Wikipedia policy/Foul Language

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Q. What ought our policy to be on foul language?

A few possibilities to kick off the discussion.

  1. We must absolutely avoid it at all times.
  2. We ought to discourage it in most articles, on the grounds of quality control and encyclopedia style, but in some articles it can be necessary and useful for completeness. Tact is important.
  3. We should allow it when it is warranted. We should not fuss over it.
  4. We shouldn't worry about it at all -- any article can contain foul language.
  5. We should god damn require it in every article, asshole.

Number 2, for me please. Mind you, I just used the f*** word in punk rock (as a direct, justifiable example, mind) so what do I know? -- Gareth Owen

I'd agree, Gareth. -- Larry Sanger

Same here - WojPob

2/3 Sounds about right to me--I'd go a little further and recommend that (1) If an article needs them, use them; mark the page with RSAC to make censorware work, and add a warning so we can truthfully claim we're doing our part to keep the page away from the kiddies--maybe some checkboxes on the submit form could automate this? (2) In an article for general comsumption when it is necessary to refer to such a word (say when using a politician's exact quote), we should render it in such a way that the adults can figure out what's really being said, e.g., "f***" rather than simply "****" or "<expletive>". Accuracy is important. -- Lee Daniel Crocker

While I agre with 2/3, I do not think that quotes should be obscured as "f***". This makes it difficult for non-native speakers and also gives evidence of a dangerous tendency to self-censorship. If there are organizations out there which censor based on usage of specific words, even in quotes, then we shouldn't empower those organizations by adapting out standards to their requirements. --AxelBoldt

Number 2 for me, and while I agree with LDC on many things, I'm not interested in endorsing RSAC in any way. --KQ

Is this the emerging consensus? Profanity should be used only where appropriate, meaning primarily where it is necessary and useful for completeness and accuracy, and we should not fuss over it too much. This is essentially (2) and (3) above. Another way to look at it is that the Wikipedia ought not to swear, but it can quote the swearing of others, when historically or otherwise important.

Folks, we need to remember that some people (especially young ones) are using the Web as filtered by dumb censorware, and the inclusion of any "forbidden" words on Wikipedia pages may make it inaccessible to them.

We did remember that, thanks, as you would see if you read the above more carefully. There's really no need to shout; it doesn't make your point any more true and certainly won't force anyone to agree with you, though it might incline some fence-sitters to disagree with you. --KQ

Hmm, I wrote that and I don't remember the "shouting" at the time (although I was new[er] to Wikipedia then and may have done it through misuse of the Wikipedia editing conventions). Anyway, edited the "shouting" out. Have a good one.