Could someone please clarify this for me? I flagged this question earlier today as abusive:


Because it had a drugs reference (which seemed to be unnecessary and not particularly related to physics). However, another user (I won't name names) with a higher rep than me posts a comment telling me to "take my personal views on drug use out of here".

I must say I'm a bit confused. I was only trying to help and I would have thought that, given this site is supposedly accessible to all age groups, we would want to keep things fairly 'family friendly'. I mean, technically one could describe the recipe for crystal meth as 'science', but would posting that be appropriate?

I had a look through the posting guidelines, but couldn't find anything related to this specific issue.

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    $\begingroup$ You can see my take on the matter in the comments to the question. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Jan 18 '15 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ @dmckee: I appreciate your comments, but could you possibly elaborate on where you would draw the line between non-offensive/offensive in this area? I'm just looking for some guidance. $\endgroup$ – Time4Tea Jan 18 '15 at 23:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Time4Tea Cannabis is legal or decriminalised in rather a large number of countries these days. So from a "legal" perspective, a question about cannabis is pretty much equivalent to questions about wine (alcohol is illegal in many countries). I'm sure there are some people that feel talking about wine is offensive, but that view is obviously not shared by the community. So I guess you could take your cue from which questions about narcotic substances have been asked in the past how they were received by the community. $\endgroup$ – Mark Mitchison Jan 18 '15 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ I should say, "by the majority of the community". $\endgroup$ – Mark Mitchison Jan 18 '15 at 23:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Time4Tea, flag the question if you choose to find it offensive. Either a moderator will find it helpful or not. That's really all there is to it. $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Jan 18 '15 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ Marijuana is legal in many states across America, so it's not globally illegal in any sense. I don't see any physics content in the question, but I wouldn't find it offensive. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jan 19 '15 at 0:42
  • $\begingroup$ Alright, I accept that marijuana is legal in many places around the world - that's fair enough. However, surely the general question of where the line should be drawn is still valid? $\endgroup$ – Time4Tea Jan 19 '15 at 1:01
  • $\begingroup$ Flag what you consider to be offensive and if the moderators agree that it is offensive, it will be addressed. So long as you're not spamming things as offensive and being annoying in flagging, there's no issue. Where to draw the line is not clear. To quote Supreme Court Justice Stewart: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hard-core pornography"], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that" $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Jan 19 '15 at 1:07
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    $\begingroup$ In other words, it's completely impossible to enumerate everything that could possibly be offensive to all sensibilities for all people from around the world who may happen upon the site. All we can say is that we will recognize offensive when we see it. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Jan 19 '15 at 1:08
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    $\begingroup$ Related, possibly even duplicate: What is our stance on questions about legally or ethically questionable activities? Though the answers there are all focused on nuclear bomb manufacturing, and they tend to dodge the issue by saying "well, it can't really happen in practice." $\endgroup$ – user10851 Jan 19 '15 at 4:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris White: thanks for the link; that's an interesting discussion and I had been wondering about that too. $\endgroup$ – Time4Tea Jan 19 '15 at 4:57
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisWhite I'm calling it a duplicate since that question was explicitly intended to cover all sorts of illegal, unethical, immoral, etc. activities, not just nuclear bomb construction. That being said, I see that the answers there do seem to be targeted toward nuclear bombs. If someone would like to post a new, more general answer, we can do that. Alternatively I could make a new question and self-answer for the faq if people think that would be better. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jan 19 '15 at 6:28
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    $\begingroup$ I won't comment on the offensiveness issue, but one thing to keep in mind is that there's nothing really bad about having a flag declined. The negative outcomes of that are really close to zero. (Getting lots of declined flags, on the other hand, is another matter.) Flag as you see fit, and if people disagree with you, that's because you can't expect everyone to disagree with you. Try to understand their position and then move on. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jan 19 '15 at 12:19
  • $\begingroup$ @David Z: I agree that question does cover this one as well; although, as Chris White points out, the current answers seem to relate specifically to people making weapons/dangerous objects and don't seem particularly conclusive. $\endgroup$ – Time4Tea Jan 19 '15 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Emilio Pisanty: thanks for your comment but just for the record: it's not that I had a bee in my bonnet because the flag got declined, I was just looking for some guidance, that's all. $\endgroup$ – Time4Tea Jan 19 '15 at 14:13

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