By "mock profanity", I am referring to using the top keyboard row with the shift in place of where profanity would have been.

The relevant question I asked started:

!@#&%!@$# spammers are running brute force password guessing attacks on my server (postfix on Debian). They have already guessed two user's passwords and started sending %(*!@#&%!@# spam using my server.

A user edited away the two sequences of non-letters, labelling the edit "remove masked profanity".

I was wondering whether that's a real thing. To me, it seems that no-one, no matter how sensitive, should be offended by an unpronounceable series of random characters, which means that this edit was about changing style, not any actual policy violation.

Furthermore, the edit does not seem (to my obviously non-objective eyes) to serve any of the goals listed by the editing sidebar, and even actively work against the last one labelled:

  • always respect the original author.

I fully concede that I am not objective on this point, so I am posting this here to see whether there is something I'm missing.

  • 7
    In this case it looks like the "masked profanity" adds nothing to the question, so at least it doesn't hurt to remove it. – Fabian Röling Mar 3 '18 at 20:05
  • 16
    That is just noise, same level as "Hi, I am Joe, 20 years old, and I like to drink milk in the morning". It adds nothing to the post, so it should be removed. – Shadow Mar 3 '18 at 20:09
  • Generally it's not required, so I don't disagree with it being removed. However, some sites allow swearing when the discussion it that word. – James Mar 3 '18 at 20:09
  • 6
    Q*bert? Is that you? – Shog9 Mar 3 '18 at 20:36
  • This and This support removing mask/mock/real profanity from a question or answer. This covers all other noise. That’s just SE meta, I have SU meta, if you want them – Ramhound Mar 3 '18 at 20:47
  • Could have just flagged as rude and offensive suppose next time I will. – Ramhound Mar 3 '18 at 20:52
  • tbh the edit was the right thing to do. – Journeyman Geek Mar 4 '18 at 0:48

In this case, it's not really about offending people.

On Stack Exchange, the question is the most important thing... along with answers. We need those questions to be clear and concise and easy to read. In your situation, there's no need for such text. It makes your question harder to read and pulls focus away from your actual problem. I see absolutely no reason for you to include any form of profanity, mock or otherwise.

Focus on your actual question, not on using epithets for spammers.

I would probably capitalize "spammers" at the beginning of your question, but, otherwise, I don't see any need to rollback that edit.


I think the comment trail - which includes input from a moderator says it all. Sadly I'll be deleting it shortly (Sorry peanut gallery!)

I'll be stealing borrowing rather broadly from David Postill - the SU mod who handled this, and it feels like it reflects the official viewpoint of at least the SU moderator team.

It doesn't matter if it is masked profanity or not. The phrase adds nothing of value to the question and it is correct to delete it, just as we delete "hello", thanks" and other irrelevant information from questions/answers

And, that's why it was a valid edit. And it feels like your post is a better post for it. I guess the big test for the editor is the intent test, and unless your main intent was to post mock profanity, that feels passed.

I believe one of the edit rejection reasons is

no improvement whatsoever

This edit does not make the post even a little bit easier to read, easier to find, more accurate or more accessible. Changes are either completely superfluous or actively harm readability.

And this edit feels like it does all of the above. Were it a suggested edit, OP gets a accept and a pat on the head

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I think what you may be missing/forgetting is the "no chit-chat" from the Tour.

In focused Q&A all such embellishments that are added purely for conversational effect should be removed.

Q&As here are not personal communications.

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