I flagged an answer as rude/abusive, here is the answer in it's entirety:

Try to flirt with him online, on facebook/whatsapp/whatever. He doesn't approach you because it could be dangerous for his reputation if you reject him and tell everyone. (look at this ton of judgemental comments, even here).

As soon as he realizes you really actually like him, he'll make steps too. At that point, you'll need to decide if you both want to be secret friends with benefits (doable) or have an actual relationship (a little harder, will require some guts from you both to withstand the moralfags' pressure).

My flag was declined with the reason:

declined - flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer

And while I agree that the answer has inaccuracies and is altogether wrong, that's not why I flagged it. You see that word near the end there?

Here's the definition of that word from wiktionary


moral +‎ -fag

moralfag (plural moralfags)

(Internet slang, offensive, derogatory) A person who expresses moral disapproval or moral opinions, especially in a generally amoral setting like the /b/ board on the 4chan community.

When a word includes the word "fag" to indicate that something is wrong, it probably doesn't belong here. Unless we really want to be an amoral setting like 4chan...


3 Answers 3


If there is a single troublesome word that is the penultimate word in the entire post, it is very easy to miss. I'm sorry. I missed it. Bad mod!

I'd like to use this opportunity, however, to point out something that I find troublesome as a moderator.

You all have edit rights.

I've deleted the word from the answer but you (or any number of other users) could have done this, too, rather than only flagging and leaving it for everyone to see (or in my case, not see).

Part of being a high-reputation user is using your edit privileges to fix this sort of stuff without necessarily asking a moderator to delete the entire post as abusive. John, HDE and I don't have to be the ones to fix this. Please, stop leaning on us to do things you can do yourself.

Obviously, if you want to flag something because it contains content you want us to be aware of, feel free to, but don't leave the bad content in the post for it to sit there until a moderator removes it (in this case 11 hours later). You have two options:

  • Edit the post, flag as abusive and leave a comment that says why you edited.
  • Edit the post, flag with a custom flag explaining your edit to the moderators.

We can track this info and see if there's a pattern.

We want bad stuff off the site, though. We shouldn't have to wait hours for it to be removed by a moderator. You don't need a diamond to stand up and say "your words are "not nice" I've cleaned them up for you.

  • 1
    Admittedly I could have and probably should have "Edit the post, flag with a custom flag explaining your edit to the moderators." But given the full context of being generally a terrible answer and being rude, shouldn't it have been deleted? Rude/abusive answers are auto deleted with enough flags, and if I remember that comes with a penalty for the poster, so editing to fix seems sub-optimal.
    – apaul
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 4:30
  • 10
    We don't delete terrible answers, we downvote them.
    – Catija
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 4:31
  • 1
    But we do delete rude answers, being terrible just sweetens the pot.
    – apaul
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 4:32
  • 10
    If only one word in an answer is problematic, that does not make it reasonable to delete the entire thing.
    – Catija
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 4:32
  • 2
    Also, we do have a tendency to delete terrible answers around here... This one could have easily fallen afoul of vlq as well.
    – apaul
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 4:33
  • 1
    @apaul: have we? I don't feel like that is acceptable, could you somehow give examples for that? I wouldn't like that.
    – dhein
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 8:19
  • 2
    Excellent answer and excellent decision (to edit and not to delete) @Catija. Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 9:25
  • 1
    I'd like to add that I would like to see more mention of 'rude/abusive/bad' answers in chat --> I'm not able to run three rounds around the site's questions each day :) If it's a single word, we should definitely edit. If we think it's more than that and bad enough to deserve downvotes/flags, give a shout in chat!
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 19:18

It's worth remembering, you can downvote - which encourages the user to self delete, and comment (politely!) to let him know that the language is unacceptable.

A good chunk of moderation, as it should work here is meta moderation. We use meta as a body of community decisions, but actually voting down, and engaging other users is just as important. Moderation is as much about dealing with other people as processing flags, and SE's model means normal users with higher levels of rep (10k ain't too shabby!) can and should help site moderators with things like this.

In this case I would

  1. Downvote (Optionally!)
  2. Edit
  3. ???
  4. Profit! Comment "Hey, some of the language you've used here's not really meeting the standards of the community - I've taken the liberty of editing it for you."

The wording's important here - it lets the user know what's wrong, why and what's been done. It also shows you've been helpful.

  • From my experience, downvoting and commenting in these situations usually feeds the trolls. I usually try to do the right thing in these situations, but after a point it just gets old.
    – apaul
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 5:59
  • Which means the trolls do more things that makes it clear they're trolls. On the other hand it also means that since more people are downvoting, and eventually voting to delete, it reduces the strain on your mods. Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 6:21
  • Don't get me wrong, I still downvote and vote to delete. I just get tired of routinely engaging with the worst this network has to offer without the power to shut them down. You all have that power, so use it.
    – apaul
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 6:26
  • Sorry I tend to notice that you step in as backup, when our mods are challenged. Sometimes mods should be challenged. This is, after all, a relatively low traffic site. When things go sideways it's usually pretty obvious. Defending the mods should be secondary to defending the community... Anyhow, things went wrong, so you got tapped. Do you want to address the things that went wrong or back up fellow mods that dropped the ball?
    – apaul
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 6:42
  • I think your mods can handle their interpersonal issues themselves. I do note this site gets a lot of attention and Stuff off here gets linked on some offsite chats I hang out on - so people go "Hey, geek, you should check this out". In addition to being a moderator, I have, I donno is it 7 years here, and I've been moderating elsewhere before so the only real support your mods would get off me is advice, and sometimes unsolicited options. You make it sound almost like I have a motive. Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 7:00
  • Just saying civilians first, mods second.
    – apaul
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 7:03
  • Mods are users first. And on SE - there's very little that a regular, high rep user can't do which a mod can. And mods are users first and members of the community - to the point where mature sites elect mods. You're basically drawing a line that doesn't exist here. Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 7:05
  • Mods can singlehandedly deal with a lot of things that regular users can't. You can delete posts, comments, and ban users for abusive behavior. Community moderation is a great thing, but only when we have mods at our backs that support us.
    – apaul
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 7:09
  • If mods are reluctant to act, we're left fighting on our own, which is a pretty crap way to handle things. When mods have the time to comment on nearly every question, it would suggest that they have the time to handle the more problematic cases.
    – apaul
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 7:16
  • Reluctant, naw. But they shouldn't shouldering the whole burden. I suggest you take a look at this old blog post for the official view of what moderation's expected to be here. I would also suggest taking a look at this recent mse post I answered. Moderators are expected to guide as much as act. Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 9:54

As @Catija said in comments, we don't delete bad answers; we downvote them. So this answer doesn't need to be deleted even if you think the advice is not good. Moderator eventually removing the offensive word alone was exactly the right decision, which she has urged all edit-enabled members to do themselves in future. I would only add that I expect moderators to intervene if some future OP in a similar situation insists on rolling back the non-moderator's edit.

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