I could not disagree more.
Hostile and combative rarely characterize discussions I read here these days. I do have a bias toward thinking most people are simply too sensitive. They are easily offended, and somehow they acquired the wrongheaded idea that they should go through life without anyone offending them.
In the "karma" days, people seemed inclined to respond to the silly "smite" with more of their own smites. That escalated, people assumed they knew who bad marked them and then they tended to respond with some nasty remark -- sort of a passive aggressive response to real or imagined disrespects.
We do pretty well around here for being in a world where we have no verbal cues, no body language and almost no social history with the other posters.
I think this perspective is a little more balanced, so I disagree soundly.
Yes, this is off topic, but I agree with you. It's been debated before, but I still see a strong correlation between the increasingly hostile and combative environment and the loss of the karma system. It wasn't a perfect system, but I think it did manage to keep it more civilized around here.
Absolutely agree. As flawed as the Karma system was, it served as a powerful feedback to participants as to how their overall behavior was being perceived by other forum participants. Karma has now been too often replaced by personal attacks and drive-by comments.