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Along the lines of the discussion (poll) on expletives on SE sites, what is the policy for them in chat? In my mind, there is a very large difference between proper SE site content (posts and comments) and chat. Chat far more fluid than the "fixed content" of the site, and the occasional expletive here and there rapidly fades into the past. True, there's a transcript for chat, but one needs to go reaching into the past.

Also, just to be explicit, I'm simply talking about vocabulary, not intent or context. Saying "F*** these g**d*** if statements" is wholly apart from "Abc's mother looks like a coprolite"

This is part of the issue with chat flags, where people in different rooms see a flagged message containing profanity, and without context reach far too easily for the "valid" button. If we don't care so much about the language as the idea, that would go a long way (people could instead click "not sure", not that they would, but that's another matter).

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Is there a need to use them? –  Ivo Flipse Mar 17 '12 at 23:24
    
@IvoFlipse youtube.com/watch?v=F8XlMYe_2Lo –  Nick T Mar 17 '12 at 23:26
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This whole argument is a matter of subjectivity... –  TylerShads Mar 17 '12 at 23:48
    
@TylerShads - Ya mean whole argument is a matter of profanity-acceptability. –  Adel Mar 18 '12 at 0:02
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@Adel which is subjective. Some words offend others, while some don't. –  TylerShads Mar 18 '12 at 2:25
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It's a chat room. I thought the whole point was that the rules are more relaxed. Unless something is substantively offensive (meaning more than the words it uses), then it's not offensive and those flags should be rejected. Lighten up a little bit and get over yourself. If this really bothers you, don't participate in chat. It's an optional feature. –  Cody Gray Mar 18 '12 at 7:41
    
@CodyGray in theory, but if someone desides to mash the flag button, there can be hell to pay. As a result, by default you need to go with the most conservative view possible on what's offensive. –  Nick T Mar 18 '12 at 7:50
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I don't see why that "hell to pay" isn't a few minutes spent rejecting their flags. Isn't there a "reject" button in chat? –  Cody Gray Mar 18 '12 at 7:50
    
@CodyGray minutes? In my experience, flags are generally resolved in a couple seconds when people click the blue icon, see this or that expletive, and click valid. –  Nick T Mar 18 '12 at 7:52

4 Answers 4

I believe the FAQ is pretty clear on this point.

Do I have to be nice?

Yes. We expect community members to treat each other with respect … even when they don't deserve it.

I believe this part only covers the intent you mentioned, ie. merely using expletives, not actually directing them at someone, would be fine. For that case, I refer to another clause.

Do have fun, but please keep it professional and always be respectful of your fellow community members.

In this sense, I do believe that in the interest of staying professional and remaining respectful, it's a good idea to keep the expletives to a minimum.

Besides, you never know when someone might be showing their boss that this chat-room really is beneficial and not a distraction from their work, in which case an expletive might be quite harmful.

Keeping a chat-room work-safe is always a good idea, even if it might seem contradictory.


To address the other side of the issue, I don't think that this is a reason to completely ban all expletives out-right, and especially not a reason for banning someone the moment an f-word comes along.

The keywords in the quoted phrases are professional and respectful. If the community in question (per-site community, in our case) agrees that they do not find something offensive, then no action should be taken against it. If someone feels offended, this should be taken into account.


I don't think we can put up a more hard and fast answer than "be respectful" and judge it on a case-by-case basis.

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Good answer - I would expect chat to be less formal than the site therefore there will be more idioms/colloqialisms. What can be normal for one person may be totally blasphemous to the next. I would expect people to be a little more tolerant, so I could say "WTF did you do it that way for?" without the next person getting over-the-top-offended. If it isn't your conversation then think twice before flagging. –  slugster Mar 18 '12 at 2:10

These questions always puzzle me a bit; they never come up because someone's conflicted about how they should communicate - they're always attached in some fashion to the notion that there should be limits on how other people should be interpreting what you've written:

I'm simply talking about vocabulary, not intent or context.

Yes, because words are unambiguous and always interpreted the same way by every reader, right? Riiiight.

Let's go back to the original intent of chat:

I think a web-based real time chat system like Campfire could offer that informal public gathering third place — a space for people who love the topic to meet, discuss, and collaborate in a different way. It would foster community, and be complementary to both strict Q&A, and meta-discussion.

So, a less-formal meeting place for folks to chew the fat a bit while discussing the topics that brought them together in the first place, getting to know one another, etc. This is captured in chat's FAQ:

This site is an extension of The Stack Exchange Network, so discussion should more or less revolve around the same topics you'd find at The Stack Exchange Network — but in an interactive, less strictly Q&A focused way. Do have fun, but please keep it professional and always be respectful of your fellow community members.

Is cussin' "professional"? Well, I've had a few different professions, and a certain amount of vulgarity was definitely commonplace in some of them. In an informal setting like chat, I think it's acceptable to use common language, to be a bit less rigid in what you expect, and punctuating your speech with the occasional bit of blue shouldn't be looked at too harshly. That said...

You do not get to tell anyone else what offends them, not here, not on the main sites, and not in chat. Ever.

This goes beyond vulgar language. Most of chat is public, and if the folks reading what you're writing are offended, then you can either stop writing it or go somewhere else.

In particular, when you're hanging out in the primary chat room for a given site, you should assume that the folks using that site will stop in and read it now and then. If you find yourself writing something that wouldn't be acceptable on http://genealogy.stackexchange.com/, maybe you shouldn't be dropping it into Roots either. Get your own room - they're free.

Oh yeah - read the FAQ. If you do say something that gets under folks' skin and find yourself blocked for a half-hour or so, you can't say we didn't warn you. If you really insist on being an ass about it, we can and will suspend you from the main sites as well based on your behavior in chat - so consider that half-hour a gentle warning, a chance to get a cup of coffee and re-think what you're doing.

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"Yes, because words are unambiguous and always interpreted the same way by every reader, right? Riiiight." Wow, way to be a sarcastic jerk, you jerk. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 17 '13 at 17:13
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'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.' - Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll (1871) –  Mark Booth Apr 17 '13 at 17:15
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Does it offend you, @ypercube? If so, flag it. –  Shog9 Apr 17 '13 at 17:20
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That doesn't answer my question. But no it doesn't offend me. –  ypercube Apr 17 '13 at 17:20
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I wouldn't normally consider "ass" - in the donkey/idiot sense - offensive unless directed at a specific person. But of course, words can and are interpreted differently by different people - hence the flagging system that allows for folks to express their opinions (as well as comments, edits, etc that allow for ambiguity to be resolved). –  Shog9 Apr 17 '13 at 17:23
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On topic, I agree with most of what you write. My only objections is on the "we will ban you and consider this..." Because mistakes have happened and people have been banned too hastily. I just would like bans to be decided by mods (not automatically) and with some greater attention. –  ypercube Apr 17 '13 at 17:34
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A half-hour per flagged message ban (the only sort possible without moderator intervention) doesn't seem terribly harsh to me, @ypercube. And if necessary, a moderator can lift such a ban. Consider that the minimum period for suspension on the main sites is 1 day... –  Shog9 Apr 17 '13 at 17:39
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I don't ever want the right to tell anyone else what offends them. However, if someone is offended by my name because it's Christian, or by my avatar because it's a muppet, or because I said something about the Boston Marathon attacks, which of us needs to change? –  Aaron Bertrand Apr 17 '13 at 19:26
    
@Shog9 Shouldn't a site for professionals task professionals with banning? –  dezso Apr 17 '13 at 20:37
    
@Aaron: who says either one of you need to change? One offensive flag doesn't do anything by itself other than provide an outlet for someone's quiet rage. If you're offending enough folks to actually get your posts deleted, then you might want to start caring. –  Shog9 Apr 17 '13 at 21:13
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Combine that with the accept-all-flags-happy people, and I don't know about that. Again, if a flag gets raised because someone is offended by the word "floob" - even if they don't know the meaning, and haven't taken the time to investigate context - and then n flag-happy people accept it, then I guess I'll have to learn not to use the word "floob" - even though it shouldn't be considered offensive by a reasonable person. So please don't paint this as "one flag is meaningless" because we've experienced multiple chat bans based on flags raised and quickly validated by a handful of flag-happies –  Aaron Bertrand Apr 17 '13 at 21:30
    
@Aaron: that's a separate problem. The scenario you describe is broken regardless of what words are or are not being used. –  Shog9 Apr 17 '13 at 21:57
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I don't know that it's so separate. If someone can decide they can be offended by "I'm having a sh*tty day", raise a flag, and then a dog-pile lands me banned, then the same user can decide to be offended by "I'm having a poopy day." Where does it end? –  Aaron Bertrand Apr 17 '13 at 21:58
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That's why it's unrelated to this question, @Aaron: if flags are being validated without due consideration, then it doesn't matter what you write: someone could just decide to give you a hard time by flagging arbitrary things you've written - no offense needed. –  Shog9 Apr 17 '13 at 22:01
    
@Shog9 sorry, I keep getting this question confused with this one and this one which are, you could agree, at least somewhat tangential to this discussion. –  Aaron Bertrand Apr 17 '13 at 22:03

I don't like swearing. I don't. But sometimes I do. And sometimes I use those words, too. And reading the words, any words in certain context, does not bother me. I've never flagged any comment on chat.

Except once that I flagged a certain comment which I thought was offensive. Then, in no time, 2 or 3 mods (or 10k users) appeared in the room and the flagged user got a chat-ban for 30 minutes. I didn't know this would happen and I did not like that. Because I considered that user my friend and I did not want him banned. Even if his comment was unacceptably rude (which it wasn't) I wouldn't want him banned.

Same phenomenon appeared a few days later with the same user being banned, for saying something totally innocent. And nobody in that room, liked that situation either. We don't want the "regulars" in a room to be guided away. We did get the mods attention that day (that required flagging a few hasty mods) and we did learn (at least I did) a few things about how flagging works in chat rooms. And although it seems to be good, the almost unanimous verdict is that it sucks.

So my main concern is not that chat comments can be flagged but that can lead to automatic ban. I think we do need a solution for this. It could be either restricting the flags to be seen by mods only and not any random 10K user who hastily accepts flags, without reading the whole context - and probably not knowing that this results in bans. Or removing the automatic chat-ban. If a user repeatedly is flagged and his comments are deleted, it will still be possible for anyone to flag him for mod attention. And mods can and should act accordingly. But no automatic ban should happen on chat rooms as long the inhabitants are ok with the language.

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This is the problem and the swearing is the symptom. The auto-ban is pretty draconian - especially when a flag is accepted from a mod who is unfamiliar with the site into which they are being "summoned." –  swasheck Apr 17 '13 at 15:53
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To me, it's like saying "I want him to get him in trouble, but I don't want anyone to know." Just don't flag. –  Kermit Apr 17 '13 at 15:53
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Why did you flag the user's comment if you didn't want moderators to do something about it? Or, what did you expect the mods to do about it other than ban the user? And why, after having been banned once, did the same user fail to learn from said ban and repeat the behavior a few days later? It's not that hard to avoid four letter words. –  Caleb Apr 17 '13 at 15:58
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@Caleb: First, I flagged the comment, not the user. I thought it was offensive but later changed my mind. OK, I was hasty, too, guilty as charged. But I did not know that a flagged comment would result in ban. I thought it would result in the removal of the comment (as it happens in flagged answers or comments in questions). –  ypercube Apr 17 '13 at 16:06
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I have flagged your answer, it is not constructive, and it's never constructive to swear. The flag isn't a joke, I find that language offensive. I also have never understood what if any value it added to any type of conversation. –  ryan Apr 17 '13 at 16:14
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@ryan just because you personally find it offensive doesn't mean it's generally offensive. It offends me that you don't capitalize your name but I'm not pretending to speak for everyone on that account. This is a web network for grownups, and sometimes in the real world grownups use words that others may be offended by. Those that are offended can choose to either get butthurt or move on. I recommend moving on since, you know, this is the internet and all. –  JNK Apr 17 '13 at 16:21
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"I f*cking hate CoffeeScript, it ........" - while I would never post this on a SE site (no matter if moderator or not) I would not have a big problem with posting it in a chatroom where none of the regulars have any problem with it. –  ThiefMaster Apr 17 '13 at 16:25
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@ryan That's not how free expression works. You don't have to justify USING words, you have to justify NOT using them. The onus is on YOU as the offended party to demonstrate that the words should be completely disallowed. Good luck with that one. –  JNK Apr 17 '13 at 16:27
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@ryan What makes you think that ypercube is saying that we should be allowed to say something like that?, moreso the comment that he is talking was inside a chat that wouldn't generally think of it as flag worthy. He is not defending rudeness, just the mindless acceptance of flags for comments that contain curse words in it –  Lamak Apr 17 '13 at 16:28
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@ryan: Sorry but I disagree. I haven't read any explicit policy that all swear words are never permitted anywhere, questions, comments, chatrooms and in any context whatsoever. Where is that policy stated? And where is that forbidden word list? The FAQ says that we should be polite to others. I never wanted anything but that. My concern is that banning people is exactly that, not polite (at least.) –  ypercube Apr 17 '13 at 16:34
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@ryan you are very wrong, there's not an explicit policy on it in chat. That's the point of this question! The top voted answer is a pretty liberal interpretation of "being respectful" from someone who is not very involved in the network. –  JNK Apr 17 '13 at 16:36
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@Shog9: Is that you, ryan? –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 17 '13 at 16:38
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@ryan And if you found the language offensive and flagged it, then so be it. But this question and this answer is about curse words on chat. So, when you said "Give me a logical reason why you have to say F&(( stupid, instead of something inteligent" you are going off topic of this thread –  Lamak Apr 17 '13 at 16:43
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@Ryan you are missing the point entirely. There is no I repeat no morality involved in the string of characters used to creat a sentence. Wheather or not I choose to use explatives does it really matter? If you start throwing out hatefull angry thoughts while using squeaky clean language is that somehow better than if I you an explative for how brilliant I found an answer that JNK had? –  Zane Apr 17 '13 at 16:44
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@ryan You are still missing my point sir. I'm not saying that you said anything offensive. It's just an example. The point I'm making is that no string of characters should be inherintly offensive. The context should be what's important. I'm not suggesting we use explatives all the time or that we use "hate speech" with squeaky clean language. All I'm saying is context is what is important. –  Zane Apr 17 '13 at 17:00

Are they allowed? Sure, it won't crash the system.

Is it accepted? Most of the time - No, because it's just not relevant here. I can see expletives being necessary(erm, desired) in political chats or video-game chats...

But if someone starts saying " DUDE you need to passing the F*&### variable to that piece- of-s*2 over there under that f&## function " it starts to be unhelpful. But... YMMV

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And how about the latter when describing one's frustration with a college for example, in a chat room, of course? –  dezso Apr 17 '13 at 16:37

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