When I say "mention" or "mentioning" I mean it as in the "use/mention distinction".
When I say "slur" I mean
A derogatory or insulting term applied to particular group of people. [Lexico]
What happened to get me to ask this question? A user quit the site when they found that our site finds it acceptable to mention the n-word, even though it is relevant to the post at hand. This led me to question our current stance, because if this user was vocal about the issue, how many good contributors leave without me knowing? How many good contributors are suffering without me knowing? I want us to be more inclusive of people, and maybe that means a bit of bowdlerising.
So, to cover the first objection: yes, similar topics have been discussed in the past (1, 2). But they were broader, about offensive phrases in general. I specifically want to talk about slurs. Also the posts are old, and I think it is good to get a fresh perspective on our entrenched ideas.
We have had a question this year (3) about slurs and the answer restates what is current policy. That's not a criticism, but I really think we need a second look.
The last time this came up (4) is where I will draw from what I think our current policy is.
A more thorough treatment of offensiveness can be seen in Andrew Leach's answer about flagging. (8)
To summarise: our current policy is that we should avoid mentioning slurs unless they are particularly relevant. Don't leave them in quotes unless you are specifically talking about the slur. Don't mention a slur, unless the post is specifically talking about that slur.
I think that is a good policy. It is similar to the policy on the RPG site (5). Most other sites I have looked at don't consider slurs by themselves, but have this rule applied to profanity in general (6, 7).
My question is: can we improve upon it? The answer might be no. I will post my answer, proposing a stricter policy of bowdlerising no matter what. I hope to see others, as well as healthy respectful discussion.
- Referencing the existence of words that may be offensive
- Offensive/NSFW words: what are the boundaries?
- Ethnic slur in question: what's the procedure?
- Is using "colored girls" as an incidental example offensive or unwelcoming?
- Are expletives (cursing, swear words or vulgar language) allowed on SE sites?
- Do we have any general guidelines on flagging?