This is a very personally opinionated question. I am not asking you to agree with me, I want your personal opinion.

I have found that the questionable language people use in comments, particularly on Meta but on others too, is becoming 1) more frequent, 2) more diverse (in a bad way) and 3) enjoyed by other people. There are very many highly voted comments which have questionable language in them. (I decline to give examples, I don't want them in my question)

OK, let me define questionable language. I am talking about about any form of swearing or profanity. According to the FAQ this kind of language should never appear on SE sites. (and there is a highly voted language comment just beneath!)

Personally I do not use colourful language and I find it disturbing when it is so well accepted, and I am worried that this is going to damage the SE network's vision and reputation for being professional.

How must we respond to this? Should we flag more frequently? The one issue with this is that there are often "questionable" words in otherwise good and helpful comments.

I know many people will disagree with me, but there are people who would agree. If such language will offend some people, it is best to leave it out. Leaving it out will not offend anyone. This site is for everyone and everyone should be respected. I would really like to know your position on this, especially moderators.

Note: Do not respond to this with such language for a joke

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    I haven't encountered language I find colorful, and since you don't want to give examples it's difficult to know what exactly offended you. Can't you link to them? (That is, without including the words) – janos Dec 19 '17 at 7:11
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    Very similar post - asked from the freer speech perspective on meta.su Ben's answer seems very relevant – Journeyman Geek Dec 19 '17 at 7:14
  • I should probably say that my idea of "bad language" is a lot more strict than most people's. I am a Christian. – hat Dec 19 '17 at 7:25
  • @janos, for example, look at the two comments below the linked FAQ. – hat Dec 19 '17 at 7:28
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    I don't understand that you say This site is for everyone and everyone should be respected. while you don't seem to want to respect how I express myself. I see no problem in flagging such comments. Worst case it is removed, best case it is edited by a mod. If you feel strong a reminder in a comment might educate a few people. – rene Dec 19 '17 at 7:39
  • @rene I suppose I should clarify that. What I meant is that if something is likely to offend even a few people is should be avoided. Avoiding language will not hurt anyone, but not avoiding might. – hat Dec 19 '17 at 7:50
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    I don't have a problem with offending a few people in a single comment which basically means you rule me out from participating. I can't know possible keep track of what people offends or not. – rene Dec 19 '17 at 7:58
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    You do realize that we cannot follow your note when you decline to specify what you deem questionable language? People are offended by different things. If you're offended flag it, if not leave it be. You can't expect anyone to really change due to such a vague assertion of yours. You pose three subjective hypotheses and no examples, statistics or other evidence for those. Thus, we neither know what you're really complaining about or if it's a rising problem. – Helmar Dec 19 '17 at 12:46
  • The idea that the least common denominator is some kind of benevolent compromise -- "Leaving it out will not offend anyone" -- is ridiculous. It is disrespectful to force your self-admitted above-average intolerance -- "my idea [...] is a lot more strict than most people's" -- on the rest of us. We have to accept the fact that you're a prude, and you'll have to accept the fact that some of us are foul-mouthed heathens. "Let's do this my way or I can't participate" is not a compromise: it's blackmail. We all have to adjust our expectations to the society in which we find ourselves. – jscs Dec 21 '17 at 14:00
  • @JoshCaswell, Please note that I am stating my position and asking for yours. I am not trying to completely reform everyone on the internet. – hat Dec 21 '17 at 16:22

I'm one of those folks trying to wean myself off very mild profanity in online speech. I also once had a period when someone was flagging all the profanity so, it might be a great idea to talk to a mod, just to see what they think, if you're going to flag a lot of things.

I won't be repeating Ben's answer from here, but I think it's essentially what ought to be the canonical answer here. I actually find there's very valid points in all the answers there and will be ganking many of the examples there.

In addition - the fact that its highly upvoted shouldn't really be an issue here. Is the comment still needed is a more important question - and we might have grounds to ask for the comment to get deleted anyway.

To me pragmatically I'd like the light touch approach. I don't particularly want a 'crusade' on language seeable as profane, or worse, people being less than nice over it. Personally I'd rather have common sense standards over folks imposing a fairly strict set of standards for language.

Practically - except in the most exceptional situations you can argue these comments are no longer needed, as comments often are. I also like the point that use of such language is imprecise - in many contexts we're using the sort of language you talk about it as a stand-in for more precise language. I used "gank" earlier - while inoffensive, it might not have any meaning to another user. These are also the sort of things you'd probably want to bring up to the community in question as a whole and see what they think. I did, and while the answer wasn't what I wanted, it set up a good baseline of what the community was confortable with.

In this specific scenario the best approach to me feels like "handle it if you see it, but don't go looking for it" - and to an extent be aware to when it'll be disruptive.

The Q-bert FAQ links to the main one, and to me this feels important here

Be Nice

Whether you've come to ask questions, or to generously share what you know, remember that we’re all here to learn, together. Be welcoming and patient, especially with those who may not know everything you do. Oh, and bring your sense of humor. Just in case.

And not everyone sees language the way you do, or feels the same way you do. I personally feel engaging the person constructively and flagging judiciously is the best solution here.

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  • I think that thread would better fit on the main Meta – hat Dec 19 '17 at 8:17
  • Quite - but I really did want the opinion of the SU community on what they wanted, rather than attempt to set standards for the network as a whole. – Journeyman Geek Dec 19 '17 at 8:29
  • I suppose that linking to it from here performs the same purpose. – hat Dec 19 '17 at 8:30

Just tell me.

I'm so good at offending people that I won't even notice. And I'm not keeping track of the comments that I left but are removed after flags.

There are so many ways people get offended these days there is no end to it. Keeping track of it and incorporating it in my default tone of voice needs time and practice.

I do hope that if I offend you, you can explain in a few words why that colorful language is bothering you. In my passionate abuse of the English language I might overlook subtleties or missed an interpretation in the Urban Dictionary.

I want SE to be a place where everyone can feel at home. That does mean I sometimes have to accept the presence of other users and their quirks. I do hope others feel the same towards me, despite my colorful language. With a bit of help I can improve, honestly.

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