Recently, I've been informed that under no circumstances is it ever permissible to use "racial slurs" other than to clarify what I'm asking about in questions about racial slurs, and ideally not then.

I don't disagree with that point. I'll admit that in composing the (now deleted) question that inspired that meta question I didn't consider that a word that hasn't been commonly heard in nearly half a century could still be hurtful and insulting.

However: we still accept use of words that carry a similar connotation in reference to a fantasy race. Wizards of the Coast recently changed their game rules to recognize that assuming that a goblin, orc, kobold, etc. is inherently evil might be indirectly hurtful to those who have suffered racism for their real ancestry, or discrimination of other kinds.

Do we have plans to similarly update, or will we still consider "orc" as racially evil or a generic enemy-without-reason to be an acceptable usage?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I just want you to be aware that, despite saying you won't argue the point, your use of "a term that has fallen out of use nearly a lifetime ago for its alternative connotation." and "a term not commonly used outside children's games and Hollywood scripts since before most or all users were born" come across as arguing that very point. They come across sort of like "How was I to know?" or "Really? Even words like this can't be used?" I'm sure that wasn't your intention, but it comes across poorly \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 14 '20 at 17:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov and Zeiss I'm going to jump in here before things continue to roll down hill. If you think this should be duped, the close vote menu is a short scroll up that way, there's no reason to argue about it here in the comments (at least not with this line of reasoning). \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Oct 14 '20 at 18:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon You seem to be super misunderstanding the issues of orcs in games. The terms “orc” and “goblin” aren't a racial slur for anything, but that isn't the issue. The issue is with the nature and portrayal of orcs in fantasy narratives, in how they embody real-world prejudices against real-world people, and in how we're made to interact with them, as explained well by NK Jemisin in The Unbearable Baggage of Orcing. That's a serious issue worth discussing, but it's something separate from racial slurs. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 14 '20 at 20:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ And apparently, judging by the votes, this is a question I'm not even supposed to ask, or even after the edit (which is when the majority of the downvotes came in) it's still badly asked (and I don't see any hints as to how, if that's the case). Pardon me if I risk getting blocked, but I'm going to delete this question later in the day if I don't hear a good reason not to. \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Oct 15 '20 at 11:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ The good reason not to is to provide an opportunity for everyone, including you, to learn something about racism and how to grow and change. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 15 '20 at 11:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch So if it's such an important question "So say we all" then why are the votes running so heavily against? Yeah, I know, unanswerable. None the less, it doesn't make one feel "welcome to ask" for questions on sensitive issues. Rather, it makes me feel like "I should know better than to ask, or need to ask, or..." \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Oct 15 '20 at 12:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ While the downvotes may be upsetting, please look at this as an opportunity for yourself to learn and grow. Both the answers and doppelgreener's comments provide a lot of good things to consider. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 15 '20 at 12:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Personal growth is a personal choice. But please look at this as an opportunity to learn and not another time where one doubles-down and entrenches themselves in previous beliefs. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 15 '20 at 12:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Serious suggestion, though -- if we're going to agree to give words the power to control what we're allowed to say and ask, perhaps the pre-check should flag those words with a message like "Are you sure you want to use XXXX? Some may find it offensive, leading to downvotes, closure, or deletion." \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Oct 15 '20 at 12:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or, we can just be more aware of when to use words and in what context we are trying to use them. I'm very much trying to maintain that you are asking this in good faith, but I do hope you are asking these questions as a means to learn and change and not as something else. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 15 '20 at 12:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm trying to improve everyone's experience. I'm suggesting a basic design idea: "put the knowledge in the world, not in the user." Some, like me two days ago, might not realize that offensive terms don't become obsolete, or even that words they use in innocence are offensive (no, I'm not claiming that last for myself). \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Oct 15 '20 at 12:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ I downvoted the question because I was concerned you were using a serious issue about racial sensitivity to angle for justifying that you should be allowed to use “Injuns”, which is inappropriate and insensitive, as well as totally misunderstanding the issue. If you think calling people “Injuns” is comparable to describing orcs as orcs, nazis as nazis, and the barbarian class as barbarians, then you need to re-assess these issues. You were asked not to use a slur and initially given the benefit of the doubt; it's your choice to build a mountain out of this molehill. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 15 '20 at 13:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ You say, "I'm trying to improve everyone's experience", yet you seem to be the only one put off by this experience. We have over 40,000 questions and nearly 100,000 answers on the main site that have managed just fine without using racial slurs. There is nothing that needs improving. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Oct 15 '20 at 13:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon Maybe I'm not understanding your position, so I'll ask: are you saying that the user voting/editing system that currently handles this sort of thing inadequate for handling this sort of issue? There are practical obstacles to setting up some sort of automated question-word-choice-review, and so I wonder if, how, and why such a thing would be better than existing user review process. It seems to have worked in this particular case, but I may just be missing the improvements you're after. \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case Oct 15 '20 at 15:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon Maybe I'm too late to this particular case, but from what I can see "all of this" was a single, prompt, quiet edit which removed the word in question (I didn't see any rough comments, but maybe they were deleted), followed by a couple of modestly heated meta exchanges. I'm not as confident as you seem to be that a canonical list of words that shouldn't be used would lead to outcomes much different than this one, but I think I understand your position much better now. Thank you for your responses to my questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case Oct 15 '20 at 16:18

The line is that we don't use derogatory terms

Unless there is absolutely no other way to communicate the idea and it is absolutely essential to the post (and maybe not even then), just don't use derogatory terms to real life people/groups on this site.

We don't apply this same reasoning to fantasy terms (unless they cause harm to real people in some other way) as there are no fantasy beings around to be harmed by them.


When those "racially charged" terms implicate real humans

If we use the term "orc" to define the Tolkienesque fantasy race, that's fine. If we use the term "monkey" to refer to the real-world part of simiiformes that have tails, that's fine too. These terms are not offensive because a) orcs don't exist and b) monkeys aren't sentient (or, at least, not sentient enough to take offence at being called monkeys).

However, both orc and monkey can and have been applied to groups of humans as a racial slur, that's not fine.


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