From time to time, I encounter questions that are obviously trolling (i.e., not a real question) but not spam and not using abusive language and I often wonder what the best course of action is when dealing with such posts.

On one hand, I believe the user should be penalized, but on the other hand, the question does not meet the criteria for a red flag (i.e., it's not rude or abusive and does not promote a product or service).

I'm aware of Flag Option: User is a troll but it's essentially a feature request for a new flag type and mainly focuses on non-obvious trolls (disguised in the form of a question).

Here's a recent example on Stack Overflow. Screenshot for <10k users:

Screenshot of suggestive post

I decided to simply vote to close (selecting "Other") but a red flag was applied shortly after and the user was nuked. So, what's really the best course of action in such cases?

  • Always vote to close because the question does not meet the criteria for a red flag?
  • Use one of the two available red flags (in a non-standard way) and hope that it doesn't get rejected?
  • Use a custom mod flag? (might waste mods' time on something that can be done automatically with red flags)
  • 2
    Very low quality is one option. I consider it worth of a red flag, as trolling is rude or abusive (would you find trolling appropriate for reasonable disclosure - probobly not). Spam also would work, as I believe it would be a spam seed. Once, I caught a user literally asking how to troll Ask Ubuntu (I flagged as rude/abusive + reported in Charcoal HQ) Tl;dr: use any red flag, and optionally report it in Charcoal HQ
    – cocomac
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 5:33
  • 2
    Found it - Jeff Atwood said "I'd say comment trolling would be "rude or offensive" or "not constructive / off-topic" -- your choice.". (comment reasons have changed since then, and that is for comments, but I would flag posts in the same way. I'd prefer rude or abusive to expiate deletion of them.
    – cocomac
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 5:39
  • @cocomac: The "Very low quality" option is not available for questions, only answers.
    – Justin
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 7:21
  • 1
    @Justin VLQ flag option is available for both questions and answers. The post just needs to have a score of 0 or lower and to not be older than a week.
    – 41686d6564
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 8:11
  • 1
    @41686d6564: Sorry, my bad. I tested a few other questions and there is a VLQ flag. But it's not a great option for troll questions because by the time the VLQ flag appears in the list of possible options, the question will already have been deleted.
    – Justin
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 8:23
  • 1
    To address when the VLQ flag shows up: basically, when a new user asks a question, the system takes it through a quality test. If it passes the test, the question gets full visibility, while if it doesn't, it gets put into the Triage or Low quality posts queue (depending on whether the former queue is enabled for the site). The VLQ flag is only shown on such questions that pass the test; it's a way of telling the system it was wrong in judging the question to be of high quality and it should instead be treated as low-quality. Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 8:26
  • 3
    I should also add that the flagging option was renamed from offensive to rude or abusive specifically to make it clearer that the option applies to questions that are blatantly abusing the system, which clear troll posts definitely are, even if they're not offensive per se. Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 8:27
  • FTR: I stopped giving vtc when I found that there was not even a poor approx reason to "Troll question"
    – Rusi
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 12:02

1 Answer 1


The post in the screenshot you attached is definitely rude; we don't know who they are referring to. Female Stack Exchangers, for one, would find it quite inappropriate. According to the flag description:

enter image description here

I would mark it as "rude or abusive".

As for your main question, there have been multiple requests to add a red flag option specifically for troll/garbage posts, but have been (here's one example). So you're left with limited options. If you're really unsure of what to do, it's best to raise a mod flag. But since both the red flags (spam and rude/abusive) have the same effect, automatic deletion on 6 red flags and strict punishment, IMO it doesn't matter which flag you choose, since red flags are commonly used when the post in question adds no real value to the community.


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