Consider the question Textures in OpenGL turn white over time, which is a fairly good, specific question with sample code. It contains the following line, which may be offensive to some users:

I would imagine, that as I amass more textures I would start raping my computers RAM.

Flagging this question as "offensive" doesn't allow the flagger to input additional commentary about what's offensive. A moderator may skim the question and assume it's an unhelpful flag.

Alternatively, flagging the question as "other" does allow extra input, but doesn't warn the moderator that they should be looking for offensive content.

Either approach isn't as helpful for the moderator as it should be. Should flagging content as offensive allow the input of additional context?

Here are a few additional examples of good questions, which contain some potentially offensive content, albeit minor:

I'm sure you can find more.

Would moderators find additional context on what's offensive helpful? Is this issue significant enough to warrant a change?

  • Wouldn't it be better and simpler (in the example you supplied) to edit out the offensive term instead of flagging it?
    – Eran
    Jan 2, 2014 at 5:52
  • Yes, but that option isn't available to users with < 2,000 reputation, and this approach may fail to identify patterned behavior. Jan 2, 2014 at 5:57
  • 9
    That's not offensive. This is offensive.
    – yannis
    Jan 2, 2014 at 5:58
  • 1
    Users with < 2000 rep can still suggest edits.
    – Eran
    Jan 2, 2014 at 5:59
  • @Yannis that gave me a good long laugh. Especially "psychiatry case AGAINST ME PERSONALLY". :)
    – Pekka
    Jan 2, 2014 at 6:06
  • Holy crap there's more from that guy in Yannis' comment on Facebook. He is like a 24/7 fountain of completely unhinged ramblings
    – Pekka
    Jan 2, 2014 at 6:10
  • 3
    Aaron - your third example, to me, is an argument why maybe there shouldn't be a way to provide context to mods. It's a sentence that looks somehow offensive at first, but isn't really and is actually a quote from "The office". It should not be edited in any way. A context field might prejudice the mod's judgement.
    – Pekka
    Jan 2, 2014 at 6:13
  • @Pëkka, Yannis: That doesn't even look like the same guy we dealt with for the better half of 2013. Jan 2, 2014 at 6:19
  • 1
    @Pëkka I'd pay good money to see a dramatic reading of that, in the vein of youtube.com/watch?v=4Z2Z23SAFVA
    – user200500
    Jan 2, 2014 at 6:37
  • 1
    @Asad me, too. That would be magnificent. Edit: Oooooh, he's done part of the job himself already! dailymotion.com/video/x17rfp3
    – Pekka
    Jan 2, 2014 at 7:12
  • One definition of raping when used with an object as opposed to a person is "to plunder". I'm not sure even an edit is called for, I've certainly heard terms like "raping the wilderness" in mainstream media.
    – PeterJ
    Jan 2, 2014 at 9:00
  • Thanks for your feedback on my question / suggestion. @Yannis, I really appreciate the example you posted - I've never seen anything like that on a Stack Exchange site so that gives me additional perspective. I have received multiple downvotes for my question. This is my first post on meta. So I know for future posts, how could this question be improved? Jan 2, 2014 at 15:46
  • @AaronBrager Don't worry about the downvotes, voting (sometimes) works a bit differently on Meta. This is a good Meta question, people just don't agree the future should be implemented.
    – yannis
    Jan 2, 2014 at 15:53

1 Answer 1


The "offensive" flag is meant for content whose primary purpose is, unambiguously, to offend. For example, a direct insult, or a discriminatory statement against some group of individuals. There is no need for contextual explanation as these posts are self-explanatory.

Also, "spam" and "offensive" flags have the notable effect of causing automatic deletion of posts that accumulate 6 of them. If something was posted with the intention to offend, there is no reason it should be kept around, so it should be deleted. If 6 users agree that it is offensive, then it disappears automatically, and the author is docked 100 reputation.

That is why the "offensive" flag is given higher priority over standard flags — because you are saying "this post is offensive, period — please delete it ASAP".

In your case, a potentially offensive term was used in an otherwise harmless question. As already mentioned in the comments, anybody could simply edit out the offensive term. You may need a user with full editing privileges to ensure the edit doesn't get rejected, but there are plenty of those folks around; you absolutely do not need to involve a moderator. And it would be completely inappropriate to obliterate the question via offensive flags for that reason.

If people then start a rollback war or some such because they can't agree upon whether or not the term is appropriate in that context or any other for that matter, that's when a moderator should be involved. Rollback wars are often automatically flagged, but if nobody has stepped in after some time, feel free to raise a custom flag manually.

  • 1
    I should add that we do indeed respond to "other" flags that point out potentially offensive content within something that's otherwise fine, and can edit or otherwise deal with more subtle patterns of this. Spam and offensive flags are for more urgent things that just need to be nuked from orbit immediately. Jan 2, 2014 at 15:25

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