How to handle harassment?

Whenever my questions on Writing SE get even slightly political (usually in reference to LGBT topics or misogyny in writing), there's a user that downvotes the questions and leaves degrading comments about my being an incompetent writer and a leftist propagandizer, or something to that effect. Every time this has happened, I have flagged his comments and responded with something along the lines of "this is disrespectful and unhelpful, leave me alone", but this user continues to have the ability to a) downvote my questions, and b) leave the same abusive comments.

Do I just continue flagging his responses? Should I not respond at all? And is there a way I can directly contact a moderator to have him blocked from interacting with me?

• I'm personally more alarmed at the number of upvotes his comments on your latest question have. – F1Krazy Jul 13 '19 at 8:47
• What's wrong with them downvoting your posts? Abusive comments are of course not acceptable, but a user is free to downvote, even if you feel their reasons are poor. That's just how it goes. – forest Jul 15 '19 at 6:44
• The hotlist invites trolls who don't contribute to Writing|SE. That's what it's for. Any question in the hotlist that is about women, minorities, or LGBT will invite MAGA trolls, racists, and white bros that need to explain things to you from their vast lack of experience. I've been told there is no way to opt out of the hotlist. After several days of trolling the question can be "protected" (from the most amateur trolls) but only after the site has benefitted by your public abuse as clickbait. – wetcircuit Jul 15 '19 at 10:27
• Ugh. I haven't seen these, probably just luck and quick flag resolutions by the mods. I sometimes downvote if a question is politically offensive to me...not yours, as I mostly agree with your politics, but it happens (usually on a religious stack) and that's totally within the rules. If it's a badly thought-out question, it deserves a downvote. If someone feels that way about your politics, that's just the way it is. (more) – Cyn says make Monica whole Jul 16 '19 at 0:06
• I agree with others here though that flagging and not responding at all is the way to go. If it's an answer, flag as rude so it doesn't sit there waiting for community votes. For a comment, I believe all flags go straight to the mods. Hopefully this person's pattern will be obvious enough that the mods can take action. – Cyn says make Monica whole Jul 16 '19 at 0:07
• @wetcircuit Technically, on sites that support it, you can opt your own question out of HNQ by ensuring it has some MathJax in the title. This largely undocumented "feature" will kick the question out of HNQ within 15 minutes if it is already there, and will prevent it from hitting HNQ if it is not. Of course, it only works on sites where MathJax is supported, but on those sites, it's enough to add ${}$, which is invisible when it renders, to the end of your title. – forest Jul 16 '19 at 7:20

And is there a way I can directly contact a moderator to have him blocked from interacting with me?

I'm afraid I don't believe that's possible. To the best of my knowledge, there are only two methods of preventing someone from interacting with a specific question, and they're both pretty much "nuclear options":

1. Lock the question. This prevents anyone from interacting with it, in any way, so it's out of the question, really.
2. Suspend the user, preventing him from interacting with anyone's questions. I can't say I've noticed this user's comments before, but if he's really been breaching the Code of Conduct so frequently, then this is what should happen anyway. Unfortunately, this is a temporary measure, and in my experience, users who return from suspensions have either learned nothing and are just as bad as before, or are even worse because they're angry at having been suspended.

It's up to the mods whether or not to suspend this user. In the meantime, continue flagging any comments that breach the Code of Conduct. Consider using a custom flag to explain to the mods that this is a persistent issue. Since your replies clearly aren't having any effect, I'd recommend (as you already did) disengaging and not responding.

• Suspensions can be made to be far longer if the mod deems it necessary. Months or years if required. It someone returning from suspension continues the same behavior flagging their new content would likely result in a second longer ban quickly. – linksassin Jul 15 '19 at 1:52

Unfortunately for you, there is no way (that I am aware of) within the Stack Exchange framework to block one user from interacting with one other user.

That said, users have been suspended previously for leaving disparaging comments on questions and answers alike. As a general rule we try to resolve such situations amicably, but when that fails, suspension is an option.

As for downvoting, votes are for each user to use as they like. The system will detect and reverse serial voting, where a single user leaves a large number of votes for a single other user, but unless a large percentage of the votes you receive is from this user, or a large percentage of the votes given by this user is on your posts, that heuristic is unlikely to be triggered. (The exact details of how serial voting is detected and what the trigger thresholds are are deliberately vague, to keep people from gaming the system.)

And that's even assuming that the downvotes are from that one user, which you can't know. Even moderators can't see who voted up/down on a particular post. That data is obviously saved, since you can see your own votes and the system can handle them differently based on sequences of events, but it's not accessible.

The general idea is that a single vote shouldn't have a huge impact anyway. Yes, it can sting to get a downvote, but just through a quick glance over your profile, judging by the net votes, your questions seem well received by the community.

The proper response to unfriendly behavior, whether on your own posts or others', is to flag, and do nothing more. Don't respond to it at all. If there's something worthwhile in the response, just phrased harshly, then you might consider incorporating it into your post, but I'd still recommend not responding.

If a user gets a significant number of helpful flags against their contributions, especially the rude or unkind kinds of flags, then this shows up to the moderators for review separate from those flags themselves (which also show up, but only for as long as they are active). The moderator reviewing the situation then chooses what to do, where depending on the situation the immediate options range from doing nothing at all to the user via a user account annotation or moderator private message to issuing a suspension (of varying duration, at the moderator's discretion; there's a suggested progression, but the moderator issuing the suspension can decide on a different suspension length, either shorter or longer than the suggested duration, if they feel that is warranted).

Quite simply, moderators can't manually review everything on the site. Flags are the community's way to raise issues that need handling, but which don't need to be discussed in public on Meta.

The other answers explained how to deal with rude comments. If the comments are not constructive criticism and are downright abusive, they can be flagged and moderators will deal with the rest. I'd like to point out, though, that there is nothing that can be done about the downvotes. The user is completely free to downvote posts as they see fit, as long as they are downvoting based on the contents of the post (e.g. because the post espouses leftist ideology) and not the person who posted it (e.g. because the post was made by a leftist). If they dislike the opinions you state in your posts, they can downvote. That's fine.

Likewise, you can downvote posts you disagree with. Just make sure you downvote because you disagree with that post and that post alone, not because you have a problem with the user posting it or because that user posted another question or answer that you disagree with. You don't have to defend your choice to vote on someone's post and neither does someone who votes on yours, although it is often polite to explain your reasoning in a comment so the post can be improved.

If you notice a trend of downvotes against all questions or answers or which you suspect are being submitted without regard to the contents, then you can flag your own post for moderator attention and specify that you suspect vote fraud. This should only be done after 24 hours have elapsed though, as most blatant vote fraud is taken care of automatically by scripts that run daily. If vote fraud is detected, you will get a rep change notice, usually positive, with a message stating "vote fraud reversed".

I will add to the other answers one thing that I hadn't even considered: Also check on chat.

I went to chat the other day and was surprised to see not one but two exchanges the OP had with users on this particular post. In my opinion, in both cases the OP was being harassed.

When a comment section gets too long (something also determine by the speed at which comments are coming in), the system automatically asks if the participants would like to "move it to chat." It only takes one person to say yes.

Or someone can do this manually. Also, someone can start up a chat room and invite others to it. The room exists if one person makes it so. Even if you've never clicked on the link.

I mentioned this on the main chat and one of the mods nuked the rooms. I was not aware that chat has its own set of flags and I should have simply used them.

So, when working to clean up a thread involving multiple comments, check to see if any of them have been moved to chat. It should have a link in the comments section to indicate this.