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I don't participate enough in PCG to feel I should have a say in whether that community allows profanity in their question titles, and I'm not particularly interested in opening yet another, "Is the language “BrainF_ck” offensive?" question.

However, the hot questions list appears on all the networks regardless of their own community's support of profanity or not, and I'd like to suggest that questions with profanity be disallowed from appearing in the hot questions list.

Today the following question appeared in the list:

BrainF***edBotsForBattling - A Brainf*** Tournament

  • Is the general ban on profanity Stack Exchange wide, or does each community set its own standards?

  • If it's not Stack Exchange wide, what is the process or response to have such items removed from cross-site exposure, such as the hot list?

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    @JanDvorak If you're interested in a discussion on whether the language's name is offensive, and should or shouldn't be used as-is, please go to meta.stackexchange.com/q/24079/2915 . This is out of scope for this question. – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Aug 25 '14 at 16:27
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    For example, Shutterstock doesn't prevent people from using these words, but they do use a list on github to prevent items containing these words from showing up in suggestion/hot/interesting lists - in short, their recommendation engine. In their words, "In our case, the question we use is, "What wouldn't we want to suggest that people look at?" – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Aug 25 '14 at 17:00
  • We have a blacklist mechanism in place that can be used to prevent certain words or phrases from appearing in the hot list. Creating a meta post or emailing the team would be fine ways to get it modified. – Adam Lear Aug 25 '14 at 17:17
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    I just came here to post this, but you beat me to it. – Brian Aug 25 '14 at 17:30
  • I'm offended that their list considers "2 girls 1 cup" to be an offensive phrase. – user1228 Aug 25 '14 at 18:52
  • That list is gold. acrotomophilia. – user1228 Aug 25 '14 at 18:53
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    @Won't I'll take "Things I don't want to Google" for $1,000, Alex. – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Aug 25 '14 at 18:59
  • @Won't I am bit surprised there is no "prographilia" term just yet. – Shadow The Princess Wizard Aug 25 '14 at 18:59
  • @ShadowWizard there is, it's just not offensive--just boring. – user1228 Aug 25 '14 at 19:06
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    @AdamDavis Hmm... I'd have great difficulty with that list in my code. Section 10.5.4 Special Comments of the Code Conventions for the Java Programming Language would be considered offensive... and no, Java is much less offensive than php. And I wonder if this was a hot question in its day. – user213963 Aug 26 '14 at 0:41
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There's precious little value and plenty of potential harm from scattering vulgar language across the sidebars of the entire network. Not only does it irritate people, the titles also get indexed in search results as part of the pages they're linked from - we've gotten complaints from folks who found their questions listed in search results for some fairly shocking phrases due to this.

Under normal circumstances, it's best to either close or edit questions that contain vulgar language. However, we do block a range of vulgar terms from appearing in the network-wide "hot" list as a fall-back in cases where there's a dispute or the post is simply overlooked.

This isn't really suitable for Brainfuck questions though. This language is a legitimate topic for multiple sites within the network; there have been and will continue to be good questions on the topic that are worth featuring network-wide, and penalizing them purely due to the naming choice of the language designer isn't appropriate.

The uneasy consensus on Stack Overflow for the past 6 years has been that BF questions are allowed, but the term "Brainfuck" should be munged or edited out of titles. This makes everyone equally unhappy, so I consider it an effective compromise - and I'm making it official: starting today (Nov. 24, 2015), the term "brainfuck" is blacklisted in titles only network-wide, with a message explaining why:

Please munge the word "brainfuck" when writing titles, to avoid causing unnecessary blockage from web-sensors.

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    One might want to glance at the-stick-of-truth and consider other title words that you might want to filter. – user213963 Aug 26 '14 at 0:48
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    @MichaelT whole SE network need to learn Where to find blood orgy? – gnat Aug 26 '14 at 8:54
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    Do questions (which have been removed from the hot questions list) have a chance to get back to the list if they change their title? – Cipher Aug 26 '14 at 9:06
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    @Cipher Yours is back in the list since you edited the title, so it looks like they do. – Geobits Aug 26 '14 at 12:37
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    @Geobits ... which perfectly demonstrates the true nature of beeps/asterisks - to hide profanity from robots, not from humans. – John Dvorak Aug 28 '14 at 13:20
  • Is this acceptable? – Shadow The Princess Wizard Aug 31 '14 at 18:46
  • This is showing up in the hotlist lately. Not exactly something I'd want a supervisor to see on my screen at work. – Andrew Medico Jan 17 '15 at 18:06
  • Edit it, @Andrew – Shog9 Jan 17 '15 at 18:34
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    This is another example of a question that showed up in HNQ starting with an uncensored Brainf**k. I've edited the uc out now, so this is just to let you know the blacklist doesn't seem to cover this word. – trichoplax Jul 7 '15 at 16:43
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    @AdamDavis For some values of "fixed." – 410_Gone Nov 24 '15 at 15:08
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    Really, @Mast? I left this blacklist fairly conservative in the hope that in less egregious cases, y'all could work together like adults. But since you prefer to bicker in the comments under my answer, "brainfuck" is now blacklisted in titles everywhere, hot or otherwise. – Shog9 Nov 24 '15 at 15:57
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    @Shog9 With respect, I'm not entirely convinced "Well, now it is blacklisted everywhere, screw you" is the adult response either (nor is your edit reason). While I do think Mast has overblown this quite a bit, his point still stands: The issue is with the filter that prevents profanity in HNQ, not with his question. – Dan Pantry Nov 24 '15 at 16:41
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    I'll make a final decision once I've had breakfast, @Dan - but it's worth noting that the HNQ blacklist was originally intended as a fail-safe for questions that couldn't be edited or deleted in time. I put this check in place a year ago thinking it'd help, but in hindsight it may have just exacerbated the drama; for whatever reason, BF isn't going away, so a HNQ blacklist just penalizes folks who participate in that topic. – Shog9 Nov 24 '15 at 16:52
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    @Shog9 Unfortunately it will always offend someone. I would be on-board with an HNQ blacklist on it, but one shouldn't be forced to edit the title because of the fact that the name contains a word that some deem offensive. It's a perfectly legitimate word, and it's not being used profanely, so it really doesn't deserve an all-out blacklist. Just because part of the word can be offensive, doesn't mean the entire word is. – 410_Gone Nov 24 '15 at 17:06
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    I hesitate to bring this up again, but another question appeared in the HNQ and was tweeted, Generating Вrаinfuсk NOPs – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Dec 7 '15 at 18:43

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