In this question I woriginally wrote:

Philosophical zombies are beings that look like human beings, act like them, drink, eat, talk, and get f****d like human beings.

this was changed to:

Philosophical zombies are beings that look like human beings, act like them, drink, eat, talk, and in every other way behaviorally identical to normal human beings.

The prose style in the original was deliberately chosen to emphasise the humanness of humans, so colloquial usage, and the use of f*****d, as a signifier of this; I'm using it in the British sense, which in this usage isn't offensive (though of course it is used in an offensive manner) and it covers the notions of: getting things wrong, getting messed up in mind, or life, as well as getting drunk; which one is meant is served by context.

As it used also offensively, I asterisked it; this seems to me a reasonable compromise.

Yet it seems, at least one person was offended enough to change it to the humourless, and characterless 'behaviourally identical to normal human beings'.

Its interesting that the qualifier, normal, was inserted; its not in my original text; and that's because I was considering the whole spectrum of human life in its exterior form - behaviour - including the mad, the eccentric, and the gone bad; as well as their inner life.

Is there a site policy on usage of normatively offensive words?

  • 2
    +1 This is a good question and it may be useful for us to examine our policy here, but I'm inclined to agree with what Keelan and Joseph wrote. I think there are less charged ways of expressing what you want without skirting the boundaries of what is permissible here.
    – stoicfury
    Jan 24, 2015 at 20:04

2 Answers 2


I don't really feel like digging into the specifics here at the moment of this question but just very briefly: I'm inclined not to push the envelope on borderline-offensive expressions on the mainpage at the current time. Mostly this is to help ensure a certain minimum of question quality, but also to ensure the mainpage content is as suitable as possible for the widest audience.

Is there a policy? Keeping the mainpage free of offensive, abusive and/or hateful language does fall pretty neatly under "be nice" to my mind. Moreover it fits in with our mission to provide open and accessible resources (i.e., that aren't arbitrarily rendered inappropriate for certain possible readers or community members.) It is critical to foster a culture of genuine civility and hospitality. There's a reason one of the flags you can throw on a post reads as follows:

This question contains content that a reasonable person would deem inappropriate for respectful discourse.


You're in an international context here. Things may have a certain meaning in Britain, but I can't see from your question whether you mean a certain word in the British sense or not. Avoid ambiguity, especially with phrases like this. You didn't really need the word there anyway.

Your rollback to revision 1:

Rollback to Revision 1 - 'Have sex', doesn't adequately replace 'get f****d'; it doesn't have two senses; in British English it means getting drunk, or messed up as well as 'have sex'.

Is senseless in an international context.

Whether there is a policy? In the help center, section 'be nice':

Inappropriate language or attention. Avoid vulgar terms and anything sexually suggestive.

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