From time to time there are random angry or confused users posting an offensive post, with a username containing bad words like f***, penis or nigg**. There also occasionally new users submitting their first, legitimate question or answer, with a username containing the same set of keywords. Those users usually don't get nuked, but always get their username reset by a moderator, to "user123456".

So the conclusion is rather clear: There's NO legitimate reason for a user to have a name containing such offensive keywords, and it's only more disturbance and disruption.

Would it be useful to ban (or automatically delete/suspend users with, or censor them after a grace period) such usernames? We could at least block these words that commonly appear:

f\W*u(\W*c)?\W*k  nig+[aeu][rh]?s?, penis, pus+ys*

P.S. It's quite an interesting fact that we're blocking "Problem" in titles but not "f**k" anywhere.

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    Users will just work around it as they do by using probelm (sic) in titles – Robert Longson Sep 28 '18 at 13:00
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    @RobertLongson The title word filter is one of the worst ideas ever implemented on SO (I can remember this title verbatim :)) – iBug Sep 28 '18 at 13:02
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    @RobertLongson May I ask what do you mean by do something else along the same lines? – iBug Sep 28 '18 at 13:15
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    You acknowledge that blocking problem is useless but want to implement rule based banning/deleting/suspending somewhere else. You'll just get things that we can read as offensive that don't trigger the ban. – Robert Longson Sep 28 '18 at 13:31
  • See also: The Scunthorpe Problem – ale Sep 28 '18 at 14:08
  • You can get thousands of offensive words from all world languages: do you plan to block all of them? – Massimo Ortolano Sep 28 '18 at 14:25
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    @MassimoOrtolano I specifically pointed out 4 words (patterns) that will solve 99% of the issue. – iBug Sep 28 '18 at 15:03

No, I don't think this is useful; it's even counterproductive. What Robert Longson says in the comments is true: users will just misspell the keywords, obfuscate them slightly, use а Cyrillic е instead of a Latin e, etc.

Right now, SmokeDetector will notice these keywords when the user posts something. The regulars in Charcoal HQ or other chatrooms will recognize the offensive username and can flag the post for ♦ moderator attention, causing the name to be reset. (If the user doesn't post, chances are nobody will notice the username, so it's less of a problem anyway.)

If said users are circumventing the proposed restrictions, it will also make it a lot harder for SmokeDetector to notice these users. That's why I think this is counterproductive.

  • What do you think about automatically censoring it (like changing to user123456 automatically, instead of blocking completely)? – iBug Sep 29 '18 at 12:55
  • Might work, but could be confusing. I feel more for a way for 6 users to red flag a username, upon which it gets reset, similarly to abusive posts. – Glorfindel Sep 29 '18 at 13:03

It would not be useful nor effective. If a user intends to be willfully offensive, an automated word-checker isn't going to prevent it. It just pushes the offensive intent down another path until they find something we didn't cover. It's a cat-and-mouse game better handled by quick human intervention (and we pretty much nail that).

Your analogy to blocking often-misused words in titles is not really apt. That is part of a just-in-time learning process where folks find themselves engaging in common behaviors they might think are okay, but probably aren't. It's more about UX guidance to help them learn the system than something intended to block bad actors outright.

  • What do you think about automatically censoring it (like changing to user123456 automatically, instead of blocking completely)? – iBug Sep 29 '18 at 12:55

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