Why do words like "expectorate" sound more posh than words like "spit"? includes two examples of asterisks used to avoid spelling out in full offensive words.
Most serious encyclopaedic resources avoid this kind of timidity.

What are other people's thoughts? As a non-private-beta user apologies if this has already been discussed and/or agreed upon, but as a newcomer the use of asterisks struck me as something that detracted from the seriousness of the question in particular and the community in general.

Edit: I mean, of course, a post in which the offensive word itself (its spelling or usage or etymology) is under discussion, as in the example, rather than because it has been introduced colloquially.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 22 down vote accepted

If we have to discuss words like shit and fuck and cunt by bowdlerizing them that will be my ticket out of here.

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I think as long as the obscenity is under discussion, it is fully appropriate to spell it out in full. However, I would consider it inappropriate to use those words at any other time - and anyone that does so would earn a down vote from me - as would any kind of aggression.

However, it seems entirely silly to asterisk out the obscenities under discussion, because, it could lead to confusion as to what obscenity is under discussion, and would also make the site less searchable.

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"i would consider it inappropriate" ... of course. with or without the asterisk. i'm talking about posts involving discussion of an obscene word in its own right. –  hawbsl Aug 14 '10 at 0:27
    
@hawbsl I agree. –  Vincent McNabb Aug 16 '10 at 12:27
    
While I agree inappropriateness and aggression are unpleasant and not welcome in this community, is a down vote necessary? In my opinion, a down vote should be given only if the answer isn't useful or doesn't answer the question; or if the question is vague, doesn't show research, etc. Basically the guidelines you see when hovering over the down vote button. –  chharvey Nov 4 '12 at 6:04
    
I find aggression to be quite useless (i.e. not useful). Fits the guidelines for me. –  Vincent McNabb Nov 4 '12 at 21:40
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It appears that Jeff Atwood would prefer that we bowdlerize titles, but he is OK with the full words appearing in the body of the post; see this edit of his.

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In general I agree with the impetus not to bowdlerize the site. That said, however, I would like to see the site be available to language students of all ages as a reference. In many school districts in the United States, too much profanity would result in the site being blocked by school administrators, and i think that would be unfortunate.

I'm not sure how to resolve those competing standards, though.

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Hmm, I used the asterisk there because I was aware that the stackoverflow (automatically?) deletes comments and answers containing obscenities, and I didn't want my input to be auto-deleted. Judging from nohat's reply, that rule doesn't seem to be applied here (yet).

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I was never aware of this SO rule. –  JSBձոգչ Aug 14 '10 at 13:47
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Fucking shit on asshole motherfucking auto-deletion. (Nope, doesn't look like that rule exists, at least here.) –  user575 Aug 17 '10 at 11:04
    
@Roger: Try it on stackoverflow.com. –  delete Aug 27 '10 at 16:35
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@Ex-user: stackoverflow.com/questions/184618/… –  Jared Updike Sep 28 '10 at 0:20
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