Should users with editorial powers go around and "fix" the following items:

  • an original poster's (frivolous or not) mention of the Lord (this);
  • personal pronouns (replacing "he" for s/he or she or they or it - won't the aliens be offended? this is at Stack Overflow).

I'll stop at these two examples since they have popped recently. We haven't had other cases yet.

I'd say "let the original wording be". On mentions of the Almighty - while I'd personally avoid that, astronauts may hold a different opinion. Sitting on a thousand tons of explosive propellant and being strapped into a chair when one can do nothing but pray may somewhat shift the perspective.

Would be nice to keep Space Exploration SE out of censorship.

  • $\begingroup$ @TildalWave - the first one is ours, while the second one popped up at Meta SO. $\endgroup$ Jul 18, 2015 at 20:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm an atheist, and I sometimes use "God forbid!" I'll occasionally used "Heaven forfend!" instead, but I don't consider either of them to necessarily be religious. I'd like to mention that I also just saw a video in which ESA astronaut Tim Peake refers to the "astronaut's prayer", to wit: "Please God, don't let me screw up." $\endgroup$ Jul 20, 2015 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ I started to think you were advising to censor religion and such, until I read your question closely and followed the links. $\endgroup$ Jul 28, 2015 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ The spaceflight training instructor's prayer is "Please God, don't let them screw up on something I taught them." $\endgroup$ Sep 17, 2015 at 18:25

2 Answers 2


Unless we're talking of outright offensive, disrespectful, sexually explicit or propaganda pieces, I see no reason to edit out, rewrite, or otherwise censor any of them for political, sexual or religious reasons. We're not in the 16th century any more. I hope. Otherwise, by the power of the great Cthulhu, God save us all!

TL;DR - Edit to improve contributions for all of us, not to impose your personal opinions onto others.

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    $\begingroup$ +>9000 ;) I whole-heartedly agree. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Jul 19, 2015 at 1:50
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, although I'd note that not even the 16th century was in the 16th century, if you will: I very seriously doubt the motivating example in the OP here would have been edited that way then. :P $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2015 at 22:19

The pronoun one gets awkward for me regularly. Because about 6 of 7 people on SX are men, I have always just said 'he'. But I am a woman, and know of no others here - they are here, but I don't know who they are. It is important to me to encourage women to show their interest in fields where we have not traditionally participated. Saying 'they' to remain gender neutral can cause misunderstanding and gets distracting because it isn't all that common still. I've always personally detested s/he - how does one pronounce that. And if I sometimes say 'she' instead of he where gender is not known or not relevant, I could cause offense.

Yet I don't like always saying 'he'. I imagine the young women who come here and find no apparent inclusion of them in all the ongoing conversations we have. These little things do make a difference over time. There are other reasons I didn't go into engineering, but frankly, one of them was that my interest in such things was crushed repeatedly when I was growing up. I look back now and wish I'd managed to pull myself together and do it anyhow. Things are better now but it is definitely still true that every woman who goes into these kinds of fields has to deal sometimes with exclusion and prejudice.

The case you mention is pretty extreme, but there are many, many places where this comes up. I have found no good solution.

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    $\begingroup$ Good insights, thanks for sharing your personal experience! $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Jul 19, 2015 at 1:51
  • $\begingroup$ There's always zhe ;). (Disclaimer: there is not always zhe. It's not that great a neologism.) $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2015 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ I usually look at a user's name and profile image to decide which I consider most likely. If neither provides any hints about the gender of the user, I will guess that they are most likely male. And apart from that I hope people don't get offended if I am occasionally mistaken. $\endgroup$
    – kasperd
    Jul 29, 2015 at 8:54
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    $\begingroup$ The most natural general third person singular pronoun is 'they'. Everyone uses it, because it's the best one to use! $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2015 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ @curiousdannii Agreed, I've just been leery because I'm not sure it is used widely enough that misinterpretations would be sufficiently rare. But that way of using it has been around for decades, and I suppose I should use it. Getting comments to that effect encourages me :) $\endgroup$
    – kim holder
    Jul 29, 2015 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ The singular/generic they has been used since Chaucer! Can't get much more established than that. $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2015 at 23:48

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