"Reviewer #2" has become shorthand to signal a reviewer who was snarky, academically discriminatory, misunderstood our work, or more than one of these.

Let's back up for a moment. This is kind of what it feels like as an editor to ask a colleague to carry out a review:

mow my lawn

That is, both reviewing and journal editing constitute free academic labor. And we are all pressed for time.

But reviewers can be clear and direct without being cranky, even when a manuscript is not suitable and/or has serious problems. This does not mean using kid gloves or avoiding harsh truths; it means that as evaluators, we give the benefit of the doubt that the authors have prepared a manuscript with sincerity. Imagine the kind of feedback you yourself would appreciate receiving:

 review language

If a piece is so under-baked that this kind of feedback wouldn’t help or would take excessive amounts of a reviewer’s time, then a desk rejection seems more appropriate.

Journal editors should NOT simply pass along a review that is academically discriminatory, snarky, that says "X is missing" without offering suggestions, that offers NOTHING positive, etc.

Finally, I have benefitted greatly from my friend and colleague Phillip Carter’s solid guidelines for reviewers:

reviewer advice