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There's recently been some debate over what kinds of restrictions there should be on what users include in their profile pages; the original post caused a lot of controversy because specific users were brought into the discussion as examples of having inappropriate profiles. It has now been deleted (it was closed, and two delete votes were already cast; I cast the third and final delete vote).

So, let's make a fresh start. There will be no discussion of any user's profile here.

Should we have restrictions on what users can include in their profile page? If so, what should they be? If a user is found to be in violation of the restrictions, what should be the consequences?

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    $\begingroup$ If we go by just the phrasing in the FAQ: "Your user page belongs to you — fill it with information about your interests, links to stuff you’ve worked on, or whatever else you like!" (emphasis mine). So, we supposedly shouldn't be restricting this stuff too much. (Notwithstanding the fact that one person's "neat!" could be another person's "eww!", so it can be a bit gnarly to delineate "good taste". Of course, the usual taboos like porn ought to be verboten in profile pages.) $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Sep 3 '11 at 3:31
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    $\begingroup$ One point deserves emphasis: by allowing "fringe" material in profiles, it helps to keep such off-topic material off the main site. If the profile was restricted then some folks might try to sneak in such off-topic material in their posts - whether it be searching for mates, promoting their views on other subjects etc. Allowing such in the profile enables us to localize that content so it can easily be avoided by those who have no interest, while at the same time allowing enough freedom of speech to avoid it percolating onto the main parts of the site. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Sep 3 '11 at 4:00
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for discussing the matter in the abstract. Perhaps the moderators might consider enforcing this in future such cases. For example, immediately temporarily close/lock any non-abstract version targeting individual(s). Tell the author to reformulate it to not target any specific individuals. Then, after community norms are established, the OP can decide whether on not to privately contact moderators about the specific cases (norms may be different than surmised). If we agree on such a policy it should be mentioned in the FAQ, to avoid the problematic threads from even being conceived. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Sep 3 '11 at 17:32
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What, if anything should one do if a user's "about me" profile section contains extremely inflammatory terms (racist, etc.)

Our general approach has been to take a hands-off approach to the user page -- it's for you to place whatever you want there, within reason. Obviously racism, hate speech, any sort of overt evil will not be tolerated. But there is more flexibility in the grey areas on the user page, because it's about the user, not us.

  • racism
  • hate speech
  • overt evil

Anything that the community would deem not just "weird" but "actively harmful" that is, it implies we as a community tolerate .. racism, hate speech, overt evil, or anything else like it.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure if the potentially low age of participants should be borne in mind (13+ if I remember correctly?). Anyway, more importantly: If you want to complain about a specific user's profile, please don't bring it to meta contact the moderators via email. $\endgroup$ – t.b. Sep 3 '11 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Theo: Yep, you remember correctly. $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Sep 3 '11 at 5:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: I hope this is just me, but I don't see a easily accessible link to the "About" page. I think to faciliate contact with the moderators by e-mail, it would be nice to have the about page linked to in the homepage, or via the FAQ. (Actually, the FAQ asks to email to team+math@stack...; is that forwarded to the site moderators, or is that an internal SE e-mail addy?) $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Sep 3 '11 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ I'm with Willie. The "About" link is down at the bottom of the page, and I don't expect that many to read that far. May I suggest moving it to the top and making it more prominent? $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Sep 3 '11 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ @willie that link is removed once you have a lot of rep. It's also doubly linked at the bottom of the /faq (well, it used to be.. I'll fix that) Also the correct way to 'contact' moderators is to flag things... $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Sep 3 '11 at 13:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: for questions and answers and comments, the flagging system is more than adequate. But as far as I know there is no way to flag a user's profile page for hate speech. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Sep 3 '11 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ @willie it's an extraordinarily rare case that there are no posts to flag, even arbitrarily as a workaround. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Sep 3 '11 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ @willie the /faq is now updated and synced across the network; I am not sure why we didn't include that section anywhere but SU,SF,SO, but thanks for the hint, it is now fixed math.stackexchange.com/faq#what-about $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Sep 6 '11 at 5:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Jeff: gracias. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Sep 6 '11 at 11:06
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Just to make what Theo wrote in a comment a lot more prominent, because I couldn't agree more:

If you want to complain about a specific user's profile, please don't bring it to meta. Please contact the moderators via email.

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