A recent question contained an image that was removed as offensive.

The removed image "spoke a 1000 words," illustrated the problem and even reflected some of the technical issues of the problem that were not mentioned in the question. The image was highly relevant and I believe it was not superfluous or intended to be offensive.

In addition to being an actual example of the issue at hand, it also illustrated a related problem: You need to filter words that are similar or can be used a stand-ins for offensive words.

In this case, the letters "DIK", were visible as the offending term. With the addition of another letter, I can think of two offensive terms. This is an issue for those who need to employ such filters--How do you scan for modified terms?

The phrase that replaced the image ("a bunch of swear words and offensive terms.") does not reflect this issue and thus detracts from the question.

Obscenity filters are a common, real-world problem and of course important in the games industry. No one benefits from reducing awareness of the problem scope here.

So where is the line? Are SE's current CoC prohibitive of informational discussion in favor of not offending anyone?

I had to think about the purpose of this question for a moment... I suppose it's a request of all of the active editors under whose care we often enter.

Thank you for your contribution, but please try to make sure your edits do not detract from the knowledge sharing process.

I'd like to believe that we can ask mature questions and post mature answers, in a valid context.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Downvoters on the answer should post an answer with which they agree. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt Mod
    Oct 7, 2019 at 16:02

1 Answer 1


Where is the line between informational and offensive?



does not need

Is the "offensive" needed to illustrate the issue? Yes, then maybe we'll tolerate it (as a community).

If it's not needed, and we can find "non offensive" ways to illustrate the issue (or the solution), then why use "potentially offensive" content? Some swear words are kind of "trivial" for me, but are "very serious" for others. Why annoy them when you know you could do otherwise and get the exact same result?

IMHO, this image that was posted was not needed. Yes, it gave a clear glimpse of what the asker was trying to avoid ("spoke a 1000 words", as you say), but anyone who got close to an Arcade game just knows what the question is about, which removes the need of the screenshot.

If you believe that "something is lost" with the removal, you can try and edit it back in yourself, somehow: you can try and highlight that issue, without resorting to using actual offensive words:

For instance, if I'm branded by Pepsi, and they don't want the offensive word "Coke" appear on the highscores table, users will figure out ways to get around a "Coke" filter with "Cohke", "C0ke", "CoI<e", "C<>ke", "[oke", ...

If you have better ways to improve the question without using the offensive words, then the power is in your hands :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Mostly fair analysis, but you ignored the part of the loss of information, in this case, very relevant information. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mars
    Oct 4, 2019 at 2:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ And in this case, the OP is specifically trying to prevent the situation depicted in the image. I think it is wrong to claim that OP has the picture there to annoy those who find the words "very serious" "on purpose". (That's literally the opposite purpose) \$\endgroup\$
    – Mars
    Oct 4, 2019 at 2:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ OP's question is about an online leader board with users names in excess of 3 characters, not an arcade cabinet leader board with a 3 letter limit. At best, the image served as a visual depiction of how the problem has previously been seen in another context. At worst, it had list of words & abbreviations intended to shock and offend. To be clear, I'm assuming the actors who entered the combos into the cabinet intended to offend; I'm assuming OP did not, but rather was trying to illustrate a point. I agree with the edit - the illustration was superfluous. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pikalek
    Oct 4, 2019 at 2:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ As someone who proudly identifies as two of the slurs in the original image, I'd agree the question reads just as clearly without its presence, so it really didn't add additional information that was not already present in the text (which is more searchable, to boot!). So I think Alexandre is quite correct that a "need" for the image is not demonstrated here. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory Mod
    Oct 4, 2019 at 2:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mars I have edited my answer. I don't think the intention of the OP was to be offensive in this case. As such, they mentioned in the comments that they did not realize it might have been offensive to some and they agreed that the image should be removed. Also, thanks for bringing this here :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt Mod
    Oct 4, 2019 at 2:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlexandreVaillancourt Thank you for taking the time to answer and even edit the answer :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Mars
    Oct 4, 2019 at 3:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I slightly edited the question, as I think it was not clear, especially not for non-programmers, where the lost information that I'm referring to is. Yes, I believe everyone can imagine a leaderboard with offensive names. No, I don't think everyone immediately imagines that leaderboard with misspelled offensive names. In this case, misspelled offensive names are relevant to the problem scope and I think the loss there should have been addressed in the edit \$\endgroup\$
    – Mars
    Oct 4, 2019 at 3:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose in the end, this boils down to an inadequate edit, which happens all the time even without being connected to an issue of offensiveness. What sparked the inadequate probably isn't important. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mars
    Oct 4, 2019 at 3:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AlexandreVaillancourt Very well written edits :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Mars
    Oct 4, 2019 at 3:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mars Yeah, this happens. Often users will go and "put off the fire" (in this case, remove the image "Hurry, this image has hit the hot network question and has to be removed ASAP"), while not really taking the time to find a replacement solution. It's ok because the edit "improved the post". Also, sometimes the issue is so obvious to them that they can't see that the removal of the image (or the text) would remove something very important (most likely all the regular users here knew what this was about). So yeah, if you think it can be further improved, then please, go ahead :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt Mod
    Oct 4, 2019 at 3:19

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