I saw that the title to this question had been edited, with an explanation of "this now appears on the hot list."

So, apparently, the word in the title was OK at first, but now the question appears SE-wide, it no longer is?

That's fine, but can somebody point to to the rules now, please, since I had no idea that some words can be OK here locally, but not elsewhere on SE.

Thanks in advance!

PS Also, I find censorship offensive, but that's probably just me.

  • In general, possibly offensive or slangy terms aren't welcome on titles. The rule is applicable always. See: Jeff's answer
    – NVZ Mod
    Sep 17, 2017 at 18:29
  • 3
    @NVZ: possibly […] slangy terms aren't welcome on titles – What is wrong with slangy words? Also, how is shit offensive or an “extremely vile curse word”?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 17, 2017 at 19:52
  • @Wrzlprmft shit in my opinion falls under slang most of the time it's used in titles. Slang meaning for shit can vary. But the word, I've seen, being edited on most titles here. My question "science the shit out of it" was edited out by the then senior members".
    – NVZ Mod
    Sep 17, 2017 at 19:58
  • @Wrzlprmft also, I'm not personally against it, I'm saying what I observed is the ruling here.
    – NVZ Mod
    Sep 17, 2017 at 20:00
  • 3
    Also closely related: What is the policy for question titles containing vulgar words? There is no list of words or rules that can be pointed to, as far as I know. It's up to the discretion of the editors, unless there's something so controversial that Stack Exchange employees get involved.
    – herisson
    Sep 17, 2017 at 20:41
  • 5
    So you're deeply offended by substituting an asterisk for the "I" in shit because it's censorship? I don't agree that a fig-leaf to get along with folks who are (or who have bosses who are) sensitive to vulgar language is censorship. If someone edits my posts to change all my spelling to the British equivalent, am I being censored?
    – ColleenV
    Sep 17, 2017 at 21:30
  • 5
    @Wrzlprmft Because it's on George Carlin's list.
    – tchrist Mod
    Sep 17, 2017 at 21:34
  • 1
    See MSE: meta.stackexchange.com/a/242051/309993
    – NVZ Mod
    Sep 18, 2017 at 2:25
  • I didn't know there was a hot list (I know about HNQ, however). Where's the hot list?
    – Xanne
    Sep 18, 2017 at 7:24
  • 2
    @Xanne "Hot list" is just short for "the list of titles in HNQ".
    – Mr Lister
    Sep 18, 2017 at 7:39
  • 1
    @tchrist: And changing shit to sh*t addresses this problem? I doubt it would be “okay” to say /ʃit/ or shite on American television.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 18, 2017 at 11:40
  • 3
    @Wrzlprmft You're right, it really doesn't. I'd try to move the whole thing out of the title instead to meet with policy about not having foul language in titles.
    – tchrist Mod
    Sep 18, 2017 at 12:25
  • Also, this answer on Meta is relevant meta.stackexchange.com/a/238581 There's precious little value and plenty of potential harm from scattering vulgar language across the sidebars of the entire network.
    – ColleenV
    Sep 18, 2017 at 14:14
  • 3
    @NVZ: Being pedantic here: Sure, shit is slang, but not every slang word is “bad”. Hang out, roflmao, chum, bromance, and fag are all slang.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 18, 2017 at 14:21
  • 6
    PS Also, I find censorship offensive, but that's probably just me. This is a bit of an obnoxious and unhelpful comment to make. Sep 18, 2017 at 22:19

2 Answers 2


The title has to be “radio-friendly”.¹ Potentially offensive words shall be censored in the titles, but can be explicit in the bodies and comments.²

The rule applies to every site on the Stack Exchange network, regardless of whether the question is currently a hot network question. It can be found expressed in various ways as part of answers and comments on various SE meta sites, as in the examples quoted above. I hope that it will someday be added to the Help Center to make it easier to point to, but there is no question about it being an official rule.

At issue is that offensive language in question titles can cause Stack Exchange to be blocked by content gateways such as corporate proxies. Stack Exchange views this as a business concern. The Stack Exchange network is only useful and self-sustaining when everyone is able to visit it.

“Radio-friendly” refers to Federal Communications Commission rules that prohibit obscene, indecent, and profane broadcasts.³ The assumption is that content gateway filters will probably not be triggered by question titles that would be acceptable on air.

If necessary, titles containing offensive language can be “bleeped” with asterisks or hyphens, but the preferred solution is to rewrite to avoid “bleeping”. To cite a past example, “Differences between slang words for breasts” is preferred over “Differences between ‘t*ts’ and ‘b**bs’”.

The word shit is avoided on air, consistent with FCC rules. In this case, the decision to edit the question title is the right one.

  • 4
    OK, so the comment by the editor, "censor the word "shit" as this now appears on the hot list" should have been read as "it's now even more important that we stick to the rules" rather than "the rules for HNQ titles are different than the ones on ELU".
    – Mr Lister
    Sep 19, 2017 at 6:05

I saw that the title to this question had been edited, with an explanation of "this now appears on the hot list."

As pointed out by NVZ in a comment on my previous attempt to answer, the user who proposed the edit is relatively inexperienced on ELU but much more active on other stacks. It is therefore likely that they first saw it on HNQ, and so their reason for editing is it appearing in HNQ, rather than the appearance on HNQ changing the acceptability of offensive words in the title.

  • Ehm, I can't see deleted posts. Why was it deleted? What was wrong with it?
    – Mr Lister
    Sep 20, 2017 at 15:44
  • @MrLister - It got two downvotes, because it was substantially wrong. The comments pointed out to me that it was substantially wrong. I wanted to write a corrected answer, and I had two choices: start with one on -2, when the two downvotes will be unrelated to the corrected answer, or just start a new answer. I chose to start a new answer.
    – AndyT
    Sep 20, 2017 at 16:13

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