Recently, I had a discussion with an unfriendly user (Direct counter for the total daily votes, in the now-deleted answer), who took their liberty to qualitatively assess my soul.

While I tried to flag the information, the user deleted their answer. So, as a first attempt, I tried to raise it via chat room.

There, one of the mod advised me to flag such cases. However, there is no more information to flag because the information doesn't exist anymore (for users with rep less than 10k (https://tex.stackexchange.com/help/privileges).

So, I decided to flag one of their comment in random explaining this situation. However, much to my surprise without any explanation, my flag was declined without a reason. Please note, I have no problems with my flags getting declined.

Nevertheless, I have been on this site for quite some time, and I still have not figured out how to handle such users. Because obviously flagging is not the way-to-go. Could anyone give directions?

Also, does that mean I can publicly offend other users?

PS: I'm asking this question because, none of the solution from here (How can I report a specific bad user?) is applicable. So, I had no other option but to take the last bad option.

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    I have experience with this. Only solution that works: do-not-reply-to-this-one list.
    – CarLaTeX
    Dec 20, 2019 at 18:07
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    I removed the flag, because: while we kept it in the moderation queue for a week, I looked 3 times at the answer that has been flagged as offensive: I did not see why it was seen as offensive. Perhaps add a reason next time, as it was not understandable at least to me. As I did not understand why even after that, and the answer has been deleted anyway (I would delete offensive stuff too) I removed that flag considering it as obsolete because deletion was done and no clear reason left about what is open.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Dec 20, 2019 at 19:40
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    @Stefankottwitz I tried adding a reason, but unf SE flagging system doesn't allow us to use more than some predefined characters. In fact, the offensive things were in the comments and not in the answer. Nevertheless, I didnot want to spam the flagging queue as well. Because I expected the mods to go through the entire thing there ;). Also if you want, I can mention the reason here. And, it would have been great if you have added a reason as well (but may be next time). Dec 20, 2019 at 19:53
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    @CarLaTeX usually, that's my approach but sometimes it just flows. Dec 20, 2019 at 19:54
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    @Raaja Very often I add a reason when handling a flag, for the user and for the other mods and to to have it written down. In some cases, as here, there's just an either accept or decline option in in the mod tools where no comment it possible. In other cases, most of the cases there's a free text comment field for the flag handling.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Dec 20, 2019 at 20:11
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    @Stefankottwitz thanks for clarification, I wasnt aware of that. Dec 20, 2019 at 20:26
  • "information doesn't exist anymore" the information is still there, deleted posts are not deleted just hidden from users with rep below some value. Dec 22, 2019 at 22:48
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    @David Carlisle sorry, but that information, in general, in my opinion, not available for all users. And, yes my wordings are not fully correct, sorry for that. Dec 23, 2019 at 3:21
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    I suggest flagging posts, questions or answers, in situations like this. So if a moderator disagrees they can state why in the flag reason. Comment flags don't allow moderators to explain why they declined a flag.
    – Peilonrayz
    Dec 27, 2019 at 13:49
  • @JacobFuller I fully agree that flagging must be done. However, there are some instances where the entire post was taken down even before flagging such content. That was the issue basically. But in a normal case, as you already told, flagging is the way. Dec 28, 2019 at 15:33
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    @JacobFuller What happened to your comment below the answer? I really liked it.
    – user194703
    Dec 30, 2019 at 1:08
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    @Schrödinger'scat TL;DR I don't know. There was a breakdown in communication between Stefan and myself. Given that the thread was excessive we agreed to clean up the comments. I kept the first comment - I assume the one you're referring to - as I thought it was still useful. It however is no longer there, and so I can only speculate what has happened to it.
    – Peilonrayz
    Dec 30, 2019 at 4:13
  • @JacobFuller Since I removed also my comment answer to your question in that comment in the cleaning, I removed your comment as well because it's answered / no longer needed, as it was a question to me and not really a long term contribution. To somehow get back to keep the focus, that gets lost in the comments above again. Feel free to add an answer or a statement comment if you like (maybe not again phrased as a question if you don't desire).
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Dec 30, 2019 at 11:40
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    Sorry you may not be familiar with the idiom, collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/… Jan 3, 2020 at 8:12
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    @HerculePoirot Now that I understood the idiom. The main issue here is that the site's way-of-working is to treat everyone with respect. And, many have gotten themselves banned for this. However, there is another subset of users who often does this (in particular, to the scenario mentioned above) and gets away with it. And thanks for the explanation :) Jan 3, 2020 at 8:20

1 Answer 1


Deleting helps in cleaning but doesn't undo an offense. This specific case was unclear so I left it at deleting (explained in my comments I'll delete as not needed any more and in chat).

Some other background that can help moving on.

To answer that quote "Because obviously flagging is not the way-to-go.":

It is the primary way to go. Just flag in a very clear way.

Quickly some examples including clearly abusive stuff and stuff, that may or may not be considered as offensive but should be removed in any case (plus giving your opinion too):

  1. <this post> is abusive because of <clear reason>.
  2. <this post> is off-topic, and it even looks abusive to me because of <reason>.
  3. <this post> is no longer needed, and it even looks abusive to me because of <reason>.

1. may sometimes be hard to confirm because there because there can also be irony, sarcasm, satire, misunderstanding, and I do not easily put a stigma on a user ("has been abusive"). Especially since flagging as abusive can also be used against others because of another ongoing conflict.

I'm more than happy to delete a post that's cleary abusive. And even if unclear, I'm also happy to delete a post that is off-topic or no longer needed, as those are usually valid reasons to get rid of such undesired comments.

To sum up, bad comments can easily removed by flagging, because there's a lot of reasons if it's not purely texnical. We do it a lot, though like 90% are just flagged as no-longer-needed (such as very old welcoming comments).

No complaint but answering: in this case here,

  • the flag was not placed on the specific post (since that post had been deleted) (now I don't even find this processed flag anymore in histories with 20 min searching)
  • an answer has been linked as being abusive, but it wasn't (I think you meant one of the comments)
  • that comment was not friendly but doesn't look dramatic to me to justify flags (abusive or harassment) and meta post follow-ups and mod acting on the user (warning? suspension?) who already removed that post (we can talk about this)
  • that comment has already been deleted by the poster before the flag
  • the whole answer has already been deleted by the poster before the flag
  • what should a mod do now since deletion was already done and it doesn't look like anough reason to follow-up with warning or suspension

For completeness, some generic examples of rather unclear flags, hard to handle:

  • <this user> is harassing me (what now, shall we try to find something? give links or post flags at where it happened)
  • <this user's> actions in <for example review queues> are not good (shall we read all stuff for quality assessment?)

The more specific and the more justified the clear reason, the better.

Mods are happy to act on a clear flag. Unclear flags though may sit for weeks in the flag review queue since it's neither clear to confirm and not clear if it could be omitted. In any case it's noted. And if there is a serious issue, it may show up again on another flag. If on the other hand it never happens again, well, peace perhaps.

To close the circle, flagging is better than attacking back or going into discussions that are actually not about convincing but, frankly sometimes about winning and being right and nobody steps back and it can escalate.

Let's flag and remove stuff that doesn't belong to the TeX content on the main site.

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    I completely agree with your answer, however you are clearly missing a point. My question was mostly on, what to do when a user offends someone in a comment and after that deletes the post. Given that the post is not there, there is no way for a low-rep user like me to find the deleted comments anymore. So sorry I'm confused, I'm not sure how to flag an appropriate post in this case. Also, the comments were gond eben before I get to flag it. Dec 22, 2019 at 14:48
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    @Raaja The question title and the question in the post body seems focussing on handling non-friendly users. Perhaps re-word to "How do I flag deleted posts?" or similar then.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Dec 22, 2019 at 15:08
  • Since it wasn't very explicit in my question's title, now I made the change in the title. Hope it is clear now. Dec 22, 2019 at 15:11
  • @Raaja I think my answer still applies and that that post has been deleted doesn't make much difference other than it's a bit harder to point to it. The flag wasn't very efficient or specific or justified enough somehow, and in my opionion the action should have been anyway to delete that post and not yet to proceed with other measures, so it was done. Regarding "does that mean I can publicly offend other users?" - no, I guess that is clear.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Dec 22, 2019 at 15:23
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    I know, but the point is how do I report such a behaviour giving this scenario. So, if I'm to use the same comments towards the other user and then delete my posts/comments is that considered ok? Because, implicitly that is what your post suggests. Dec 22, 2019 at 16:17
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    @Raaja As I said "no". Deleting helps in cleaning but doesn't undo offense. I will write an additional answer. edit answer deleted as no longer needed.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Dec 22, 2019 at 16:22

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