Today we had the following question posted:

What is SE policy regarding potentially offensive screen names?

The specific user mentioned had already been taken care of, but the question is asking about the generic situation.

What is SE policy on handling of such a case?

It's a good question, no doubt about it, but it has been asked before.

Then we do have a number of questions asking whether a specific username is offensive or not, whether or not a raised flag on that was correct or how to determine that up front.

Those are among the more generic, there are plenty more that are either about inoffensive usernames or so specific the list would go on way too long if included. The tag currently has 399 questions (400 incl. this one), of which 276 not closed as duplicate. Oddly enough this is even higher than the amount of questions tagged .

I don't doubt the good intentions of most of these people, but this is getting a bit much. All the information one could possibly need is already posted, but it's fragmented and hard to find.

Is it time to make one question (possibly with multiple, somewhat specialized answers) to concentrate all this information in one place? When done properly, it may eventually warrant being included in the .

If not, how else should we start cleaning up this mess?

  • 3
    "What to do" and "what/how to flag" feel like two different issues. As is "what should a moderator do" but that's documented adequately IMO. The 'right' thing to do is so heavily dependant on context and actually understanding what's happening. Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 12:50
  • There are a lot of topics discussing very similar issues so let's create another one? I think closing duplicates is the way to deal with those.
    – Joachim
    Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 16:00
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    Does this answer your question? What is SE policy regarding potentially offensive screen names?
    – Joachim
    Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 16:00
  • 1
    "**Is your question not part of the FAQ?** - First look at questions tagged faq-proposed to see if there is a question not in this index that might have the answer you seek. If you still can't find an answer, then see the following instructions for proposing an FAQ question. ": FAQ for Stack Exchange sites
    – Rob
    Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 16:25
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    @Joachim How is this a duplicate of that question? This one is a meta question asking about what should be done with questions asking about it, and isn't asking about it directly. Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 20:16
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    I asked Mast to bring it up here - since its a meta/network issue that there's a lot of informal guidance for specific to specific instances of it happening. Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 3:55

1 Answer 1


I think there's really 2 related issues.

There's generally a lack of clarity over where the 'lines' are for what's an appropriate username, and when unsure folks tend to seek guidance. We'd want to cover in general - that it's fine to flag a user's post if you feel its offensive, especially within the bounds of the COC. We don't 'really' need a half dozen questions trying to cover whether a specific username is allowed. Our current dupe targets here are all very specific to a user I feel. In this context - I feel like 'reasonableness' should be enough to get mod attention rather than trying to find specific buckets of things to flag. A 'community FAQ' might cover all this.

I actually like the first linked post (that I answered) for "what is the policy when there's an offensive username". There's a few issues I've left out (like when we'll do network wide resets), and it's scoped to just usernames (In theory profiles in general and profile pictures come under the same rules, but I'd like to keep a narrow scope here, but I literally use the same moderator message wording for all three, with situation specific adjustments) - but it feels like a good starting point for a FAQ post on what we'll do.

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