As a Brit, I found this post rude:

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I flagged the post and the flag was declined, which is fair enough, but I'd like to know what degree of insulting towards the British is acceptable light-hearted banter and what is considered to cross the line.

The insult in the wording of the post is subtle ("In the USA we're rational" — i.e. in Britain they are not rational) but the context shows a pattern of intention to rile — shown by the OP accepting a heavily downvoted answer and the following comment below that answer:

I find this explanation to be the most convincing thus far; and, after seeing Life of Brian and other perverse films from this region I'm inclined to think it is inline with their culture. Good job doing the research required.

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    The OP, Evan Carroll, has a long history of being provocative on Stack Exchange. Feel free to downvote the question, if you find it disagreeable. – Mari-Lou A Sep 18 '19 at 11:02
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    Interestingly, in case you didn't know, biscuits in the UK are totally different to biscuits in the Southern US, the latter are more like scones. – Mari-Lou A Sep 18 '19 at 11:05
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    EDITED for clarity: Do you know how many British and non-native speakers have offended Americans and the US with much much worse insults? You don't because these offensive epithets get deleted quickly by the mods, who are both American and British, and we have one mod who is a Japanese speaker too. As someone who loves the UK, I don't find the post to be insulting, just provocative. – Mari-Lou A Sep 18 '19 at 11:08
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    "Do you know how many British users have offended American speakers with much much worse insults?" That doesn't surprise me, though I am sad to hear it, and would wish it were otherwise. The question is really about where to draw the line rather than to defend British sensibilities in particular. – user7128 Sep 18 '19 at 11:09
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    Speaking generally: you can also try editing a question that shows bias that could be hurtful to some class of readers. If you do this, I suggest (a) Trying your best to improve the question. (Don't touch the question if you find nothing redeeming (no potential) in it. (b) Backing off if the author does a complete rollback. (Getting into an edit war would only make things worse.) // What this approach is about is removing the editorializing and keeping the interesting part of the question. – aparente001 Sep 18 '19 at 17:20
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    In U.S. slang, the phrase "to goldbrick" means to swindle, as if by deceiving someone into believing that a brick of fake gold is real gold. But someone might ask—with as much justice as the poster of the "take the biscuit" question did with regard to British attitudes toward biscuits—why Americans think gold bricks are worthless. Although the question of why an expression with a surprising or unintuitive meaning caught on may be valid and interesting, framing the expression's existence as evidence of the wackiness or bizarre predilections of the population that uses it is inane. – Sven Yargs Sep 18 '19 at 17:46
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    Stiff upper lip, old chap. – marcellothearcane Sep 18 '19 at 18:53
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    tempest in a teapot – ab2 Sep 19 '19 at 20:32
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    @ab2 artful alliteration – user7128 Sep 19 '19 at 21:39
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    @JackDouglas making a mountain out of a molehill – Mitch Sep 23 '19 at 13:16
  • @Mitch if only my name was Mitch :p – user7128 Sep 23 '19 at 15:30
  • @SvenYargs I have a suggestion for you. Your bounty will do nothing to reverse the order of answers. However, you could ask a new, better written and more detailed question. I would then flag the question here as a duplicate of your question and ask for them to be merged, perhaps requesting it here on Meta. You could then select the post you felt best answered the question, and the post here would evaporate (if everything goes to plan) having become merged with your other better question. Perhaps Mari-lou could delete her answer here and post it on your new question. What do you think? – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 24 '19 at 14:07
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    @Araucaria Nope. Not deleting that post, even if it means transferring it. The question is fine as is. Let the OP accept the answer he wants, visitors will see the downvotes and make their own minds up. The author of the unsubstantiated post is aware of the current situation but evidently feels that their answer was and remains legitimate. I just want future visitors to know that a wholly unsupported answer, based on fantasy, pandering to the OP's unmistaken bias and trollish behaviour will not be awarded with upvotes. – Mari-Lou A Sep 24 '19 at 14:27
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    @Mari-LouA Yes, but that rubbish answer will be at the bottom of the page if we can get the questions merged instead of being the first one that any ten year old,for example, see's when looking up 'take the biscuit'. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 24 '19 at 14:53
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    @Mari-LouA Their trolling is still being rewarded by being the top answer, and not having their trolling post removed or having the poster sanctioned for their bad actions. The only thing that happened to them was a number placed by their name reads negative in one post (which doesn't even change their rep). Furthermore, a question that is thought to have been created by a troll is not being removed nor the troll sanctioned. To me, it seems like both trolling attempts are being rewarded rather than shut down. – trlkly Sep 28 '19 at 11:15

The way I read it is that Evan is giving us the benefit of the doubt. His question reads:

Why do people in the UK hate biscuits, and how did the saying "take the biscuit" come to be?

So despite the allusion to how we Brits are "irrational", he assumes we are "rational" in asking why we hate biscuits, because it's only rational to hate biscuits if taking one is bad.

In fact asking the question at all assumes there is a response that makes sense, so I can't really see Evan as believing that Brits are irrational, just being a bit provocative.

With regard to the line of offensiveness. I take it case by case. The whole question could be trolling, Evan is a known troll, but I'm not a mind reader and I'm currently assuming good intent, since the question (about the history of the phrase) is a good one.

I can only go by how a question makes me feel, and I'm open to hearing other opinions.

  • I agree the question is useful but I wonder if the history of the OP should be taken into account. If not then I understand the decision but would think the question would still be improved by removing the unnecessary "In the USA we're rational" and deleting the accepted answer (seeing as there is no other way of preventing the OP forcing a heavily downvoted answer above upvoted answers). – user7128 Sep 18 '19 at 11:40
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    @JackDouglas I dislike the edit you made to the question and I strongly dislike the fact it was approved by two established users. It's one thing to remove a slur or an insult, quite another to remove "in the USA we're rational". The British people are hardly an ethnic minority that have suffered hundred of years of oppression. This really does take the biscuit. – Mari-Lou A Sep 18 '19 at 21:44
  • @Matt E. Эллен♦ In seven years how many flags did the post attract? – Mari-Lou A Sep 18 '19 at 21:47
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    @Mari-LouA if you dislike an edit you are free to roll it back or improve the post yourself — I won't edit again of course. I don't feel the rest of your comment has any relevance, rudeness is rudeness, to whomever it is directed. The question is about whether or to what degree the OP was being rude, not about protecting British sensibilities in particular (fwiw I think the OP is more often rude about the US than the UK — but it depends who's buttons he is trying to press). – user7128 Sep 19 '19 at 4:35
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    @JackDouglas I found the accepted answer to be much more objectionable, and indirectly offensive to the British, I've never heard of "taking the biscuit" being a game of masturbation, and after doing some minimal research I found nothing that supported it, which is why I downvoted it. I hope more users will downvote a totally unsupported answer, I have nothing against its author, who has often posted good content in the past. – Mari-Lou A Sep 19 '19 at 6:26
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    @Mari-LouA I don't think the OP accepted that answer in good faith — there is the option of deleting it. – user7128 Sep 19 '19 at 6:45
  • @JackDouglas there's another option, the author of the answer can post the supporting evidence, he (or she) is an active user. Sometimes it's beneficial that bad answers are downvoted and not deleted. It's also important to note that the author of an answer, under current SE guidelines, cannot delete their contribution if it has been accepted by the OP. – Mari-Lou A Sep 19 '19 at 6:51
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    @JackDouglas the edit seems fine to me. We're still deliberating about what to do with the answer. – Matt E. Эллен Mod Sep 19 '19 at 9:10
  • @jackdouglas while the answer is probably wrong, and is a bit graphic, it doesn't need removing. – Matt E. Эллен Mod Sep 20 '19 at 17:53
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    Thanks Matt. For clarity, I assume you know I never objected to the answer, just the OP accepting it (which we can't do anything about except delete the answer as a last resort). Anyway, thanks for giving it such a lengthy deliberation. – user7128 Sep 20 '19 at 18:47
  • Yeah, no worries. Always good to look at these things – Matt E. Эллен Mod Sep 20 '19 at 18:59
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    I've done my best to prove that the accepted answer is hogwash, yet it still attracts upvotes. Someone should place a bounty and show the "world" that EL&U does not endorse that shameful answer. – Mari-Lou A Sep 23 '19 at 9:18
  • @Mari-LouA That sounds like a good idea, will you be doing that yourself? – Spagirl Sep 23 '19 at 9:38

I have posted an answer. In the meantime, the accepted answer, which is absolute hogwash, continues to attract a few distracted upvotes. Evan Carroll, the OP, posted the following comment. He clearly enjoys being a provocateur...

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In fairness, it could be a reaction to an earlier comment

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