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There are a few jokes in "Do good math jokes exist?" that I think are inappropriate.

Specifically:

All of these are jokes about people's bodies (mostly women's bodies) with sexual implications. In short, this is website is a professional environment, and these jokes are inappropriate for a professional environment, so I think the jokes should be removed from this website.

Now, you might wonder: "Why, exactly, are these jokes inappropriate for a professional environment?" Honestly, I'm not able to explain it exactly. What I know is that in my experience, people often feel excluded by jokes like these, and when asked why, they usually provide good reasons. Hopefully someone else can explain it better than I can.

Besides, "sexually suggestive remarks" are explicitly against the code of conduct.

So, what should we do about these?


I may as well mention the following jokes while I'm at it:

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    $\begingroup$ Given the question is a) closed as off-topic b) almost ten years old c) CW, I see little problem of removing entries that are considered inappropriate. They add no value to MO. $\endgroup$ – David Roberts Aug 1 at 3:28
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    $\begingroup$ Let me address the four jokes you mention first: (1) why do you think a stripper has to be a woman? (2) the joke is about mini-skirts and the "philosophy" (if you will) behind it, there's no mention of a woman or a woman's body, although I agree that this may not have aged well. (3) Yes, that's not a great joke. (4) I don't see the problem here, to be honest. Now, there's something to say about "keeping it professional", but if MO is like knocking on a colleague's office for a question, I don't see why a bit of blue humor is necessary bad, as long as nobody is offended [...] $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 1 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ [...] and by that I do mean to exclude people who are offended for the sake of taking offence. Of the jokes you mention, I can see which might be considered offensive ("a hot chick" seems to me like it is the problem), but the others make no assumptions on gender, personality, race, or any other group of people. So unless someone wants to point at a specific reason why a group of people is to be offended by that, I'd consider this fine. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 1 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: Given the cultural context in which these jokes arose, it is clear that they refer to women rather than men. Why bother defending them? I would think very poorly of a colleague who made sexually-tinged jokes at work. We should just delete these answers. $\endgroup$ – Andy Putman Aug 1 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Andy: I guess we come from two different cultures, then. But then again, I am sure that there are people who think poorly of me for cussing often (especially when political topics are brought up). And then again, I tend to think poorly on them. The circle is complete, the student has become the master, etc. etc. My point is, I guess, that I am not trying to defend those jokes. I am rather pointing out that it might be over-sensitivity. And for what it's worth, we can't whitewash the past just because we're uncomfortable with it. Instead we should use the past as motivation for improvement. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 1 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: "Whitewash[ing] the past"? Really? These are hardly examples of important historical documents, or even "edgy" political speech. These are just stupid and juvenile jokes, completely unrelated to the purpose of this website. $\endgroup$ – Andy Putman Aug 1 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ "And for what it's worth, we can't whitewash the past just because we're uncomfortable with it. Instead we should use the past as motivation for improvement." Well, perhaps improvement can be achieved by deleting the jokes? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Aug 1 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ I have hesitated to post this comment for fear of being inflammatory. If the moderators want to delete it, I'll understand. But the original (pre-editing) version of this post contained a sweeping and unsupported generalization about the sorts of people who would make these jokes --- a generalization that I (and I am sure others) found pretty offensive in its own right. There is, of course, an argument to be made that the responses to the post should be based primarily on its content and not its motivation. But I think that the lamentable motivation should not be completely ignored. $\endgroup$ – Steven Landsburg Aug 2 at 3:40
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    $\begingroup$ I think the Wayback Machine should not be relied upon for an archive, and that today's community (as well as yesterday's and tomorrow's) should shoulder the responsibility for archiving this forum. I also think the community has little consensus on most subjects related to the forum, apart from no spam and not much homework and try to keep the level of math high (and what level that averages out to is also unknown). If we don't have clear reminders of what is off-topic today, what can we point to demonstrate something off topic? Gerhard "Most How To's Aren't Read" Paseman, 2019.08.02. $\endgroup$ – Gerhard Paseman Aug 2 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila and Gerhard: I value the continued existence of the site - and my personal hope that it remains more like a resource of the form "ask your colleague down the hall, except in this case no such person exists in your department" rather than a gamified Wikipedia - more than attempts to preserve the tone and foibles from 10 years ago > $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Aug 3 at 14:59
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila MO is not really like knocking on your office neighbor's door; it's more like knocking with thousands of people watching. You can use four-letter words in a private conversation, moderating their use as seems fit, but I don't think you would use them here because you know very well that lots of people find that distasteful (and they will be flagged and removed). "As long as nobody is offended": No doubt that many women (and some men too) are offended, but far fewer have the audacity to say so -- many will try to shrug it off, with a mixture of irritation and resignation. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Aug 4 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ @YemonChoi Yes, MO contains multitudes. Internally what I keep coming back to is what it might feel like being a woman reading stuff like this (cf. Elizabeth Henning's comment under one of the posts we're discussing). According to many women these sorts of little incidents are pervasive and oh so tiresome that a certain degree of fatigue sets in; Izabella Laba once wrote a long and eloquent screed on why she's not interested in MO. I'm not completely deaf to PC concerns, but I also think takes little effort to see the problem with some of these posts. Take it on a case by case basis. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Aug 4 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ I think deleting the question is an even bigger mistake than deleting the part under discussion. It feels like removing this meta question is a bigger mistake still. I wonder what will be deleted (and then forgotten or covered up) next. Shout out to @Asaf for trying to preserve rather than erase. $\endgroup$ – Gerhard Paseman Aug 12 at 6:56
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    $\begingroup$ @S.Carnahan: I wrote to Noah in a private email. I did not defend the second joke. I pointed out that it does not read to me as sexually offensive in any kind of way. I know that moderating a sensitive topic is hard, I do. But I would appreciate if you don't dismiss me to a "blog somewhere" if I have a different opinion and a different point of view. What about the comments that blatantly call me a sexist? Are they not rude towards me? I don't see you telling those people to blog about it somewhere else. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 12 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ It is good that these matters are being considered seriously, but we're treading a very fine line between moral idealism and censorship here -- deleting Asaf's comment on a meta thread seems to cross that line. As a <10k user who's just entered this discussion I've been censored from even seeing Asaf's comment to evaluate its contents; it's just gone. I was able to infer from the [...] in his second post that I'd missed something, but I know less about his position than I would otherwise (and it would be easy to assume he defended the second joke if he hadn't clarified above). $\endgroup$ – Alec Rhea Aug 13 at 5:32
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I wanted to say specifically why the second joke on the list really should be deleted. There's a very common trope in math where people analogize math to an attractive woman often explicitly in a sexual way. I've seen this happen in talks. I once saw it happen in a talk where the person illustrated the point with a photo. This is all really deeply inappropriate and people need to stop. The analogy in that joke only works if the listener thinks of themself as staring at the woman, and completely fails if the listener thinks of themselves as the one wearing the skirt. And it's not just a one-off joke, it's a common trope that's really problematic and puts women graduate students in a terrible position when people make this kind of analogy in public. Having it here, especially with it highly upvoted, especially with people writing defenses of it, especially with it coming from a famous mathematician (of sorts), is continuing the culture that says that it's ok to make analogies between mathematics and attractive women, and that's not ok.

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    $\begingroup$ "...the culture that says that it's ok to make analogies between mathematics and attractive women, and that's not ok." Is making analogies (or similies) between music and attractive women OK? Asking for Irving Berlin. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Pretty_Girl_Is_Like_a_Melody $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Aug 4 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ If you're a professor of music composition, yes it would be inappropriate to explain the concept of a melody by using an analogy to what parts of a woman you find most attractive. If you're writing a pop song about what you find attractive in women, then that's entirely different. This shouldn't be very difficult to understand. I'm not objecting to "The Math of Love Triangles." I'm objecting to people sexualizing their explanations of math concepts. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 4 at 23:00
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    $\begingroup$ I accept your distinction between giving a class on music composition and writing a pop song. Isn't there a distinction between giving a math talk and posting to an MO thread on jokes? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Aug 4 at 23:09
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    $\begingroup$ I'll agree that it's worse in a math talk. At any rate, the context here is not harmless. It's a quote which is used in an article to illustrate the way a prestigious and powerful group of exclusively male mathematicians talked about math among themselves in a sexualized way. It's not a coincidence that there were no women in Bourbaki. I guess inviting a woman would have spoiled the fun of constantly making bawdy jokes about women's bodies while talking math. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 4 at 23:29
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    $\begingroup$ As the guy who defended the joke* ten years ago, I have to say that I understand this explanation and I agree with the delete. * But not sexualization of mathematics. $\endgroup$ – Vít Tuček Aug 5 at 9:07
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    $\begingroup$ While I agree with many of your points about inappropriateness, I yet again find myself taking issue with your mind-reading skills. People in different places & in different times & in different contexts think differently from people you might think they resemble now. " I guess inviting a woman would have spoiled the fun of constantly making bawdy jokes about women's bodies while talking math" seems to be putting cart before horse;- Bourbaki's failure to invite women was prob. a symptom of other things & their sense of what was appropriate humour was a symptom of absence of women, not a cause $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Aug 5 at 14:58
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    $\begingroup$ Yes you're certainly right that the causation goes both directions. At article length and not comment length I'd have put more nuance into that phrasing. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 5 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ You might want to have a look at the article, you can judge for yourself whether my summary is fair. (The author certainly phrases it more dispassionately and academically than I did, but I don't think I've misread the point.) jstor.org/stable/301970?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 5 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ If I could edit comments outside of the 5-minute window I'd happily rephrase that last sentence. I'm somewhat hesitant to delete the whole comment just because I could have phrased one sentence better. But I take your point. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 5 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ @NoahSnyder you should read some Susan McClary - a feminist professor of musicology who has written that at one point in Beethoven's 9th symphony " the carefully prepared cadence is frustrated, damming up energy which finally explodes in the throttling murderous rage of a rapist incapable of attaining release." People who live in glass houses, or ivory towers, etc... $\endgroup$ – alephzero Aug 9 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, don't do that. Think about the situation you're putting rape survivors in if you put in a brief unsupported rape analogy in your argument. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 9 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ (Important caveat, of course if you're teaching about gender and sexuality you have to discuss sex in an academic context. I would have no problem with someone giving students a paper assignment about the relevant paragraph of Bourbaki's Art of Memory during a course on the history of mathematics that included a month on the history of gender and sexuality in mathematics.) $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 9 at 14:59
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    $\begingroup$ But I think it's telling that your one example is 30+ years old from a book I'm reasonably confident you've never read (I'm happy to be corrected if I'm wrong). I've heard men make analogies about math and attractive women at least a dozen times in the last decade or so. If this "joke" were a one-off that wasn't part of a larger pattern among mathematicians then my opinion would be a lot less strong, though I'd still think it wasn't a great story to tell. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 9 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ @alephzero Out of interest, as someone whose account says that you've been on this site for 5 months, and as someone who doesn't appear to have posted on it, what exactly is your interest and your relevant experience on how a site for research mathematicians and their community should moderate its content? $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Aug 10 at 0:37
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    $\begingroup$ For example, there is the famous case of the Cox-Zucker machine, where a male mathematician takes a concept from mathematics discovered by two male mathematicians and then turns it into a lewd joke for the benefit of other male mathematicians and sniggering material for male mathematics students. I think this stuff has to stop, and maybe wouldn't even mind if the concept was re-named. I also have heard people in my office making lewd jokes of this kind, this is a bit troubling. $\endgroup$ – Tom Aug 14 at 14:36
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Now that this meta question exists, I wonder if an alternative to deletion could be to edit the jokes in question to remark that they could be considered offensive, and to add a link to this meta question.

There is a slight but IMO important distinction between making a joke in anger, and quoting a joke in response to a request for math jokes. For example, a list of jokes that are widely regarded as inappropriate, but nevertheless were highly upvoted, can be a useful resource for people who are trying to fight sexism and need to convince skeptics who deny that there is a problem. I'm not saying we should go further and specifically ask people to come up with offensive jokes, but given that some questionable jokes were suggested, it seems to me that there is some value in keeping them around, as long as they are accompanied by some indication that the community recognizes that they might be objectionable.

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    $\begingroup$ Actually I see now that someone else has made this suggestion, but as a postscript to an answer that seems to have been highly downvoted for other reasons. $\endgroup$ – Timothy Chow Aug 11 at 19:06
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Edit 3: I'm not sure why I didn't think of mentioning this before I made a mess of things, but there is already a standard way to deal with answers and questions that are rude or abusive, namely by flagging them as such. This method does not require any moderator intervention to yield concrete results.

Edit 2: I have undeleted the answers for now, and I am sorry for taking such abrupt action without waiting for any consensus to take shape. As Lucia pointed out in the comments, even if voting to delete is not an option, flagging a joke for moderator attention is a good way for members of the community to communicate their specific opinions.

Edit: Sorry, I had forgotten about the negative score condition! Thanks to Federico Poloni for reminding me. Okay, I've unilaterally deleted the last three from each list. I welcome additional community feedback.

If an answer is borderline, I am in favor of erring on the side of deleting, because the cost of one person feeling marginalized seems to far outweigh the benefit of one person enjoying a few more jokes on a site whose real purpose is sharing and answering precise mathematical questions.

Old answer: I agree that some of the answers are rather inappropriate. It is not clear that we have a consensus about precisely which ones we should delete, so I do not want to take any unilateral deletion action. Fortunately, we have a standard process for this: people with enough points have the power to delete bad answers.

I had put a lock on the question last year, mostly because people had been making occasional trivial edits to answers, bumping the question to the front page. That lock is now removed, so the usual deletion method can move forward.

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    $\begingroup$ Note that, as far as I understand, people (with 20k+ reputation) can vote to delete only answers with score -1 or less. So, for instance, a necessary condition for the first example to be deleted with the normal process is that it gets downvoted by at least 88 different users beforehand. (And, on the other hand, its score means that at least 87 people in the past have found the answer OK and upvoted it.) $\endgroup$ – Federico Poloni Aug 2 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ I'm a little confused, as it seems that you did in fact unilaterally delete most of these answers not long after you posted this statement of your intention not to do so. Did something change in the interim? $\endgroup$ – Steven Landsburg Aug 2 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ Regarding the cost-benefit analysis in the second paragraph, you seem to have omitted the cost of a great many people feeling marginalized by having their upvotes ignored. $\endgroup$ – Steven Landsburg Aug 2 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ @StevenLandsburg Are you making your claim seriously and in good faith? It seems unlikely to me that more than a handful of the people who voted on an answer to an off-topic community-wiki question would care enough about its deletion 9 years later to feel marginalized. $\endgroup$ – S. Carnahan Aug 2 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ Scott: Yes, I am making my claim seriously and in good faith. I did not upvote any of these jokes, and I can't imagine any circumstance in which I'd want to. But I nevertheless feel personally offended that other people's upvotes are being ignored, and if I can feel offended on their behalf, then I think it's not a big stretch to think that some of them might feel offended on their own behalves as well. $\endgroup$ – Steven Landsburg Aug 2 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ Scott: I am also offended, like @HarryGindi , at the fact that this action is being taken at the behest of someone who is not an active member of the community, and who told us explicitly in the first version of his post that he was motivated by a pet psychological theory about what's wrong with the people who posted these jokes. I am offended that such behavior is being rewarded. So if you're counting the taking of offense as a cost, please add my feelings to your balance sheet. $\endgroup$ – Steven Landsburg Aug 2 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ I will add here that, given the opportunity, I think I'd have voted to delete a few of these --- but in this no way diminishes my unhappiness at the way this came about and the way it's being handled. $\endgroup$ – Steven Landsburg Aug 2 at 18:15
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    $\begingroup$ It may sound like someone who is not part of the community, but the user page of the question's original poster shows some contribution away from zero. If there are ten community members in chat concerned about this issue, let their voices be heard in meta as well. I appreciate Scott Carnahan's disclosure, but feel that his action was premature. I hope he can undo it. I hope also more of the community responds. Gerhard "Other Expression Forms At Risk" Paseman, 2019.08.02. $\endgroup$ – Gerhard Paseman Aug 2 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ Fortunately for this issue, I've avoided having a career. If the people who are upset want to stay silent themselves then **** ****. I care enough about this forum to voice concerns similar to that of Steve and of Asaf. If a member speaks out on the issue of the care of this forum and their career gets a hit because of it, we should be aware of that too. Gerhard "It's Bigger Than It Seems" Paseman, 2019.08.02. $\endgroup$ – Gerhard Paseman Aug 2 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ While some of the deleted responses were no great loss, it still seems preferable to obtain a consensus from the MO community rather than proceeding unilaterally. Currently, this question has 13 votes in favor and 11 against -- this seems hardly conclusive. I understand that one cannot vote to delete the problematic answers -- but people could be asked to flag them for moderator action, and if there are enough users who do that (adjusting for number of upvotes of the relevant answer) then it would be entirely appropriate for the moderators to delete. $\endgroup$ – Lucia Aug 2 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ @S.Carnahan : Thanks very much for listening. $\endgroup$ – Steven Landsburg Aug 2 at 19:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Tanner, I think you have a valid concern, but (in my opinion) your rationale for the concern is not good enough as a basis for action. If the community says collectively "We don't need these anymore", then the bad jokes will be deleted. I think they are needed, and that their deletion should be even more carefully considered. Gerhard "Bad Examples Also Have Purpose" Paseman, 2019.08.02. $\endgroup$ – Gerhard Paseman Aug 2 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson: Yah, I worried about this, but failed to follow up on it. There's also the issue of my referring both to "their behalf" and "their behalves" in the same sentence; surely this can't be right whether or not "behalves" is a word. $\endgroup$ – Steven Landsburg Aug 2 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble: Hi Todd, I don't quite know -- you guys are the moderators! Roughly what I had in mind was something like the delete process, which requires more votes depending on the number of upvotes. As a first thought, something like 3 flags to start with, and then adding extra flags at the ratio of 20 upvotes to 1 (I believe this is the ratio for deleting questions), which would suggest something like 6 flags for that answer? $\endgroup$ – Lucia Aug 4 at 19:16
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    $\begingroup$ @StevenLandsburg Okay. The only thing I'd add is that Tanner did apologize as well, and there's not much more he (I'm pretty sure "he") can do at this point. But anyway I think we may be inching along to some semblance of consensus, at points. (By the way, I'm not going to be applying any pre-set algorithm; just use my judgment in determining any action to be taken.) $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Aug 4 at 21:17
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There are established mathematical terms which may be construed as to carry sexial or drug/alcohol-related innuendo. Examples:

  1. handlebody
  2. pipe dream
  3. drunkard's walk
  4. perverse sheaf
  5. Tits alternative
  6. hairy ball theorem

Should MO start censoring these and similar established terms, too? IMHO, word play in some of the cited in the question jokes is quite similar, e.g. "Moebius stripper".


PS. I do not advocate lewd jokes, I merely want to point out that we are on a slippery slope in this thread.


PPS. Deleting several years-old answers is an attempt to rewrite history; I'd rather see these answers commented as "examples of inconsistent application of website policies, disapproved". Or perhaps screened away as "sensitive/offensive content", so that an extra click is needed to see them.

I discussed this question with a female CS professor, and her remark was that MO should not resemble a male sauna in its tone. That is to say, an overload of these sort of jokes might be too much for some to bear.

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    $\begingroup$ When correctly viewed/Everything is lewd. (Tom Lehrer, Smut) $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Aug 4 at 13:15
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    $\begingroup$ Do I really need to say that MO has no plans to censor terms established in the literature? What we're primarily discussing here are (IMO mostly lame) jokes that are intentionally sexually tinged. I don't think any of the terms you mention fall under that category, and honestly I find this a little alarmist in tone. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Aug 4 at 13:24
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    $\begingroup$ (Alas, if the Moebius stripper joke-maker had instead started with "Why did the chicken cross the Moebius strip?", then we wouldn't need to have this conversation!) $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Aug 4 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Todd: Some offense to the writers of TBBT, it sucked when it came to actual nerd culture. It mainly reinforced outdated stereotypes. You can't claim that the mini-skirt joke is offensive to women, while defending TBBT with a smile. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 4 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Todd: It was field tested as crap, that's what. Because the majority of science jokes in TBBT were crap that was passed as "LOOK! SCIENCY WORDS!" $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 4 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Okay, Asaf. I'm really not defending TBBT, honest. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Aug 4 at 20:50
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: I do think it's telling that you get irate at TBBT's misrepresentation of "nerd culture", but are seemingly ok with jokes premised on sexism and the objectification of women. $\endgroup$ – Andy Putman Aug 5 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: The point of the last part of your rant (the one involving a list of famous mathematicians) eludes me. I've said what I think needs to be said. Given all you've written, there is enough material for other people to draw their own conclusions... $\endgroup$ – Andy Putman Aug 5 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ @AndyPutman would this not be better done with private communication? $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Aug 5 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Andy: I have no interest in trying to change the opinion of someone who has made up his mind. Please leave me alone. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 5 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ Late to the party, but what drug-related innuendo is there in "pipe dream"? Also, I have been unable to come up with any lewd imagery for "perverse sheaves", and it's not for lack of trying. Is there something I've missed? $\endgroup$ – darij grinberg Aug 6 at 16:06
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    $\begingroup$ @darijgrinberg - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_dream : "Wild dreams induced by inhaling from an opium pipe". $\endgroup$ – Dima Pasechnik Aug 6 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ Pipe Dream is referring to 1990ish minigame: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_Mania $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 8 at 23:50
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting, now even this is proposed to be deleted. Would the people who voted this be deleted please explain why? Is my point, that one should not edit history, irrelevant? $\endgroup$ – Dima Pasechnik Aug 13 at 7:16
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    $\begingroup$ Please don't delete this. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Aug 13 at 13:50
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Just delete the entire question. It’s already closed as off-topic, it’s not what the site is for. There’s no good reason for it to still be there.

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    $\begingroup$ I actually think this would be a less divisive course of action than selective deletion of a small number. (Note that I am still not commenting on the rights or wrongs of people's assertions in the comment thread to this meta question) $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Aug 3 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ @YemonChoi: Yeah that's basically my point in suggesting this. I mean of course we're going to all disagree about exactly what the line is for what jokes are appropriate, that's why MO shouldn't be in the business of collecting jokes. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 3 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ It's a bit unclear if you're proposing for the moderators to delete the question, or for users to vote to delete it. The first seems problematic to me in this case, and the second can be done anyway (and might indeed be the best solution). In this case, I think it would take 10 votes to delete the question (because of its popularity), and that would seem fair. (Of course 10 people could then vote to undelete if they felt strongly in the opposite direction ...) Personally, I think OP unnecessarily opened up a can of worms -- a ten year old question with no new activity or interest. $\endgroup$ – Lucia Aug 3 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Lucia: Good point, I was imagining the mods do it, but I think you're right it's simpler for users to just vote to delete. I've gone ahead and put in my vote (though I'm sure if it's closed that vote will get reversed). I also think you're right that this meta thread was counterproductive, it just encourages people to write defenses of the jokes which is worse than the existence of a closed question. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 3 at 16:46
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    $\begingroup$ Personally, I like many of the jokes that are in the answers to that question. I would hate to see them all gone just because four out of 87 answers are questionable. $\endgroup$ – Federico Poloni Aug 4 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ @FedericoPoloni Can't they be archived on tea? We could keep all of them and a mod note could be added at the start saying "this is historical material, does not reflect the views of the mods, etc" $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Aug 4 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ Also someone who wants to curate jokes about math could set up their own site for it. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 4 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ @NoahSnyder Indeed. (Though see my comments on the main thread if you want a truer reflection of my actual views on humour) $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Aug 4 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ @YemonChoi Can't they be archived here on the main site, where they were originally posted, with the same disclaimer? What's the difference? Or maybe find a solution just for those four posts? $\endgroup$ – Federico Poloni Aug 4 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ I still don't believe it. $\endgroup$ – Lutz Mattner Aug 25 at 22:37

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