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OMG, plz help fix this rampant problem.

This is a follow-up to my plea to fix some spelling errors on Stack Overflow. This received several comments1 2 3 4 and an answer demonstrating the significant problem that is present with text or chat speak creeping into questions and answers.

The problem is really bad on Stack Overflow, but it is not limited exclusively to that site. Here is a sampling of horrible text/chat speak, misspellings on a variety of Stack Exchange sites:

I am aware that it might be difficult to prevent words from being allowed into questions/answers. For example, below are a few samples of why a mass update of text misspellings could cause issues:

While I would truly love to prevent these terribly misspelled words from being allowed, I don't know if it's possible. This request is to ask that the chat/text emoticons be prevented. When a user attempts to submit a post with an emoticon, they will receive an message similar to this:

enter image description here

Or if we do not want to include a message that would prevent asking the question, can we add this list of emoticons to the automatic removal of Hi?

This list would include but not be limited to the following:

  • :)
  • ;)
  • ;-)
  • ;)
  • :/
  • :-/

Please consider adding this to the sites, I think it would be a great way to keep the content a bit cleaner.

Update to clarify, this is not a request to prevent this in comments, this would be for questions/answers.

share|improve this question
I'm not a fan of acronyms (IIRC, AFAICT, FTA), but emoticons are useful to convey emotions that are sometimes difficult to deliver (winky emoticon for sarcasm) – JohnB Jun 22 '13 at 23:16
I disagree in general but I particularly disagree if this filter were to apply to comments. A friendly :) can help new users interpret comments about their misbehaviour more accurately (instead of perceiving hostility) and avoid alienating them. – Jeremy Banks Jun 22 '13 at 23:19
@JeremyBanks My request is not for comments. I think emoticons are perfectly fine in comments. I don't think they have a place in questions/answers. – bluefeet Jun 22 '13 at 23:20
you mispelled follow-up btw. just saying. – timpone Jun 22 '13 at 23:32
@timpone you are right, but it's fixed now. – bluefeet Jun 22 '13 at 23:34
ok - was just joking but I agree with your point in question and answer. Why do people downvote this? I think he / she is just suggesting something. – timpone Jun 22 '13 at 23:38
meh, too many false positives. – Doorknob Jun 22 '13 at 23:49
@timpone votes are different on meta – Manishearth Jun 23 '13 at 0:55
zomgwtfbbq! plz gimmie ur codez needz hlp moast urgents this is bestest evar – billinkc Jun 23 '13 at 1:55
@timepone: You misspelled "misspelled". – Al E. Jun 23 '13 at 3:25
@JohnB IMHO, IMO and IMHO are the same. Also, you used acronyms in a post that says you dislike them. Irony. – Cole Johnson Jun 23 '13 at 6:34
I don't mind a few isolated emoticons, "plz-ur-thx-K"-esque words, and acronyms, but if the post is full of them, it is very annoying. – Old Checkmark Jun 23 '13 at 9:47
@ColeJohnson using them as examples to clarify my point isn't irony. If I had said "TBH, I'm not a huge fan of acronyms...", that would have been hypocrisy. As the comment stands, it's neither :) – JohnB Jun 23 '13 at 11:18
@JohnB meh..... – Cole Johnson Jun 27 '13 at 5:12

meh :)

One of the most important points of this website is that there must be the least amount of friction when answering, because answering is the site's livelihood. You don't need to write perfect English. You don't need to spell definitely correctly every time. Literally every single person on the internet (with exceptions) can propose edits to your posts for such minutiæ.

If smilies bother you, you can remove them. If initialisms bother you, you can expand them. They're not textspeak. They are an integral, fundamental part of written English on the Internet and banning them would only create unnecessary friction and hostility.

Besides, attempting to automatically ban them would work about as well as automated smilies do: with false positives all over the place. Here's the first example that comes to mind:

dictionary ={
  foo:(1, 4),
  egg:(2, 8)}

Please remove the emoticons

dictionary ={
  foo: (1, 4),
  egg: (2, 8)}

Please remove the emoticons

dictionary ={
  foo: (1, 4),
  egg: (2, 8 )}

Please remove the emoticons

dictionary = {
  foo: (1, 4),
  egg: (2, 8 )}

Please remove the emoticons

dictionary = {
  foo : (1, 4),
  egg: (2, 8 )}

This post does not meet our quality standards

oh for petes sake

Body must be at least 30 characters; you entered 17.

While I do not expect the SE team to come up with such clbuttic mistakes... it's kind of useless to even try. Punctuation abuse is already accounted for in a feature called "post quality score." It's a measure that's completely hidden except when it's low enough, then Community raises a flag against the post for 10kers and moderators (and reviewers?) to look at.

share|improve this answer
Not to mention there's a programming language called "lolspeak" – Jan Dvorak Jun 23 '13 at 5:35
Maybe it could not apply to code blocks – Cody Guldner Jun 23 '13 at 15:27
@CodyGuldner Then people will just tell people that you can use emoticons, you just have to wrap them into backticks. And we're back to square one, only with slightly more pissed off users. (As the Italians says, "fatta la legge, trovato l'inganno.") – badp Jun 23 '13 at 16:44
Only code blocks. Not backticks. It would still solve a small portion. It would also remove all smiley's from current posts – Cody Guldner Jun 23 '13 at 17:22
@CodyGuldner So you would be okay with potentially destroying all inline code on Stack Overflow? I see very large potential for harm for very little gain. Plus, no matter how many hoops you put in the way, the users are going to go and see the dancing bunny. – badp Jun 23 '13 at 17:55
I still feel that removing them would be good. It pollutes answers and questions – Cody Guldner Jul 19 '13 at 15:38

Emoticons are an established part of Internet culture. Wikipedia tells us that it was sometime around September 1982.

There is nothing wrong with the use of emoticons in questions and answers. You can edit them out if it really bugs you, I guess.

I agree more with your comments about initialisms. It'd be better if these were written in full at first use in a post and initialised for the rest of the post.

We need to remember that the SE sites are used by a multinational audience, and often those people are not experts in the various topics being discussed.

I'm not sure that adding friction to the question asking process is going to be popular. I get the impression that it should be as easy as possible for anyone to ask a question. So perhaps your idea is not going to be popular.

Perhaps some text could be added to the guidelines?

Perhaps some other editing badges could be added? Or, carefully, some reputation for good edits?

share|improve this answer
what about just auto-expanding for known initialisms in questions and comments. iirc -> 'if I remember correctly' etc... – timpone Jun 22 '13 at 23:41
I am not trying to complicate the asking process we already remove the Hi from posts, why not include these items? Do they actually add anything to the question or answer? I doubt it. – bluefeet Jun 22 '13 at 23:44
Emoticons have been an established evil since about 1982. And while they may be helpful in contexts where social interaction is the focus they make Stack Overflow look unprofessional. – dmckee Jun 23 '13 at 4:37

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