Can I use salty, expletive-laden language on Stack Exchange sites, like Q*Bert?

Q*Bert says @!#?@!

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  • 6
    Q-Bert doesn't ever actually swear, it's implied by the punctuation. The point is that it's non-obvious and non-universal what's considered to be an 'expletive'. I don't see any gold standard as to whether 'heck', 'dang', 'dagnabbit', 'blast, bother and damnation' et al. are expletives or not, mild or strong, and then there's 200+ other languages/dialects/regions. Meta has 291 hits for 'damn' and 30 for 'b****' Also, there's a huge difference in comments directed at a user, vs code examples.
    – smci
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 6:18
  • Is damn an expletive? An example where it was (probably) obfuscated as 'jam'. Commented May 10 at 14:39

1 Answer 1



Using expletives is not acceptable behavior on any Stack Exchange site and is a violation of the Code of Conduct, even on Meta. There are a very small handful of exceptions (such as if you were talking about the word itself on a language site), but in general you should not use expletives anywhere, under any circumstances. If you can't effectively communicate what you need to say without resorting to lowest common denominator cursing, then keep it to yourself.

If you use expletives, you will likely get a warning. Any language that becomes a source of disruption is subject to removal through editing. If you use even what one might consider the mildest of expletives for style and someone removes them, leave them out.

If you continue to use expletives, you will be placed on timed suspension.

  • 53
    How are we supposed to find out which words are considered "expletives" on Stack Exchange? I'm not just asking to be annoying - as a global resource, it's possible that cultural norms in different places have very different influences on what's offensive (e.g. consider the difference between a devoutly religious country/region and one that's much more secular). Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 8:16
  • 9
    @TobySpeight if you have to ask that question about a word don't say it
    – user345817
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 15:49
  • 22
    @Christopher: yes, I'm reasonably confident that my answers are worded acceptably for most English-speaking cultures. My point is simply that it's not as black-and-white as you might think (even ignoring obvious cases such as when implementing spam filters). Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 16:10
  • 11
    Fork this sort! Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 14:24
  • 3
    @Jeff Atwood: even in chat?
    – sergiol
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 22:52
  • 38
    This either needs to be globally enforced or forgotten. There is nothing worse than a "enforced at my whim" rule.
    – Kik
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 17:18
  • 1
    So what do we do if we run into an expletive on a question, etc.?
    – rogerdpack
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 23:48
  • 11
    @rogerdpack Flag it as rude or offensive (or abusive). That is what the flag is there for :)
    – fosslinux
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 6:15
  • 15
    @Christopher I think the issue is that what is offensive to some is benign to others, and the others have no idea, and the offended will take it contextually. A great example is the word squat. I have used that word and offended people who think it is explicit. But there are contexts where it is just a word that means a specific body position. If we didn't use any words because we could imagine a hypothetical person would be offended by them, then we basically couldn't write anything. Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 14:26
  • 2
  • @marcellothearcane: More examples (observed in the wild) Commented May 10 at 14:41

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