For example, this question:

Can someone tell me what this programming language is?

105_ 107_110_111_119_ 116_104_101_114_101_115_ 110_111_ 119_97_121_ 116_111_ 116_114_97_110_115_108_97_116_101_ 116_104_105_115_ 115_111_ 117_104_ ^does anyone know what this is? And if so could you try to translate it to text for me?

...which is simply "i know theres no way to translate this so uh" in ASCII.

It's obviously a pure nuisance question. Rude flag or mod flag (or no flag)?

I figured a mod flag saying what it spelled out was appropriate (in addition to voting), on the theory that the account probably needs to be investigated and removed as it's probably a duplicate throwaway account. But mods are busy people and voting will probably deal with the question (though not the account, at first)...

  • 1
    Close voter: This pertains to all sites, not just SO. The example is on SO, but pure nuisance questions are not an SO-only thing. Jan 7, 2018 at 15:15
  • What makes you think that it's a sock puppet? To me it just looks like a troll. Jan 7, 2018 at 15:17
  • What do you mean by “nuisance” question? I don’t see why that would need any flag at all
    – Cai
    Jan 7, 2018 at 15:18
  • @DonaldDuck: Yeah, I really just meant an account not genuinely intended for use in the normal way. Jan 7, 2018 at 15:18
  • 5
    @Cai: It's purely there to waste people's time. The hidden message makes that clear. Hence, nuisance. Jan 7, 2018 at 15:18
  • It’s not obvious in the slightest, all I see is a genuine question. Just because a question isn’t a good question (in the context of SE) doesn’t mean it’s malicious
    – Cai
    Jan 7, 2018 at 15:24
  • @Cai: We'll just have to disagree on this, given the text I don't think it's remotely unclear. (But I like your "benefit of the doubt" approach as a general rule.) Jan 7, 2018 at 15:25
  • The fact is, it is a question. If the question deserves to be closed then it should be closed, if it doesn’t then it should stay. You shouldn’t be making assumptions on motives or taking action in anything other than the content of the question
    – Cai
    Jan 7, 2018 at 15:27
  • 2
    I would just downvote and move on. There seems to be no need for involving a moderator. It's just a poor question.
    – Werner
    Jan 7, 2018 at 17:14
  • cross-site duplicate: Are these troll questions?
    – gnat
    Jan 7, 2018 at 21:57

2 Answers 2


This is not rude.

This is not abusive.

Just unclear.

The "unclear what you're asking" is perfect close reason for this in my opinion. Downvote, close as such, then delete. No reason to raise any alarms or call moderators.

And that example IS kind of ASCII:

  • 7
    With respect, I disagree. It's not unclear. It's clearly intentionally posted purely to waste people's time / cause a nuisance. (Which is, amongst other things, rude.) Jan 7, 2018 at 15:21
  • 5
    @T.J.Crowder so we agree to disagree. Innocent person might have got a mission to translate some code, and thought this can be done on Stack Overflow. We can't really know or tell, until it really becomes abusive. (e.g. same person doing it more than once.) Jan 7, 2018 at 15:23
  • 5
    @ShadowtheHedgehogWizard That's why it might be a good idea to have a moderator look at it. If it really is an innocent person, the moderator won't find anything suspicious and will just move on. But if it is a troll who has already done similar things (with the same account or with a different one), the moderator will find that out and take appropriate action. Jan 7, 2018 at 15:26
  • 1
    @DonaldDuck oh lol. Well..... still not feeling right to involve a mod in such a lame thing. On SO the question ban is quick to kick in, so we don't have to worry about wasting much time to people. :) Jan 7, 2018 at 15:38
  • 1
    @ShadowtheHedgehogWizard Considering that all it takes to defeat the question ban is to create a new account, I wouldn't rely on that as your sole defense against trolls.
    – Servy
    Jan 8, 2018 at 15:35

If you deem the post to truly be intentional nuisance, flag it as rude or abusive. Although it may not be aimed at anyone in particular, it can be argued to abuse the generosity of the community. However, consider whether the post could be deemed to be an attempt (perhaps naive or childish) to challenge the abilities of the community.

We get similar ‘challenge’ questions on English Language and Usage from time to time. A recent one asked for a sentence where the first letter of each word was in ascending alphabetical order (like A bad car deserves ...).

If the puzzle is non-trivial (your example may qualify), consider flagging for migration to Puzzling.SE. This avoids having to ascribe motives to the OP, pushes the off-topic post off site, and supplies Puzzling with some material to pass the time.

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