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

Q*Bert says @!#?@!

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  • 3
    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
    Jul 29, 2019 at 6:18

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.

  • 50
    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). Apr 7, 2017 at 8:16
  • 9
    @TobySpeight if you have to ask that question about a word don't say it
    – user345817
    Apr 26, 2017 at 15:49
  • 20
    @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). Apr 26, 2017 at 16:10
  • 11
    Fork this sort! Apr 30, 2017 at 14:24
  • 3
    @Jeff Atwood: even in chat?
    – sergiol
    Aug 30, 2017 at 22:52
  • 34
    This either needs to be globally enforced or forgotten. There is nothing worse than a "enforced at my whim" rule.
    – Kik
    Sep 28, 2017 at 17:18
  • 1
    So what do we do if we run into an expletive on a question, etc.?
    – rogerdpack
    Apr 30, 2018 at 23:48
  • 10
    @rogerdpack Flag it as rude or offensive (or abusive). That is what the flag is there for :)
    – fosslinux
    May 1, 2018 at 6:15
  • 7
    @Azxdreuwa: there are reasons to swear: it happens! There are acceptable reasons to swear in broad-minded company: exuberance, let off steam; I recall Sir Simon Rattle on TV calling a performance “f●●ing brilliant” (±ε), which surprised but did not shock me. But 1) there are less acceptable reasons, mainly to offend part of one’s audience, and 2) what some find acceptable will alienate others. I am happy for SE to play safe and ban swearing. But check the origin of “poppycock”: fairly offensive!
    – PJTraill
    May 13, 2018 at 22:26
  • 6
    @Azxdreuwa: Try replacing swear by copulate (for example) in some of your statements and you will see that your argument needs tightening up.
    – PJTraill
    May 14, 2018 at 20:01
  • 23
    @Azxdreuwa That's the fun thing about opinions: you're entitled to them, but so is everyone else. Frankly, having a colorful vocabulary is a lot less offensive to me than being smugly judgmental.
    – Beofett
    May 22, 2018 at 20:11
  • 13
    @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. Jun 5, 2018 at 14:26
  • 8
    @Azxdreuwa You're speaking from your own cultural perspective. Where I'm from some parents do swear in front of children. While I can't think of anyone teaching me to swear, no one really taught me the rest of my English either for the most part. Instead, it was just something I learned as part of the rest of my language. Nonetheless, I also agree with other commenters that while I think swearing is acceptable in some contexts, it's completely reasonable to disallow it on SE.
    – jgon
    Nov 16, 2018 at 2:13
  • 3
    @Azxdreuwa Using swear words sends a particular message. If that is the message I intend to send, then there is obviously a reason for me to swear. I'm not advocating swearing here at SE. I'm just stating that your claim is false.
    – klutt
    Jun 24, 2019 at 10:20
  • 8
    Another exception is the programming language Brainfuck. Aug 12, 2019 at 13:23

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