Just wondering if there is any policy towards the use of M$ in place of Microsoft. If you're editing another user's answer, do you change it or leave it as is?

  • 38
    If you're already editing it, go ahead and change it. But I wouldn't bother if it's the only thing that needs to be changed. Jul 16, 2009 at 17:02
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    @Kyle: I would ;) I do that all the time. Whether I should or not is debatable - I'll edit just to fix one capitalisation error. Jul 16, 2009 at 17:52
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    Thinks, what would be a good equivalent for Google? :)
    – Benjol
    Nov 10, 2009 at 8:00
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    @Kyle I fully disagree. If I see M$ in an answer that is otherwise correct I will edit it without hesitation. It is childish and immature, and has no place in a professional community. I've seen M$ used twice in an ACCEPTED answer and referenced as an OFFICIAL acronym, which is just plain wrong.
    – Greg Bray
    May 10, 2011 at 16:55
  • To be using stackoverflow which is a Microsoft MVC site and be saying M$ seems like an Microsoft hating person. To not like Unity, VB.NET, or another product of Microsoft seems like fair game to me. Thomas Jefferson was all for Dissent, and I am to a certain degree with software. Seems that the Open source folks are big with the M$ , but why use it on stackoverflow?? Perhaps , M$ entries are automatically posted as MS or MSFT or Microsoft. Yawn. May 10, 2011 at 19:59
  • And what do we do with the comments with M$ 'hate-speech'? May 11, 2011 at 9:56
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    @GrzegorzOledzki: flag them as nois/spam/offensive, they get deleted if enough others do so too (three or five I think) May 11, 2011 at 10:27
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    I don't think this is "applicable to only one site". The word is used on several sites, and the question can be generalized outside the scope of SO
    – Jenayah
    May 27, 2019 at 15:01
  • I have seen worse... Jun 5, 2022 at 14:03

9 Answers 9


It's childish and immature. We're all adults here, right? If somebody doesn't like Microsoft, fine, but they don't need to act immaturely in the process.

Definitely edit it.

Note: I wasn't as clear as I could have been when I initially answered this question years ago. I'm making a minor edit today to better communicate my response. In the spirit of honesty, it's worth noting that I am presently employed by Microsoft; this was not the case when I originally answered.


Questions and answers should strive towards encyclopedia-like neutrality.

Each post should stick to facts without adding commentary.

You may be arguing that Microsoft is evil, and providing evidence to support that claim. That's fine, however, "M$" adds an emotional, punitive connotation that doesn't belong in a question or answer.

Within your post, you can state the fact that many people use that phrase to refer to Microsoft. But that's different from you using it.

In this particular case it's worth pointing out that not everyone will understand your reference, turning an otherwise perfectly fine answer into a confusing one.

  • What if the answer is on topic of M$ being evil? I can fully imagine a Retrocomputing question getting an answer about Microsoft murdering one technology or studio or another through dishonest corporate practices. An example would be their proprietary HTML extensions by default applied by their web-editing software, that violated W3C standards and broke many websites for other browsers.
    – SF.
    May 27, 2019 at 8:00
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    Microsoft being evil is an opinion. But if you're saying something like "many people consider Microsoft to be evil and refer to it as M$" then that would be fine. Just don't present the evilness as a fact, because that can only ever be subjective. May 27, 2019 at 19:17
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    Monopolistic anti-consumer practices are not a matter of opinion. Using them IS evil. They are banned whenever possible, and they can happen only thanks to legal loopholes. Never mind Microsoft has been fined for quite a few of them, and forced to back out of some others under threat of enormous fines.
    – SF.
    May 27, 2019 at 23:19
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    To be clear, I'm no fan of Microsoft, but if you're saying the evilness of a company can be objectively quantified and stated as a fact, we'll just have to agree to disagree. May 28, 2019 at 13:21

I wouldn't consider it a reason to edit a post, but I would probably change it if I happened to be editing anyway.


I would change it to Microsoft. It has a negative clang to it, plus there's no need for brevity; it just makes the post less readable.


I personally do not believe that any immature anti-[insert company here] content should be allowed. If I run across things like this I will quickly fix it and be done with it. I don't mind people having negative opinions, but you could voice them in a way that doesn't look incredibly petty.


I've made edits to answers in the past to remove M$ for the same reasons listed here. Some users have changed their answer back, thinking that M$ is an official acronym (citing this as a reference), in which case I leave a comment with a link to this meta question as well as this article on Wikipedia. If I think it is degrading the quality of the response or harming the community I will also flag it for a moderator to review.

I'm not saying we need to use all of the official product names (Sidenote: see this great list of official Microsoft product names), but even Wikipedia would not accept M$ when referring to Microsoft in an article. If you want to use it on Slashdot, Meta, or in chat that is your choice, but answers should be a bit more professional.

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    Official acronym? That's... wow.
    – Pops
    May 10, 2011 at 16:46
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    Exactly... MS, MSFT, and Microsoft are the only names used officially by Microsoft. Using M$ in your answer degrades the quality of your response and reflects poorly on our community. I fully support editing answers to change M$ to the correct nomenclature.
    – Greg Bray
    May 10, 2011 at 16:52
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    M$ is ignored my most search engines because they can't handle the "$" as a letter. For more details, see my answer below. May 11, 2011 at 9:00
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    That M$ is ignored by search engines is kind of the point - it makes it harder for people to search for your answers.
    – Dan Blows
    May 11, 2011 at 9:11

"M$" is more for subjects of forum posts than for question and answer sites. It's valuable for comment subjects on SoylentNews or Slashdot, for example, because it saves seven characters out of the 50 allowed in a comment subject while recalling Microsoft's heritage as a publisher of BASIC interpreters. But it's not quite as desirable in post bodies there or here. Even for subjects, the title of a question on a Stack Exchange site can be long enough that aggressive abbreviation isn't necessary.

There's one excuse for M$ in the body of a question or answer:

10 M$ = "Microsoft"
20 PRINT M$;" introduces Edge"

But if you find "M$" in a post that isn't about line-numbered BASIC code, it's probably an excuse to look for other grammatical errors and edit them out at the same time.


It is incredibly unprofessional to edit any M$ instance to your favor. Honestly, why would you edit an original post? or something you are referencing.

Are you offended by M$? How the culture here has become just another censor machine.

  • 13
    Its a post that has been around for about a decade - so 'become' isn't true. SE's always prided itself on trying our hardest to be factual and focused on helping folks find answers, rather than, well, focused on ideology or insults. If you have an issue with one of microsoft's products, and can write it in a well written, factual post, most folks will likely applaud it. M$ on the other hand, is just not useful in any way.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    May 27, 2019 at 7:14
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    Agree with @Journeyman, it's not really offensive to anyone, just not professional and has no place in sites that want to have high content quality. And to preserve that quality, users are indeed allowed to edit other users' posts. It's not censorship, it's keeping the sites clean and in good quality. May 27, 2019 at 7:19
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    I am the last person to ever speak up in defense of Microsoft, but M$ is very simply unclear. Never mind any other consideration about professionalism or anything else, the first objective here is to be clear and understandable. So anything that makes it even a little harder to understand a post should be removed.
    – terdon
    May 27, 2019 at 9:47
  • M$ has been around since the DOS days..it's unfortunate that many users are simply too young to understand the history behind it.
    – prusswan
    May 21, 2021 at 11:44

Since I'm the guy who is being downvoted here, I feel I should present my view as well, no matter how much anyone else dislikes it.

I hate Microsoft. They made many years of my life miserable with their products and no amount of niceness they may have adopted in recent years is ever going to remove the stains from my soul. Having strong emotions is something that helps me get my job done and I can't simply switch that off. I'm me and me thinks of Microsoft as M$.

Childish? Sure.

But: So what? Microsoft is big enough to withstand some teasing and if you can't stand it how is that my fault? You don't like my style? Well, who is childish/unprofessional then?

How much "political correctness" or "encyclopedia-like neutrality" is healthy? I don't know.

But having fun at what I do is what drives me. I prefer witty answers over neutral ones. My style gave me 50K so far.

The discussion right now upsets me. You are, right now, hurting my feelings. My fingers shake as I type this. My brain says "Don't send this, it'll only cause trouble." But my guts yell "STAND UP AND FIGHT" From now on, whenever I return to Stackoverflow, I will remember that some style nazis are in here, hurting me. That takes a bit chunk of fun out of my effort here. And fun is the coin in which you pay me.

What should I do? Love it, leave it, or change it?

I don't want to leave. I've invested too much in SO.

I can't bring myself to accept those edits. There is nothing technical wrong with my answer.

Change myself? Well, I'm doing that but it takes time. Do I want to be more neutral? Maybe. But that would also hurt my work performance. And I don't buy the reasons. So do I want to change in the way Greg Bray wants me? Not at all. So motivation is low on my side.

Am I being professional about this right now? Absolutely not! But that's also part of the 50K. So how about you love it, leave it or change it? Would be more simple for me.

  • 13
    @Aaron This was never meant to be a personal attack, which is why I never linked to your answer. My only goal was to correct a misspelling, and when you reverted the change stating that M$ is an OFFICIAL acronym when it clearly is not I choose to voice my support here to prevent the issue from spreading. If you don't like Microsoft that is fine, but abusing their name on this website is not the right approach. Your rep shows that you have been a valuable contributor and I hope you continue, but seeing M$ in an accepted answer on SO hurts me and is against the values of this community
    – Greg Bray
    May 11, 2011 at 16:33

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