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I noticed recently that we have a couple of users: "Jesus Christ" and "Jesus Christ". They are not particularly active but have been around for a significant amount of time.

These usernames are clearly going to be offensive to a large number of people. I had assumed that Stack Exchange had a policy when it come to usernames. Is that the case? If not can we set one up?

I also notice that it is not possible to flag a user. I flagged one of this user's posts. Is that the appropriate way to draw an offensive username to moderator's attention?

POSTSCRIPT:

This isn't part of the question, just my own observations. Wikipedia has a pretty decent username policy, and if we don't have one then we should look to that as a model.

Since there seems to be some confusion here, I'm not claiming that all people called "Jesus" or "Mohamed" should not be allowed to use their name. But "Jesus Christ" is clearly a reference to the religious figure.

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    Is naming yourself after a religious figure offensive? I have a couple of Mohameds I need to talk to Nov 7, 2013 at 16:17
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    Mohammed is a normal first name (and last name) and so is Jesus. Neither would be offensive of themselves. But "Jesus Christ" can only refer to the religious figure. The Islamic equivalent would be calling yourself "The Prophet Mohamed". Nov 7, 2013 at 16:20
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    You're right, but probably won't get much play here. Thanks for bringing it up. Nov 7, 2013 at 16:20
  • What do you mean "won't get much play". Are you saying offensive usernames are OK? Nov 7, 2013 at 16:21
  • +1 for you since I agree with you, but I feel bad for Gaylord Focker Nov 7, 2013 at 16:42
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    @DJClayworth You aren't having a serious discussion about offensive user names. You asked if 1 specific name should be banned. And the community consensus seems to be no. Now if you want to have a discussion about user names and what is or isn't offensive, by all means, but if that is what you want to discuss you should probably ask a new question about that. Nov 7, 2013 at 16:47
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    @DJClayworth however, I am going to say that Stack Exchange's user name policy is very liberal. Why - because who wants to spend hours policing user names on every single site. Unless a name is going to be offensive to a great many people, is hate speech, or is impersonating a living person who could theoretically be contributing on the site, it is likely going to stand. Nov 7, 2013 at 16:50
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    @DJClayworth and I count myself among those and I'm not offended by it. You personally are offended by it, but you shouldn't speak for every Christian. Nov 7, 2013 at 16:52
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    @psubsee2003 Are you speaking for every Christian? On an unrepresentitive sample, that's 50% of Christians are offended. Nov 7, 2013 at 16:53
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    This is a secular website, not a religious one. We don't participate in legalistic arguments about biblical interpretations or religious implications.
    – user102937
    Nov 7, 2013 at 16:54
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    @DJClayworth you seem to like twisting words. I never said I was speaking for every Christian. I only said you shouldn't and I'm not offended. Nov 7, 2013 at 16:56
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    @DJClayworth Whether "religious offence" is caused is irrelevant. Whether people are offended is more relevant (religious or otherwise). You have yet to provide evidence that anyone other than yourself is offended by this Nov 7, 2013 at 17:15
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    @DJClayworth: I think it's fair to say that calling yourself Jesus Christ on the Christianity site is probably above the offensiveness threshold.
    – user102937
    Nov 7, 2013 at 17:22
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    @DJClayworth: User name changes do not have to be propagated across the network. The individual accounts on different sites can have separate names.
    – user102937
    Nov 7, 2013 at 17:51
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    But are The Devil, Lucifer (LOL at his location) and Satan okay? Nov 7, 2013 at 21:27

4 Answers 4

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These usernames are clearly going to be offensive to a large number of people.

I don't see why that user name by itself would be offensive to anyone. Your religious belief might be that no one should take that name, but someone else's belief might be the opposite. Also, there are plenty of people in the world who have that name.

I had assumed that Stack Exchange had a policy when it come to usernames. Is that the case?

Yes, you can't have clearly offensive username (swearing, hate speech, etc.), and you can't impersonate someone who might reasonably be expected to be an actual user of the site. (So we've had to rename several Jeff Atwoods, Jon Skeets, and Eric Lipperts. If you want to call yourself Albert Einstein or Abe Lincoln, feel free.)

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    @DJClayworth No, that's not what I wrote at all. Are we supposed to ban a name because one person is offended by it? Christ is a historical figure. I don't think anyone is going to be confused into thinking the actual Jesus Christ is asking programming questions on SO. Nov 7, 2013 at 16:35
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    Please explain whether the name "Adolf Hitler" is banned under this policy. Nov 7, 2013 at 16:36
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    @DJClayworth Are you equating Jesus Christ with Hitler? Nov 7, 2013 at 16:36
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    @DJClayworth The argument that naming oneself Adolf hitler is equivalent to naming oneself Jesus Christ is more offensive to a great many people than naming yourself either one (Although I still support your right to do so if you choose) Nov 7, 2013 at 16:37
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    @DJClayworth I think millions of people would reasonably be offended by the use of the name Adolf Hitler. You do see the difference, don't you? Nov 7, 2013 at 16:39
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    @DJClayworth Jesus Christ didn't murder millions of people. I don't know why I have to explain this. Nov 7, 2013 at 16:43
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    @BilltheLizard, perhaps a better way of saying the same thing is that "Adolph Hitler" activates the "hate speech" portion of the username policy (because it certainly does).
    – Bob Cross
    Nov 7, 2013 at 16:44
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    @DJClayworth: There's so many straw men here I can't even count them all.
    – user102937
    Nov 7, 2013 at 16:51
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    @DJClayworth Naming yourself Hitler is equivalent to naming yourself Jesus Christ is your straw man Nov 7, 2013 at 16:57
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    @DJClayworth Can you explain why the username should be offensive to anyone at all? You've asked for it to be changed, but not explained what was offensive, you seem to take it for granted.
    – asawyer
    Nov 7, 2013 at 16:57
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    Are we allowing offensive usernames because there is at least one person who might NOT be offended by it? - Straw man. Why do you think there are fewer people who would be offended by the name Jesus Christ? - Straw man. There are others.
    – user102937
    Nov 7, 2013 at 16:57
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    @DJClayworth I think your definition of a Straw man is wrong, whether your opponent does or doesn't hold that opinion is irrelevant. What matters is that the straw man is not equivalent to what is being discussed but is being presented as if it is. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man Nov 7, 2013 at 17:03
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    @DJClayworth "an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position" Nov 7, 2013 at 17:08
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    @BilltheLizard: That is big comedy. I am curious to know how many of me you've deleted and how you knew they were impersonators rather than other people named Eric Lippert -- it's a not-uncommon last name and a very common first name and I've been confused with at least two real Eric Lippert's in the past, or they've been confused with me. See blogs.msdn.com/b/ericlippert/archive/2010/10/18/… for an example. Nov 7, 2013 at 19:43
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    @EricLippert You've only had a few impersonators that I know of. Real name collisions are a possibility, so we only take action when people make it obvious that they're impersonating by using both your name and avatar. We used to get impostor Jeffs on a regular basis, and a whole chat room impersonated Jon on April 1st. Nov 7, 2013 at 20:06
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Impersonating a person is against the rules, as is having a clearly offensive name. I would argue that this is neither.

Clearly they are not the Jesus Christ so they are not impersonating a person (having the same name as annother person is not against the rules). And many people name themselves after a religious figure as an act of reverence or appreciation and so it is not by default offensive.

Additionally there are a number of people who really are called Jesus Christ. It seems somewhat unreasonable to ban then from using their real names

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  • Who exactly do you know that has named themselves after a religious figure as an act of reverence? For a Christian to call themselves "Jesus Christ" would be unheard of. Nov 7, 2013 at 16:23
  • Why is this not impersonating a person? Would you allow "Barack Obama" as a username? Nov 7, 2013 at 16:25
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    @DJClayworth All the Muhammads (ok most of the Muhammads, I'm sure some people thought it was just a nice name) are named after the Mohamed Nov 7, 2013 at 16:25
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    Please be aware that "Christ" is not a name. Calling yourself "Christ" is of itself offensive to both Christians and Jews. Nov 7, 2013 at 16:26
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    @DJClayworth It has been discussed and I am permitted to call myself Jon Skeet, because I think he's really awesome and all that. Or use his profile picture because I think he's really awesome and all that. What I'm not allowed to do is both because that creates a clear impression that is am him, rather than naming myself after him Nov 7, 2013 at 16:26
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    @DJClayworth: Because noone will be confused by "Jesus Christ" as a username; noone will think it's the actual biblical figure that is using Stack Overflow. Or at the very least, if two users claim to be Jesus Christ, at least one of them must be wrong, to paraphrase a great Dire Straits song. Nov 7, 2013 at 16:27
  • What if I called myself "Adolf Hitler"? Nov 7, 2013 at 16:28
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    By that rationale isn't Corpus Christi an offensive name @DJClayworth? I'm sure both the Cambridge and Oxford colleges and the Texan city weren't named to be offensive... Nov 7, 2013 at 16:28
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    @DJClayworth if the user started working miracles and giving religious advice around then I guess this would be impersonating. Just having a certain name is not impersonating. Just like a user called "Joe" isn't impersonating all "Joes" in S.O. (as long as he doesn't claim to be another "Joe"). Nov 7, 2013 at 16:28
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    @DJClayworth Also, there are people who really are called Jesus Christ, for example; whitepages.com/name/Jesus-Christ Nov 7, 2013 at 16:31
  • There are (were) also people named Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii as well though @Richard :-). Nov 7, 2013 at 16:37
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    @benisuǝqbackwards Parents are cruel Nov 7, 2013 at 16:39
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    @DJClayworth: Adolph Hitler is not a religious figure. Yet another straw man.
    – user102937
    Nov 7, 2013 at 17:21
  • Yes I know a family with the family name "Christ" though they pronounce it with a soft "i" (as in "hiss") and ppear to be of northern European decent. And I know a number of people named "Jesus" though they pronounce it "Hey-zeus" in the Spanish tradition. Nov 7, 2013 at 21:08
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    @Servy I know. It just amuses me to think of some kid named "hey-zeus chrisst". Nov 7, 2013 at 21:44
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I disagree that the user "Jesus Christ" is clearly not the Jesus Christ.

Christians believe Christ will come back.

Before the discussion of whether the name is offensive can be had, it would be nice to have confirmation that the user is indeed, not Jesus Christ.

(To me, it does not seem realistic that he would show up on SO. But who am I to tell him where he can and can't participate in human society as he makes his return?)

:)

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    However, I would hope if upon returning Jesus Christ decided to spend his time answering programming questions (a noble activity certainly) I would hope he would do a better job that the two quoted users Nov 8, 2013 at 13:16
  • Somehow I'd think he'd be a bit more interested in Christianity.SE than Stack Overflow...
    – Servy
    Nov 8, 2013 at 15:05
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    @servy after 2000 years I might want a change of career too Nov 11, 2013 at 23:58
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    Maybe, he'd join Pastafarianism.SE
    – user273376
    Jan 3, 2015 at 14:49
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Your insistence on forcefully changing the behavior of other people that offends you is clearly offensive to many people who believe in the doctrine of universal free expression. If we don't have a policy about prohibiting such posts, we should. I've flagged your post to bring it to a moderator's attention.

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  • As long as you flag everybody else who suggested names that they thought should be banned also :-) Nov 7, 2013 at 22:00

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