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Codidact's policy regarding posts, user names and profiles with political content

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Does Codidact have any policy against using political content in posts, user names or user profiles?

I'm not talking about questions about political content, which should obviously be fine given that it's on-topic at the site where it's posted.

But I'm rather referring to the promotional kind, such as speaking for or against a certain candidate or party, or naming your user after a well-known politician, or posting political propaganda in your user profile.

This has been something of a hot potato Someplace Else, so it will eventually pop up here too. Some examples:

  • There was an example of the CEO posting a long blong-like post on SO.meta propagating against Donald Trump.
  • There are examples of users (and spammers) using their profile to express various political views, including criticism against dictatorships (possibly leading to a network ban of the site in that country).
  • There is always the case where someone decides to pick a tasteless user name from some well-known dictator, past or present.

The current Code of Conduct and "be nice" doesn't seem very helpful here. Expressing political opinions isn't necessarily rude. Is there a policy for what user names or user profiles can contain and does it cover situations like these?

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SE relevant example (2 comments)

6 answers

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User names are less personal space than your profile description, and more in-your-face to other users. User names should therefore be more restricted than your personal profile description.

User names have a purpose, which is to be a short handle to identify you across Codidact. They are not there for you to make personal, political, religious, or other statements with. Using the name of a well known historical figure should not be allowed (unless it's really your name too), because this comes with inevitable political baggage.

A name that mocks another user's name should not be allowed.

User names that appear to be chosen only to make it difficult for others should also not be allowed. Examples might be all blanks, a bunch of blanks followed by a dot, special characters that cause the browser to display weird stuff, etc. Those are all you trying to be "special" somehow at the expense of everyone else here. That's not what user names are for.

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Caveat: real names (5 comments)
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Caveat: This is from my personal perspective and should not be taken as the official Codidact stance on this.


Your profile is your personal space: You get to decorate it how you like, more or less. If you want to put up posters of your favorite band, or your preferred political candidate... that reflects on you, for the most part, and not anyone else.

There are some things, though, that we shouldn't be hosting here on Codidact at all, even in someone's personal profile.

These include outright bigotry, personal attacks against other people / groups of people, and inappropriate content (nudity etc.).

What does this mean when it comes to declaring your political views? IMO, "vote for Joe McSmiley" should be fine, but "Candidate Furhead Brainrot is a mule head" isn't - it's a personal attack against someone.

However... when something is too close to the line, or deemed by mods / staff to be liable to stir up extensive debate, I think there are sufficient grounds for removing it. Codidact isn't required to host everything on our instance; if someone wants to host their own version of our sites with whatever content they want, they're welcome to (provided, of course, they make it clear they're not affiliated with the Codidact Foundation).
As a general rule, though, you should be allowed to put any non-offensive statement you want in your own profile.


Usernames and avatars are held to a slightly higher standard than profiles, since they show up everywhere you post. I'd advise against too much politics in those, since they're liable to simply cause unrelated discussion on random posts - and, of course, anything that crosses the "offensive" line should be removed.


Anything that could be dangerous should be immediately removed. This could include some types of misinformation, such as about various drug usage; this could be seen as political, but I think it's a moral responsibility to remove any content that could lead to serious harm or death. It's not about politics at that point.


I find it unlikely that anyone will ever be making political statements on behalf of Codidact the site or the Codidact Foundation. (We'd probably need entirely unanimous support from the entire Board of Directors before doing such a thing, and that's extremely unlikely to happen.) I don't think that's something we need to be concerned about at the moment.

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Dangerously close to censorship. (5 comments)
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Regarding politics in user profiles:

I think the contents of the user profile should be relevant: that is, describe who you are, what you do, what you like etc. If it's relevant that you are for example member of some party, by all means include that information in the user profile if you like.

(If we were to launch for example a politics community, I could see how being open with your affiliation would be relevant and even encouraged.)

What isn't relevant in your profile however, is blatant propaganda: "The elephant party destroys porcelain stores across the country. Vote for x!" etc. The user profile is not there for the purpose of running political campaigns and it's not the mission of Codidact to act as a medium for such.

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+6
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Users should be able to say what they want in their profile. I think of that as personal space. About the only thing that should not be allowed is a direct insult to another member.

As with anything else you write publicly, you are still on the hook for libel if you misstate facts in a way to be damaging to others.

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Historical moderation (1 comment)
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Important note: this is my personal perspective, but it is the basis for my moderation activity on Software Codidact

Political content in posts

Unless we are talking about Politics Codidact or similar, I consider that political content is offtopic in posts.

Political content in the user profile

This is a more personal space and I think that users should have more freedom to post what they like provided they do not violate the Code of Conduct.

For the specific case of political content, I would not allow blatant symbols like [Nazi symbols] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bans_on_Nazi_symbols), Holocaust denial or communist symbols since they are illegal in quite a few countries.

For other content, I would judge on the individual level and most likely consult with fellow moderators or staff members, since what is OK and what is not might depend on a context that I do not understand.

Shortly put, except for blatant stuff mentioned above, I would favor "laissez-faire" + handle flags from the community.

Political content in the username / avatar

Unless using a userscript to block them, users are basically forced into reading/seeing other usernames and avatars. That means that I would be more restrictive about what one can write as a username or use as a picture.

Besides what violates the CoC, I would not allow the usage of highly controversial figure names like Hitler, Stalin and also non-English texts that can easily be translated to CoC violations.

Moderation actions

For moderation, if the content is not blatantly illegal or violates CoC, I would start with a warning to let the user fix the text and then proceed to fix a short ban.

Of course, flagging by the community should be an important driver in fixing profile texts.

As a side note, I would discourage political activism. For example, this user has a political message in their profile and this created an issue while standing in elections for being a moderator (see the first comment from here).

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1 comment thread

We don’t have our rights to restrict user from using their own name (2 comments)
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I agree with everyone else here.

Moreover, I would advocate for a rather "powerful" moderation of this site (powerful can mean large scope, frequent intervention, or in a bunch of other ways, just feeling free to err on the side of moderating rather than not). Codidact is not a discussion forum, and in no way promises a wide range of expression, or really any expression at all. It is focused on the technical.

Put another way, I don't think we should feel shy about moderator action for fear that users will get offended or complain about their free speech. We can always answer that the point of this site is not free speech--users can freely speak to their neighbors, but this site is for a narrow kind of content.

And I think there is more danger in allowing too much rather than too little.

So I vote that we don't allow user names of political leaders, ideas, etc. And I'm fine with not allowing political expression in profiles.

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