The description of the Community user mentions:

Own downvotes on spam/evil posts that get permanently deleted

Should the correct wording be "inappropriate" instead of evil? What does an evil post mean? Please, can someone provide an example?

  • 1
    It's entirely plausible that whoever wrote that didn't consider how evil evil is
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Jul 30, 2019 at 5:20
  • 1
    I could provide an example but it would be flagged and down voted as evil ...
    – rene
    Jul 30, 2019 at 6:36
  • 6
    Here is a long list of evil posts.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Jul 30, 2019 at 7:14
  • 4
    @gnat That post doesn't answer the question about appropriate wording, it doesn't answer the question about the meaning of the word evil... How's that a duplicate?
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Jul 30, 2019 at 7:51
  • 1
    @Tinkeringbell "evil" is a simplified way to say offensive / rude or abusive - and duplicate explains in details what these terms mean
    – gnat
    Jul 30, 2019 at 7:56
  • 5
    @gnat This can't be a duplicate of that, since it doesn't mention the word "evil". Jul 30, 2019 at 9:14
  • 1
    @SonictheAnonymousWizHog this missing word probably needs to be edited into duplicate. I would do it myself but would prefer this to be done or confirmed from authoritative source
    – gnat
    Jul 30, 2019 at 9:18
  • The general idea is that the Community user owns the downvotes on deleted posts so the reputation losses don't affect the user that downvoted them.
    – user474678
    Jul 30, 2019 at 17:50

4 Answers 4


Should the correct wording be "inappropriate" instead of evil?

No. "Inappropriate" is far too broad of a word. I would hope that the system would not be casting votes on the basis of "inappropriateness".

While I personally don't care much for the use of "evil" in this context, it's a better word, since it gives the impression at least that it is a rare thing, only employed for "worst-of-the-worst" cases. "Inappropriate" does not. People make posts people find "inappropriate" all the time.

Please, can someone provide an example?

Probably not, since most such posts get expunged with great efficiency by our various flagging and systems. I think "abusive" would probably be a more accurate term.

Overall however, you have probably spent more time composing a message about this than the discussion is actually worth (and I certainly have in composing this reply). The word is adequate, if imperfect, so it's best to spend time on things that matter.

  • 3
    As a matter of fact, the current "rude or abusive" flag was called "inappropriate" for a small while, before being renamed to its current name. Jul 30, 2019 at 9:35
  • should we just use "posts that have received spam or rude/abusive flags" in Community's description? Jul 30, 2019 at 11:20
  • Actually, I am researching on Q&A, and I don't think I can put the terminology "evil" in my research paper (without defining what it means). Thanks for your answer "I think "abusive" would probably be a more accurate term."
    – Aadi
    Aug 3, 2019 at 14:45
  • @Aadi: Why does this page matter for your research at all? Aug 3, 2019 at 14:49

Since none of the answers explain the question about downvotes in the title, I figured I should explain it.

Whenever someone casts a "spam" or "rude or abusive" flag on a post, the system automatically casts a downvote on the post on the flagger's behalf. These downvotes are owned by the Community user. (The Community user is not an actual "user" in the strict sense; it just claims credit for automated system actions.)

As far as the "that get permanently deleted" part, these downvotes are automatically revoked if the flags get declined or manually cleared, which is (usually) the eventual state of these flags if the post remains alive, so they're really only in existence on posts that are deleted for these reasons.

As far as the word "evil", the Community user's biography is intended as more of an informal introduction to what it does and the most common cases where you'd see it in action. As such, it's written in a rather informal language compared to the help pages and posts. Any reasonable person would consider spam and rude/abusive posts as "evil" for the site, and so the bio lists that.

You can find examples of posts that it owns downvotes on by checking the SmokeDetector logs. (That is a community project that helps users find posts to cast such flags on.)


The term "evil" in this case is used to describe, as far as I can tell, highly offensive posts which often contain very bad language.

Those are posted either by random internet trolls (who post such things randomly wherever they can), or by highly frustrated users who rage quit and blame other users (or the mods) for what happened.

Imagine the worst offensive language you can think of, and that's your example.


Citing Wikipedia:

Evil, in a general sense, is the opposite or absence of good. It can be an extremely broad concept, though in everyday usage is often used more narrowly to denote profound wickedness. It is generally seen as taking multiple possible forms, such as the form of personal moral evil commonly associated with the word, or impersonal natural evil (as in the case of natural disasters or illnesses), and in religious thought, the form of the demonic or supernatural/eternal.

Evil can denote profound immorality, but typically not without some basis in the understanding of the human condition, where strife and suffering [...] are the true roots of evil. In certain religious contexts, evil has been described as a supernatural force. Definitions of evil vary, as does the analysis of its motives. Elements that are commonly associated with personal forms of evil involve unbalanced behavior involving anger, revenge, fear, hatred, psychological trauma, expediency, selfishness, ignorance, destruction or neglect.

Evil is sometimes perceived as the dualistic antagonistic binary opposite to good, in which good should prevail and evil should be defeated. [...] The philosophical questions regarding good and evil are subsumed into three major areas of study:

  • Meta-ethics concerning the nature of good and evil,
  • Normative ethics concerning how we ought to behave, and
  • Applied ethics concerning particular moral issues.

While the term is applied to events and conditions without agency, the forms of evil addressed in this article presume an evildoer or doers.

Now understanding the definition, I think it is easy to understand: "evil posts", "evil votes", "evil comment" are all reasonable terminologies, although they are used only rarely.

We live in a rationalist civilization, and - as also the Wikipedia page shows - this terminology deals mainly with irrationality. This is why this word is typically substituted by different euphemisms.

Evil posts are, for example:

  • Spam
  • Intentionally misleading posts
  • Posts insulting innocent users
  • ...and so on.

The community bot is not capable of making moral decisions. Its downvotes are based on the flags of the users (who are), as it is described in Sonic's answer.

  • 1
    My intention was not to insult you. I'm saying you're overthinking this, and the person using the term "evil" most probably didn't intend to use it as some sort of sociology jargon or whatever, and certainly didn't check Wikipedia.
    – M.A.R.
    Jul 30, 2019 at 13:04
  • "Posts insulting innocent users" Are you saying that there are users it's okay to insult in posts? Jul 30, 2019 at 13:24
  • @AnneDaunted No, but often also true critics are considered insulting.
    – peterh
    Jul 30, 2019 at 13:25
  • @Marshmallow Ok, retry. I experienced many times already that people dislike or won't understand the word "evil". Citing the Wiki article was needed to help them to understand the concept.
    – peterh
    Jul 30, 2019 at 13:30

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