known for its induvidual members. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Dec 6 '18 at 15:22
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    @peterh but that can also be because of a loud/"pro-active" minority of moderators which actually does not reflect the member base particularly well. – mathreadler Dec 6 '18 at 15:27
  • @mathreadler Exactly. But I didn't experience too much bad from the Academia SE, at least compared to other top sites. Well, I was once 6-times insulting-flagged for a not enough PC answer to a political post, and this was also boosted with a 1-month suspension of a mod. I had also a brutally nit-picked and downvoted answer which made clear that I am strongly opposing any legalization of drugs (but not this was the essential part). Except these, no one harmed me and my answers have got typically many ups, actually much more than I expected. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Dec 6 '18 at 15:33

You are mainly right, but deleting your account is a bad strategy. With it, you give up all your hard earned privileges. You could use them to make the system better.

Between the SE sites, the Academia SE seems to me mainly friendly, except some... sensitive, mainly political topic.

It is the internet. Here people can anonymously give, what they want to, without any too serious retorsion. It doesn't have always the best effect.

The best what you could do, in my opinion, would be that you don't delete your account, but silently become inactive. On this way, you could have the possibility to once go back and start to fix.

Furthermore, after so many work, it would be better if you wouldn't deattach it from your name in a sudden upset. I would suggest, think a week and go away only if you think the same after cooling down.

Having more than 2000 rep, you are only from steps away from the last really useful privilege, you could cast close and reopen votes. The real influence of the users with much higher reputation is not much bigger. With these votes, you would have some saying to move the whole system into a better direction, if you are unsatisfied with it.

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    No he probably can't. If it is obvious to him that some people are there just to make the place toxic... In that case the best strategy can simply be to just gtfo. – mathreadler Aug 31 '18 at 20:28
  • @mathreadler It depends on, what he wants. I believe that making the world a better place deserves some effort from our side, even if there is no visible reward. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 3 '18 at 14:22
  • Yes of course, to some extent. But one also has to pick where and when to try to do that as one usually does not have unlimited energy and time. – mathreadler Sep 3 '18 at 14:53
  • "Between the SE sites, the Academia SE seems to me mainly friendly" <- Really? After SO, this is the second most cut-throat site in my experience. And at least at SO they can justify their criticism on technical merit even if it is derisive. "except some... sensitive, mainly political topic" <- Issues involving a large group of people are inherently political, and many (most?) questions fit this criterion at least somewhat IMHO. "You could use them to make the system better." <- Barely. – einpoklum Dec 4 '18 at 22:34
  • @einpoklum Your top sites are imho friendly. My top sites (SO, PSE, SF, MathSE) are hostile (or at least they were as I was there active). Behind the political psychopathy I see the political psychopathy of the whole western civilization, which started around in 1968 and became particularly asphyfixicating in the last decades. I use euphemisms to avoid the insulting flags, and I live with the downs together. In general, euphemisms help a lot to deal with the psychos, while you don't need to change the essential meaning of your posts. On the SO I typically don't get technical critics (or if I – peterh - Reinstate Monica Dec 5 '18 at 10:11
  • @einpoklum get, I fix them), my posts are simply voted down (example), to close and so on. I experience also often revenge downs after I criticize them on the meta sites. PSE doesn't do revenge downs, there is only a generally super-hostile atmosphere on the meta. Academia SE didn't do any of these (although I was not ever very active here). – peterh - Reinstate Monica Dec 5 '18 at 10:13

It unfortunately took me too long to find this discussion: user93911 has already committed 'digital suicide' by now.

I have a few comments that might help others in a similar situation, or even our dear ex-user93911 reading this from another plane of existence.

(i) I always say that one should be ready to quit in order to feel stronger. Being ready to leave makes you ruthless: never leave without a good fight. Fighting makes you feel swell, and helps improving the world. When you think you've brought out all you could and you loose interest, then you may leave holding your chin up -- however, usually you will find that your enemies are cowards and that there is still more war to be fought. On the other hand leaving suicide notes intended to bring tears will instead bring out the laughter of your aggressors and further lower local standards. Fighting in social & business circles cannot kill you, whilst depression will.

(ii) As someone said, you left at the brink of exerting the power of voting for closing/keeping/editing posts. All your issues could vanish just with a tad more patience. This is how life works. I have just now voted to keep this post open, while writing my answer!..

(iii) Modern Academia is unfortunately full of opportunistic gamblers and abusers, worldwide. I have probably seen the worst of them. Don't lower your gaze: look at them straight in the eye. So many colleagues believe in playing sheep and goose to succeed in the field, out of cowardice and brainwash. This is making the weak oppressors stronger with little effort -- any veiled threat and all of their wishes are granted. They are not many, but they may look powerful and confident. Experience though will show they are scared to the bone inside, all too aware of their incompetence. This is why any opposers and potential rivals are quick to be targeted with passive-aggressiveness, cold treatment, lies, scooping. These guys are desperate! Listen, don't give them a good time: resist, don't play minion. They won't stop using you and everyone else. Play smart, see through the lies, sabotage their goals (usually petty and in the short-term). And the most important: never leave a good colleague alone. If someone asks you for help, help them in whatever way you can.

Anyway, this is getting too long. Hopefully this user will come back, stronger. I will proceed with sapping some bad guys. You know where to find me, here. You might find me in the real world as well, next door.

Fight the good fight!

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    It's difficult to look them straight in the eye once your fixed-term employment expires.... – einpoklum Dec 4 '18 at 22:36
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    If it is easy, it means you’re not from fighting. – Scientist Dec 4 '18 at 22:42

What you describe is a common phenomeon here (and even worse on many other SE sites - I myself experienced it under a different account). You may not know me but I liked your questions and answers. I wish you all the best!

(I do not know if I am allowed to say this here, but "AskAcademia" on Reddit is a very good resource - in my opinion, the quality is not as high as here (in this regard, Stack Exchange is really extraordinarily great) but the atmosphere is really, really welcoming and friendly which makes up for this.)

Thank you!

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A few thoughts about this:

  • This is Academia SE, which means it's read mostly by academics. Academics as a demographic have certain characteristics, e.g. they're liberal as opposed to conservative, they think their profession should be paid more, etc. So if anyone expresses a contrary view, they can expect to be downvoted.
  • Ultimately, answering questions on Stack Exchange is a recreational activity. I do it because I find it fun, and I suspect most others think the same way as well. It's not appropriate to dictate what others should or should not find fun. So I think questions such as this one should not be closed. The 19k views and 10 answers indicate people find the question fun. Besides the stated close reason is "unclear what you are asking", which is ironic because at least ten people do understand what the question is asking. That's not to say that no question should be closed, but I do think we should err on the side of leaving questions open, especially if they've attracted lots of views and / or answers.
  • About marking as duplicate: I personally don't think it's a problem because if it's indeed a duplicate then the question suddenly has multiple answers already. Still, unless the question is an exact duplicate (not common), to actually close the original question seems rather unnecessary.
  • Personal attacks are unfortunate and it's very possible that one person finds something offensive while others can't see what the problem is at all (example). It's a pity we don't have an ignore option.
  • Downvotes are sometimes necessary but bad. To go from 0 to -1 is significantly worse psychologically than going from +10 to +9, even though in both cases it's just one downvote. So I've been upvoting things if they're negative just to get them back to at least zero. It's a good thing that it takes rep to downvote (I'd even increase the amount required), and a single upvote outweighs multiple downvotes.

In the end everyone has a right to their own happiness, so if you find you no longer enjoy participating here, you should absolutely leave. Best wishes!

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    A side comment on your last point: there is also a "mob effect" (not sure what to call it) on votes: most people are sheep, meaning they merely follow the lead. From my experience here and elsewhere, from the moment you are the only one in a thread with a -1, you should expect more to come. Also top answers seem to be automatically upvoted, so they keep climbing up the rankings. If you manage to stay on top of the thread for long enough in a highly-popular post, you will earn a lot of reputation with minimal effort. BTW I have upvoted here: you had the -1. – Scientist Aug 25 '18 at 12:44
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    +1, when I encountered this answer, it also was -1. @Scientist is all over it. – SecretAgentMan Sep 15 '18 at 21:15

I don't know what happened, and I'll offer no advice on whether to delete your account or not. Judging by what you wrote about minorities, I probably disagree with you on a lot of issues. However, I also strongly agree with what Scientist wrote. The only path to earning the respect of those who actually matter is through fighting injustice, even when the task seems thankless. I strongly, strongly, strongly hope you keep fighting evil even when it's hard and bears no rewards. It's the only good fight there is.

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I completely agree with you. I feel like all my questions are automatically down voted. I also hate that questions are marked as duplicates. Everyone's situation is different and these people are reaching out for help online, because maybe they don't have anyone else their life to ask. They want professional help from others in academia. Even if it's duplicate maybe you would help someone by answering and their situation is probably different. I understand if it's duplicate and the question is something that does not change through time, like for example "how can I get into grad school?" but the majority of people who are new are reaching out and asking for help for something they probably couldn't find answers for online easily.

I don't understand this negative energy people have here.

This place has the opportunity to be a ask and answer platform that can help new graduate students or in general everyone in a academia and instead the people who are ancient here spend all their time trying to get more points by editing other new user's questions, marking duplicates that are probably not duplicates exactly, and belitting others.

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    If you want and need professional help (in the sense that some professional counsellor gives you advice tailored to your individual situation), consult a counsellor who is willing to spend hours to assess your individual situation in an interactive back and forth and ideally is familiar with the mechanisms of your institution. This site is not a good place for this. All we can do is help you to help yourself by showing you new perspectives to look at your situation or similar. So, yes, every situation is different, but if those differences matter, we are not the right place to ask. – Wrzlprmft Nov 22 '18 at 10:12
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    The reason why duplicate questions are frowned upon is it because it makes it harder to find and curate good answers, which is the mission of SE. We are not a bulletin board-style or Reddit-style forum and the goals are different. If there are already good answers for a question, the user should be pointed to the page where the answers already are. – aeismail Nov 22 '18 at 16:08
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    Furthermore, reputation for experienced users is earned by asking and answering questions, not for edits or marking duplicates. We are not here to harass new users. And also note that the up- and downvotes on Meta work differently. It's a statement of agreement or disagreement rather than a vote of quality. – aeismail Nov 22 '18 at 16:10
  • If that is the case then I guess I'll delete my account too. There is no point in having an account on a website that just points you to similar questions from ten years ago every time you ask a question. If it can't adapt and grow over time and the same old people keep censoring everything with so many rules then what is the point of having an account. It would be great if there was a place new recent grad student could ask for help and advice and reach a larger online community for help instead of talking to some one specific counselor who has only one opinion. – user88517 Nov 23 '18 at 7:48
  • There are just so many rules here. You can't post a question without someone pointing you to 10 pages of rules, regulations, and formatting. It will take someone new so many months to get used to it. It's not worth the effort, especially if users just point you to older questions from years ago. We can't just have one version of a question, it's too narrow of a view. – user88517 Nov 23 '18 at 7:51
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    What you’re looking for—while laudable—isn’t really the intended purpose of Stack Exchange. It’s a curated Q&A site. Good questions should have value to someone visiting the site at a later date and beyond the original poster. You may find that people have already asked similar questions to yours. If there’s a significant difference, then you can mention that as part of your question. But if the differences are minor, why would someone who’s already answered a question here give you a different answer? That’s when we point to duplicates. – aeismail Nov 23 '18 at 17:29

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