Yesterday I got two separate accounts of defamation against me.

The first one Find the rotation point of a sorted array that is "rotated" accused me of using multiple accounts to down-vote their question after a comment I had made:

You are not sure #1 yields correct results all the time, and you know that #2 definately is bugged, and you don't inform us what the bug is .. What exactly are you asking then?

The second Checking if a directory exists in FTP without relying on exception handling accused me of using shadow accounts to garner points on a question I should have left alone because it was and old question.

I find defamation unacceptable. I flagged both users. However, is this the way we should handle such behavior? Just flagging the comments and moving on..

I would like to know the site-policy for defamation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ As the author of one of the posts in question, I'd like throw my hat in here. Firstly, this is the Internet. Comments are made off hand -everywhere-, this is common, and the flag feature is intended to persecute poor behaviour of users if there's an established pattern. I'm sure a review of my account will find it in very good standing. If anything, I find the use of even a flag here to be over the top and an abuse of the feature. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael A
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 5:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ 2/2 The question you made the post on wasn't very active, wasn't a wiki question, and had little to no reason to have received new attention. When I caught your answer (a few hours after it was made) it had three upvotes, which I found highly questionable given the limited scope of the question, and limited additional value from the answer. It's far from unreasonable for me to make that claim, and I stand by it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael A
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 5:15
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Could you put that in an answer, comments are subject to getting deleted? I will react accordingly. \$\endgroup\$
    – dfhwze
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 5:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm addressing the specific situation, not the question you asked (dealing with site policy). Subsequently this belongs as a comment, not an answer. Nor do I feel that our going back and forth on this is productive. I've said my piece, you've said yours - we can agree to disagree. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael A
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 5:20
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelA, (1) Eliminating comments which are "not nice" is an intended use of flags. If by "off hand" you mean "Without stopping to think / caring whether it could be perceived as offensive" then that's definitely discouraged. (2) There was plenty of reason for the question to have received new attention. Questions with no upvoted or accepted answer are automatically bumped, and are also targetted by "zombie killing" campaigns. Answering also bumps the question. It's not unusual for an answer to be at +2 a mere 5 minutes after being posted. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


These specific cases

What happened in these specific cases (and what happened to the flags) is pretty simple. The comments got deleted.

Unsubstantiable accusations of vote abuse are a violation of assuming best intentions until proven otherwise. As such these comments are just noise and therefore deleted.

In the first case (the ruby question), pulling the whole exchange into chat was not a good idea. If someone accuses you of doing things that you haven't done, you're usually not going to convince them otherwise.
This is unfortunately even more true for people who have not quite understood how the SE system works, because what experienced users see as "given", they can sometimes not understand at all.

The correct course of action there is to flag and disengage.
Disengaging can even mean not replying at all (just to put that on the table). Nobody here is entitled to your time or energy :)

For the second question there is no need to give any benefit of the doubt to that interaction. You wrote an answer, OP posted a comment that is in no way substantiated or even referring to the answer. Flag and move on.

The general case

These two cases for now look to be isolated incidents. As such flagging, moving on and then forgetting about it is the prudent course of action.

For other cases that may not be true. Let's assume there is a long-running smear campaign against you. (I'd hope mods would be able to put an end to that before it comes so far...).

What you want to do is not engage with bad-faith actors.

In this case, again: Flagging is your tool of choice as a normal community member.
If diamond moderators don't act on these flags for a long running campaign (and don't give you a justification), the usual options for moderation issues and grievances with the moderator team are also open to you.

That means you can take things to meta (though for "he-said-she-said" cases that usually only fans the flames) or contact the community team over at Stack Exchange.

For this purpose you can use the "contact us" form as described in multiple help-center articles.


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