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I first asked a question on this Forum a long time ago about the modern use of the term 'Oriental,' as in (i.e.) The Oriental Orthodox Church (composed of several Arab groups, Egyptian (Copt), Armenian, Ethiopian, Eritrean and other Eastern or African groups of Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic Christians), Oriental rugs, The Oriental Rite, and other Eastern entities (not Asian).

Moreover, I also asked about the modern use of the term 'Arabian' as opposed to 'Arab,' Arabian more antiquated mostly, with Arab, becoming more commonly used as an adjective, except regarding language (Arabic).

It was my first time seeking the possibility of knowledge by a member of this Community of my concerns.

Why was I referred to, by someone, as a secretive, mystery man last time I asked a question? I found that mildly offensive.

Who the heck cares who I am? I am a human who has questions about this most unorderly language of English that I have to speak because it is the most common language in the U.S.

Was the purpose of this to make me feel unwelcomed?

migrated from english.stackexchange.com May 22 '17 at 13:22

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

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    Are you by any chance referring to the line Apparently, this user prefers to keep an air of mystery about them, which appears automatically in peoples' profiles if they provide no extra information? – oerkelens May 22 '17 at 11:49
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    yes. That is a snobby, unwelcoming message. One ought to revise it, seriously! – Miguelángel Federico-Hassan May 22 '17 at 12:14
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    It is not a message of any sort, it is an automatic description for users who wish to find out something about you. It is an aspect of the policy of the Stack Exchange organization that established these sites, and not one that users are likely to be able to change. You may be a human being, but some human beings behave badly on the internet under the cloak of anonymity, which may be one reason for encouraging a bio. It might also be so one can make allowances on a site that uses English for those whose first language is not English. I'd regard it as a misunderstanding and let it drop. – David May 22 '17 at 12:36
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    Oh, here is a Stack Exchange Meta post about the topic of that message: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/251810/… It can be removed by editing your profile, but you would have to be able to log into the relevant accounts. It is not personally targeted at you; as David mentions, it's something that goes on the profile pages of users who have not written anything in the self-description section. – sumelic May 22 '17 at 13:02
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    By the way, your old question is here. You should merge your accounts: see instructions here. – Laurel May 22 '17 at 15:54
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    The first time I encountered it, I thought it was a modeately witty way to say, "this user didn't enter any information in the profile." Though I've seen it a few dozen times now, I still feel that basically it's an attempt at humor. But humor always has the potential to backfire, as seen in your experience. I hope you can trust the opinions of the community as expressed here. – anongoodnurse May 22 '17 at 19:57
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    No intention at all to make you or any other person unwelcome; it is a automatic description in the software. The software automatically assigns this description when extra information is not found in the user profile, and it can be removed if you enter a short description by editing the profile. Can somebody help by giving the procedure to edit the profile? – English Student May 26 '17 at 3:24
  • Nice to see that you have edited the profile to add a short description and thus removed the automated sentence. – English Student May 26 '17 at 3:46
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Good day to you, Miguelángel Federico-Hassan. Like you, I am a user who, according to the Stack Exchange's automated script, "prefers to keep an air of mystery about them." I'm pretty sure that the script is not supposed to be taken as snooty, snobby, or unwelcoming; rather, it amounts to nothing more than a playful (or at least wry) acknowledgment that the person so described has chosen not to fill out the biographical template, as the site would have preferred.

A truly snide or unwelcoming message would say something like "This user has chosen not to promote a friendly community feeling on this site by sharing a little something about himself or herself" or "Apparently, this user prefers not to let it be widely known that he or she has two heads and never matriculated beyond third grade." Those messages I would have found obnoxious.

In my view, it's a point in the Stack Exchange's favor that participants are allowed decline to describe themselves and their background and instead to be (by default) international hominids of mystery. We even get assigned a nice, colorful, recognizable geometrical pattern in place of a photo or illustration of our own choice, if we prefer.

Ultimately, I hope, participants at this site are gauged on the basis of the quality of their contributions (in the form of questions and answers) and not on where they come from or what credentials they may have amassed. Nevertheless, people do like to know more about those with whom they interact over a period of weeks or months or years; and having a sense of the global distribution of English Language & Usage participants is, if nothing else, an excellent curative for parochialism. It's not unreasonable for users of this site to take an interest in such things, nor is it unreasonable to choose not to share details about yourself if you don't want to.

My advice is not to take the Stack Exchange automated script seriously. I doubt that whoever composed it spent more than a minute or two coming up with it, and it shouldn't occupy any more of your time than that either. Participation at EL&U is structured in a way that is actually quite respectful of privacy. If my choosing to exercise that privacy option prompts the automated script to attribute an "air of mystery" to me, it's a negligible price to pay. I know I'm not really mysterious.

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    +1 your posts, I vote up first, and read after. :D – NVZ May 22 '17 at 18:41
  • Can you help OP (by giving a summary of the process) to edit the profile and add a short description so that the automated sentence is removed? I am not sure of the procedure to do this. – English Student May 26 '17 at 3:16
  • @EnglishStudent: I don't know how to get rid of the default message other than by filling in the biographical field with content of some kind. I've never tried to override the message on my profile. – Sven Yargs May 26 '17 at 4:13
  • Thank you. I think it has been done now. I see a short description has now been entered in the profile in question and so the automated sentence has disappeared. – English Student May 26 '17 at 4:17

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