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Personally I'd like to see a chat censor feature (perhaps this could be optional?). By "chat censor" I mean a function that asterisks out expletives.

As I believe an over use of expletives can leave an unprofessional undertone to the whole chat side of the site. As users after see the professionalism of the main site, expecting the chat rooms to be professional (to a degree) as well. So maybe a chat censor might help keep things more "clean" and presentable?


(From what I've experienced I know I'm probably being biased/over reacting here. For example, one time a chat room had turned into a dating room, another time, there was just an excessive overuse of expletives, IMO.)

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  • 1
    Just flag the fu.....cra....heck out of them if they really go overboard. And if you think a particular room really has moved into something completely inappropriate, you can always bring it up on the site-specific meta. ... oh, and "clbuttic".
    – Bart
    Aug 3, 2013 at 11:20
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    What if I'm offended by censorship though?
    – JonW
    Aug 3, 2013 at 11:26
  • noooo.... you used the C word! Aug 3, 2013 at 11:41
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    If it bugs you that much a greasemonkey script could do this for SO chat and every other site on the Internet (e.g. here)
    – Flexo
    Aug 3, 2013 at 14:54
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    Problem with a script like that is, who maintains the list of words? Or perhaps that's the most fun part of the whole process... Aug 3, 2013 at 15:29
  • Is a word with asterisks for letters any different than the word itself? You know they used an expletive...it did not stop it from occurring. The offense still stands! If you're going to censor, don't half ass it. You should request that they be deleted entirely.
    – user7116
    Aug 27, 2013 at 20:52

2 Answers 2

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If chat rooms are being used as a date arrangement service, get a mod in there to shut it down.

If profanity is getting out of hand and its usage is gratuitous, flag it and/or request that the user clean up their act for the benefit of the wider community.

I don't think a function to auto-bleep things out would serve to make a more constructive environment in the long run. This is of course tied to my personal opinion about profanity in general, but it isn't the words themselves so much as the attitude that is often problematic. The SE network in general should be a place for professional behavior. I understand that sometimes professionals swear, but they also know when to keep their act clean because the context they are in needs to be appropriate for a wider audience. Chat is less formal but should reflect the overall quality/professionalism that we want the SE network to be known for.

Allowing the place to fill up with asterisks is not going to make the situation any better if the overall attitude behind chat is identical.

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Putting aside whether or not I personally agree with it, we do have a standing policy that expletives are not allowed on Stack Exchange sites.

But I don't think that policy necessarily applies or is meant to apply to chat. The whole point of the chat rooms is that they are a bit more relaxed (and yes, therefore less professional) than the main site. So I think that within reason, a few curse words here and there are acceptable. Naturally, you still need to be respectful of others; that's so important that we put it explicitly into the FAQ.

Anything else can be taken care of by the flag system. If you see something inappropriate, flag it. But use good discretion—flags are seen by lots of people and can be very bothersome. An accumulation of flags can also lead to users being temporarily suspended from chat. So it is not appropriate to use flags just to get things deleted that you disagree with or don't like. You need to be justifiably offended by the content of the message.

I am very skeptical of automatic censoring systems just on principle, so I would strongly oppose that. What happens when someone hops into a Stack Overflow chat room and asks: "I am working on a project in brainfuck; can someone here help me to solve a problem?"

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