Which version of this question ought to be present, and why? Who does the most unpleasant dirty work in full communism?

An edit war has occurred over its title and body text in the past day despite being stable for quite a number of years.

  • 2
    Note that I didn't edit it to "americanise" the language (didn't even know "crap" is considered American, not native speaker so can be difficult to tell sometimes). It just seemed a reasonable balance to your version and Philipp's. As I mentioned in the edit reason: rolling back mod edits like this is not a battle you're going to win.
    – user11249
    Oct 19, 2018 at 21:48

3 Answers 3


The original title was

Who shovels shit in full communism?

The question was flagged by two different users for "rude or abusive".

Question titles should not include profanity. I therefore edited the question to still say the same thing but without profanity.

Just because this profanity was overlooked for 3 years does not mean it is too late to correct this lapse. Also note that the Code of Conduct of the Stack Exchange network was overhauled recently. So the standards which applied 3 years ago are not the standards which apply today.

And while the new code of conduct still does not explicitly forbid profanity, I believe that avoiding profane language is crucial to reach its stated main goal to "build a community that is rooted in kindness, collaboration, and mutual respect".

Also relevant is this question on the general meta stackexchange "Are expletives (cursing, swear words or vulgar language) allowed on SE sites?". tl;dr: No, they are not.

  • 5
    Though FWIW, the policy about profanity has existed for longer than 3 years.
    – Andrew T.
    Oct 19, 2018 at 9:56
  • @AndrewT. Thank you for finding this meta question. I added it to my answer.
    – Philipp Mod
    Oct 19, 2018 at 10:19
  • 3
    They are allowed on ELU if part of the question. They are not allowed in titles because they may show up elsewhere on the network. Is it this site's policy that they are also not allowed when part of the question? Note that the CoC does not explicitly forbid offensive words (and they are still allowed on ELU), it offends behaviour that is or could be construed as offensive towards people.
    – JJJ Mod
    Oct 19, 2018 at 13:27
  • @JJJ The SE sites about language are not that useful for comparision here, IMO. Profanity is a part of language, so talking about profanity as a subject matter is on-topic on these websites. The case we are discussing here is a question using profanity to make a point which can be made just as well without profanity. The Politics.SE equivalent to the exception made on ELU.SE would be a question about a statement by a politician which contains profanity.
    – Philipp Mod
    Oct 19, 2018 at 13:33
  • @Philipp in this case it's quite clear. What about quoting a politician who made a speech containing swear words? To what extent is that allowed? Quoting such texts could certainly be relevant in some cases.
    – JJJ Mod
    Oct 19, 2018 at 13:34
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    @JJJ As I said: I think it would be OK if there is profanity in a quote from a politician and that quote is relevant to the question. For example a question like The President of Arstotzka said during an interview: "Those [swear-word]s in parliament are [swear-word] powerless to stop my [swear-word] executive order. Read the [swear-word] constitution you [swear-word]" - is his interpretation of the Arstotzkan constitution correct? would be OK. But I agree with the ELU.SE rule that swear-words in the question title should be avoided if possible.
    – Philipp Mod
    Oct 19, 2018 at 13:39
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    I don't like the phrasing of "does the most unpleasant dirty work" though, and it makes various answers and comments look out of place as they still mention "shovelling". This is why I edited it to "crap", which seems not especially offensive AFAIK, and it fairly commonly used at least on meta SO. Perhaps another synonym would be more appropriate?
    – user11249
    Oct 19, 2018 at 21:46
  • 1
    @Martin I have tried to offer a more appropriate and reasoned phrasing inside the blue code in an answer to this question. Your eyes appreciated. Oct 20, 2018 at 2:24

Question titles may not contain curse words. This was the case long before the new CoC. The reason is that the title may show up on other sites in the Stack Exchange network where swearing or offensive words are not allowed at all (I am not sure to what extent it is allowed here, so this post does not make a statement on that / the body of the question).

For reference, see this post by Jeff Atwood (one of the founders of Stack Overflow and then moderator on the SE network) on the ELU Meta site.

  • 1
    The question is so old it’s very unlikely to hit the HQN.
    – Golden Cuy
    Oct 21, 2018 at 20:43
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    @AndrewGrimm It's my understanding that after thirty days, it is impossible to hit the HQN. The greater problem is that if one question can do it, then why can't other brand new questions do it as well? Having one set of rules for older questions and a different set of rules for newer questions is harder for new posters to learn.
    – Brythan
    Oct 21, 2018 at 21:35

I acknowledge that other editors seem to be aware of the [culturally incomprehensible to this en_Au speaker] blue code that stack exchange has chosen to operate with. I am surprised that effective moderation on the topic took many years for a high voted and moderately bumped question and answer set—part of any reaction here is surely to dead letter enforcement. Culture shock and delayed enforcement aside better substitute text ought to be used: that the particular bowdlerisation chosen is inappropriate.

"Shit shovelling" is a powerful alliterative and visceral description, and common term in my variety of English, for a form of labour generally considered to be quintessentially and viscerally unpleasant. While knackery or sex work or psych nursing may have it beat for unpleasantness, the social position of manually disposing of human fæces animates the discussion regarding the form of labour and the general desirable organisation of labour. Manual nightsoil labour is the go to vehicle in the metaphor for unpleasant work. The decision for the example trade was chosen as it is the typical example, the manner of phrasing because of the need to emphasise the viscerality and bodily repugnance.

A superior bowdlerisation within the operating blue code would be "shovelling excrement" due to the poetic and visceral hardness and superiority to "unpleasant" or "fæces" both of which are consonally softer and stink less.

  • "Shovelling excrement" does seem like a good humored alternative. But if alliteration is preferrable there's "scoops scat", "excavates excrement", "digs dung", "furrows the faeces", "trenches the turds", etc... ugh!
    – agc
    Oct 20, 2018 at 3:25
  • as an aside, once editing the best edit would to make the question easily find-able for people with the same question
    – user19831
    Oct 22, 2018 at 13:27
  • What about "shovelling manure"?
    – user11249
    Oct 24, 2018 at 3:13
  • Reason magazine opted for poop in this article. The problem with "sh**" is that it carries an extremely negative connotation
    – Machavity
    Oct 24, 2018 at 16:06
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    It's intended to carry negative connotations. It represents the entire category of activities with negative status. It is succinct, precise and to the point. Unfortunately Americans are precious tinkerbells who think they own the internet. In the case of StackExchange, they do own it, which is a good argument for separation.
    – Peter Wone
    Oct 27, 2018 at 3:24
  • What is a "blue code"? Oct 29, 2018 at 17:50
  • A code to regulate blue material: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribaldry Oct 30, 2018 at 6:46

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