English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My company is creating a website and we want to say that uploading of pornographic, violent, and hateful content is prohibited. Some people at the company think these exact words are too direct, so we want to replace them with a euphemism. Does "adult content" or "mature content" encompass porn, violence, and hate? Personally, when I think of adult or mature, I only think of porn. I think it's because American culture these days has played down the effect of violence and hate. It's okay for kids to watch Iron Man beat up other people, but not okay for them to watch Playboy. So in effect, you don't need to be adult or mature to watch violent and hateful content.

share|improve this question
"Don't upload what your grandmother would not upload." – kiamlaluno Mar 28 '11 at 21:49
@kiamlaluno I'm sure a lot of grandmas would upload porn. Johnny Knoxville screened Jackass 3D at a nursing home. After watching, the grannies told Knoxville that there should have been more penis in the movie. – JoJo Apr 1 '11 at 17:10
It must be the new generation of grandmothers. I am still used to my grandmother baking cookies, rather then wondering why her browser has cookies but it doesn't offer her. – kiamlaluno Apr 1 '11 at 17:14
We will eventually have grandmothers that grew up with the internet. It's gonna be weird. – Traubenfuchs Apr 21 at 12:21
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I vote for specificity so that users know exactly what is prohibited and you aren't passing value judgments on anything -- unless the site's mission is passing value judgments.

On second thought, "hateful" denotes a value judgment, but I guess it's hard to avoid that if you want to be clear about what is and isn't allowed.

Indecent or objectionable is a possibility, but it leaves the door open to whatever interpretation a user decides to make.

share|improve this answer
They told me we can't be specific because it's scary to read - all those evil words floating around. By hateful, we mean racism, attacking other users, etc... – JoJo Mar 28 '11 at 19:56
I don't know of any other clear, concise way to imply everything you listed. Like you, I interpret "mature/adult content" as "pornography" even though violence arguably is worse for kids. You could say "indecent or objectionable," but that's so subjective that you'd be opening the door to violators who could justifiably claim they didn't understand. – Kelly Hess Mar 28 '11 at 20:17
Of all the above, I give the nod to Kelly's contribution of "objectionable content." It covers all the bases. Even better: "objectionable or inappropriate content." It's vague, but vague is OK. Gives you carte blanche to pull down all unwanted material. – The Raven Mar 28 '11 at 20:34
Objectionable is good - it's subjective but so are all the other words. – mgb Mar 29 '11 at 0:56

“Explicit, inappropriate, and offensive content” probably covers all your meanings but is kind of vague.

share|improve this answer

I assume this isn't a legal declaration? If you can use an informal, assertive tone, I would consider:

No mean-spirited content, please. It's bad karma. Be nice.

or possibly:

No nasty content, please....

share|improve this answer
Porn isn't usually mean-spirited. – Kelly Hess Mar 28 '11 at 20:14
Fair point. I guess I was thinking the act of uploading such would be mean-spirited. I've edited the answer. – Michael Easter Mar 28 '11 at 20:18

Some terms that come to mind that would encompass this are:

  • Questionable content
  • Controversial content
  • Inciteful
  • Provocative (although this sometimes means 'though provoking')
  • Inflammatory
  • Unprofessional
  • Demeaning
share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.