Word Reference has some guidelines regarding swear words or offensive terms/expressions - they are allowed, but users must use a specific emoticon before the word so that other users know if the word/expression should be used with caution or if it should be avoided at all.

I suggest that we do something similar, i.e., to put in evidence such words or expressions. We could format the word (e.g., by setting the colour to red) or use an emoticon, but I don't know if that is possible in this site.

Edit: The guidelines for the Italian WordReference forum are here (see rule #9):


And here you can find an example of the usage of the emoticons:


What do you think about this?

  • 6
    side note, this is not a forum ;) Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 0:12
  • I meant to start a discussion :) Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 0:14
  • Sure, no problem with that, that's what Meta is for. I was referring to the following sentence in your question: I don't know if that is possible in this forum. Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 0:15
  • Alright, I didn't understand properly your previous comment. Sorry about that Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 0:17
  • Don't be, I'm just being overly worried about people mistaking SE sites for forums. Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 0:19

4 Answers 4


I don't think we need to do anything special.

If such words are subject of a question, it will be evident by the context.

In case they are improperly used for addressing other people in a rude or offensive way, they'll be handled with the use of flags and a moderator intervention.


I disagree strongly with the icon idea for the very simple reason that swearing is not appropriate on this site at all.

People can certainly ask about vulgar words or swear words or blasphemy etc., on the other hand they should do so in a clear context that we are talking about sensitive subjects. This has been discussed on other language sites.

Since swearing is already contextualized or banned, the only effect that an icon can have is to make swearing more prominent, which is certainly not a result we want.

  • People will make questions about swear words or expressions - e.g. "what does it mean xxxx in this context?". If you open the first link in my answer and go to rule #9 you'll see why they use the emoticon. My question was, basically, if we should handle it in a similar way or not. Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 0:41
  • 1
    Sure, and my answer is "no".
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 0:43
  • Same here. I don't see the need for handling such cases differently. Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 1:51
  • It would also lead to useless debates on whether or not a given word is a swear word or not.
    – badp
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 13:50
  • 1
    @badp agreed, see for example this ridiculous wikipedia thread about people getting offended by reading Italian profanities... on the Italian profanity article.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 13:58

I am not sure I understand the emoticon idea, but as long as we are mentioning and discussing swear words, and not actually using them towards each other, I do not see why we should especially distinguish them. Of course, when studying language, it is useful to describe the use limits for the words we are analysing (vulgar, colloquial, obsolete etc.).

  • 1
    Please see the links I just added to my question, it may be easier for you to understand my idea. Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 0:23
  • I see, thanks. I am confirmed in my opinion that such emoticon are useless, unless we decide to set up an elaborate system of graphical markings for swear words, outmoded words, technical words, borrowed words...
    – DaG
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 0:26

As far as I can see, the only requirement Stack Exchange has is not to show swearing words in the question title, since the title is used when showing a list of hot questions taken from different sites and shown in the Stack Exchange drop-down menu.


Clearly, they are allowed in posts when the question is about those words, as long as the word doesn't appear in the title.

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