I have been told many times on the wordpress stackexchange that I am “not helpful” when I comment on questions or answers, which usually imply that I am obstructing the path someone wants to follow, instead of helping him follow the path.
This is not surprising in a general social enviroment that claims that “you can do everything you want if you just try enough”. Maybe this is a good attitude to have in life, and I actually try to practice it myself and many times I do say things to that effect to other people, but when you come to physics or engineering disciplines, “wanting” is just not good enough. You can not ‘want” the laws of physics to change, and there are solid established reasons why engineering is done in specific way and wanting it to be otherwise was probably already tried and failed during the years.
Therefor a fierce negative feedback, which is not “open to negotiations” is very important as it might save huge amount of time to the person asking the question (or anyone reading an answer). It is very easy to say “why don’t you go and try”, or just ignore the issue, it avoids confrontation and makes you more likeable but if someone tries to follow a path that will lead him to his death, isn’t it better to shout **DON’T GO THERE** instead of answering his question about how much food he should carry?
Should you be rude when you do that? obviously better not to be, but this is not a social club, and there are goals which are more important then politeness, if being rude can save someones life, I will be all for rudeness.
A side note about rudeness on the internet. I actually find it surprising in a way that people get offended from people they don’t know at all. Someone in Alaska thinking I am an idiot is most likely not going to have any impact on my employment or love life, so why should I get worked up over what he thinks?