I've encountered several posts on Super User recently that consist primarily or solely of rants. I've flagged two of these posts as "offensive", and they were deleted with the flags marked helpful. However, I'm getting the impression, based on what I've read on Meta, that this might not be the intended use of this flag. Is this a valid use of the offensive flag? The text accompanying the flag states:

it is offensive, abusive, or hate speech

This question/answer contains content that a reasonable person would deem inappropriate for respectful discourse.

My interpretation is that such ranting is "abusive" as described above and can offend users of the product or service which the post author is ranting against. Is this interpretation correct? Should I continue to use the offensive flag for such posts, or should I use the free-text moderator attention flag instead?

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What did you read on Meta that makes you think different? –  Cody Gray Mar 17 '12 at 5:05
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Only flag it offensive if and only if it is offensive to you. You shouldn't use it just because the rant may "offend users of the product or service which the post author is ranting against". –  Dan D. Mar 17 '12 at 8:26
    
I'd tend to flag rants as not constructive. –  CodesInChaos Mar 17 '12 at 13:23
    
This can be done on questions and comments, but this isn't possible with answers. –  DragonLord the Fiery Mar 17 '12 at 13:24
    
I dunno. If its nothing but a rant I'd consider that as a valid use of the offensive flag. –  Won't Mar 19 '12 at 16:28
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1 Answer

up vote 21 down vote accepted

You should interpret spam / offensive literally. That particular flag is a red alert, the highest priority flag that we have. In fact, the list of posts flagged that way have their own special view in the moderator tools. Spam fighting systems that we now have in place are partly fed from this flag, so accuracy must be paramount. The post must contain a blatant advertisement, or speech that any average individual would consider morally reprehensible.

By using it, you're telling a moderator that the delete button needs pushing, and possibly additional action against the user is warranted. If you see outright SPAM (Gucci bags, quality replicas), use that flag.

If you see hate speech such as a racial slur, profanity, threat or something else along those lines, use that flag. Likewise, use it if you happen on a question or answer that deliberately insults another member of the community.

On a rant? It's hard to say without context. Once in a while people fly over the cuckoo's nest out of frustration, sleep deprivation, too much caffeine, pet turtles dying and the occasional alien abduction. When that happens, use your best judgement.

Just realize, it's the strongest signal you can send to us and the system. If enough of those flags collect, Community ♦ will descend from the ether and zap it with a wand of light.

Remember, the post needs to offend you, not just offend software that you like :)

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Regarding the alien abduction, I'm sorry but I don't think I've reached a point in my life where I can talk about that openly yet. –  Tim Post Mar 17 '12 at 5:19
    
Wand of light? I thought it was a wide angle disintegration beam, or at least a wand of death. (I'd be happy with a wand of lighting as well, actually) –  Jan Dvorak Nov 3 '13 at 7:35
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