If a user posts a question/answer which contains "bad words" in code examples, should I edit such a post only to replace bad words?

For example, if a user includes this code in his/her post:

var text = "bullshit 1234 bullshit 5678 bullshit"; 
var matches = text.match(/\d+/g); 

should I change it to:

var text = "lorem 1234 ipsum 5678 dolor"; 
var matches = text.match(/\d+/g); 

or are such edits considered minor?

"Bullshit" doesn't look good (to me), but it is not offensive if used in such context. The mentioned edit does not add any information to the post, nor does it simplify or shorten the post.

As an example: I've done such an replacement here, but there was more to edit than just removing swear words for this question.

EDIT: having received all the feedback I conclude that:

  • Major part of the community (>50%) prefers usefulness and content of a question over the formulation, and accepts slang to some extent.

  • A significant part of the community (but <50%) sees SO as a professional platform with no place for informal content ("bad formulated" posts should be improved via edits).

  • Offensive / "too dirty" posts are generally unaccepted.

  • An editor should focus on contents, but improving bad-formulated posts is welcomed. (I noticed that posts which contain slang usually have something else to be improved as well.)

Regarding the accepted answer:
Of course, there is no "correct answer" to this question (it is arguable if accepting an answer makes sense for questions tagged [discussion]). I have accepted the answer which reflects my own opinion. Thanks to all for your feedback!

  • 8
    And yet you left the "thanks". ;) I personally wouldn't touch them unless particularly offensive. But I know there is a part of the community with an other view on that.
    – Bart
    Apr 23 '13 at 14:33
  • I would say, while you don't have edit privileges, only change such if there is more to fix in the post (egregiously bad words would suffice for a change). Apr 23 '13 at 14:35
  • @TinSoldiersAndNixonsComin': ok, thanks for you point. And what happens once I get the edit privilege? Are there no "minor edits" for me anymore? Or is it possible that my minor edit gets rollbacked by a moderator (even though I have the edit privilege)? Apr 23 '13 at 14:40
  • @Bart: I just cannot get used to removing the "hello guys" and "thanks", can't explain why... I'm overseeing them somehow... Apr 23 '13 at 14:41
  • 2
    @AlexShesterov When you have edit privileges, your edits don't take the time of three reviewers to evaluate, so "minor" is not so much of a concern then. Still one shouldn't do too minor edits, but the bar is lower then. Use your judgment, if it's only mildly irritating, tend to leave it be, if offensive, edit. Apr 23 '13 at 14:45
  • 2
    @lance Why am I not surprised to see you edit this post... ;)
    – Bart
    Apr 23 '13 at 15:01
  • 1
    @LanceRoberts: your edit was great, you've hit me in the eye :) Apr 23 '13 at 15:03
  • 6
    @Lance Roberts: Please do not use edits to answer a question. For that, please post an answer instead. In this case, "Yes, you should." Apr 23 '13 at 15:33

Of course you should. Such immature behaviour is really not appreciated on this site. We all work so hard towards the StackOverflow community by editing, improving and correcting posts of all kind the last thing we need are such stupidities.

Considering we even rule out salutations, I think we have to take these words out too.

I strongly suggest you correct them as soon as you see them. I would personally always approve these edits.

  • @EmilVikström Well offensive or not, I don't think it has it's place here. It's only my opinion though.! Apr 23 '13 at 17:15

Expletives are generally frowned upon in public arenas, and they tend to have even less use than desirability. I, personally, try to avoid powerful and harsh language most everywhere, in order to maintain its importance in conveying what I mean when it is actually needed - and sometimes it is needed - but I don't feel it ever really does any favours when someone is seeking help: potential answerers will very rarely share your immediate frustration (which is often the catalyst to swearing), however much they may understand it.

Therein lies the danger of people being 'put off', at the very least.

In your particular examples the text is interchangeable with any text (so long as it exhibits the construction that the original does so that the rules can be applied) and is entirely unnecessary.

It does get a bit temperamental when editing the actual code, so be careful but still do if you can, otherwise try conversing (tersely - we hate comments, I think) with the OP to reconsider their example so that it may be translated to and fro most easily by them when they have the solution to a 'clean' example.


As a large, international and diverse community, I do think we should put up some standards to make everyone feel welcome. It may be a good idea to remove offensive words for that reason.

Note, though, that censoring (even self-censoring) such expressions actually enhances their offensiveness in the general population. Offensive expressions are mostly offensive because talk about existing taboos.

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