What are the official guidelines for flagging answer as offensive or hate speech?

What criteria must be met to qualify the answer for such classification?

I've noticed that many users are confused when it's come to that flag. For example, there was discussion about how to treat questions about cracking problem and one answerer said he would classify them as hate speech (which sound absurd to me, because nobody is installing cracked version of Windows because he hates Microsoft).

On the other side, there was discussion about the internationalization progress of SE and one answerer have said that SE should not be internationalized because every expert would profit from learning English. For me it's an attempt to impose one language onto the whole world, and in my part of the world, for historical reasons, such statements are considered very abusing. But are the cultural-specific reasons enough to flag something as hate speech?


3 Answers 3


That's subjective, but the examples you mentioned are not offensive at all from my point of view. The offensive flag should be used with care, as 6 flags will impose a very hard penalty on the flagged user.

The following can be considered clearly offensive:

  • Swear words
  • Personal attacks (usually combined with the above)
  • Any kind of discrimination

Regarding the internationalization discussion you mentioned, I've seen similar discussions, and they're usually backed up by the fact that a great part of the knowledge about programming, including programming language specifications, is written in English. The same fact can be used to backup opinions for and against i18n in SE sites, and both are valid opinions. Now, if someone thinks only English should be used because it's the internet's lingua franca, I don't see that as an attempt to impose a culture over the others. But if someone explicitly says English should be used because English-speaking people are somehow "superior", that would justify an offensive flag based on cultural discrimination.

  • I don't think someone having the opinion that English is better as-a-language is offensive, just silly. May 24, 2013 at 2:18
  • That wasn't particularly well-phrased indeed. The intended meaning was what follows that. Removing that part.
    – bfavaretto
    May 24, 2013 at 2:42

Neither case is a hate speech. Firstly, opinions are allowed on meta, so the internationalization comment is OK since it's not directly offensive. It's just saying that the writer feels that everyone should learn English. Demeaning, yes. Offensive, not really. Hate speech, no.

In the end, flag as offensive if it:

  • is a personal attack
  • is racist or is a similar attack on a group
  • uses abusive language

There's no need to treat hate speeches differently, they are covered by the above three points.


"Profiting from learning English" is far different from "imposing English on the rest of the world".

It's also not why SO is an English-language site–SO's goal isn't to eliminate other cultures or to denigrate them by implying other languages are inferior.

Neither is hate speech, and I'd argue it's very far from hate speech or inciteful. For speech to be hateful there has to be intentful insult that shows willful discrimination.

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