I flagged this user as having a possibly offensive name (another example):

possibly offensive username

I said "possibly offensive" because it's possible it's a genuine surname I wasn't aware of, but googleing didn't show any evidence and urban dictionary pretty much matched my definition of it which seems offensive.

  1. Is this really a genuine name?
  2. If not how is it possibly not offensive and thus a bad flag?

(I flagged in good faith so even if it is a genuine name declining seems harsh)

  • 4
    I am curious; what's to disagree with here? That the name was/is offensive?
    – John
    Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 6:30
  • @BobCratchit - that seems to be the implication of declining the flag and 2 downvotes. I can't see any evidence of it as a real surname and that word on its own would seem to be a big deviation of past policy on what's considered "offensive".
    – Flexo
    Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 6:33
  • 7
    Urban Dictionary is not really a good source - you can find pretty much every word in there with some sort of offensive interpretation :)
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 12:30
  • 13
    Given the Urban Dictionary's definition of wood, I find your username highly offensive.
    – Mat
    Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 13:23
  • 5
    What's an iceburg (apart from the bunch of stuff Urban Dictionary says it is)?
    – Mat
    Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 17:06
  • 9
    I can't begin to imagine what it would feel like to be bothered by something like this.
    – Wayne
    Commented Jan 6, 2012 at 3:56
  • 1
    What if the username has the n word in it?
    – j08691
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 2:35

2 Answers 2


I won't get into whether this particular name is offensive or not, but both Shadow Wizard and Rosinante seem to be of the opinion that this is 2012 and not the Victorian era, and so such words should be overlooked. While that stance can be justified in chat/speech/private lives, etc., I believe that if you're asking and answering questions or leaving comments around with your name attached to it, then it is better (and I would go far as to say make it a policy) to not have any objectionable/vulgar content as your display name.

Let's be sensible here. Your display name is also used by others to refer to you and your content. As such, even if the whole "It's just a word, what's the big deal? Get over it" argument holds in isolation, by forcing others to use the same, you are offending them. For example, you can set your display name to cunt face, and it doesn't have a target and hence, is not offensive by Shadow Wizard's reasoning. But everyone is forced to refer to you as @cunt face or @cunt or write things like "blappity blah and you can also foo the bar like in cunt face's answer...".

Although you can change your display name later to something more reasonable, it won't change the text in the comments or in the answers. As such, any and all context to any of those statements is lost and this makes SO/SE look less like a civil and polite society and more like a teenager's chat history.

There is a place for reasonably vulgar words used in a non-offensive, targetless manner. That's in your profile in the "About me" section. You can write "I hate this fu*king job" or "This has been a s*itty month" or "I'd rather be eating s*itburgers than answering n00b questions", and I don't think anyone could care less about it. Welbog's profile is a good example of that.

  • 4
    @Rosinante awoodland flagged it as "other" and explained that the name could be offensive. Often, these are indicators of other issues with the user (being abusive in comments/vandalism), etc. and he notified a moderator. This is very different from the built-in "offensive" flag which you're referring to, and which, if confirmed by 6 users, will delete+lock the post and dock the user 100 rep. There are several courses of action here, none of which involve the offensive flag or suspension (unless necessary). Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 20:03
  • 3
    1) The moderator (or awoodland himself) could've left them a comment alerting them that it is offensive to some people. 2) The moderator could've pulled the user over in a private chat room and explained why (if they felt it was offensive) 3) They could've private messaged the user requesting that they change it 4) They could've silently changed it to something else. Depending on how the user reacts to any of these, the next course of action could be as simple as nothing (the user acknowledged and changed) or suspension (if they're belligerent). Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 20:03

Why offensive? Who exactly is the target of the offense?

For example, name like "white_people_are_dumb" is indeed offensive, as it targets specific group of people with direct offence.

I don't think those living in Fitchburg are really offended by that name you reported, so I guess the moderator reviewing your flag thought the same.

As far as I know, moderator has only two options for flag he/she is reviewing: approve or decline so flagging is a risk: either it's approved and you gain flag weight, or it's declined and you lose points.

  • 17
    So, streaking through town isn't offensive, unless I yell "This one's for you!" and point someone out specifically? Personally, I think this is a fallacious mode of interpretation of offence. The idea is that it's any individuals' privilege to take offense, and not the offenders to define when it is, or isn't offensive. Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 9:46
  • 4
    If someone take personal offence then he can flag the offensive user, but that's not the case here. Personally I don't find such name offensive, at least not enough to justify ban or forced change of the name. One can also ask the user to change the name in a comment on one of his (preferably older) questions. Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 9:54
  • maybe he's one of those who living in Fitchburg, and he owns sarcasm attitude that the author of this post doesn't.
    – dotslashlu
    Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 11:02

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