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There is a very recent question from a new user who seems to be new to stack as well. The question strikes me as a bit of trolling, and may be asked in bad faith. My spider-sense is tingling. The question just seems to be a bit of a needling of the community about quantum computing hype.

I've downvoted the question and voted to close. I haven't yet flagged the question.

AITA for assuming bad-faith on the part of the new user? Am I being too jaded?

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    $\begingroup$ I'll admit, seeing that acronym outside of Reddit made me chuckle $\endgroup$
    – glS Mod
    May 13, 2022 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ It's another question about how much this site competes with or compliments r/QuantumComputing! There seems to be a lot of carbon-copied questions between there and here. But I like the pointer in @Condo's comments to r/QuantumComputing - that forum seems more likely to handle these kind of borderline not-so-serious questions. $\endgroup$ May 13, 2022 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ I was only barely even aware of the existence of the subreddit. I agree that reddit is probably a better venue for these kinds of discussions. No idea how many knowledgeable people actually hang out there though $\endgroup$
    – glS Mod
    May 13, 2022 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ I would assume ignorance over malintent in cases like this $\endgroup$
    – MFerguson
    May 23, 2022 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ Not a Reddit user, but I checked r/QuantumComputing and couldn't find anything related to the acronym "AITA". $\endgroup$
    – forest
    Aug 24, 2022 at 23:58
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    $\begingroup$ @forest reddit.com/r/AmItheAsshole $\endgroup$
    – luciano
    Nov 8, 2022 at 9:22

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My gut response is: why should we care about the "true intentions" behind a question? I'd say the "true intentions" of the person asking a given question should not be our concern. The only thing that matters is the content of the question itself. Now, there are a few exceptions to this, mostly related to ethical issues (preventing people from using the site to cheat), and obviously if there's reason to believe a given user is purposely "trolling" (as in, they have a history of doing it) or otherwise harming the site, then that would affect how the content of the question is judged, and we might take action, but I don't see this here.

I have no idea whether that's the case for this question, but even if the OP wanted to "troll the community", so what? Sure, the question itself is not particularly good, and the answer obvious to anyone having read anything about the topic. I'll admit I forcibly exhaled from my nose a couple times when I first read it. But given the large amount of misinformation about these things floating around, it wouldn't particularly surprise me if the question was indeed genuine. Nor I think we should shame someone for the simple fact of perhaps having trusted the wrong sources and having got a very wrong idea about a topic. And even if there was indeed some bad faith involved here, I don't think that should make a significant difference in regards to how we should treat the question. I could get behind an argument for the question lacking research effort, but that's besides the point here I think.

Now, it goes without saying that if a pattern of such trolling emerges, then the story changes and we'd probably take action. But I'm not seeing any evidence to that effect here, as of yet.

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  • $\begingroup$ I sensed the question could be the beginnings of sealioning - we should be discouraging that behavior. Sealioning could be more evidence of crankery as opposed to trolling, esp. with a field like quantum computing. But then again, it was only one question being asked, and not repeatedly insincere sincerity, so maybe not. $\endgroup$ May 18, 2022 at 0:16
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Whether your policy is:

  • "Always assume good faith" (which is what is "encouraged" by the SE community, though not actually practiced by all diamond mods or community managers), or
  • "When in doubt assume good faith",

I think a brand new user like this, deserves the "benefit of the doubt" for a question like this.

Why is this new user being treated like they are "guilty before proven innocent" rather than "innocent until proven guilty"? Why should someone new to quantum computing not be allowed to ask how much a quantum computer would cost, or whether or not it would be useful for gaming, without being accused of "trolling" and acting in "bad faith"? What if it's a teenage kid who doesn't have much knowledge about quantum computing yet?

You've said that it "may" be asked in bad faith and that your "spider-sense is tingling" and that the question "seems" to be a bit of a needling of the community about quantum computing hype.

My answer to your question about when to assume good faith is the following: If you find yourself describing this as due to a "spider-sense tingling" or that it "may" be asked in bad faith, then you do not have enough evidence to penalize someone who might be acting in good faith.

"AITA for assuming bad-faith on the part of the new user? Am I being too jaded?"

If you have to ask those questions, then I think you should assume good faith.

Here's a strategy that I have found to work:

  • When you see a totally clueless question from a user with a reputation of only the default "1", check their network history (thank you for doing this by the way!).
  • If they're brand new on the network, leave a polite comment, welcoming them to the site and explaining how they can improve their question to make it valid on the site.
  • You might be surprised with how often they actually do improve!
  • If and only if they do not improve, then you can start doing things like voting to close the question (if you think it doesn't belong opened). Giving them some days to respond to your feedback in the comments, does not really harm the site!

On another note:

The user in question is "unregistered". Can you think of any reason why users should not have to register in order to participate here? Unregistered users were recently banned from participating on MMSE. If we ban unregistered users from QCSE, then you'll get what you want (which is for this particular question to be removed), without us having to sacrifice what I want (which is to be welcoming to all new users that are capable of participating).

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  • $\begingroup$ Appreciate your thoughtful comments! I'm grateful for the encouragement I've received here from some of my initial (often quasi-clueless) posts. I'm also all for consensus and would be hesitant to close without the input of others - each of us seems to have different goalposts as to when or how to close, which I submit is probably a good thing. But if this site allows too much crankery/too many woo clickbait questions, then that would be a demotivator for me. The reddit page was mentioned earlier - does this site compete with that page? $\endgroup$ May 26, 2022 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ I don't use Reddit much :) $\endgroup$ May 26, 2022 at 19:18

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