This has been raised many times, and marked duplicate, but recent circumstances have not been the same as before (I believe), and it is time to revisit the question with a different perspective... especially since there was debate in the linked MSO question as to whether the MSO question itself is/was appropriate. It seemed appropriate at the time, but, in retrospect, a lot of trouble, and a quicker and more appropriate response would have been available if a flag-the-moderator option in a logical place was available....

Without the flag-the-moderator, is the right answer to post to MSO?

I really don't see the problem with bringing up issues which need an urgent response/ attention up on Meta. Yes, there's the by the book, technically correct, blah blah blah way, then there are the exceptions. This is one of them

Possible duplicates that have been previously closed as duplicates:

In most cases (all?), the duplicate links point back to this question:

Flag abusive users

In that question, it is suggested that the 'flag user' is missing , and that moderators have the ability to flag the users, and not 'general' users.

The problem is: how do you get moderators to flag the user, when you can't easily notify the moderators?

The answer given in the question is that you should flag one of the 'abusive' things the user has done, a comment, post, chat message, etc. The assumptions are that:

  • the profile itself will not be the actual problem.
  • there is some activity of that user to flag.
  • the 'volume' of these incidents is small.

if there is no 'action' to flag, then flag a random post and give the details in the message. This seems convoluted.

Unfortunately, it is possible to use profile-creation itself as a spam/harrassment/trolling tool.

The result is that, to report this problem, you have to flag some random post (another user's post), and then provide complicated details in the 'reason'.

There should be a better way to do this.... and a flag on the offending profile page is the right way. Even if the only option is: flag for moderator attention. Provide reason: .....

Special things to consider:

  • the offending person/profile can join any chat room regardless of their profile home-page so the profile's effect stretches beyond the home-site jurisdiction. They don't need to 'say' anything to be offensive
  • the flag-user may be part of the 'privilege' escalation process, presumably like the existing flag-posts @ 15 threshold.


Removed Image showing chat rooms since it is not appropriate in all places.... you can find the image at https://i.sstatic.net/aq4bW.png

  • P.S. the fact this just got tagged nsfw proves the point, doesn't it?
    – rolfl
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 18:40
  • 9
    Perhaps @gnat works somewhere where even a tiny icon with Hitler and a Nazi flag on it is illegal. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 18:52
  • 2
    @MartijnPieters In a lot of countries, it is illegal to use such an icon as for example a profile picture. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 18:56
  • @SimonAndréForsberg: I know. In Germany, for example. But illegal icons do not necessarily warrant a NSFW tag, but perhaps gnat can enlighten us. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 18:58
  • 1
    @MartijnPieters I did never dive into matters of legality but at least two of my past employers were of the kind where it wouldn't feel suitable / safe
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 19:00
  • 4
    -1 for no freehand circles, and I thought you would know better Rolfl....
    – Malachi
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 19:08
  • 4
    @Malachi Fixed. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 19:14
  • @MartijnPieters Sorry, didn't see the </sarcasm> tag. And forgot what NSFW was an abbreviation for. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 19:25
  • This Image is NSFW Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 21:46
  • @SamIam surely you jest.... even the grandest politicians have that image... ;-)
    – rolfl
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 21:55

2 Answers 2


https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/1325/139866 suggests,

Email [email protected] if you have a chronic problem with a user.

  • 4
    Not really relevant for this specific troll, he keeps creating new accounts. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 20:47
  • 2
    Huh, yes, it does. And that is a valid thing to do. The question is whether it is urgent enough, and obvious enough. SE have 'trained' us to flag inappropriate content, spam, etc... having to use an e-mail with unreliable delivery times.. just... seems... like the wrong thing to do.
    – rolfl
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 20:47
  • 11
    What if the problem is acute rather than chronic? In my experience, at least, e-mails to [email protected] can easily take several days to reach even first-line support. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 20:49
  • Down-voted because of all the comments above. There really needs to be another option. Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 10:10
  • 2
    While you're waiting for another option, other existing options include @pinging a moderator in the chat room, or flagging content e.g. of your own to get your moderator's attention.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 10:15
  • @ChrisW And what if there aren't any site moderators in a chat room? Sometimes it is really hard to find a specific site's moderators in chat, especially on real small sites.
    – ɥʇǝS
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 4:33
  • @ɥʇǝS When you flag a message in chat, all SE moderators network-wide gets notified. When this whole thing started, I wrote a message giving a short explanation of the situation and flagged my own message, this caused moderators all over StackExchange to visit the room. Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 13:13
  • 1
    @SimonAndréForsberg That doesn't help with getting the user destroyed, since only site moderators can delete the user. That's what I meant.
    – ɥʇǝS
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 18:04

An offensive user profile in and of itself is not a problem. Why would anyone visit that profile to be offended?

Instead, you need to be flagging the offensive things the user does.

If they show up in chat and their avatar is offensive, then you flag their messages there.

If they don't post messages, but just having their avatar up in the "now in chat" area is offensive, you should be asking for a method to mark that as offensive, or another way to resolve the problem.

If they post questions, answers, or comments that aren't offensive, but show their avatar that is, then you can flag the post as offensive due to the avatar.

There is no need to add a "flag user" option, because in the absence of activity, their profile itself is never shown.

If there are activities they are participating in that encourage others to see or visit portions of their profile, and it is found to be offensive, then those activities need to be flaggable.

A simple solution, for instance, would be to make it so their avatar doesn't show up in public chat rooms except at a certain reputation level, where the community trusts them. By that time they will have had to post many answers/questions with the same avatar, and the user will have been publicly vetted by the community already.

People who have the ability to enter chat, but aren't trusted enough to show an avatar would be noted with a simple "...and 1 others." in the avatar display.

  • 4
    In the past, I recall flagging had a user who had quite rude comments that got flagged and deleted. The user also had links to shock sites in the profile as links. Since I couldn't flag the comments (vulgarity instant delete) I was left to flagging the question the comments were in for the "do something about the user" custom mod flag. This feels awkward and contrived. There was activity, it was flagged and because of the system immediately deleted.
    – user213963
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 19:27
  • @MichaelT And once those comments were gone, what harm did the profile continue to do? The system seemed to work as expected. My understanding is that Stack Exchange does have access to information on a per user basis - how much of their content is regularly flagged, etc, and does take action against abusive users. So, again, if the comments go away, and the profile is therefore only accessible if you happen to remember their user number or search it out, then what harm is it actively doing?
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 19:41
  • 1
    The user in question was a consistent troll on the site, the next time there's activity (and there would be) and someone looks at the profile it would be an issue. The reason the person was leaving comments rather than answers was so that it would be harder to flag the questions and get mod attention. The issue should be dealt with as fully as possible as promptly as possible. Remember that flagging comments that get deleted doesn't raise anything to a higher mod level (to the best of my knowledge - and I believe that even custom mod flags on comments that get deleted go into /dev/null).
    – user213963
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 20:00
  • So you want to change the entire platform for one or two bad abusers? The answer is to raise it in meta, as this most recent person has been raised, and have the team or the mods take care of it. Deleted comments are available to them. It only takes a quick post, "Hey, the person who posted a now deleted comment to this answer/question (link) is continuing to abuse the community, and they need to be dealt with more directly by the team." Now if this were a problem where hundreds of people were attacking stack overflow daily, then change the platform. Otherwise it's working as intended.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 20:06
  • 1
    @AdamDavis you say ` The answer is to raise it in meta, as this most recent person has been raised, and have the team or the mods take care of it.` But, that is exactly what was questioned when I did that. Also, you can have users with no activity that are offensive here: New Users or the new users page on any SE site.
    – rolfl
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 18:35

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