Being somewhat of a newbie, I recently flagged someone's comment (excerpt: "How the hell do you expect...") on someone else's question because it belittled the OP, i.e. a reason I felt fit the criterion of Offensive with respect to flagging. Unsurprisingly (at least in light of this answer), the flag was quickly marked invalid (perhaps explained by this answer's Moderator Moderation subsection).

In hindsight, I agree that my flag was invalid according to the criteria laid out by more experienced users; however, it doesn't seem beneficial for SO (specifically, for new users' sense of SO's community) that its moderators only be concerned with extreme cases of offensive language. Of the many types of "mild" offense, this particular type hurts the community --- I think.

To sum up:

Is belittling language offensive? Independently, does belittling language hurt the community of SO (or any SE website, for that matter)? Finally, if the latter question is answered in the affirmative, is belittling language nonetheless not worthy of moderation? (And finally-finally, if the answer to that last question is "Yes," then why is it not worthy?)

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    flags random's belittling comment
    – Shog9
    Mar 13, 2011 at 19:25
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    @Shog9: I like the answer you give on the "Are SO people still nice?" question. Even the tone leads me to believe the real answer to my question could be that I'm still adjusting to the rough-and-tumble of SO. As you seem to allude to, it doesn't have enough of a negative impact to try to regulate such a gray area anyway.
    – William
    Mar 13, 2011 at 19:45
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    Someone will always have their knickers in a knot over something
    – random
    Mar 13, 2011 at 19:48

2 Answers 2


It's offensive if you feel offended when reading it. In which case, feel free to flag it.

But remember, just because something offends you doesn't mean it offends anyone else. If enough other users flag in kind, the comment will be removed. If a moderator flags in kind, it will be removed. If no one else cares, or if a moderator disagrees, your flag will evaporate...

...But really, that's none of your concern. If you honestly and truly feel that a particular comment is harmful, you owe it to yourself to flag it. Then... move on. You'll feel better if you don't get hung up on it.

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    Some discretion as to why you feel offended is also helpful. If you took offense based on purely technical merits, it's doubtful that the moderators will see what you see. For instance: "Framework X is far superior to framework Y." Still, the worst that will happen is your flag (and a small bit of your flag weight) evaporate.
    – Tim Post
    Mar 14, 2011 at 3:12

Remember that comments are really a secondary part of the system, and so should its moderation be. Somewhat more leeway is then granted there. Still, do not hesitate to flag comments that you feel are over the top!

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