I recently asked on Mathematics Stack Exchange (and quickly deleted) a question named "How is used Chinese Dumbass Notation?" The question was upsetting to the public, so I decided to ask this question.

Chinese Dumbass Notation is a quicker way to solve inequalities. Read more about it here and there. It is extremely useful but has so "dirty" name. But I know that nobody would recognise it if I would write just 'Chinese Notation', so I wrote the whole name.

When I posted the question, there began the whole debate about this name. Nobody even answered the main question.

Question: Can I include vulgar words in the question if they are very necessary?

Thanks in advance!

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ I would put quotation marks on wired names, explain and give links, so people won't misunderstand it. $\endgroup$
    – Manx
    Dec 9, 2019 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Manx I had this in mind, too. But I asked this question out just of curiosity because my previous question was 'too much opinion-based' and I asked it like 'tell me everything you know'. $\endgroup$
    – User123
    Dec 9, 2019 at 19:02
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ The question is not "Can I include vulgar words in the question if they are very necessary?" The question is whether they are necessary, and in the case we are discussing I think it would have been very easy not to use one – at the very least, not to use it in the title. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2019 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry Myerson And what if I write just 'Chinese Notation' in the heading, but at the start of the text I write 'Chinese Notation (known also as Chinese Dumbass Notation)'? $\endgroup$
    – User123
    Dec 9, 2019 at 21:16
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ That would have been better. But I'm not sure there was a need to give it a name at all. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2019 at 21:19
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Is this even a vulgar term? "ass" meaning a donkey (Equus asinus) has been used to mean a stupid person for a long time, and this is not considered a vulgar term. On the other hand, the intensifying suffix "ass" is vulgar, since it comes from the slang term for the buttocks (which is still spelt "arse" outside North America). It's not clear to me which applies here. (British English does have "dumbarse", which can only be vulgar, but for all I know, this may be a back-formation from the American term using a false folk etymology.) $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2019 at 7:18
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ I think the issue is more one of whether the term is offensive to the Chinese. I would compare it to Reverse Polish notation as a synonym for postfix notation. It was named RPN to honor Jan Łukasiewicz, but when Hewlitt-Packard calculators were popularizing the term in the 70's, it was commonly believed IME that it was a nasty joke that Polish people were too stupid to press the buttons of a calculator in the proper order. $\endgroup$
    – user694818
    Dec 10, 2019 at 8:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ To contrast, the wikipedia article for Chinese Fire Drill suggests that the "Chinese" was just added to indicate something that is disorganized or incomprehensible. Historically, I don't know which one of these routes is the one the describes Chinese Dumbass notation, but I would hope that StackExchange's values would keep it from popularizing a phrase meant in the latter sense. $\endgroup$
    – user694818
    Dec 10, 2019 at 8:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For the record, I voted to close not for any perceived vulgarity, but because I thought the original question was not well-formed. It was a "hey, so what about this?" question. $\endgroup$
    – Randall
    Dec 11, 2019 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Randall Yes, but I asked this in the way: "What will happen if I ask that sort of question?" I asked this out just because of curiosity. $\endgroup$
    – User123
    Dec 11, 2019 at 19:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If it wasn't clear, I was talking about the original question, not this one on meta. $\endgroup$
    – Randall
    Dec 11, 2019 at 19:26
  • $\begingroup$ You're using it fine in e.g. this question, so I see no trouble in using it similarly in others. (Opinion) People seem to demand a lot about our actions these days, but seem to forget entirely about our reactions. You should act in a respectful, sensible manner, but you can and should also react in such a way. (e.g. there's no reason to react in disgust over the use of these words in your question above, just as there was no reason for you to use them in a condescending or disrespectful manner, which you haven't). Otherwise, I think the accepted answer below has some good guidelines. $\endgroup$ Dec 23, 2019 at 12:05

1 Answer 1


Generally it is alright to use language that otherwise would seem vulgar or offensive if it is established/technical usage, for example Stack Overflow has an entire tag brainfuck, because somebody thought it was a good name for a programming language.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Make it amply clear that this is established usage.

  • Rather avoid to put such things in the title of a question, or otherwise make it stick out. Also, do not use it excessively. It can help to explicitly acknowledge that your realize the name is unusual (but keep this brief).

For example you could have titled your question: "Clarification regarding a dedicated notation for three variable homogeneous expressions." (I hope I got it right that it is about this, if not adapt as needed.)

Then in the body say:

I read about, here and here, a notation that simplifies manipulating three variable homogeneous expressions and that can be useful for solving inequalities. It is somewhat known under the colorful name "Chinese Dumbass Notation".

I do not think that in this form you would have run into as much trouble.

  • 29
    $\begingroup$ As someone who has written a few programs in bf, I can attest that it is well-named. $\endgroup$
    – user694818
    Dec 10, 2019 at 8:01
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with "Clarification regarding a dedicated notation for three variable homogeneous expressions." as a title is that it is less explicit than a title clearly mentioning "Chinese Dumbass notation". $\endgroup$
    – Taladris
    Dec 17, 2019 at 13:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Taladris it likely depends on how well-established the terminology is. Not clear, but I doubt it is that well-established. Personally the title "Chinese Dumbass notation" tells (or had told me when it was written) me strictly nothing, except that it is about notation, while may title would have conveyed some meaningful information about the subject of the question. One could argue that this may be true, but only somebody familiar with the term can answer and getting those users' attention is what is relevant. But I'd contest that since many a user could figure it out. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Dec 17, 2019 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ The suggestion is also quite unwieldy. $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2019 at 1:34

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