I answered a question which then saw another user leave this comment:

This is idiomatic! Just like if (var i < 0; i y x.length; i++)

It made no sense to me and I replied as such:

Don't know what you mean by that, but this is how you get inline-block in a IE6+ manner (like it or not).

In response to my reply, the user called me a newbie who does not know JavaScript.

Yes, exactely what I mean. You should learn it as you learn the JS loop construct.

To me that's really offensive because I consider myself to primarily be a DHTML developer (though I do back-end as well) and I have years of experience in DHTML and to be called an idiot who does not know JS is really offensive.

In response to the second comment, I simply flagged the first comment as non-constructive and the second as offensive (to me it was). Both were rejected. For the first one, yes whatever, I do not even know what it means so it's irrelevant, (though driving me crazy in the sense of "what does it mean?"). But the second one is really confusing.

I read about how offensive flags worked, where it said that I should flag something as offensive if it's expletives or profanity.

When I asked for more info on flags in general I was pointed toward a post on how comment flags work where it stated that something should be flagged as offensive if it violates "be nice" which I truly feel it does (though I am biased).

So was I right to flag these comments or not?

What is the correct thing to do in this case, other than to simply ignore it, so as not to go into childish name calling?

  • 3
    +1 for asking here. However, IMO neither flag was correct. The first one contains what was clearly a typo; it was meant to be for (var i < 0; i < x.length; i++), as @minitech pointed out in a comment. The second, IMO, wasn't meant to be offensive. I think you're being a little too sensitive here; I don't think it was meant the way you're taking it. – Ken White Nov 28 '13 at 2:31
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    I'm asking this question sincerely: Do you know what idiomatic means? It has nothing at all to do with idiotic. – Andrew Barber Nov 28 '13 at 2:33
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    I think he was trying to support your answer. I think he was saying this is a tried and tested technique as ubiquitous as "for" loops. Though difficult to know for sure. I see you got an upvote for that answer at the same time as the comment was left so anyway I think you can assume it was supposed to be positive. – Martin Smith Nov 28 '13 at 2:39
  • @AndrewBarber I really don't (non native English speaker here) I looked it up but still do not get it? But I am starting to get it now thanks to the answers. – Illimar Pihlamäe Nov 28 '13 at 2:53

The comment was:

This is idiomatic! Just like if (var i < 0; i y x.length; i++)

Idiomatic is defined as: "using, containing, or denoting expressions that are natural to a native speaker."

I don't find this comment offensive, nor do I see the relevance of it either.

I have a feeling you perceived the comment as 'idiotic' rather than 'idiomatic'. This would definitely make a little more sense - though I don't believe it would have been directed at you anyways. If 'idiotic' was meant, I would consider the comment to have been 'not constructive', but that's definitely not the case.

Additionally, I feel it is safe to assume that the user upvoted your answer. His comment was posted at the same time you received a vote on the answer. I believe this indicates that nothing was meant to be offensive.

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    The for loop in the comment is wrong in so many ways, that it's closer to idiotic than to idiomatic... – bfavaretto Nov 28 '13 at 3:43

Put simply, if the comment called you a moron then you can take offense. Anything else and you shouldn't worry about it.

There can be many ways people can take offense especially across the many cultures on Stack Overflow. So the rule of thumb is that you shouldn't interpret offense unless it is explicitly spelled out, because the chances are that you have misinterpreted or the offensive statement was unintended due to the author being unfamiliar with English or they come from a region where what they said is not considered offensive.

In any case the comment was not offensive in any way (read what I said above about misinterpreting). You could still raise a flag about it, but you would have a tough time convincing a mod that it was offensive.

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