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User Araujo1914 has a logo that is the right half of Reichskriegsflagge as used by the Third Reich 1933–35.

The fact that he's using the beginning of WWI as part of his nickname doesn't make this any more tasteful. (This flag was the dominant part of Prussia's war flag and was a major imperial propaganda icon. After 1945, you'll practically only find this flag wielded by ultranationalists/Neo-Nazis; it's practically an "Alias" for flags whose displaying became a federal crime in Germany and Austria; its symbolism essentially combines ultra-nationalism and militarism. It's rarely used in a historical context, and not displayed at any official events, as it's definitely not part of a history that Germany is proud of.)

Personally, I can decide for myself not to help people that display icons of war and ultranationalism (I left a comment to the same end under his/her question). I, however, feel that this is a transgression as this flag clearly says what he thinks about a lot (the majority?) of SE users; it's an expression of willingness to use force and/or injustice against neighbors.

Hence, I flagged the question as "rude or abusive". Was that the right thing to do?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well I don't know if it was the right thing to do or not, but do think in general they are violating the code-of-conduct by using such a partial name and image likeness. There will always be some percent of people whom reject normalcy. Perhaps they are just "stirring the pot." \$\endgroup\$ – rdtsc Jan 5 at 18:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related on MSE: As a moderator, how do I handle a potentially inappropriate profile picture? (the answer provides actions to be taken from users) \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew T. Jan 5 at 19:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndrewT. thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Müller Jan 5 at 21:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Marcus, it could be a throwback to WWI. I'm taking into account the 1914 in his username. I doubt he's aware of the flags used by marginal groups in Europe, because he's far from Europe. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Jan 6 at 0:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think there's any problem with this personally, as long as it can be used in a non-offensive way. It's very possible that this person is just fascinated by wars and likes the symbolism prior to the Nazis use of it. That does not mean they are trying to promote Nazi ideology. \$\endgroup\$ – forest Jan 6 at 3:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev remember that Brazil has an extensive history of Nazis establishing themselves there even before WWII. I don't trust these statistics overly much, but wikipedia suggests there's some 130,000 neonazi sympathisants in Brazil. \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Müller Jan 6 at 9:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @forest I'd like to adhere to that interpretation, but it's hard to imagine someone being fascinated by flags using the Prussian / Empire War Flag out of historical context; given, there might be less associations with Nazis to anything outside Germany/Austria, given that it's kind of been a dominant topic for the last 80something years, but I think the fact alone that it's a war flag makes this more than questionable. We'd probably be equally sceptical if someone wields military insignia of a state actively engaged in war, even ignoring the role Germany played for WWI. \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Müller Jan 6 at 9:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarcusMüller I know several people who are like that who don't have a racist bone in their body, but use symbolism that is offensive to some cultures which, to them, has nothing to do with Nazism. \$\endgroup\$ – forest Jan 6 at 9:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Asking the user would probably be helpful. Strange as it may seem this MAY relate: gl.wikipediat.org/wiki/Isidoro_Bugallal \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Jan 6 at 18:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I might be new here but I feel coming from a place where racism is a everyday battle we fight from both sides I feel that it is very easy to be accused of something If your intentions was something completely different and that maybe someone should ask the person about his logo and his name and tell him or her that it is creating a stir that can only turn out in one of two ways he admits or he changes it and apologizes \$\endgroup\$ – Tjaart van aswegen Jan 7 at 18:25
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If you need to explain to people how offended they are supposed to feel I think you're on thin ice when it comes to banning accounts. I'm sure that a lot of people are offended by rainbow flags too, but I I'd like to see a higher bar for banning than a year in the name and half a flag.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hey, thanks for the input! Um, I wasn't even thinking of banning the account. That's also not something I even could do. But: it makes kind of a bit of a difference wielding a rainbow flag (which might attack a person's world view; I must admit I know very few, if any, people where that's the case) and wielding the flag of the empire that started WWI, indicating knowledge of that by using the year said war started. I do agree, there's cultural differences, and we mustn't assume that what offends us is generally a "crime" against the community, but: \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Müller Jan 6 at 12:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ if we consider this symbolism to be foreign for most of EE.SE's users, this is still a statement (assuming I'm right about the username+logo combo being such) that condemns multiculturality. \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Müller Jan 6 at 12:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ rainbow flag can easily be interpreted as a rainbow nation thing here in South Africa that is not a bad thing at all or the intentions behind it, But I can surely see how that can offend someone but then a unicorn could offend someone too and so can a logo with a ghost in it so really it depends on the intention behind it yes having two references to something like the Nazis makes it more suspicious but do we know the intention behind it \$\endgroup\$ – Tjaart van aswegen Jan 7 at 18:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tjaartvanaswegen Well.. who cares, really? You could also be a nazi or a communist or a muslim or whatever someone wants to hate, but it should be completely irrelevant if you ask a good question about electronics design. \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Jan 7 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ YUP that is why we are all here and not all there \$\endgroup\$ – Tjaart van aswegen Jan 7 at 18:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarcusMüller If you carry that logic to its conclusion, SE should also ban all use of US flags, since they might offend Japanese who lost family members in Hiroshima. (Well, you could make a politically correct argument for banning ALL nationalist symbols of any type, but personally I would prefer to ban all forms of political correct behaviour instead!) \$\endgroup\$ – alephzero Jan 10 at 15:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @alephzero I won't be dragged into a discussion about political correctness here. That's by far not the point. I'm not hypothetizing about someone somewhere potentially being offended. That's not the point either. I'm talking about a user showing affection towards community-denying symbolism, and that's not problematic because it might offend someone (why would that be a problem?), it's problematic because it shows a willingness to damage the community that we built upon. \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Müller Jan 10 at 16:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ The fact that there's need to explain the difference between showing a rainbow flag and neo-nazi symbols tells me that it is even more important for a technical, non-political site to take a clear stance in such occasions. I think moderators should judge by instinct but I'd also vote for an immediate ban in such an occasion, along with an explanation. When the offending user understands their error and reverts their fault there's surely a way to lift the ban and welcome them back to our community. \$\endgroup\$ – Nikolai Ruhe 19 hours ago
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NikolaiRuhe When you ban someone based on their avatar, do you judge from the number of people killed in the name of that image (In which case you will find a problem on the christian and islam stack exchanges), or just by how personally offended you are by it? Or do you have some list? \$\endgroup\$ – pipe 12 hours ago
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I'd actually go with a custom flag here, since not everyone would be aware of the symbolism. Explain what you did here.

Then, well, comes the hard part - if whoever it is is unaware of the symbolism, education may help. If they are, well a talking to might. That said you might want to disengage and wait for a while - there's likely going to be decisions to be made and weighed and such.

I'm not going to back seat mod but these sorta things are sometimes tricky as we need to gauge intent and cultural nuances we may be unfamiliar with

We can't always assume good intent blindly in these cases nor can we assume the worst

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    \$\begingroup\$ yep, good approach. I've been in an interesting discussion under the post in question's comments, and I've decided to say, no, we're not discussing this on the main site (even in chat), but on meta. \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Müller Jan 6 at 12:56
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As Journeyman Geek says, the custom flag (flag for moderator attention) is the way to go here but for more reasons than just because the image or username may be lesser-known.

We only really let users flag posts or comments. If you're flagging a post or comment because of a username or profile image... well, the moderator may not see that, even if it's something obvious. We just get blind to flags being about the content of the post, not who wrote it, so it's even more important to be clear about what you're flagging when it's not the content.

While you could support your generic flag with a comment, I would strongly discourage this. Please avoid commenting on this on the main site post for a variety of reasons:

  • Comments should be about the post and should avoid meta-issues like information about the user who posted it.
  • Someone may see an image and decide they like it without realizing it has a negative implication; accusing them of belonging to whatever group uses that image doesn't assume good intentions and it's just not nice.
  • It draws attention and may lead to more drama, say a dozen comments arguing about it. If this content is bad, we want it gone before it becomes too big of an issue. Many people may be unaware of what it means or not notice it themselves, so drawing attention to it may cause more harm than only flagging.

If you choose not to help them, that's your choice. Please don't try to influence others to do the same through comments "outing" the user.


For those discussing whether to clear it - the answer is, unequivocally "Yes".

This is our network-wide policy. Andrew T linked to this in the comments but this should give you a good idea of how we respond to these:

As a moderator, how do I handle a potentially inappropriate profile picture?

From Tim Post's answer there, you get a pretty good idea of what sorts of things we feel are inappropriate.

Avatars are much more visible as we show them under every single post that you write, and as such, are open to a tad more scrutiny. If the avatar:

  • Depicts or promotes hate in any form
  • Insults, is insulting to or negatively objectifies those belonging to a certain race, gender or religion
  • Otherwise creates disruptions that moderators must deal with

... then we're probably going to require you to use another avatar. The key here is in the third bullet, creating disruptions. We aren't nannies, and we don't want to tell you how to depict yourself online. However, if the manner that you choose to do it creates disruptions within our communities, we're going to need to have a chat. I can't possibly categorize every kind of avatar that we might act upon, if folks find it objectionable and we can clearly see why, then you need to change it.

The truth is, whether that image was used intentionally or not is irrelevant, only whether the image you use is found to be hateful, insulting or causes disruption. But, since we always assume good intentions, we're not going to punish someone for using it if they seem to be attempting to participate in the site honestly. We will, as I did in this case, simply remove the image so that it doesn't cause any harm and send them a note explaining why the image was removed.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What is a custom flag? Is it "in need of mod intervention?" \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Jan 9 at 12:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep. "Custom" meaning "you can enter custom text". I'll clarify, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Jan 9 at 16:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ One persons symbol is another persons "hate". If you are going to ban stuff, ban ALL religious, ethnic and political symbology. \$\endgroup\$ – Dirk Bruere Jan 11 at 9:27

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