I think the community does a great job policing questions/answers, etc. and the community has some good tools available to do this. Between flagging questions with some reasons behind it and editing posts, closing them, and deleting them, the only thing that seems to be missing to me is the ability to flag a user.

Reasons to flag a user as abusive:

  • Duplicate User
  • Abusive Behavior
  • Offensive user name or profile
  • User profile consists of spam
  • Others?
  • 11
    Isn't "abusive behavior" a somewhat cyclic definition here? Flag them as abusive if they're abusive?
    – Jon Skeet
    Jun 30, 2009 at 22:28
  • @Jon - I agree... Just trying to put some ideas out there...
    – RSolberg
    Jun 30, 2009 at 22:30
  • 1
    by design, in that it already exists for moderators only Jul 5, 2009 at 12:54
  • @Jeff - Thanks. I forgot you can flag comments too. Makes sense.
    – RSolberg
    Jul 6, 2009 at 4:32
  • possible duplicate of How can I report a specific bad user?
    – S.L. Barth
    Sep 17, 2013 at 11:47
  • If Facebook allows one to flag a user, I don't know why SO can't allow it. Simply allow only moderators to view the info regarding who has been flagged… just like every social network on the Internet.
    – psoft
    Dec 3, 2013 at 8:01

4 Answers 4


If you flag a post from that user for moderator attention, it is highly likely that we will look at their other recent activities, including (but not limited to) questions, answers, comments, votes - and correlations to other users if there is a suspicion of a sock-puppet.

If they are being a nuisance, there are a range of options - but also don't forget that just because they've annoyed you doesn't guarantee that we're going to throw the book at them.

The e-mail approach works too, but don't forget the team is US-based, but between us the moderators have pretty-much the whole day covered; if they are actively an issue, a moderator flag may get acted on quicker than the e-mail. Or do both.

Also; don't forget you can flag... if somebody is being offensive, flag them as offensive. For most puppet accounts, the penalty (100 points) may be enough to take away much of their access.

  • My question here would be what is considered to be abusive. There is a user that bugs me, he's been around for a while and once said that he did not care look into duplicates as asking is cheaper --he will either get an answer or a pointer to a good duplicate answer with no effort in almost no time. That bugs me as he is riding on the effort of others, and yet... should I flag that as offensive when on the other hand there are many duplicate questions from other users? Mar 7, 2011 at 20:27
  • 4
    @dribeas if there is a repeat pattern, yes. Moderators can, will, and have asked such users to use the site respectfully. And if not; can, will and have taken action against users who abuse the site and the contributors. And yes; asking inappropriately, over a sustained period, against directions otherwise - counts as site abuse. Mar 7, 2011 at 21:33
  • how to vote as offensive ? Sorry, i am not aware of it.
    – Lucifer
    Jul 19, 2012 at 2:44
  • @Lucifer a "flag" option appears based on your current reputation Jul 19, 2012 at 6:23
  • ok, so how much reputation req for that option ?
    – Lucifer
    Jul 19, 2012 at 6:26
  • 1
    @Lucifer looks like 15. So you you should be seeing it. Described more here: stackoverflow.com/privileges/flag-posts Jul 19, 2012 at 6:47
  • I know what is meant by sock-puppet but does asking everyone in the office for an upvote (like on his own answer) count as abuse?
    – Top-Master
    May 2, 2019 at 9:47
  • 1
    @Top-Master I'd say that asking for an upvote probably does; but drawing attention to a good answer, whether among your team, or on twitter, or whatever - probably not - it is a blurry line, I'll agree May 2, 2019 at 9:51
  • 1
    But what if the user has no posts to flag? (Case in point; be sure to translate the text.) Nov 7, 2019 at 11:21
  • Just today I was seeing a host of spam accounts created which are designed to never make a single post to achieve their goal: all they have to do is fill out their bio on their account page with content advertising something or another, including addresses, phone numbers, and websites, and they'll get the "autobiographer" badge, and then the "Recent badges" list will get filled with users such as Bed Bug Exterminator Detroit, Jensen Family Law, Jones CPA Group, etc. How do we flag that? Mar 16, 2021 at 7:44
  • @zibadawatimmy "just like that" - if you see any others like that, please ping me Mar 16, 2021 at 9:04
  • @zibadawatimmy as a side note: we almost always disavow outward links in markup, so I doubt their spam is anywhere near as effective as they think Mar 16, 2021 at 9:07
  • @MarcGravell That sounds very inefficient, and like you're asking us to spam you to death with notices. Just checking the MO front page I see at least a half dozen or more of the same things--autobiographer badges for advert accounts--right now. I'm sure they'll continue to be created at a steady clip, and most of them will go unnoticed/unreported. Mar 16, 2021 at 11:46
  • Though looking further into it I see this issue has existed literally for years, and the official policy is apparently "It's more trouble than its worth to deal with this in any systematic way", and they're just largely left alone, and as such there are easily thousands of accounts like this on MO alone. Mar 16, 2021 at 12:00

I remember requesting this a long time ago and I'm surprised that nothing really ever came about from it. They went ahead and implemented the ability the flag a post and inform moderators, but not an actual user (which I think tends to be more important in the grand scheme of things)

  • 4
    as Joel said in the podcast "what is this, high school again"? Jul 1, 2009 at 0:47
  • 2
    Jeff, you guys already field complaints directly through team@stackoverflow.com. Can you really sit there and try and equate a flagging option (along with a required reason for the flag) with tattle telling? Are you going to suddenly stop listening to email complaints about users? I highly doubt that.
    – TheTXI
    Jul 1, 2009 at 0:58
  • 7
    Yet in Gravell's post above you guys seem to agree that when investigating a flagged post, you will go and look at that user's activities not necessarily related to the question. That sounds just awful like investigating the user and not the particular action.
    – TheTXI
    Jul 1, 2009 at 1:14
  • 4
    We need to understand whether that action was isolated, or part of an ongoing pattern of behaviour... for example, if somebody posts pure spam / product advertising - there may be other posts that need to be edited/deleted. But we're still looking at the action(s), not the user. Jul 1, 2009 at 6:47
  • 3
    @Jeff, not all actions are flaggable. Invalid edits to CW's for example.
    – Sampson
    Jul 8, 2009 at 18:06
  • 1
    I just found a user that probably made a script that votes "leave open" in the review queue except for questions with a suggested duplicate (which might make you look less suspicious, idk). It would be nice to be able to flag review activity. Another example is a user with an offensive profile/username. Both times I've flagged a random post by the user instead, which is a bit counter-intuitive, but still works. Mar 1, 2014 at 23:07

There are flags (text-based) on users, but can only be added by, and are only visible to, moderators.

When Gordon Gano sings this line in Kiss Off, it's a reference to what the principal of his high school told him after the band played at a National Honor Society ceremony. While they were still in high school (before they made it big), The Violent Femmes were asked to play some music at the NHS ceremony. They said sure... and then they played Gimme the Car. The students in the audience went crazy, pandemonium ensued, and the principal told Gano, "I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record."

Unlikely to be ever implemented for anyone other than moderators as explained in Podcast #22 :

In the rare event where a user goes haywire — remember that it costs $5 to even join MetaFilter — these users will be given “timeouts” of a day or two until they cool down. There are no scarlet letters or black marks that can be placed on users. The history of the user’s actions, particularly if that history is public, is usually enough to handle the problem. We definitely agree with this philosophy.

  • 2
    relevant audio begins at around 53 minutes into podcast #22 (may also be earliest mention of richb -- even back then, there were.. issues!) blog.stackoverflow.com/2008/09/podcast-22 Jul 1, 2009 at 0:56
  • 1
    @Jeff Atwood: I can be your next podcast guest star!
    Jul 1, 2009 at 1:06
  • 1
    @Jeff Atwood: My gravatar was awesome. This was just an early sign of what an overly sensitive user base we would end up with.
    Jul 1, 2009 at 1:07
  • 2
    I guess that depends if you consider a picture of Jesus giving everyone the middle finger "awesome" or not. I tend to prefer gravatars that do not result in complaint emails, myself.. Jul 1, 2009 at 1:10
  • 1
    I thought it was great. But then again I'm running around with quite possibly the most queer gravatar on the entire site.
    – TheTXI
    Jul 1, 2009 at 1:12
  • 2
    @Jeff Atwood: Hey, attribute that to jesus by yourself. I don't believe in fairy tales. That picture looked uncannily like myself. That was my attraction to it. I can help it if the religious people are hyper sensitive.
    Jul 1, 2009 at 1:13
  • 3
    The only Jesus I know speaks Spanish and won't stop stealing the hubcaps off my car.
    Jul 1, 2009 at 1:14
  • eBay 'exploding hubcaps'. Aug 9, 2019 at 10:49

It has been stated many times that this will never be implemented on SO. You should remember that from UV.

Email team@stackoverflow.com if you have a chronic problem with a user.

  • 5
    will never be implemented for non-moderators, that is... this was explained in a podcast. Jul 1, 2009 at 0:45

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