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Every once in a while we get a question about how to report a bad user to the admins. Sometimes it's a spammer, sometimes it's a troll, sometimes it's just someone who had a momentary blip in the "socially acceptable" filter. But the answers are pretty much always the same. So, here is a "master post" for this sort of situation that we can refer to in the future.

  • [some user] is a spammer. What can we do about this?
  • [some user] is being blatantly offensive. How can I report it?
  • [some user] is personally attacking and/or serially downvoting me. Can the admins do something?
  • Almost all of [some user]'s answers link to the same product, but some of the answers are upvoted and/or fairly helpful. Is this spam? What should I do?

I'm on the fence about making this an FAQ proposal. If someone else thinks it's a good idea, it's already CW, feel free.

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Flag the behavior. You can mention in the flag comment if it's a pattern of behavior by the same user. Please, do not call out the user by name here on Meta. If it's persistent bad behavior by a single user, then you can use the contact us link at the bottom of every page.

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Does emailing go into the same queue as – Jared Burrows Mar 28 '15 at 5:59
The same group of people handle it (community managers), but I'm not sure what the workflow is. I think using the contact link is now the preferred method, though (updated answer). – Bill the Lizard Mar 28 '15 at 12:58

There are lots of ways to handle these situations. The admins tend to take the view that behaviors, not users, are bad; that said, they will suspend users in extreme cases.

  • Flag for a moderator
    • You can send short messages directly to moderators by clicking the "flag" link under posts or the little flag icon next to comments and choosing "Flag for moderator attention."
  • Flag, but not for a moderator
    • If it's truly blatant spam or hate speech, you should be able to just flag as such directly. Enough such flags and the system will take care of the problem automatically, no need for any time-consuming human effort! Beyond the 1.5 seconds it takes to do the actual flagging, anyways.
  • Send e-mail to the admin team
    • You can always e-mail via the contact us form with your concerns. That link is in the footer bar of every single Stack Exchange web page.
  • Post to a meta site, like this one
    • This is generally discouraged. Since everyone can see what's on meta, calling attention to problems this way has the feel of public shaming even when that isn't the intent. Not exactly in the spirit of privacy or "focus on the behavior, not the user." Still, there are cases where this can be useful, such as spam (which isn't posted by "real" users and can be cleaned up without mod help), or odd activity that isn't linked to specific accounts.

What you shouldn't do is e-mail a moderator directly. Despite many of them listing their contact details in their profiles we need to have all site related communications on site where they can be reviewed by other moderators or the Community Managers.

share|improve this answer
nice answer. automated solutions like multiple flags are better to start a user suspension, than emailing a mod, since it may be the weekend and mods may be busy. – abel Oct 2 '10 at 17:22
@abel, thanks, I worked that into the answer. Since you have >100 rep, you're welcome to make such edits yourself. That's the beauty of CW, right there. – Pops Oct 2 '10 at 17:32
Hey! I never saw that edit link. I thought editing others post would require a lot of karma. – abel Oct 2 '10 at 17:42
@abel, usually it requires 2k rep, but for CW posts it's 100. CW also implies that others have permission to edit. – Pops Oct 2 '10 at 17:57
I don't think calling out users, by name, in public, is good form. There are already ways to deal with behavior without affixing the equivalent of a Scarlet Letter. How will you protect against bad faith accusations? Mob mentality? Everything is forever on the Web. – Al E. Jan 24 '11 at 13:20
Serial downvotes are managed, but what about random, individual, "hey I remember that username" downvotes? Reputations (real ones, not those tracked with points) are very difficult to fix. This is a very "guilty until proven innocent" kind of policy. – Al E. Jan 24 '11 at 13:23
Contacting admins is of no use. They do nothing to prevent abusive behavior. – Anderson Sep 17 '13 at 10:59
@Anderson Actually, that's kind of the entire job of moderators and the community team. If you've found an instance where one of us has made a bad call, you can always submit another flag or e-mail to explain why. – Pops Sep 17 '13 at 15:50
@Pops I have contacted them and written over a dozzen emails in a good hope that they do in good of a comunity. I was very much mistaken all my effort was just waste of time. – Anderson Sep 17 '13 at 16:30
There are some users who insist on taking everything said as a personal attack, no matter how devoid of judgment you attempt to write your comment. It's quite sad that some people carry this chip on their shoulder at this site. How dare you question my answer? In fact, you are offering a mere suggestion to improve the quality of the answer - a selfless act of which only the answerer will be the benefactor. Judging whether this type of behavior is serial is tough. I know that I've been on the other side, but was eventually humbled by a moderator's action and response. – crush Feb 11 '14 at 15:20
@Pops I'd like to take issue with your last point - "e-mail the moderator". Don't do this even if the moderator lists their contact details. We need to keep all site related communications on site for accountability reasons. – ChrisF Sep 24 '14 at 11:27
@1999 you're absolutely right, that's old, bad advice. Thanks for the heads-up, I'll edit. – Pops Jul 1 '15 at 18:27

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