The Workplace has had a lot of discussions/arguments about what is or isn't rude. This came up most recently in chat, but it's at the core of a bunch of past meta questions too. It was also partially discussed in this meta question from 2012, though that question is broader.

In discussions like the ones we've been having recently, it would be helpful to me as a moderator if I could point to some (anonymized) examples of things that are Not OK. It's kind of tedious to collect such samples by hand, but a little birdie told me that this could be collected from the database. (I acknowledge that it requires manual intervention too, to make sure private info isn't leaking out.)

Please, SE, may we have some data? I'm looking for comments that were flagged as rude/abusive where those flags were validated. No names, please; the goal isn't to beat up on individuals but to look at content.

Addendum: This question is a request for data, now answered by SE. If you want to discuss individual cases, or whether our standards are too lenient or too strict, please do it elsewhere. Let's not ping the SE employee who supplied the data with a bunch of comments about what should or shouldn't have happened in particular cases.

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  • I think I told a guy to change his nappy once... unsure if that counts – Kilisi Aug 12 '16 at 13:05

I ran the exact same query that was run to get the results for the MSO post you point to, and the results for the past 90 days are posted below.

I can't do a code snippet here, like bluefeet did on MSO, so I'll hide them using the spoiler markup:

you need to get out of your basement and get a life. i hope you embarass this person that probably would love to keep her personal stuff personal and she punches you in your face. you suck
The ISO 9000 part is deliberate: it filters for complete idiots. Anyone normal (unsuitable target) already smells scam at "ISO 9000" before the mention of £180. All scams have some aspect like this.
I'm tired of being patient with your rubbish, Kids need to change as well.
I can already sense that you are making progress. Brent you made the right decision.
This is a tough one, especially because it's Texas. Not to paint with too broad a brush, but asking people to do something that's not the "american way" in Dallas often needs to be done.... artfully. Whether or not management might actually consider this is highly dependent on the culture of the company.
I call shenanigans. This is a troll post!
Fun and not recommended way of screwing with a telemarketer: Respond "Yes" to everything they say. My dad did it and recently had a telemarketer end the call by saying "F**k you, sir. Do you want to suck my c**k?" "Y--" click
This is how you become a complete shithole.
Yet one more reason not to give a damn for the whole state of Michigan
Dealing with the inability to say "no" and endless confusing headwobbles is indeed something to overcome in the tech world..
I told them up front on the phone, and in person about what I did, and told them I would like to show that I am interested. You logic is flawed. Sorry you weren't given a second chance on whatever job you wanted.
Downvote because the OP should not be trying to work out for himself whether the water is safe.
You are hurt a coworker was promoted and you already planned to leave. PETTY She updated her title in her email but you would like be fired for discovering this. DRAMATIC
I think this person is a troll. New user with two very strange questions that I consider unbelievable.
"died unexpectedly" hmmm…
De gustibus. Feel free to write a better answer if you have something not already said. That's how SE works.
<> controversial at best complete made up bs at worse. Proved multiple times to be a lie
But it was your assistant and you said he/she was extremely horrible. So you are just your own bitch. And you like to bitch.
You have been told not to pick you nose mulitple times. You need to grow up and move off the grid if you don't want your picture taken.
I do no trust a certain unexperienced colleague, and I double check often with another senior colleague what he does, and he is not the only one new, however the other has already given proofs he knows what he is doing. And he is male like me. The tendency of females to bring sexism to a natural behaviour in the workplace is rather worrisome.
You'll find sexism where ever you go looking for it.
"There is no such thing as unintentional sexism." [gif of me futilely bashing the downvote button forever] it's extremely well documented. heck, some people can even resent themselves based on unconscious biases (internalised), e.g. the many homophobic mouthpieces who turn out to be repressed homosexuals themselves, including one unfortunately very relevant example from recent weeks.
This is gone insane. One more person please vote to close and let Nim continue to be an honary victim.
I don't eat lunch. Your theory must be bunk.
No it is not an answer - it is one of your many excuses.
I will clearly state that I find this answer offensive and sexist. I don't think it would be answered the same way if it were a man. I have had several people at my company lose their hair because of cancer. Cancer is a serious topic - there is no woman, man, or hair involved. The hidden tone of your message is to treat women different - NO.
I'm sorry, but I just can't believe we have people in the workforce that can't figure out how to attach an ID badge or at least figure out how to. Unreal.
I said nothing about how the OP should approach the situation and upvoted the #1 answer and yet you are lecturing me about not making assumptions. And the "assumptions" I'm making are not in fact assumptions, they are proven fact, which you are willfully ignoring because you can't fathom the possibility that sexism is widespread. "Willful ignorance" is pretty much the definition of idiocy, good luck with your theocracy.
if this colleague is male: Males usually don't take hints. You have to tell them directly. On the other hand, males will not be offended by being told directly. So when he tells you where to put space characters, tell him directly: "I don't want your advice, and I don't need your advice. Don't tell me where to put space characters. " This may seem rude to you, but with some males that is the correct and only way to step them. (If it happens again you say "I told you before ... and I don't want to hear this again". The next time you say "What don't you understand about ... ")
It's often not reasonable vs. unreasonable, it's male vs. not male. Males often don't get hints. You have to tell them as directly as possible. "Hey, this is what we just talked about. I don't need you to criticise my choice of syntax here and as I said I need you to refrain from doing this in the future. Can you do that?" That's a hint. Doesn't work. "I don't want to hear you criticising my choice of syntax. Don't do this again".
you're a jerk who can't read
If this isn't a troll, it ought to be
He sounds Chinese
A number of religions frown on the observation of birthdays, and most western cultures ardently bend backwards these days to accommodate believers of any religion (except of course christianity). Islam seems currently to be the most prominent, and conveniently fits the bill. If however you would then like to renounce your newfound faith again (let's say before Ramadan) I do suggest you first find out how Islam views apostasy... An alternative may be Jehovah's Witnesses, which has the additional benefit of being explicitly pacifist. (These remarks are of course facetious.)
just make sure the big end of the egg is always upmost in the egg cup. easy
The should just hire a little-ender identified person and everything will even out.
Can I request to be referred to as grzbntcv? I will be offended if you mispronounce it, btw
I call BS: it's not a status - it's made up. Suicide from such a reason is a sign of a mental disorder. The rule of going to the bathroom of your sex is actually enforced in most places in the world. Your answer is full of BS and has nothing to do with professional and equal treatment; quite the opposite you're pushing for special treatment.
So let's get this straight, you are asking how to keep the respect of someone who is giving shitty answers. You get their respect by firmly requiring that they deliver high quality all the time, not by worrying about how they perceive you.
After thoughtful consideration, it's clear the only fool-proof solution is to drop the nagging witch. Pay no heed to all the seething feminists who've offered their deceitful advice. Have they no shame for their unholy proclamations?! A goodly wife knows her place, and it's certainly not your workplace, let alone any other man's: over the fireplace is more like it, in her most revealing finery and tenderly preparing a hearty meal, ready for the lord's return from the day's labors. As I like to say, "Mensches before wenches."
Well. Thank God that you don't work in the USA where everybody is allowed to carry war weapons during shopping in WalMart.
wow, so very opinionated in this stack
"You can always rely on anything posted online." said Adolf Hitler, as he finished reading online reviews of the Russian winter, and ordered the invasion of Soviet Union.
But maybe she is able to prove that she is not like others lazy/stupid woman. I have heard that people do not like hire woman because of their wrong logic thinking. In her shoes I would still try to show as best as I can in the interview, then go to other companies interviews and see what is best.
For fuck sake, I've been alive 31 years now and the world is still debating over whether it's OK for sounds to be made. Nice work, humanity. Nice work.
So you cannot catch up with your own standards?
I don't know to what kind of shit colleges you people went to, but I had to use git for nearly all code submitted for my assignments. Unit testing, UML design, agile, scrum, design patterns, all of those topics were covered.
This is a poorly written, unclear question. It contains no statement as to whether the internship is paid or unpaid. Only at the very end do we get a parenthetical comment that "(Yes, I know unpaid internships are not cool...)" If the internship is unpaid, then the question should say so directly, because it would then be the big, obvious issue. The obvious answer would then be that of course they aren't motivated, because they're unpaid, and of course you can't do anything about it.
daily reminder that UKip won, you no longer have to pretend anymore.
Lol. Darling believe I'm not getting emotional. This is not what anyone needs to hear, you people are just machines typing your answers based on a book, apply this to real life and then come back to me. So cut the crap and be a normal human being for once, and just put your self in people's shoes before judging on someone you don't even know based on a 5 rows paragraph.
I am thinking - maybe there is no problem that your gaze moves to other parts of body. Why they make those parts so visible? They could also dress more formal. But they dress that way because they want attention I think. So they get what they want :)
How did you get off time out early? You are the most condescending and obnoxious user I have ever experienced on SE. And you chose to come back with "have never seen pictures of naked, attractive women in your life". I believe you have only seen pictures of naked attractive women. Mods the site was contaminated with this user and flourished during his ban. He comes back with this. SHUT HIM DOWN.
The move on. If you think a better paid job is factor here then only more evidence you are demented.
pretty, professional women, don't just happen to dress like that, it gives them an edge over some men and they're having exactly their desired affect on you. Once you realise that you'll get over it.
I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this person is taking you for a ride. She cannot be serious.
You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a overweight person in a tech role.
I don't know if how you should act in the interview situation, but you should definitely not rollback to bad grammar. Bit of an ego?
If you want to ask or answer a separate question, do it without turning my question into your question. High rep users acting like grammar nazis is unbecoming and smacks of desperation.or OCD.
maybe the transgender could be repped by 0.5 ?
Poppycock. This isn't a gray area. It's theft. You have a 401k. As a shareholder, and therefore an owner, how would you feel if all employees in a given company tolerated theft, and robbed you of a percentage of your savings that you need for drugs when you're 90 years old? You'd be incensed, that's what you'd be! Bottom Line: Don't ignore ownership concerns because you feel like you're part of the working class. You're actually not. You're an owner too!
This is odorist. Just because it's not a PC protected class yet doesn't mean that it isn't true. Perhaps that's the lifestyle they've chosen. Perhaps they have a health condition. Perhaps they were just 'born that way'.

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    Wiki worthy, except it's a double edged sword. This amounts to "How to troll: 101" Be careful with this. – Old_Lamplighter Aug 11 '16 at 17:13
  • Could you please add spaces between the samples? Or was it intended to be like this (due to offensive amount of... offensive)? – Andrew T. Aug 11 '16 at 17:34
  • @RichardU I think that over here it's really not as dangerous as it could be at some other sites / forums. Thanks to regulars culture and solid tooling to handle stuff like that, Stack Exchange is known to be hard to troll – gnat Aug 11 '16 at 18:23
  • @gnat, yes hard, but not impossible. IF I put forth half an effort, I could do it. Fortunately, I am old and unmotivated. And, because my tricks would work, I'm not posting them. But yes, SE is harder to troll. – Old_Lamplighter Aug 11 '16 at 18:26
  • I recognize some of these as being snipes aimed at me! – Lumberjack Aug 11 '16 at 21:01
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    While most of these are rude, some of these I think are acceptable. For example, "Whether or not management might actually consider this is highly dependent on the culture of the company." – David K Aug 12 '16 at 12:44
  • If something is listed here, does that indicate that it was flagged and action was then taken? – Lumberjack Aug 12 '16 at 14:09
  • Yes, @Lumberjack – JNat Aug 12 '16 at 14:14

Name calling. Unacceptable language. Ad hominem arguments. Stereotyping. All the same things that would be rude if you said them to a stranger who has no reason to believe you might be being ironic -- note that irony is hard to communicate on the net, and it's usually better avoided.

This is far from an exhaustive list. There's no point in tying ourselves down by trying to make such a list. The real answer is that if someone can make a reasonable argument that your words are gratuitously hurtful, you should expect that they will do so and that the moderators will agree that those words should be edited or deleted.

Easily solved: think before you hit send. "Real Writers Edit To Avoid The Problem."

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  • IMO a bit too strict. Name calling is not always inappropriate. If someone were to ask if it were appropriate to disable a smoke detector, it would be proper to call them foolish, or to call it a foolish action. Stereotypes... a bit of a slippery slope, as they are caricatures and flanderizations of actual traits. Tell me that Germans don't tend to be overbearing, and I'll cite my entire family as a counter example. Then of course, there are actions that are rude in some cultures and acceptable to others. trying to get down to the minutia is an exercise in futility – Old_Lamplighter Aug 12 '16 at 12:42
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    @RichardU no, name-calling isn't ok. You can talk about an action without denigrating a person. Note that this doesn't just mean moving the adjective; saying it would be "foolish" to do X is pretty close to calling the person doing it a fool. But do you really need to make a value judgement at all? Instead of sharing your opinion about it, you can explain the consequences. Show, don't tell. Or, as you said in your last sentence, edit to avoid the problem. – Monica Cellio Aug 12 '16 at 13:19
  • @MonicaCellio If you cannot say what you mean you cannot mean what you say. To extend your logic, this very question should be deleted as it is requiring a value judgment on what is rude. Then, of course, I could plead "Asperger's Syndrome" every time I post something remotely offensive and am called on it. What is rude also varies by cultures. Should we default to the Japanese cultural way of responding? If som, you're going to have to raise the size limits for comments, as we'll run out of characters before expressing the proper deferrence – Old_Lamplighter Aug 12 '16 at 13:34
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    @RichardU actually, if you read the question again, you'll see that I asked what has been removed as rude. (Technically this answer doesn't answer that question.) It's possible to be nice without being verbose or going to extremes. If somebody can't be nice, for whatever reason, he should refrain from whatever activity brings out the rudeness in him. If you want to discuss our standards further, please bring it up somewhere other than these comments. – Monica Cellio Aug 12 '16 at 14:02
  • @MonicaCellio "If you want to discuss our standards further, please bring it up somewhere other than these comments." What, why? – Lumberjack Aug 12 '16 at 14:12
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    @Lumberjack he has his own answer; he can do it there. Or in chat. Or a new meta post. Even though meta is different, long comment threads are still unwieldy; comments are not designed for discussion. Plus, it's all kind of off-topic on a question about flag data. – Monica Cellio Aug 12 '16 at 14:16
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    @MonicaCellio I am beginning to detect something of a double standard. – Old_Lamplighter Aug 12 '16 at 14:30
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    @richardu: I am beginning to detect something of a troll. I think/hope we are both wrong. – keshlam Aug 12 '16 at 16:27
  • @keshlam I've come to trust your judgment. – Old_Lamplighter Aug 12 '16 at 17:47

Having given some thought on the entire issue, it's the wrong approach to take, IMO.

The "BE NICE" principle is far more productive. Focussing on rudeness is asking for failure and here is why.


All that list of rude statements did was teach anyone who read it some rather amusing ways to be insulting. Ban those specifics and people will come up with some rather interesting insults that will slip through your filters and rules.

Allow me to demonstrate.

"Well Richard, I must say that each of your posts is better than the next".

Catch that one with a filter! Even if someone DOES catch it, and call someone out on the carpet, they can plead that what they said did not fit the definition of rude. What you will end up doing is creating a troll school. I know this because I tried it more than a decade ago on another site. I ended up making very skilled trolls.


The sub conscious doesn't understand negatives. On top of that people take it as a challenge.

You will wind up with an endless stream of "rules lawyers" who, upon tap-dancing on the line will force you to either move the line, and deal with the protests of the people saying it is unfair, or be forced to tolerate people who will obey the LETTER of the law, but flout it's intent.


Put more of a focus on the "BE NICE" principle because when you are forced to confront someone, you then have them on the defensive. "You have violated the "Be nice" principle of this site" is far simpler than trying to tell someone that what they posted was insulting and then have them demand you explain how it is that their post was a violation while 40 similar posts (and they **will* have links)

If you approach from the BE NICE stance, they can complain all day, but the only counter argument you need is "how is this nice?" It stops the rules lawyering right in it's tracks and goes to the spirit of SE rather than some list of no-nos. The example I gave above is clearly not nice, now imagine someone trying to defend that vs the "rude rule". "Rude? NO, I never said that Richard's posts were bad, just that each one seems better than what follows, how is that rude? You're just singling me out for my political opinions.

Now, moderate that on the "Be Nice" principle and it becomes: "How was that post nice or constructive" "Er, well, um...."

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    This question asked for data, so technically this isn't an answer, but, that aside... I think you've misunderstood. We're not building filters, and we still rely on human judgement. Your hypothetical "I didn't technically say that bad thing" dodge won't work if the flaggers and moderators still see a rude comment. I asked for this data because of a conversation in chat -- in which you participated -- about rudeness. I wanted to be able to supply some examples of what's definitely over the line, to help people who are struggling to understand why their comments get deleted to improve. – Monica Cellio Aug 12 '16 at 14:07
  • @MonicaCellio Oh, I could supply you with all the data you could ever need, as I trolled several forums into extinction when I was young and obnoxious. But if you want some data, it's an exhaustive list. – Old_Lamplighter Aug 12 '16 at 14:28
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    Richard, I could have gathered sample data by going through the histories of a few users here with track records, too, but I simply asked SE for the whole set (within a reasonable timeframe). It's not meant to be a challenge or an invitation, and we'll continue to deal with trolling and rudeness as we always have. – Monica Cellio Aug 12 '16 at 14:35
  • @MonicaCellio Perhaps I am not getting it, which is of course quite possible, perhaps even likely. What I'm trying to convey is that if you want an exhaustive list, I am quite capable of not only supplying words, but methodologies. When I was young, I was more than a bit of a jerk. I don't disrupt places anymore, but I know the techniques, and methods. If you're interested in those, I can supply them. – Old_Lamplighter Aug 12 '16 at 15:27
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    @RichardU I don't want an exhaustive list; I want a representative sample. Exhaustive would be impossible; people will always find new ways to be offensive. This is 90 days' worth of data; it doesn't even include the Muslim-handshake offense-o-rama. – Monica Cellio Aug 12 '16 at 15:58
  • @MonicaCellio here's a few methodologies: Double entendre "Words can not express what I think of you". Playing dumb is another one. Deliberate misinterpretations, Hiding behind a disability "I've got Asperger's syndrome, so you just have to deal with it" (not one I use, I am actually embarrassed when I come across as rude, but I've seen others do it.) then there are the people who fake being offended to get someone else in trouble, as well as the ones skilled in baiting people. – Old_Lamplighter Aug 12 '16 at 17:25

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