Another user left a comment on one of my questions calling me an "angry bigoted nerd". I would argue this clearly violates the "be nice" policy: https://freelancing.stackexchange.com/help/be-nice However, I have flagged the comment three times, and each time the flag gets reset without the comment being removed.

Is there anything we can do when flagging a post doesn't bring it to a moderator's attention, besides posting here? Am I correct in my assumption that calling someone an "angry bigoted nerd" is against SE policy?

  • Without the context it's hard to say. I don't see a link to the offensive comment here. At face value calling someone such a name would definitely appear to against policy. Personally I wouldn't make a decision without seeing both sides of the exchange.
    – Elder Geek
    Mar 4 '17 at 11:34
  • 1
    That definitely adds some context. To be fair, I don't believe that saying that someone is "coming off as an 'arrogant bigotted nerd" is the same as saying someone IS an arrogant bigotted nerd" or for that matter IS incompetent. While I understand your frustration It's my belief that both user9589 and Scott are trying to help you rise above this and take the opportunity to prove your self to be a true professional. Bad mouthing others whether they be competition or members of your team only makes you look bad. Don't do it.
    – Elder Geek
    Mar 7 '17 at 3:55
  • @ElderGeek First off, saying "you come off as an X" is an extremely thinly veiled way of saying "I think you are an X". I remember kids using that tactic in grade school to (unsuccessfully) try to avoid getting in trouble for name-calling. It's not a good precedent to set for the site. "Angry bigoted nerd" is not a constructive critique of how he perceives my character; it's a blatant insult
    – user45623
    Mar 7 '17 at 21:58
  • @ElderGeek Second, calling this "actionable defamation of character" is completely absurd. Defamatory statements are false by definition. "John" is demonstrably not performing his work to professional or industry standards. If you are a developer and I told you some of the horrifying suggestions he's made for the company's technical infrastructure, you would agree that he is a huge liability and only my direct intervention is preventing him from driving the company off of a cliff into the Valley of Infinite Technical Debt (obviously these are not terms I would use with the client)
    – user45623
    Mar 7 '17 at 22:04
  • @ElderGeek I asked the question to get other people's opinions; that's the entire point of SE. I haven't defamed anyone because I haven't made false statements and haven't used the guy's real name. Obviously if I approached the client, it would be with specific examples where "John" has failed to perform work to a professional standard, or has made technical suggestions that qualify as gross negligence; I wouldn't call John "incompetent" or any other degrading term directly to the client
    – user45623
    Mar 7 '17 at 22:15
  • @ElderGeek SE is a place to ask questions. If the answer is "don't approach the client about this", that's fine; I can continue to keep my concerns to myself as I have done so far. Maybe the phrasing of my question seems like I just want to drive a bus over John, but I asked it out of a genuine desire to learn how to handle an awkward professional situation. If you don't like the spirit of the question, that's one thing, but to defend a blatant insult like "angry bigoted nerd" because you disagree with the question is letting your bias get the best of you.
    – user45623
    Mar 7 '17 at 22:22
  • I apologize for any confusion you may be experiencing regarding any points of law (here in the United States where I am) referenced in my comments. I'll do my best to clarify. Even stating "I think you are an X" while granted is not very nice isn't the same as saying 'You are an X" which comes off as a statement of fact rather than an opinion. In my corner of the world that crosses the boundary between freedom of speech and defamation Things may be different where you are.
    – Elder Geek
    Mar 8 '17 at 1:42
  • As I don't know John or his work, I can't comment on his abilities, but your client thought enough of him to hire him so regardless tread carefully. I personally think that "incompetent" is more insulting than "angry bigoted nerd", fortunately competence can be tested and proven. I'm not a moderator here so I can't do anything about that comment that you find so offensive. I do hope that my answer to your other question proves useful to you.
    – Elder Geek
    Mar 8 '17 at 1:55
  • @ElderGeek The phrasing in your now-deleted comment suggested you were accusing me of "actionable defamation of character" for saying that John is incompetent. I will repeat that defamatory statements are false by definition; this is true in the United States as well as other jurisdictions.
    – user45623
    Mar 8 '17 at 21:15
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There are a number of things that you can do if a flagged comment fails to get the attention of a local moderator.

  1. A bit of research indicates that if the community here agrees and flag the comment as well, it will auto delete How does comment voting and flagging work? explains it like this.


    You get 10 comment flag votes per day, more at high reputation or if you have a history of helpful comment flags. (up to a limit of 100 per day.)

    If a comment is flagged by three users, it will be auto-soft-deleted. There is no penalty for this. Flagged comments will be surfaced to moderators, so if you have a problem with a comment, flag it.

    Comments with upvotes require more flags to be deleted without moderator intervention: 1 more flag per 3 votes above 3 (i.e. number of flags = 3 + score/3).

    Comments containing certain keywords need fewer flags than normal to be deleted.

    You can always delete your own comments by clicking on the ⊗ that appears when you hover the mouse over the comment. This is not a flag, it takes effect immediately.

    Flag a comment by clicking on the flag icon that appears when you hover the mouse over the comment. You'll need to enter a reason (see below).

    Comment flags cannot be undone.

    Comment flags do not affect the user in any way if a comment gets deleted, but they do count towards your helpful flags.

    The system does not notify you if your Comment is flagged

    Flagging has a rate limit. You can flag a comment once every 5 seconds, and open the flag dialog once every 3 seconds. (More details here.)

  2. Feel free to ask our betters on meta what to do.

  3. Do the easy, friendly thing and drop a comment to the comments author, explain why you are upset and respectfully request it's deletion. I understand that you are angry, but I don't think anyone who donates their time on Stack Exchange wants to do anything but help.

  • "angry bigoted nerd" is a non-constructive insult regardless of whatever phrasing you try to use around it for plausible deniability.
    – user45623
    Mar 8 '17 at 21:18
  • @user45623 Here's the constructive part of the comment in question: "Maybe you want to rephrase your services as 'quality maintenance' or 'bug fixing' that allow you to express how you see the situation without getting emotional." Take a deep breath and try to relax.
    – Elder Geek
    Mar 8 '17 at 21:33
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    Updated answer.
    – Elder Geek
    Mar 8 '17 at 21:43

I'd call that "not nice" without a doubt. Why the flag resets, I don't know. Is there, per chance, other meaningful content to the offending comment, that might be worth saving. I learned from prior discussions that even moderators can't edit a comment after it's set. The poster can, for a brief time, but then it's keep/trash as the only choice. Of course, even if the other user isn't being nice, the comments on their own will damage his reputation with other users, even if it doesn't show in his numbers. You might have to just ignore the poor soul and continue helping others where you can.


I stumbled upon a this Q in Meta AskUbuntu where a comment might explain why a flag you set disappeared without action by the mods. What @terdon comment said was

However, it's easy enough to dismiss a flag by mistake and there is no way of dismissing individual flags on the same content for different reasons (that I know of, anyway) so maybe yours was dismissed along with others that were wrong.

As the interface remains fairly consistent across SE sites, I have to presume that the same can be said of the dashboard for moderators.

Not that this helps with the comment, but it might lessen the frustration of "being ignored."

As another option, that I gathered from some meta somewhere, a last ditch effort to contact the moderators is to raise a flag for moderator flag on your own post, and explain in the custom reason area what the problem is. Sorry I can't link to that discussion, but I read too much on too many meta boards to know where to begin searching for it. An unfortunate byproduct of reading meta to try learning the site etiquette.

  • 1
    There may be a number of reasons why the flag wasn't actionable. "Ignore the poor soul" sounds stress free. I like it! I did some research on the topic and posted an answer as well
    – Elder Geek
    Mar 8 '17 at 2:56

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