My answer to the question Humff. What am I? got deleted. From the help centre:

Answers that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed. This includes answers that are:

  • commentary on the question or other answers

  • asking another, different question

  • “thanks!” or “me too!” responses

  • exact duplicates of other answers

  • barely more than a link to an external site

  • not even a partial answer to the actual question


Additionally, any answer that accumulates enough offensive or spam flags will be automatically deleted.

I don't think my answer belongs to the first list, nor is it either an offensive or spam answer.

So I would like to know why it got removed. Moderators, please help me find why it got deleted.


2 Answers 2


This answer should not have been marked as offensive.

Mentioning suicide bombers is not offensive in itself (if it was, a lot of news reporters would necessarily be offensive). These people do exist in the world today, and nobody should be penalised for mentioning their existence. Nor should someone be penalised for guessing that this may be the answer to a riddle, when it does seem to fit most of the clues. If some new user posted some troll answer about suicide bombers, then by all means delete it - but what happened here was an experienced and respected user making a serious attempt at answering a riddle and being penalised for it. (Literally penalised: a post marked as offensive loses the poster 100 rep.)

We should be allowed to mention political subjects, as long as we do so in a polite and respectful manner. Abuse and hate speech is not acceptable anywhere on Stack Exchange, but if any mention of politics on PSE deserves to get marked as offensive, then there should be a statement in the help centre to this effect and consensus on meta to determine this policy. Frankly I might stop using the site if this becomes policy - if someone writes a riddle about Adolf Hitler or Donald Trump, I don't want to risk being marked as offensive for posting the correct answer.

From the canonical main meta post about offensive flags:

Even if a post is a bad post for some reason or another, it is probably not rude or abusive. The rude or abusive flag (formerly known as offensive) is meant to be used only in extreme cases, like hate speech, abuse against people, or abuse of the community or system.

As a rule of thumb, if you can’t justify something being hate speech or abuse, you shouldn’t mark the post as rude or abusive. Instead, you should downvote the post.

If an otherwise valid post contains vulgar words as an expression of frustration, edit the bad part out instead of flagging the entire post as rude or abusive.

The answer under consideration here clearly does not qualify as "hate speech or abuse", and thus marking it as offensive was against SE policy. If you think it's not the correct answer to the question, downvote it; if you have >20k rep and you really think it's not worth keeping around, vote to delete it; but this answer is not rude or abusive and should not have been flagged as such. If you object to the specific choice of phrasing "human bomb", then edit the post to change it to something more accepted such as "suicide bomber". (I would have done so myself right now if the post wasn't locked due to having been marked as offensive.)

The correct course of action now is for a moderator to clear the offensive flags against it, thus unlocking and undeleting the post and restoring the lost 100 rep to the answerer. They, the OP, or anyone else can then edit the post if desired. I would like to request that one of our moderators do this, in the interests of fairness to the unfortunate @AeJey :-)

  • $\begingroup$ See also this post for another case of an answer wrongly marked as offensive. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2016 at 14:40
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It's a little tricky... On the one hand, it is offensive to trivialise/joke at such things ("I love a good crowd"), so probably doesn't have a place here. However, based on the wording of the flag criteria, it isn't rude or abusive, so therefore it shouldn't've been removed for this reason. I vote for reinstating it, so AeJay gets his rep back, but then vote that he self-deletes, so as not to offend people. $\endgroup$
    – Alconja
    Oct 9, 2016 at 22:51
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    $\begingroup$ ...And to be clear, I have absolutely no issue with the discussion of sensitive topics, or with dark humour (in fact I quite like it), but within the context of an open/public platform such as SE, particularly one that's focused on fun/puzzles, it becomes an inappropriate venue for such content (IMHO). $\endgroup$
    – Alconja
    Oct 9, 2016 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor: Wow. You are back. Happy to see you friend. :) $\endgroup$
    – AeJey
    Oct 12, 2016 at 3:25

As Emrakul said in a comment, it is not an appropriate subject for Puzzling.SE.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Human bomb" also really struck a bad nerve with me. I know it wasn't just me, because I wasn't the only one who flagged this. $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Aug 10, 2016 at 4:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Emrakul: Yep, agreed - that was a really tasteless way of phrasing it. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi Mod
    Aug 10, 2016 at 4:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't see it inappropriate. :( May I know what's wrong with 'Human Bomb' $\endgroup$
    – AeJey
    Aug 10, 2016 at 4:46
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @AeJey I'm trying to think about why I had that reaction, and it's difficult to put into words. The closest I can come is that it feels like a sarcastic or comical phrase to use in place of something that happens frequently and kills many people. It's not straightforward, but I think that's as good as I can get it. $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Aug 10, 2016 at 5:17
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you @Emrakul :) $\endgroup$
    – AeJey
    Aug 10, 2016 at 5:49
  • $\begingroup$ @AeJey Glad to help :] Sorry I couldn't get more precise than that. $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Aug 10, 2016 at 6:14
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    $\begingroup$ @AeJey: Another part of the issue is that it's an emotionally charged political subject, which probably isn't appropriate for Puzzling. (We've been discussing it in the mod chat and trying to figure out how to explain our objections more precisely $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi Mod
    Aug 10, 2016 at 6:19
  • $\begingroup$ Yes @Deusovi, I was writing the same. Even if the answer could fit, this political and emotional subject doesn't belong here in my opinion. $\endgroup$
    – IAmInPLS
    Aug 10, 2016 at 6:20
  • $\begingroup$ and OP, i told you your answer wasnt aproppiate. a sensitive topic . $\endgroup$
    – lois6b
    Aug 11, 2016 at 10:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Emrakul and Deusovi: can you point me to a page in the help centre or a consensus on meta which says that any mention of emotionally charged political subjects deserves to get flagged as offensive? This answer wasn't "human bombs, 9/11, ha ha ha" - it was a serious answer to the question. If it had been the correct answer, would you still have marked it as offensive? Would you also have marked the question as offensive in that case? (And if it's the phrase "human bomb" that you object to, well, that's what the edit button is for.) $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2016 at 14:44

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