This question - Coworker is easily and often offended and doesn't want us to mention offensive topics like facial hair - Is getting a lot of attention. And Kate's answer, is rather controversial judging from the voting record and from how many comments have been deleted from it.
I tend to think Kate is a great contributor, however, here I think she's wildly off-base and I flagged her post as such. My flag was declined and I was told if I wanted more info to bring it to meta, so here I am.
Here is the message I sent when flagging:
Want to flag as Not an answer, but give an explanation. This doesn't actually contain any advice for what the OP should do. It also assumes bad faith on the part of the OP based on the writers personal experiences, despite information in the OP that makes it clear the statement in question was in fact harmless. To finish, it also attacks the other answers on this page which is something we generally don't encourage on SE. – ryan 21 hours ago
And here was the mod response:
declined - Looks like an answer to me, including advice on what to say instead. For broader review, bring up on meta.
But I fail to see the evidence for the counter claims when I examine the post.
This doesn't actually contain any advice for what the OP should do.
I'm assuming when the mod says that there is advice on what to say instead in the post they are referring to the line
"Wow, new look! How are you liking it?". However, the question wasn't "what should I have said here instead of
Jeff, where did you go?." The question was "Many innocuous statements, the latest being about a beard, are being taken as offensive by a third uninvolved party and reported to HR, what should we do?" So that line is entirely inadequate to address the whole of the question and problem faced by the OP.
As for my other two points they were not even addressed by the mod but I want to look at them as they are even more worrying considering the general policies of StackExchange.
It also assumes bad faith on the part of the OP.
it also attacks the other answers on this page
It's not clear whose beard you were discussing.... It's clear you can't see why anyone would be upset or offended ... in a work context. The other answers at the moment support this view, that of course it's terrific to sit around at work chatting about what people look like, ...
You don't seem to be aware of this at all. You seem to feel that in order to make software or sell insurance or plan construction projects, it's your right to talk about how everyone around you looks, even when one of the people around you has told you they find that upsetting and hurtful. Without hearing what you said, lots of people are willing to pat you on the back and say that absolutely, you have that right, don't let anyone take it from you.
These seem like some awfully negative, harsh, and big assumptions to be making about the OP when it's admitted up front that it's not even clear what's being talked about!
And while other answers on the page read the comments on the OP or his update (actually the update by Joe) and wrote their responses in light of how neutral the comment made actually was. This answer hasn't been updated, and continues to attack them for their support and advice which actually addresses the whole of the problem faced by the OP.
So how exactly is this an answer that we are OK leaving on this site in it's current form?