If I come across a question that I perceive as trolling, is it ok to flag it as “rude and abusive”?

For example, this question (since deleted, but not blanked out) isn’t stating that a particular claim is true, it’s merely asking whether a claim is true. And the claim itself is notable: it’s been asked before here.

However, the way the question was asked suggests trolling: the body of the question just consists of a link to a Wikipedia article, plus “Is any of this real. I cannot believe it. Literal Holocaust.”

  • I think closing as unclear covers this. What's the question supposed to be?
    – user11643
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 14:51
  • 2
    Have we ruled out that this isn't the holocaust denial troll that pops around? Same punchy sentences with sloppy punctuation. Same out-of-context link. Same fixation on holocaust and Jewish conspiracies. Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 20:51

2 Answers 2


I'll start by answering your question: yes, if you believe a question (or answer) is an attempt at trolling, and not a genuine good-faith post, then flag it as rude/abusive. I've done the same with troll posts on other SE sites.

But for what it's worth: I don't believe that the user in question is a troll. Rather, I believe they simply haven't learned how to articulate their questions in a way that fits StackExchange's guidelines. To wit:

  • Their three previous questions here on Skeptics all essentially consisted of the same thing: "Here's this quote I found from/about a WW2 Axis leader, is it real?" All three required substantial edits to bring them up to our quality standards, but it seems the user didn't realise (or wasn't told) that these edits were necessary, and why.
  • Of their other SE accounts, they had a (now also deleted) question on SO that consisted of a single sentence and was closed at -4, and at least one deleted question on Politics.SE that I can't see.

I'll admit that their previous question was a little concerning: their quote was again from Wikipedia, and they ignored all five of its sources on the basis that "they seemed anti-Semitic", without any further explanation. But for now, I think Hanlon's razor applies: they look less like a troll to me, and more like someone who just needs to be shown the ropes.


I personally disagre with the other answer.

Please only ever use rude and abusive when:

  • you are actually offended or abused or
  • another actual user is offended as abused.

Something that could be offensive to others but has offended no one won't be acted on.

In the case of a supposed "troll" post: is it trolling anyone? Does it do any actual damage? Does it offend you? If any of these is true, flag ahead! If just suspect it must be a troll, then think twice - on the internet it's super easy to misperceive intentions and as moderators, we need to always assume the best, and thus can't really do much.

  • 1
    That's a pretty low bar, since "offensive" is basically a worthless term these days. Then you say "Something that could be offensive to others but has offended no one won't be acted on." That has the high possibility to create an insular community of dreck. Plus, it's obviously not what's currently done. The very existence of the flag is that at least one person has been offended, of which some flags are denied and others not. Clearly, the metric is actually something else.
    – user11643
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 18:35
  • @fredsbend there's plenty of people flagging completely random stuff as offensive, this creates a "cry wolf" problem. Communities that are over moderated are just as insular as under moderated ones. In reality, understanding and explaining intent is very important and also helping people from different cultures understand each other's idiosyncrasies. We can't have a viable community where we promise people they won't have to tolerate each other.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 21:18

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