I post a lot of screenshots, but I usually blur any profanity in the posts for professionalisms' sake. Now, there's a thread that I'm screenshotting, which uses Jesus' name as a perjorative, which offends me. I'm a Christian, and I don't like seeing his name used that way.

Now, I have two options: blur the name, and possibly have people think that I consider it a profane term; or not, and have people possibly get offended because I remove the seven deadly words and some, but not hide that? When you get a lot of fans, that thing tends to happen.

I'd rather not post the screenshot, as I'm looking for a rule of thumb or basis for policy for cases such as these. However, the thread that led to this question does have enough context for people to figure out whose name was there.

  • 5
    Hey Austin, and welcome to The Workplace. I'm a bit unclear on what you're asking here. What are these screenshots for? Why is it an issue if there is profanity? Why are you forced to use this specific screenshot? If we can't understand what your problem is, it's a lot harder to provide an answer.
    – jmac
    Mar 13 '14 at 7:15
  • 1
    A firm I worked for had a map of the world in their presentations, showing all their factories. At one point they wanted to market stuff in the middle east. Hmm. Israel smack in the middle. They put a little company logo right on top of Israel. Nobody was offended.
    – RedSonja
    May 13 '15 at 7:26

If you make a lot of screenshots, then just use a different screenshot. Problem solved.

If this particular post/screenshot is important (say, you're taking the screenshot to give an example of improper behavior) then editing it would be coloring the truth of the screenshot. If you blurred one part, who's to say you didn't photoshop in the bad words in the first place?

Beyond that, once you get into the censorship business it's a slippery, slippery slope. With billions of people on the internet, nearly everything is going to offend someone. Are you going to be comfortable censoring Jesus' name in more religious contexts because some non-Christians don't want their kids to see that stuff?


A few possibilities:

  1. If you're documenting anything official, then censorship of any kind may be out of order, as the original document should stand as-is, even if it offends you or someone else. However, I'm speaking of situations such as audits, things that will get entered into official legal/court records, etc. In these situations original, unaltered documentation is often important.
  2. If you're posting a screenshot in a public forum, and it's just you speaking as you (while quoting someone else), then you can decide what to censor I suppose. Depending on the context it may or may not be seen as appropriate, but you'll have to gauge that in a context-specific way.
  3. If this is for some kind of training, or anything of a strictly professional nature, then I would avoid screenshots of anything religious to begin with. Also, be careful not to draw certain lines for your own faith, and different lines for others. Not saying you're doing that, just be careful. If someone were of another faith and you didn't give their beliefs the same respect, that would also be unprofessional. So, if the screenshots are for a professional purpose, then be professional in all ways, and at all times.
  4. If this is for a client demo of new/updated software then talk to the people putting the content into the demo system - it's unprofessional to have this kind of thing in a current demo in the first place.
  5. Choose your battles. Is it really important to your purpose to include screenshots that contain any religious references, or might it be better if you just avoided content that brought up the question in the first place?
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    Could you add the option "Establish some guidelines for the content, so this issue never even appears." ? QA testers often take screenshots for bug reports, but the original developers supplying the testing data include profanity or inappropriate content. I have encountered web applications where developers use pictures of scantily clad women for testing; it's a nightmare to use this to demo functionality to a client.
    – parasietje
    Mar 13 '14 at 9:03
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    Good point - added. Things of a non-professional nature should definitely be kept out of client-facing demos.
    – jefflunt
    Mar 13 '14 at 11:42
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    @parasietje, your developers then need to be brought up short and told to discontinue this unprofessional behavior or get fired. Ther is no circumstance except the porn industry where this is acceptable behavior. If they can't get that what the clients need to see is important, then they are bad developers no matter what technical skills they have.
    – HLGEM
    Mar 13 '14 at 12:54

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