Yesterday, I flagged two answers on this question as rude/abusive. Both answers were by the same user (now deleted), one of them contained gibberish of the 'cat-on-keyboard' type:


and the other one used Chinese characters:


Google Translate gives me

I love you, ad nonsense is not bad for the fiscal year Nanjing released computer data open no other female as much as sdfghjkl French wine poor

While this might not be a correct translation (as far as that is possible), it's clear somebody just entered some random Chinese characters (cat-on-Chinese-keyboard). In my opinion, this is gibberish as well and should be marked as rude/abusive. Now I'm looking at my flagging history, and I'm confused:

enter image description here

Could a moderator please explain why my flag on the first answer was marked helpful, but the second one declined? I'm trying to follow community consensus:

What makes something rude or abusive and when should I flag it?


Abuse of the system or community is everything that is created with the intention to harm them. This includes posts that contain no useful content at all – i.e. gibberish posts along the lines of:

asyuv;laergap897wertp[98 gb;vp98a34

Also, Shog9 states that it's fine to use any kind of flag for this:

It's VLQ, it's abuse, it's Not An Answer

As I explained here:

For me the most important reason is that six rude/abusive flags cast by community members will automatically delete the post. This is more efficient than casting VLQ/NAA flags and having a ♦ moderator delete it; they can spend their valuable time solving problems the community can't solve on its own.

  • 1
    I seem to be affected, too.
    – tripleee
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 8:16
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    I'm affected too. I'm not sure which of the two was declined, if it was the chinese gibberish or the european gibberish
    – rene
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 10:30
  • 1
    Mine was declined as well. Looking at the answer url postid:245419 in the flagging history and the link here it was the chinese gibberish which was declined @rene
    – Suraj Rao
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 10:47
  • 1
    @suraj Hmm, okay. So I expect the outcome of this will be: You should have flagged VLQ. because the chinese text was translateable, not gibberish.
    – rene
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 10:49
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    @rene That is what Shog9 says in his answer for meta.stackexchange.com/questions/115627/….
    – avpaderno Mod
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 11:45
  • @kiamlaluno I'm reading that answer (and the many other answers from both Shog and other SE staff on the same topic) differently then from what you read in it. I don't see a you shall not use abussive flags for that, only as a heh, you have this other option as well. Anyway, I guess I'll tweak or maybe even opt-out, my auto-flagging settings to prevent these mishaps for the future.
    – rene
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 12:26
  • @rene That said, there's now an alternative: Very Low Quality flags (available on any answer scoring 0 or less) kick the answer into the Low Quality review queue [...].
    – avpaderno Mod
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 13:30
  • I don't want this to end in a lesson in English comprehension. I'll take your word for it.
    – rene
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 13:39
  • @rene It's not an English lesson. Shog9 talked of VLQ flags, not me.
    – avpaderno Mod
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 13:42
  • It's an alternative, so there is another good option: flagging as rude/abusive.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 13:47
  • @kiamlaluno Okay, I'll accept that I might get some declined flags then when Smokey flags here for me. I think I'm still in the green. We'll see how it goes.
    – rene
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 13:51
  • FWIW, the Chinese one, after the comma, ad胡说八道是不好的会计年度南京发布电脑数据开放不会别的女尽可能sdfghjkl的法国红酒可怜 should come from the keystroke sequence adhsbdsbhdkjndnjfbdnsjkfbhbdnjknsdfghjkldfghjkl (middle row + BNM (last 3 keys from the bottom row)), so is it gibberish? Whoever reasonable should know.
    – iBug
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 9:31

1 Answer 1


The first answer was automagically processed by the system, which marked the flags as helpful.

The second answer was handled by me. I dismissed the Rude/Abusive flags as not helpful, as this post was rather neither rude nor abusive (and not spam for anyone wondering). I marked the auto Very Low Quality and Not An Answer flags has helpful; both were appropriate.

This post did not require immediate attention from a diamond mod, which is that the Rude/Abusive flags triggered.

  • 5
    Sorry, I forgot to quote the reason why these kind of posts are considered abusive: Abuse of the system or community is everything that is created with the intention to harm them. This includes posts that contain no useful content at all – i.e. gibberish posts along the lines of: asyuv;laergap897wertp[98 gb;vp98a34. I agree that it ranks lower on the priority list than spam, but as I tried to explain, there are good reasons to use red flags here as well.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 13:17
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    Your interpretation of this is at odds with Shog's then.
    – Magisch
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 13:22
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    Yes, I would say my interpretation is different, but I can say that the final result for these posts and the user was the same. If a post is auto-removed via R/A flags, then mods won't be able to act on the user as we probably won't see the post deletion. Acting on the user itself is better for the site in the long run.
    – mpdonadio Mod
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 14:09
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    Gotta say I don't agree with Shog here either; rude and abusive should be reserved for posts that are actually rude or abusive IMO. I can sort of see how you might classify gibberish as "abusive to the site", but even that's a bit of a stretch. By the same logic you could easily argue that bad questions are just as, if not more, "abusive to the site", so they should all be flagged with rude or abusive too. "Rude" and "abusive" already have well-established English meanings, I don't think we need to tack other things on. Not when there are other flags that are more appropriate like VLQ
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 15:39
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    @Glorfindel your point about the automatic deletion makes a lot of sense on a site like SO, but we mods here aren't really overworked like the SO guys :) We don't get a lot of flags, and getting 6 on a single post that's anything other than spam is pretty rare anyway (unless I'm mistaken and just haven't seen/handled those ones over the years). I'm not sure the "most important reason" from the question applies to Drupal Answers
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 15:50
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    @clive I'm happy your workload isn't that high; but still: in my opinion, the community can moderate these cases on its own. IIRC, there's something in The Theory of Moderation about moderators being exception handlers; those Meta posts seem to indicate this is regular moderation, just like closing questions.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 17:06
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    @Glorfindel I wholeheartedly agree that the community could moderate these cases on their own. But as I mentioned (or more implied I guess), for the most part they don't - if mods didn't do it, no one would. The exceptions get thrown much earlier around here than the bigger sites
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 17:16
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    I agree, and that's why we have Charcoal HQ to help with (partially) automating moderation tasks for all sites across the network. We try to adapt to 'local' customs where that makes sense, but it's going to be hard to remember on which sites we can safely use rude/abusive flags for gibberish and for which sites not. I'm not worried about a single declined flag, but given the amount of spam on Drupal I don't want to risk a flag ban.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 17:28
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    @Glorfindel Oh I see, yes that makes a lot of sense. I hadn't really looked at it from that perspective. Well I'm personally more than happy to fall in line with Shog's interpretation of gibberish and rude/abusive, if only to make sure the charcoal crew don't get wrongly penalised, and I'll bring it up in the mod chat room later and see if we can all get on board with it.
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 17:34
  • Thanks a lot @Clive!
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 17:35
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    @mpdonadio Charcoal has a tool for helping mods with finding spammers that aren't nuked yet.
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 18:08
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    Could the actual answer be updated to reflect (what I understand to be) the new synthesis? I believe there are at least four of us from Charcoal who are affected in this individual case, and more broadly probably dozens.
    – tripleee
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 8:25
  • @tripleee This is the answer given from one of the moderators to Why was just one of the flags marked as helpful? I don't see any new synthesis, and the answer already says what happened.
    – avpaderno Mod
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 11:51
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    Here's another point for why these shouldn't be declined in the future: /help/mod-flags, paragraph near the bottom starting with "As a general rule of thumb". Can't copy the whole thing here because it's mod-only information, but it's pretty clear.
    – user26034
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 17:06
  • @Undo It also says shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the network and the purpose of flagging. If a user keep flagging as spam a comment posted as answer, or something the user things wrong, it's probable those flags from that user will be declined.
    – avpaderno Mod
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 9:25

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