While some have noticed an apparent increase in the "noise-to-signal" ratio on this site, what concerns me is the rise in the "incivility-to-civility" ratio.
Let us be clear about one thing - the word "crackpot" is an epithet. It is a label used all to easily to dismiss anything, anyone might have to say which is contrary established wisdom or which is in conflict with anybody's personal beliefs. Its liberal usage, especially by "authority figures" is disturbing and revelatory.
This is not to deny that there are genuine "trolls" and "crackpots" in this world, whose purpose is not to discuss but to bludgeon ideologically opposing viewpoints into the dust. However, a community, by its very definition, takes all kinds to grow and prosper. Opposing viewpoints are an essential ingredient of any community. Otherwise it becomes more of a cult or a country club than a community.
So, what does the community feel in this regard? My own personal opinion is that down-voting and critical commentary are more than sufficient to highlight perceived weaknesses in any questions or answers on this site without resorting to disparaging particular individuals or particular lines of inquiry. Obviously such etiquette is assumed to be present from the get-go in such an enterprise. However recently I have noticed a change for the worse in the tone which suggests that these "rules of the road" cannot be taken for granted. I hope that by highlighting this issue and encouraging its open discussion perhaps some balance can be restored to the force :)
Again, let me clarify, this question is not intended as a personal attack (direct or indirect) on anyone. Everyone has their own way of speaking and their own style of doing physics and we would be poorer for censoring either this or that individual for their choice of words. If anything it is an assault on the common tendency to use words such as "crackpot" and on the overall tone that we should use in approaching viewpoints we strongly disagree with.