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I've noticed in my flagging history and when flagging certain posts, occasionally I'll have access to 'Rude or abusive', and other times I'll be able to flag as 'Rude or offensive'.

I notice in my flagging history page, the 'Rude or abusive' flag appears with a red background.

What are the differences here, in when one is shown as an option over the other?

Why does 'rude or abusive' appear with a red background when I look at my flagging history?

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As you noted, comments have "rude or offensive" and posts have "rude or abusive". This might be an unintended difference; they used to both say "rude or offensive" and somewhere along the line SE changed "offensive" to "abusive" -- apparently in just one of the two locations.

As I recall, the change was made for two reasons:

  • Some people understood "offensive" to mean "offends me personally", as opposed to "would offend a reasonable member of this community". So they wanted to remove that ambiguity.

  • They wanted to provide clearer options for posts that aren't exactly "offensive" but still abuse the system in some way. I'm having trouble coming up with examples that aren't any of spam, rude, or very low quality, but I recall discussion about the idea so it must be happening somewhere. Or maybe this was a first step to phasing out "very low quality"? I'm not sure.

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    abusive is likely to be perceived bit broader than offensive. Posting uninteligible gibberish "asdfgasdfg" is rather easy to qualify as abuse of the site but one can argue that it doesn't intend to offend someone – gnat Jun 25 '17 at 14:11
  • @gnat I was thinking of gibberish posts, but that's one of the examples they give for VLQ. I suppose somebody doing it a lot might attract abusive flags, and that wouldn't be wrong. – Monica Cellio Jun 25 '17 at 14:29
  • 3 years ago Shog recommended abusive for gibberish posts (confirming that VLQ/NAA would be okay too) and in the time that passed since it seems to become widely accepted practice. Back then he argued in favor of abusive flags that "enough of them immediately delete and lock the post, which is handy in those rare scenarios where someone's flooding the site with a lot of these..." and this probably worked well enough – gnat Jun 25 '17 at 14:58
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I realized after reading this question that it was 'comments' that had 'Rude or offensive', and questions / answers that had rude or abusive.

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