We have general guidelines to the "Be Nice" policy, but they seem more along the lines of Supreme Court's famous "I know it when I see it" - which leads to supreme unhelpfulness to someone who is trying to answer a binary issue of "do I flag this specific wording, or am I being too sensitive about things".

The question is: in that situation, would asking on Meta.SE (including specific wording, but – presumably – excluding links to specific posts) be considered an appropriate venue to help guide the would-be flagger in the process of decision?

Please note that I anticipate at least one of the answers to be "When in doubt, always flag". That answer doesn't seem to address the root problem I have, which is a lack of non-personally-subjective resource to rely on when making flagging decisions.

This question arose from the perspective of the would-be flagger, but obviously, the same resource question might also be helpful to someone handling the flags

  • The problem with finding a non-personally-subjective definition of "nice" is that any and all definitions of "nice" are personally subjective. I'd suggest you only ask about wording of text that is (a) permanent (e.g. help files, documentation), and (b) for Meta.SE, pertinent to the site as a whole. If the text is pertinent to only one community, then ask on the Meta specific to that community. If the text is non-permanent, especially comments, I'd recommend you flag and move on. Let the mods do their jobs. That's why we pay them such staggering salaries. – Dan Bron Feb 3 '16 at 18:50
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    @DanBron - I was going for "wisdom of he crowds" concept of non-subjective. If an answer of "not nice" gets 5 upvotes, clearly the asker isn't the only one feeling that something isn't nice; so a flag is a lot more easy to justify to oneself. – DVK Feb 3 '16 at 18:55
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    Yeah, but I imagine raising concerns of etiquette to the broadest possible audience is going to cost more in drama than it will be worth in feedback. People can already cast "votes" on whether a post is not-nice, in the form of flags, and if 3 (or 5? not sure) people so "vote" (i.e. flag), the post is automatically nuked, without moderator intervention. But hey, I'm just one guy, and one guy who doesn't have an enormous amount of experience with SE norms, to boot. Let's see what others have to say. – Dan Bron Feb 3 '16 at 18:58
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    If you're not sure, then don't bother flagging it. You big dummy. Why are you wasting everyone's time? Why I oughta... – user1228 Feb 3 '16 at 19:32
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    The ability to upvote and flag comments exists mostly because of Won't. – Shog9 Feb 3 '16 at 19:36
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    My personal experience is that the SE chat flagging system is a complete dog's breakfast, one that seems almost willfully designed to lead to a total lack of consistent response from the community at large. – Richard Feb 3 '16 at 19:59
  • @DanBron IIRC, a community deletion of a comment requires three more flags than up votes. – user213963 Feb 3 '16 at 20:43
  • @Won't - flagged for abuse of Ellipses :) – DVK Feb 3 '16 at 21:31

Oh, it's absolutely like the Roth test. There can be no objective standards here; what matters is what actually offends people, not what folks say should offend.

The guidance - now and forever in the past - is to flag when you see something rude or offensive. If others disagree with you, so be it. The guidance on the flag dialog itself reads simply:

A reasonable person would find this content inappropriate for respectful discourse.

How do you know what constitutes respectful discourse? Pay attention to how folks converse, observe what they find respectful and what they find disrespectful, what causes offense and what does not. There are a few examples of rudeness in the help center, but these are neither exhaustive nor specific enough to rely on in every possible situation.

As always, you're free to ask questions here on Meta... But don't expect to be given immutable rules that you can apply without regard to context. As with nearly anything involving social interaction, objective rules are hard to find and universal ones are rare as hen's teeth.

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