For example, In "Fuck Blocher", why does Bligg say he speaks for the swiss youth and secondos? - should the title say "Fuck Blocher" or "F*** Blocher"?

  • Arguments for F***: it avoids displaying NSFW language on anyone's screen unless they actually click on the question; it decreases the likelihood of drama and complaints if the question goes HNQ and gets its title broadcast all across the SE network.
  • Arguments for Fuck: it may slightly increase searchability (this effect is negated somewhat by including the unbowdlerised name in the question body); we're all adults here and should be mature enough to be able to see a rude word without freaking out.

Any more arguments to support either side? Which way should we go on this?

Relevant reading: Do we need/want any sorts of content warnings? with two answers from Community Managers.


2 Answers 2


The Stack has a "no expletives" policy, but several sites have found that where clarity is at stake quoted expletives should be permissible.

I think we could pretty much copy-paste the RPG.SE decision on this subject:

[...W]e should stick to the standard SE "no expletives" policy to promote a friendlier and more civil site.

As on English.SE, exceptions can be made for actual titles and quotations. [...] I wouldn't mind, and it wouldn't be a bad thing, if the poster "bleeped out" the offensive part of such quotes, as that doesn't harm understanding in the least (F**kbunny? I have no idea what they mean, I only see a similar name without asterisks, whatever shall I do?) and could avoid offending other community members, but we won't enforce that.

Beyond that, there is no legitimate need to use expletives as either intensifiers or as lazy-language on this site. This is a site that caters to a hobby that includes young children[...]. Site members should also remember that there are site participants from all backgrounds, states, countries, religions, etc. here and that the golden site rule of "don't be a jerk" means that your word choice is an important part of upholding a civil site.

I won't go into "but what words exactly," it should be obvious which words are considered offensive - the FCC-banned, anything pointlessly referring to a sexual part of the male or female anatomy, slurs, etc. If someone flags it, and it's something that a reasonable person would not want their kid to be saying, would not say to their boss or teacher, etc. then it should go.

Please adhere to this policy, for as stated in the help center we will issue warnings or suspensions to those who are determined to violate it. Of course, the same goes for people being jerks in other ways. Be polite and civilized on this site. Our cardinal rule is "Be Nice," and it's certainly possible to not be nice and still not be using profanity. However, using profanity is generally a signifier you are probably being Not Nice. (Using it against someone who's not present isn't any more civil than using it on another site member.)

That seems to cover it pretty well, regardless of whether the material is in a title or body; the above principles are reasonable to apply to the site as a whole. I don't see any particular benefit in having different expletive rules for different parts of the site. (Remember, body text appears on most lists of posts, like the front page or a search, so there's not as much difference between the two in terms of user exposure as one might think.)

For the particular post currently under scrutiny, that means it'd be okay to leave the title of the work un-censored in the title of the question, because it's the title of the work and we are willing to make exceptions for the Stack's "no expletives" policy when dealing with actual titles and quotations of works we're dealing with. However it'd also be okay (and appreciated) to bleep it in a way that doesn't confuse meaning, because we DO want to make the site accessible to people working behind strict firewalls or with other reasons that expletives might obstruct their ability to use lit.se.

However... we put the titles of works into tags. There's no point in writing "F*** Blocher" in the question title if we're going to tag it . And obviously we're not going to censor tags: not only would most standard bleep punctuation break our tag markdown, we'd have to standardize the punctuation used across all tags and that doesn't fit the Stack's vision of tagging as an emergent folksonomy.

So for titles of works there is no practical reason to censor expletives on lit.se. Everything else applies as above.

  • Thanks for editing! I've removed my comments and downvote now that this addresses the specific question (still have to think about whether or not I agree with it).
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 9:54
  • What about, say, quotes from works of literature that are being discussed in questions/answers that contain expletives?
    – user111
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 17:20

Arguments for F***: it avoids displaying NSFW language on anyone's screen unless they actually click on the question; it decreases the likelihood of drama and complaints if the question goes HNQ and gets its title broadcast all across the SE network.

Well great, if someone hates having the word fuck on their screen, then they'll click on the fuck-free question title and... have a question with the word fuck on their screen. I really don't see how it's possible to avoid the word fuck here, since it is the title of the song.

This question is kind of talking about a problem that doesn't really exist anyway, since the question is about a niche issue and won't make the HNQ. And I don't really see how the needs of HNQ readers are more important than the needs of readers coming from Google. As someone who tends to mostly read the titles in Google results, not having the word fuck in the title would make it very likely that I would miss the result.

No, please don't. If this is going to be a serious site on literature, subjects might might deal with the occasional adult theme and sometimes uncomfortable situations on occasion.

While we don't allow posts to get overly gratuitous simply for the shock value, I wouldn't want to oversee a site where folks are asked to speak in hushed whispers whenever talking about naughty bits and adult themes as a matter of policy. Let's not hack up these posts with unnecessary markup, and I'm equally against plastering warning stickers all over the site trying to suss what subjects should receive such a treatment. I wouldn't want to use such a site, and I certainly don't want to be that guy with the marker who's job is to cover up all the naughty bits before the magazine hits the newsstand.

Titles are supposed to describe the question as accurately as possible.

If it really is impossible to allow the question with the word "Fuck" in the title, just change the title to "why does Bligg say he speaks for the swiss youth and secondos?" I don't want the first impression someone arriving from Google to be that this site isn't able to handle the word "fuck" in a question title.

  • Attribution for that quote? :-)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 1:55
  • 5
    I have to downvote for your first two paragraphs. A title containing "F***" would make it clear that the question will involve the word "fuck"; furthermore, having the word "fuck" on your screen in a prominent place such as a title is different from having it somewhere in the question text, from the point of view of people browsing SE at work. And yes, that particular question is unlikely to hit the HNQ, but this meta post is about the general principle, not that one question.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 2:02
  • @Randal'Thor why is it necessary that every question follow general principles. Why not make an exception for, say, a question that will never reach the HNQ? Pertenent reminder that the proportion of meta discussions on this site is out of control relative to our site's size: literature.meta.stackexchange.com/a/906/111
    – user111
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 2:10

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