There is a person who created several new accounts in a row. They answered and commented a popular question on Skeptics SE with obscene words and phrases. Should we disallow a user with 1 reputation from making any posts which contain the normal suspects of offensive words?

(Bad posts have been deleted.)


Should we disallow a user with 1 reputation from making any posts using the normal suspects of offensive words?

No. For a few reasons:

  • This will only encourage people to find creative, harder-to-detect ways around the filter (people run bots looking for this stuff, e.g. the posts you speak of were flagged a short time ago, and there's a ton of them running here). This is also a problem in comments, where certain words let comments be automatically deleted when flagged. This is especially true of users bent on trolling a site intentionally.
  • There are lots of legitimate uses for these words, especially on the language sites like https://english.stackexchange.com/ and such.
  • "Offensive" is fairly subjective, in particular posts can be highly offensive without containing explicitly offensive individual words and, likewise, posts can contain explicitly offensive words but be harmless (e.g. in the language site cases).

What you should do is:

  • Flag the posts as rude/offensive. A certain number of these will cause the post to be deleted as well as some other consequences.
  • For comments, flag them as well. Comments containing certain words will be immediately removed, others may take a few peoples' flags or moderator action.
  • If its a repeat offender raise a custom flag on the post/comment drawing a mod's attention to it. If you notice multiple accounts that you suspect to be the same person, it can be helpful if you specify them (e.g. profile links or whatnot) in the flag message.
  • You can also often find a mod to ping in the site's chat room, or a CM to ping in The Tavern, in dire circumstances, but I would stick to the normal flagging process first.
  • If it's ongoing and really problematic, you can also draw attention to it on a site meta, e.g. your post here has certainly drawn attention to those posts and they're already gone due to flags now. Only do this if you feel the normal flagging process isn't adequate for the situation.

While these kinds of situations stink, they are relatively uncommon, and appropriate action, possibly an IP ban, will always end up being taken eventually as long as you flag accordingly.


It takes only a few clicks for a moderator to delete all posts of a user, the user itself and to trigger some defense mechanisms that will block further attempts to some degree. And the community can remove such posts with spam/offensive flags easily as well.

On Skeptics in particular blocking certain words would block legitimate questions, e.g. "nigger" appears in a few questions where the original claim is somwhat offensive, but not the post itself. It would be rather odd if being offensive enough would be a way to avoid scrutiny because certain words are blocked.


Flagging it typically works.

If it's a troll, having people take a look, especially a mod means that any pattern is noticed, and we can take action. And sometimes it's handy when a troll has a specific pattern so we can call in close air support from a CM :).

If it's 'innocent' swearing, we can gently guide the new user to the right way of doing things.

And well, as long as a site has an active community, the amount of time that such posts remain is probably minimal.

And of course, sometimes these filters can have false positives which can be annoying. Human oversight is nice.

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