I've now seen a series of questions from user10694 that paint a picture of a completely dysfunctional advisor-advisee relationship (Rather than list them here, it might be easier just go to the user page: all of this user's questions are on the same general topic)

In each case, the community has tried (as far as possible) to answer the question as a stand-alone situation, because in all fairness each question by itself does merit attention.

The problem here is the sequence. It's not at all clear to me that the answers are being taken to heart at all: one piece of evidence is that not one of the questions has an accepted answer.

It's also becoming more and more difficult for me to answer yet another of these questions knowing the history of this user's questions. The tone in the questions also doesn't appear to help very much.

Of course the easiest solution is for me to ignore these questions in the future. And maybe that's the right answer. But I'm wondering whether it's worth encouraging this user to try and dig deeper into the apparent dysfunction, or at least show some indication that they're trying to act on the numerous sound bits of advice the community is dishing out ?

  • 2
    I was also about to ask the same thing here. It has become apparent that user10694 is really only here to complain about his advisor, and his behavior seems reasonably close to trolling to me.
    – xLeitix
    Jan 29, 2014 at 19:37
  • @xLeitix - See my comment below.
    – eykanal
    Jan 30, 2014 at 12:27

4 Answers 4


The problem here is the sequence. It's not at all clear to me that the answers are being taken to heart at all: one piece of evidence is that not one of the questions has an accepted answer.

Just because the OP doesn't take the answers to heart doesn't mean other people with dysfunctional relationships with their advisor won't. That is why we don't like localized questions since we want our answer to be able to help lots of people. As for not accepting answers, over at TeX.SE they have some text for common comments including

Since you have some responses below that seem to answer your question, please consider marking one of them as ‘Accepted’ by clicking on the tickmark below their vote count (see How do you accept an answer?). This shows which answer helped you most, and it assigns reputation points to the author of the answer (and to you!). It's part of this site's idea to identify good questions and answers through upvotes and acceptance of answers.

I think the bigger issue is the sequence of questions. Looking at the votes for each question in isolation some are okay and some are down right bad. Thinking about the okay questions in the light of the entire series makes me think that they are not particularly good questions either. That said, I think we can let the community decide with voting, it is not like the OP is asking hundreds of questions. We can also try and improve the questions through comments and editing.


For better or for worse, the nature of the StackExchange platform explicitly discourages that sort of interaction. The "SE way", if there is one, is to provide answers to well-formulated, generalizable questions. User-to-user communication is not only discouraged, it's simply not even possible on the website.

Within that framework, I would suggest that the answer to your question is that you should just ignore questions from users whom you feel are not taking your answers seriously. There's no real problem with users not accepting answers to their questions, and if the user doesn't continuously post bad questions the mods won't take action. Just ignore stuff you don't want to answer.

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    if the user doesn't continuously post bad questions - which raises the question when this point is reached. Subjectively, it seems the user has posted plenty of borderline-to-bad questions.
    – xLeitix
    Jan 29, 2014 at 19:38
  • @xLeitix - At this point, I agree with you, and another mod has already dealt with this issue. We'll keep an eye on it, but feel free to mention it if you think something else needs to be done.
    – eykanal
    Jan 30, 2014 at 12:26

In this particular case, the user in question would appear to be just using academia.SE as their personal blogsite to rant about their supervisor (and now, it would seem, to try to find reasons to get them dismissed). At some point, the moderators' tolerance will run out, and the user will get suspended. Given that the moderators here are more active and interventionist than on most other SE sites I'm on, I'm surprised this hasn't happened already. But it's surely just a matter of volume and time now.

But that the user is oblivious to the help they are given, doesn't matter, as long as the user is continuing (intentionally or despite themselves) to provide content that is valuable to others.

The community does have the power to downvote, close and delete poor-quality contributions. It's up to those of us with those specific privileges to be active in using them.

And flag one of the user's lower-quality posts for a diamond moderator's attention, and let them know about the disruptive nature of the user's behaviour.


Unfortunately, we're a Q&A site, not a mentoring site or a counseling site or a support group. If an individual user wants to help this poster in his or her particular situation overall, then I think that an individual should be welcome to do so (and to mention it in answers as appropriate) but I don't know if there should be some kind of site-wide announcement to "try to help user10694 in a certain way".

Some people are beginning to catch on to this user's pattern of posting and are calling him/her out on previous posts as well, especially with a lot of "Run, don't walk" posts. I think that's fair to do.

Basically - I don't think anything should change with respect to this user.

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