I see several discussions of titles containing vulgar words, including What should we do about question titles containing vulgar words?, but nowhere can I find an actual POLICY stated, even though sumelic is claiming there is a policy.

Is there a policy??

If so, where is it documented?

  • 1
    What? Have you never seen question titles on EL&U containing swear/vulgar words being censored? The body content can contain as many obscenities as long as they are relevant to the question. This is a language site, but once a question hits the hot questions network then anyone can see the title. Someone somewhere will be offended, adding an asterisk or two hardly makes the question title unintelligible.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 10:51
  • @Mari-LouA There are some policies and guidelines that are not followed even though they are specifically mentioned on Help Center, Stack Exchange Meta and here. I don't think HotLicks is unaware of the previous bowdlerized titles and he asks where the policy is.
    – user140086
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 12:27
  • 2
    People make specious edits right and left. Simply seeing that there's some evidence of a practice of bowdlerizing titles does not establish that as an official policy.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 13:40
  • Are you asking what the policy is (as your title asks) or are you asking where the current policy if any is already documented (as in your text)? Please clarify.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 13:43
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    @Mitch - First, I need a statement of the actual policy. I've sort of gotten that, indirectly. Then the second question would be why isn't this policy documented?
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 13:50
  • 2
    This particular policy is pretty well known, at least by long standing ELU members. It is unfortunate that there is no convenient mechanism here for old and new alike to reference it. Well there is a mechanism but finding whatever docs is not easy. Well it is easy but it is not definitively and explicitly stated. Do you disagree with the current policy? Then make an answer with that policy and people will vote.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 13:56
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    @Mitch: the difficulty is that the policy was developed by moderators and community managers, not regular ELU users. So I don't know if our votes would be able to make a difference.
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 13:58
  • @sumelic how is your position different from the consensus position? We can vote on it and see if that changes behavior.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 14:05
  • Click here to see the cashed version of this question from which a wealth of knowledge, bad language and hilarity have been removed. Not to mention our consensus. I know ELU is a special case but why is that post even still open if [it's] going down like that?
    – Mazura
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 3:35
  • 3
    @Mazura - Since this is EL&U, that's cached, not cashed.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 3:41

3 Answers 3


Jeff Attwood's answer (as lank to by sumelic) is the definitive answer. There is no profanity allowed in question titles.

If you see a question with a swearword, etc., in the title please edit the title. Either censor the words, e.g. change fuck to f***, or reword the title so that it doesn't require such a word.

  • 4
    Thank you for confirming that this is current moderator policy. It really does seem like this should be documented in the Help Center somewhere, as MετάEd suggested a while back.
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 17:26

Unfortunately, it is not very well documented. The reason I believe there is such a policy is because of previous meta posts, and the continuing actions of site moderators. An important point that I forgot to mention is that the policy was originally network-wide, top-down rather than something that was created by the users of this site.

Here are the relevant posts:

I can't find any more recent statements from Stack Exchange on the ELU site. But without further information, I assume the policy has not changed. From what I have seen, the site moderators do currently follow this practice. They should be able to tell you more about its current status, and whether they do it just because they think it is a good idea, or if there are still instructions from Stack Exchange to enforce this.

Here are some relevant, more recent general Meta posts from Shog9 (a current Community Manager for Stack Exchange, Inc.):

From this last one:

There's precious little value and plenty of potential harm from scattering vulgar language across the sidebars of the entire network. Not only does it irritate people, the titles also get indexed in search results as part of the pages they're linked from - we've gotten complaints from folks who found their questions listed in search results for some fairly shocking phrases due to this.

Under normal circumstances, it's best to either close or edit questions that contain vulgar language. However, we do block a range of vulgar terms from appearing in the network-wide "hot" list as a fall-back in cases where there's a dispute or the post is simply overlooked.

Of course, what counts as "profanity" that needs to be censored is not entirely clear; Jeff's answer talks about "extremely vile curse word[s]," and Shog's is about the programming language Brainfuck, which contains a word usually considered to be "stronger" than shit. It's not uncommon to see posters on various Stack Exchange sites use words like crap or dick.

However, the general position seems to be that titles specifically should minimize their use of words that are considered vulgar by some people.

  • 1
    I will point out that Jeff Attwood's comments/answers appear to be no different from any other 170 rep wannabe (with no authority, only opinions) until you check his profile -- this is a major flaw in the scheme of things. And even after checking your profile I see no evidence that you speak with any authority.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 3:26
  • @HotLicks: What? I'm not speaking with any authority; I thought that was clear. I'm just a nobody; the most important things in my post are the links. Like I said, you'll have wait for word from site moderators to find out the official answer. Jeff has a diamond after his name, which shows he is a moderator of some sort.
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 3:28
  • 1
    Well, this is the problem. Lots of comments flying around, with no good way to tell who's speaking with authority and who's just blowing it out their hat. So far as I can see, none of the links actually point at a policy document, and those people who are presumably speaking with authority are not identified.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 3:33
  • @HotLicks: as I said, there is no policy document. That does not mean there is no policy. Jeff Atwood (at the time he was posting) and Shog9 were both speaking with authority in the posts I linked to above. What do you mean "those people who are presumably speaking with authority are not identified"?
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 3:36
  • @HotLicks - Jeff Atwood (read the first two lines) has some authority, I should think. Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 5:10
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    @sumelic - I mean, unless you know who Jeff Attwood is, or look at his profile, you have no idea that he's not simply a 170-rep newbie who has no idea what he's talking about. How is one supposed to know this??? Other sites at least put a star by a moderator's name or some such.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 13:36
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    @HotLicks: yes, there is a diamond after his name. Only moderators have this.
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 13:37
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    Jeff Atwood is the co-founder (or sole founder—not sure which) of OverflowStack Exchange. I would have thought computer programmers would know this information. And those who are curious, like me, find out for themselves. Now, I believe he's retired from SE, but he's still the owner.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 13:41
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    @sumelic - That diamond looks like just a "special character" that's a part of his name, no different from the character in the "z7sg Ѫ" signature of the following comment.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 13:45

This question's title is written in a vulgar tongue. Writing ELU question titles in English should be encouraged.

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