If I see an answer that involves some illegal activity, such as breaking license agreements, should I then mark this as Offensive or should I simply down-vote it?

  • 4
    Got an example?
    – tomjedrz
    Commented Aug 27, 2009 at 14:52
  • 17
    Have we completely forgotten the distinction between criminal and civil law? If breaking a contract constitutes "illegal activity" as far as the rest of society is concerned, then who's to say breaking a serious promise (a verbal contract perhaps) isn't "illegal"? Leave it to the parties to the agreement.
    – user144913
    Commented Mar 20, 2010 at 21:39

8 Answers 8


I would be very conservative with that, as not all people on SE are from the same country and laws can be very diverse. I would comment on the answer that it breaks these [laws] in [country].


There are some perfectly legal things which people may rightly be offended by, and totally illegal things which offend very few.

It may sound trite, but I'd mark it as "offensive" if it offended me. If it didn't, I wouldn't.

It doesn't do any harm to let someone know that their post - even though not illegal - causes offense to others.


You mean, like an answer that suggests downloading a piece of "abandonware" -- something that is copyrighted, but no longer legally available?

Or discussions of breaking DRM, conscientious objection, and the like?

There are grey areas.

  • 5
    Even breaking DRM isn't illegal everywhere. Commented Feb 21, 2010 at 9:07
  • 2
    Conscientious objection isn't illegal in most places, either. That was pretty much my point. Commented Jul 17, 2010 at 19:32
  • 2
    wow. downvoted after 4 years.... Somebody doesn't like grey areas. Let me be more explicit: your illegal activity is not illegal everywhere. F'r instance, if you are reading SO in Iram [made-up country] and an answer talks about using Twitterm [made-up service] -- will you downvote because use of Twitterm is illegal in your local jurisdiction? Commented Dec 4, 2013 at 20:32

Unless it's really, really, really blatant that what they're doing is illegal, I'd say no.


Copyright circumvention is a grey area, as many nations' copyright laws are ridiculous and ineffective. However, DDoS attacks or breaches of privacy are not.


Why would you want to mark it as something other than what it is? If it's a concern, add an option to mark it "Involves illegal activity".

  • Good idea. I think a new level of granularity with report functions is the appropriate solution. Commented Jan 14, 2009 at 14:30

Only if it offends you. That's really the test for offensive - does it offend you?

Marking something as offensive doesn't remove it instantly or anything, so there's no harm done if you mark something as offensive and you're the only one offended.


Mark as offensive and downvote I suggest?

And also users with more power should be able to "censor" or delete the post.

  • 2
    People with greater than 10k rep can delete a closed topic. Commented Jan 14, 2009 at 14:12

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