profanity on comp.lang.python (was Re: Pyro stability)

Paul Boddie paul at
Thu Nov 9 13:14:16 CET 2006

Cliff Wells wrote:
> But of course "not everyone" is a double-edged sword that can just as
> easily be turned against either party.  If we limit ourselves to saying
> what is going to be the most palatable for the widest audience we will
> most likely find ourselves confined to discussing the weather.

I recall at this point the advice once given to writers submitting
articles to Linux Journal:

"Be careful with humor. Sarcasm and irony are misread easily and can be
offensive. Many readers have English as a second language and may not
be familiar with your culture's running jokes and topical matters."

> And of course, people who worry too much about impressing others rarely
> do.  Just ask DHH of Ruby on Rails fame:

Yes, but not everyone is happy about that:

"DHH has just got to stop saying [word elided] at conferences."

There's a clear difference between using profanity for dramatic effect
(acceptable in various contexts) and going round like a twelve year
old, mouthing off in an attempt to impress or shock people.


> I'll apply an old software maxim (from sendmail?) to the topic of public
> interaction: "Be liberal in what you accept, conservative in what you
> send."  Applying this would suggest that both parties were equally at
> fault in this situation, so perhaps we can just leave it at that.

I think this is reasonable advice.


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