A user posts a blatantly off-topic political message on a Stack Exchange site, but expresses it in civilized language. For example, something like this might qualify:

Don't vote for [politician], he wants to raise your taxes (source) and supports interference with the X process to accomplish Y and otherwise has been found to be less than trustworthy in previous projects (source). Please vote instead for McStamper, he loves low taxes and lowering the cost of living for lower-income families (source).

The post is blatantly off-topic on the site and clearly doesn't belong anywhere near it. Is such a post considered red-flaggable as rude or abusive, or should it be handled as a regular off-topic post (vote to close if a question, flag as NAA or VLQ if an answer, downvote in either case, etc.)?

Obviously, a political rant that compares a certain politician with certain intimate parts of the body or with waste products, or that is otherwise offensive by its very nature is red-flaggable, but does "ordinary" political screed rise to that level, or is it more akin to a regular, non-red-flaggable post such as a programming question posted on Meta or a WiFi driver installation issue posted on Stack Overflow?

To be clear, I'm not asking whether such posts should be allowed to remain. I'm asking whether they are sufficiently bad that the red-flag process (six flags to delete, automatic 100 rep penalty, being fed into SpamRam) is called for in such cases.

  • 2
    I don't see why it would be considered rude. I might as well post somewhere "stop eating McDöner, go to BurgerPrince, they make better food" - off topic, not rude
    – Philipp
    Nov 6, 2019 at 15:25
  • Rude? Doesn't seem like it. Topical? Gonna have a hard time seeing how that info is relevant to any question, even on Politics.SE
    – fbueckert
    Nov 6, 2019 at 15:27
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    The answer in the FAQ states (about the R/A flag): "Do not use this flag because: ... A post criticises somebody or something in a civil manner."
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Nov 6, 2019 at 15:27
  • 7
    I've voted to reopen because this is clearly asking for clarification of a case that's not clear in the linked duplicate. An off-topic politically partisan message surely goes beyond on-topic, allowed civil criticism (personally I'd be tempted to flag as spam)? Nov 6, 2019 at 15:30
  • 2
    Yup, that - particularly due to the recommendation at the end - is simply spam.
    – Bart
    Nov 6, 2019 at 15:31
  • 8
    related? Time to take a stand
    – gnat
    Nov 6, 2019 at 16:01
  • [I wish I had a source for this, but I remember somebody reliable-sounding claiming that Gandhi said that] persuasion is a form of violence Nov 6, 2019 at 16:11
  • @Richard I know that. The question is whether or not it is red-flaggable. Nov 6, 2019 at 16:33
  • 5
    It is. Posting blatantly off-topic questions is an abuse of the platform.
    – user102937
    Nov 6, 2019 at 16:35
  • BurgerPrince 😂😂😂 love it Nov 6, 2019 at 17:10
  • 5
    SO co-founder thinks, that political messages are ok. Nov 6, 2019 at 17:52
  • 2
    @gnat The OP said non offensive, the time to take a stand rant includes: morally repugnant and stupid If a normal user posts something like that it would be flagged as rude, even if on topic
    – Luis Rico
    Nov 7, 2019 at 11:56
  • 4
    @LuisReinstateMonica "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
    – gnat
    Nov 7, 2019 at 12:00

2 Answers 2


The spam and R/A flags have the same mechanical effects on a post, so, in the end, it probably doesn't matter too much which of these two you use from that perspective (and an argument could certainly be made for either). That being said...

Spam is probably the better flag here

From What are the “spam” and “rude or abusive” (offensive) flags, and how do they work?:

A post should be marked as rude or abusive (formerly known as offensive) if it contains hate speech, obscenities, abuse against people, or abuse of the community or system, i.e., a clear violation of the be-nice policy.

This case doesn't seem to fit any of those categories except potentially "abuse of the community or system". However the focus of this flag is abuse of people.

Do not use this flag because: [...] A post criticises somebody or something in a civil manner.

Which seems to further indicate that this is not necessarily the best flag.

However, there is another flag that is made specifically to deal with "abuse of the community or system" through posting unwanted, unrelated material which would be...

Spam it if it's the only thing in the post

I would say a better fit would be the Spam flag:

A post should be marked as spam only if it advertises a product, service, or similar and is unsolicited or lacks disclosure.

I think advertising a politician in the way indicated in your question fits the bill more than close enough to warrant a Spam flag. And because Spam is more specifically tailored for this kind of post (as opposed to just "abuse of the community or system") it would seem the more appropriate choice. This is especially true if that is the entire content and purpose of the post.

Certainly, as a moderator, it sends a clearer signal to me if I see a bunch of Spam flags on a bunch of posts rather than a bunch of R/A flags for a case like this. With the latter I'd immediately jump to assuming they were attacking people or being rude and with the former I'd assume they are doing...well, exactly what they are doing.

It might be best to flag for a moderator with a custom flag

This can be complicated if a user is posting this kind of message inside what is generally a proper answer. Generally this can be edited out (like other noise) and a comment left warning them that it is improper to add irrelevant noise to their answers.

Moderators should be alerted to this issue if it is an ongoing thing and/or if the spam is mixed in with actual valuable content (eg if added as a signature). They can act on it in a variety of ways (including mod messages telling the user that such behaviors are not allowed and suspension if they continue to do it). A moderator would also be able to put a valid spam flag on the post if they thought it was in the end.

  • Another option if it doesn't promote a politician enough to be spam, but is an off-topic shoe-horn, is "No longer needed" Nov 6, 2019 at 16:18
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    @user56reinstatemonica8 In a comment that would work. As an answer the equivalent would be Not an Answer in this case. I was assuming these were answers though because of what was referenced in the question. Nov 6, 2019 at 16:30
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    I downvoted this because as a diamond moderator I would see these as "abuse of the community or system" and would take action from that standpoint.
    – mpdonadio
    Nov 6, 2019 at 20:13
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    @mpdonadio I see Spam as a subset of "abuse of the community or system" so I still think it's more appropriate, but I don't see which particular flag that gets used mattering a ton in the end. The action that gets taken is the same in my book. Nov 6, 2019 at 20:37
  • 1
    @mpdonadio FYI I've updated my post a bit to address this. Nov 7, 2019 at 14:43

If it's off-topic, flag it as off-topic (or Vote to Close). I've squinted hard (and am not an expert) and can't identify a site where a party-polemic would be on topic.

However, I don't see that it could be flagged as rude or abusive, even if you disagree with the view espoused.

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