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Front Paging Profanity

by Mr. Muskrat (Canon)
on Oct 15, 2002 at 17:49 UTC ( #205446=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I've been thinking about this for some time now and I think that I should say something.

I realize that many people use swear words when they speak. I also realize that many people write the same way that they speak. So I expect to come across some profanity when reading posts here. I don't like it but I accept it.

So that brings me to the title of this node... Do we really want curse words on the front page? I am noticing it more frequently now. Is this something that should be condoned at the Monastery?

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Front Paging Profanity
by dws (Chancellor) on Oct 15, 2002 at 18:03 UTC
    Do we really want curse words on the front page? ... Is this something that should be condoned at the Monastery?

    I rather suspect that a concensus agreement on what constitutes a "curse" or "swear" word will be hard to achieve. There are a few that are obvious, but beyond that there's a large gray area. And unless there's a concensus agreement on where the line is, we'd just be setting ourselves up for a string of arguments.

    I say take it on a case-by-case basis via Moderation, and let the editors sort things out.

      Agree totally with dws. The combination of consideration and editors should reflect the general community opinion on content.

      If you object to the language in a node submit an appropriate consideration. I've not seen anything that I personally find offensive so am happy with the status quo.

      It shouldn't be too hard to eliminate the obvious ones. And yes, there are possibilities for 3l33t versions of them to sneak in, but my hope is, that is unlikely to happen.

      My estimate is, that many of these "obvious" words sneak in because when the focus is on topic, there is no/less focus on form.

      This may be true for both the author and the reviewer/frontpager.

      So my vote is: Yes - lets at least establish basic mechanisms to keep a "monastery-like" spirit in here. THis is what I liked most when entering the monastery, and I - too - think that profanity made it somehow into.

      "Früher war alles besser." ;-)


Re: Front Paging Profanity
by sauoq (Abbot) on Oct 15, 2002 at 19:30 UTC

    What is profanity? When I write, I tend to refrain from using many words that you might hear me speak from time to time. Even so, I'm not above using "hell" or "damn" for emphasis on occasion. I may have expressed frustration with a phrase like "pain in the ass" once or twice. I've even implied harsher words with acronyms such as "WTF" or jargon like "fsck."

    I don't really think it's our job to censor people just because they use a word that we don't like or turn a phrase that offends us.

    I have very little patience for the complaint that profanity is offensive. Profanity is not, afterall, an inherent quality. Something is profane only when one judges it to be so. Besides, no one is under any requirement to read the content here.

    "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
Re: Front Paging Profanity
by ignatz (Vicar) on Oct 15, 2002 at 18:33 UTC
    Back in my salad days I wrote this thing called the f___ filter for a web portal I ran. It allowed one to strip out profanity on the site. ( an Easter egg was that it could also increase all of the site's profanity ) Perhaps filtering the content through Regex::Common::profanity as a default option may be of interest.
      s/as a default option/as an option/;
      and then I'll agree to it.

      I don't think profanity adds anything to the site, but I'm not interested in reading it through a filter that might inadvertently alter meaning, unless it's something like this :)

        a filter that might inadvertently alter meaning
        That reminds me of a story I heard about some javascript that mysteriously failed when run from home, even though the code ran just fine from work. It turned out that the childsafe filters installed at home were transforming the javascript variable 'HashItem' into 'Hash**em'. Doh!

        Another interesting case is the origin of the "word" medireview


        Seeing the Malkovich filter reminded me of one South Park episode where everything was identified as a Marklar.

        As for cussing on PM, I don't see it as a major issue because we're more concerned about the topic of the node rather than the words used to write it. However, considering that some monks here are viewing the site from work as a reference tool, I do believe that several of the more obscene words should not be used in node content. It would be a slap in the face for everyone here if a site visitor got fired or received disciplinary action from a supervisor because of a co-worker viewing something here as being offensive.
        If there is an OPTION you can toggle for this, then I'd support it. As long as the option is disabled by default (ie, swearing isn't filtered by default). If it became a hard rule that swearing was filtered out, I would leave.
      Perhaps filtering the content through Regex::Common::profanity as a default option may be of interest.
      Before you get too enthousiastic about this approach, may I point you to this journal entry on

        WARNING: You must be at least 21 years old or authorized by a guardian to read this post.

Re: Front Paging Profanity
by Moonie (Friar) on Oct 15, 2002 at 18:35 UTC
    I agree with you and dws. I don't particulary want curse words on the front page, but in some instances it's not too noticed. A case by case basis is a good idea. The issue to all monks out there is you really want profanity on the front page of a site like this? I always viewed this site as professional. Granted, we're all programmers - regardless of age or occupation - but on a site like this where I believe many have used this as a reference on perl topics/questions and where many have recommended to fellow collegues to go for help or insight - don't you think profanity is a bit unsightly? Just an opinion.
Re: Front Paging Profanity
by converter (Priest) on Oct 15, 2002 at 20:22 UTC

    Why not just encourage monks to behave like adults and leave it at that?

      Isn't that pretty much what he did? I don't think he was calling for censorware, here. I think he was just saying, "Hey, how would you guys feel about toning it down a bit?"

Re: Front Paging Profanity
by Popcorn Dave (Abbot) on Oct 15, 2002 at 18:38 UTC
    One possible solution is to ask that people who are going to use "the 7 words you can't say on TV" to use an * in those words such as bullsh*t. Would that be as offensive to you?

    Personally I can deal with anyone's language. Usually the more profane, the less thought there is in it.

    But don't get me started on 31337 speak... lol

    There is no emoticon for what I'm feeling now.

      You forget, this is (still) the no-win era...

      i am offended by your attempt at not offending me. Particularly, i don't like it when people try to censor words because pretty much everyone will know what was being said anyway and it stands out more. Swearing being a long habit of mine, i have great difficulty in choosing appropriate words sometimes when writing posts to perlmonks.

      The reason i choose to not use those words is because i would like everyone to be able to read my post and not have a chip on their shoulder from my language usage, but rather what i say and how i say it. For my posts to be more effective i find it useful to not cuss, because i have found that jaded people have a filter that as soon as someone starts cussing the flames start raging and/or the post just gets ignored...

      When it is appropriate to use "foul" language, use it. Don't fucking censor yourself for our benefit, because we (being a reasonable percentage of the reading audience) damn well know what lies behind the asterisks...

      Oh, and yes, 1337 speak should FOAD. And this post is not necessarily in direct response to Popcorn Dave but just kind of a general statement about my views on *ster*sks (word censored for offensive value ;-)


        No kidding. : )

        You are quite right. Foul language is sometimes appropriate, there's no question. Not having seen the actual node in question that was referred to in the initial post it's hard for me to say one way or the other if the original poster is/was justified in his complaint.

        That said, all I was offering was a suggestion, not an edict. If you don't want to, fine. If I don't want to I won't either, and I doubt anybody's going to really give a damn. But I stand behind what I said in that the more profanity there is in someone's statement, usually the less cohesive thought there is behind it.

        S*, f*ng d* wh*t y** f**ng w*nt w*th *st*r*sks, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference to me ;)

        There is no emoticon for what I'm feeling now.

        ++ to you for having the balls to post how it really is. My thoughts on this subject can be summed up with a cliche: The moral majority is neither.

        Language is a living entity. It grows and adapts to fit the culture that uses it. We are adults. You wouldn't say to your spouse, "dear, I wish to engage in intercourse with you," when what you really mean is "honey, let's fuck."

        We are programmers not programs. I say use language skillfully and let the rich colors of human emotions spill out onto the screen wherever it's appropriate. I have no fucking use for prudes.
        </ugly American rant>

Re: Front Paging Profanity
by bnanaboy (Beadle) on Oct 15, 2002 at 19:11 UTC
    Heh- when I first read the title of the post, at first I thought you might be referring to all the garbage MS Front Page puts in HTML documents when it writes them.

    I think something that hasn't been brought up, though, is that there's a difference between written and verbal communication--if somebody is talking with me and swears, I can choose to ignore it, and that's the end. I find written cursing much more offensive, though, especially as Moonie noted on a more professional website such as this. In written form, it's not just over and done with, it's there on the screen to stay. And so I ask... why is it necessary? Sure, it can be edited by the moderators to read fun characters that otherwise only get used in comic strips and pattern matching, but what's the point? Is it necessary? Save those characters for regexes!

Re: Front Paging Profanity
by HamNRye (Monk) on Oct 15, 2002 at 22:50 UTC

    Ummmm.... Doesn't moderation perform some of this for us?? Is Mr. Muskrat (P.S. The word "Muskrat" both titilates and offends me.) saying that he doesn't mod down posts that he finds offensive??

    If a minority of our community find a poster offensive, he'll continue on and have no problems. But if a majority do, he'll take the karma hit and either learn the error of his ways or have his voice in the community diminished.

    So, now we have established that a majority would solve the problem without intervention. So, if a majority of the members of the community support this, intervention is not necessary.

    If there is no majority of monks who feel so strongly about the language used on the front page, why restrict the majority of users due to the vocalness of a small minority?? We Americans have already seen too much of that in action in our government. Besides, how many 8 year olds really visit the monestary??

    I don't believe that the behaviour needs to be condoned or condemmed on any administrative level, rather let the community system that is already in place reward or punish members for their actions. (As was intended)


Re: Front Paging Profanity
by Mr. Muskrat (Canon) on Oct 15, 2002 at 23:13 UTC

    Perhaps I wasn't clear enough...

    I was not talking about censorship on any level. "I realize that many people use swear words when they speak. I also realize that many people write the same way that they speak. So I expect to come across some profanity when reading posts here. I don't like it but I accept it." I reiterate... I don't like the profanity but I accept it. This is the internet. If you cannot tolerate some profanity then you should cancel your internet access.

    Shouldn't there be some guidelines dealing with profanities and front paged nodes? The front page is what visitors see first. If we want to remain professional, then we should take steps to stay professional.

    It may be something as simple as the editors or whomever, going through and adding a readmore tag before the profanity. Maybe we should stop front paging nodes that have profanities? I don't know what the answer is but I do think that this is something that the gods should rule on.

    I have started a thread that has made people think and post their thoughts. That is a good thing. No matter the outcome of this issue, I know that I have done my part to try and make Perl Monks a better place and I am glad to be a part of this community.

      Just like people have different views on profanity, people have different views on professional behaviour. Personally, I don't consider someone to be a professional's professional until I've heard them slam the phone down and shout "Bloody idiot!" across the office.

      Someone who remains calm, polite and considerate under all circumstances has the unpleasant stink of sales, incompetency or both. It's quite reassuring for me to see the occasional cuss, since it indicates that I'm dealing with people who are more interested in substance over style.

      I didn't believe in evil until I dated it.

        Funny, I dislike people who get all worked up and start swearing for the same reasons. They tend to be the ones who take things personally - which impedes growth, if you ask me. And to remain calm and considerate does not have to be coupled to politeness - you can be decidedly rude brash without resorting to profanities. People earn my respect when they can get angry without getting mad.

        Makeshifts last the longest.

Re: Front Paging Profanity
by greenFox (Vicar) on Oct 16, 2002 at 02:25 UTC

    I think the existing moderation systems are great as they are to deal with any kind of content- OT, flames, trolls, swear words are all capably dealt with by the community without the need to have any additional guidelines.

    If you find a node personally offensive then downvote it and message the author letting them know why you downvoted them. If you feel a node is offensive enough to be of damage to the community (and not just your own sensibilities) then do the same and consider it.

    Life is a tale told by an idiot -- full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Re: Front Paging Profanity
by Preceptor (Deacon) on Oct 16, 2002 at 09:57 UTC
    IMHO (and I think others have said this too), is to rely on the moderation/consider system.
    At the end of the day, when you start talking about censorship, then you start talking about _what_ might be considered offensive. If you start with swearing, doesn't it naturally follow that innuendo is also unacceptable? Then you get into implications regarding taking drugs. Is that unnacceptable? What about opinions you don't agree with?
    Regarding swearing, well, what do you consider swearing? Don't forget that a many of the current swear words, are context (and linguistic region) dependant. "Ass" has one of the definitions (and IIRC the original definition) listed as:
    Any of several hoofed mammals of the genus Equus, resembling and closely related to the horses but having a smaller build and longer ears, and including the domesticated donkey.
    A vain, self-important, silly, or aggressively stupid person.
    Is that swearing? If I used it on the context of 'a mosquito bit my ass' does that then become swearing? Far too fuzzy a line for my liking, and not something to make rules/guidelines about. Use your common judgement and consider a node that you find offensive...
    I most certainly don't agree with using **s all over the place. It really doesn't hide anything, it just looks daft. (A word with a * over a letter is still recognised by people who know it, and know what it means, and the situation remains unchanged for someone who doesn't recognise it.)
    Filtering should be watched and is icky. The classic example is for a long time no one in Scunthorpe (a town in UK) was allowed to sign up for an AOL account :)
    As an alternative to filtering posts, I might suggest allow regexp filtering on 'things you read'. So if you don't want to see swearing, then you don't.
    It's not pessimism if there is a worse option, it's not paranoia when they are and it's not cynicism when you're right.
Re: Front Paging Profanity
by foxops (Monk) on Oct 15, 2002 at 20:03 UTC
    I think I agree with most when I say that I would prefer not to have profanity in my face; but I would much rather have profanity in my face and other problems/benefits of free speech, then have to question how the information I am absorbing was filtered, who filtered it, and why it was filtered. I wish people would invest a little more time in building a vocabulary, and then maybe they could more accurately get their emotions and thoughts across.
Re: Front Paging Profanity
by andye (Curate) on Oct 15, 2002 at 18:20 UTC
    Do we really want curse words on the front page?

    Hell yeah!


Re: Front Paging Profanity
by jepri (Parson) on Oct 16, 2002 at 02:31 UTC
    Stop that! You said the word! You said it! Aaah! Now I've said it! Aaah! Somebody stop me!

    I didn't believe in evil until I dated it.

Re: Front Paging Profanity
by jj808 (Hermit) on Oct 15, 2002 at 23:08 UTC
Re: Front Paging Profanity
by Wonko the sane (Deacon) on Oct 17, 2002 at 23:49 UTC

    When I was young, I did not go around yelling out the names of fruit. This is because yelling out "BANANA!", did not really get me a lot of attention. Though saying some of the other words, that are considered "bad", got me a whole lot of attention. I didnt even have to know what any of them meant!

    A word is a collection of syllables that are used by someone to try and communicate an idea and or feeling to another being. Thats it!

    Choosing what words or phrases someone is allowed to use to express themselves is Censorship! Just because someone decides that a certain word or phrase, is for some odd reason offensive to them, gives them no right to decide how I should be able to express myself.

    Can anyone even give me a reason that ANY of the so called "offensive words", are actually offensive? Why is one word more offensive than any other word, that describes the same thing?

    These words are offensive to certain types of people because those types of people CHOOSE to be offended by them. I think this says volumes about this type of person.

    I will reserve the rest of my thoughts about these types of people for another time.

    Just another raving lunatic in the asylum.
Re: Front Paging Profanity
by JSchmitz (Canon) on Oct 17, 2002 at 18:31 UTC
    IMHO I feel that to say that a "word" can be considered offensive makes no sense whatsoever. This is not a religious web site it is a web site about Perl programming. If someone uses the F___ word then so be it. What IS offensive to me is when someone tries to push their religious beliefs on others.


      Oh, Bless you, you too good son of a mother-blessing saint!


      P.S. "Religious beliefs" might be overstating the case. Folks get their knickers in a wad over far less -- "subjective sensibilities" is a phrase that springs to mind. Personally I don't mind if someone gets bent out of shape over language I use. It's like someone willingly handing out rocks to the world. I take those rocks, write their name on them, put them in my pocket and save them for later use.

      Oooh! A button! bzzzt! Did that hurt? bzzzt! What about that? ...

      So just how is professionalism religious?

        So just how is professionalism religious?

        On the surface of it, it is not -- unless the term 'professionalism' is being used as a cloak and foil to further one's own agenda that has nothing to do with a professional code of ethics.

        Aside from this disingenuous possibility, the lack of profanity in a professional context boils down to the economics of respect (and, more directly, downstream sales in a business context). In the arena of respect, as with that of profit, one either caters to near the lowest common denominator in an attempt to minimize risk, or they embrace risk and become a maverick.

        Many people, especially if they are pursuing moralistic agendas, ignore the possibility of existing somewhere between these two alternatives.


Re: Front Paging Profanity
by deadkarma (Monk) on Oct 20, 2002 at 03:59 UTC
    In regards to expressing ones-self within the terrible contraints of written language, there's more than one way to do it!

    In regards to discerning the level of (if there exists such a thing) profanity or morally corrupt written language, there's more than one way to do it!

    words than were profane ages ago, are commonplace now, it's just another way of expressing yourself, maybe even natural evolution of spoken/written language

    Just like perl, we should not complain about how someone writes something, as long as we recieve the message that they are trying to say.

Re: Front Paging Profanity
by Necos (Friar) on Oct 19, 2002 at 00:07 UTC
    Censorship is always a grey area issue. The case has been magified by the whole 9/11 ordeal.

    On the one hand, I believe that people should be able to use a clear and understandable language set when writing articles on Perlmonks, just out of respect for others that may be reading these nodes(e.g., the boss looking over the shoulder). To take an extreme point, at my job, I'll see students making out in open areas (sometimes known as PDA: Public Display of Affection). Some people don't find that offensive, but you'd be surprised to see how many people do find it it offensive. Or, if you walk into a person's house, and their mother asks you not to swear in the house, you would have two options: 1.) Leave. 2.) Respect her wishes and not swear during your stay.

    Then, we have the issue of free speech. I love being able to say what I want when I want, even on a site like Perlmonks. However, out of respect for my fellow monks, I refrain from using "offensive" language just because, like others have mentioned, they might be reading PM from their job. Here in the LAUSD, we're not allowed to read any "vulgar" material. Of course, the meaning of "vulgar" is pretty vague, so it's hard where to draw the line.

    In the end, I believe some level of respect should be maintained, so long as it does not effect the power and clarity of his/her words. Profanity/Vulgarity can either enhance the node or it can murky it's meaning. It's up to the node writer to determine the impact of his words.

    Theodore Charles III
    Network Administrator
    Los Angeles Senior High
    4650 W. Olympic Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90019
    323-937-3210 ext. 224
    perl -e "map{print++$_}split//,Mdbnr;"
      I find needlessly invoking 'ever since 9/11' more offensive than reading an occasional f-word or s-word, at least ever since 9/11.
Re: Front Paging Profanity
by P0w3rK!d (Pilgrim) on Oct 18, 2002 at 15:55 UTC
    Your request would require dyanmic obsf*ckation of the said post in order to remove the profane statements, which could possibly be causing you to seeth with anger towards your fellow monks.
    @badwords = ('s@#!', 'f!@#', 'a$$)!@e'); foreach (@badwords) { ... } # like whatever
    Peace brother! :)
Re: Front Paging Profanity
by Mr. Muskrat (Canon) on Oct 16, 2002 at 14:34 UTC

    I am glad that so many people have voiced their opinions on this matter. When I put myself in your shoes, I can start to see your position on the matter. Not fully, because I am not you. I was not raised by your parents. I was not taught the same values and beliefs. I have not experienced life the same way that you have. That is what sets us apart and makes us individuals.

    I will use the approval nodelet as often as I deem necessary. I leave the matter in the hands of the chosen.

Re: Front Paging Profanity
by robot_tourist (Hermit) on Oct 21, 2002 at 21:35 UTC

    I don't like profanity, but there are worse things than typing rude words. The only other thing I will add is that if you are using rude words think about their meaning. I hope we're all grown up enough that I don't have to explain them.

    I recommend the word 'ack' to convey frustration or surprise that a bad thing has happened.

    How can you feel when you're made of steel? I am made of steel. I am the Robot Tourist. Robot Tourist, by Ten Benson

Re: Front Paging Profanity
by @rocks (Scribe) on Oct 22, 2002 at 04:54 UTC
    I am 13 years old and my dad cuses all the time. It bugs the heck outta me but what's worse is when I see it on the internet. I think that people shouldn't cuss to look big or to not look like the little kids they are. Of course many that cuss are adults but mostly they are children who try to act cool.

    On the topic of 'what is a cuss word and what isn't' I think that maybe the gods should deal with this issue or that maybe we should just agree to 'cutting back' usage (not that I use cuss words on PM anyway). This would apease people like Mr. Muskrat and me while not making the cussers (excuse the label) cut cold turkey which they can probably agree to. I even let one slip once or twice at school so it is understandable that these PM users are unknowingly cussing on their posts or in the CB. Although for my dad things will never change from, "God D*mn it" to, "ah, crap". I am not going to say what is wrong and what is right I just think a little less might help. Also, thinking of the subject of 'front page', what if a potential new user comes to this site and sees a bunch of "d*mns" in the opening nodes? This would probably discourage him somewhat if not totally from joining.

    I say, Let the Democratic-Republic way of dealing with things (I realize not everyone at PM is in the US), take place in this small cyber world of PM to decide the fate of these complaints now and in the future. I think it would be a good idea to petition the gods about this idea if that were possible and I think that is another idea to make petitioning the gods a 'supreme court' if you will of dealing with subjects that are major or over a friar's line of authority.


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