Just saw a content dispute on the answer https://workplace.stackexchange.com/a/112686/88 to the question "Member of the board asks for admin access and wants non-compliant device on the network".

There has been back and forth edit warring changing the original phrase "cover your ass" to "cover your behind".

In my opinion, this changes a common English idiom which is widely used in workplace situations, to a strange and tortured phrasing which I cannot imagine anyone actually ever saying in real life.

Furthermore, a quick Google for that phrase on Workplace StackExchange reveal frequent usage with no apparent offence ever being taken in the past.

I know the Meta ruling on "Are expletives (cursing, swear words or vulgar language) allowed on SE sites?" is "no, they are not", but would any reasonable person ever define "cover your ass" as an expletive, curse, swear word or vulgar language?


4 Answers 4


As pointed out by the OP, the phrase "Cover Your Ass" is fairly prolific on Workplace SE. Not only that, it is a phrase you would hear in many work places.

The flame/edit war warranted the locking of the question, but I feel the original edit for language was perhaps a little over enthusiastic. This was maybe influenced by the previous use questionable language by the author of the answer.

In the context of the question and answer here, I don't feel the language was excessive or out of place. It almost feels like one rule for some and another rule for others.


There's background to this guy, and when there's a pattern from a particular user, single events (like this one) can't be viewed as a single event.

For me, this started last week with This answer from the same guy. If you look at the original edit, you'll see that the tone and language used is clearly not acceptable.

There's been a general abrasive tone used since then.

The editing out of "ass" is debatable - I personally wouldn't have been too bothered about it.

What I did flag for moderator attention though, was the comment regarding

fascist tone police

Which, for me isn't acceptable and speaks of someone who rejects guidance on the "be nice policy". The resulting bar-fight kind of backs this up.

Looking at the guy's history before the linked answer above shows a string of decent (if a little terse) answers that are fine (to my mind).

I'm guessing this guy got his gander up regarding transexuals in the workplace, spoke his mind, and didn't take the criticism well. A time-out to chill and relax will probably do him good.

I just hope he voted for me before he left.

  • 2
    As for myself, I had tried to work with this user regarding swearing to no avail.
    – Neo
    May 23, 2018 at 12:07

I locked that post because the sequence of events basically was:

  1. Posted originally
  2. Edited
  3. Rolled back
  4. Flame war in comments with beginnings of a rollback war

You can nearly always edit things to be expletives. Something like "create a paper trail" would also have been 99% as effective at communicating the intent here.

  • 2
    Flame war in comments has been removed, so I can't see how heated that was, but I wanted to start a discussion as to whether the original edit to alter the phrase "cover your ass" was appropriate or necessary on the Workplace. May 23, 2018 at 0:54
  • 3
    The only problem with "create a paper trail" is that the reason for creating said paper trail is to CYA, which is an acronym I see often on Workplace SE. Cover Yourself is perhaps a better replacement Cover your assets of you want to preserve the acronyn or perhaps Cover Ones Donkey if going for a touch of humor.
    – Jon P
    May 23, 2018 at 0:59
  • 1
    In any case, using the acronym "CYA" is far more polite and tolerable than actually spelling each word... for me using acronym is OK but spelling it out is in the limits of my taste.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    May 23, 2018 at 2:09
  • 4
    Personally, I think "cover your ass" is okay. It's a fairly common idiom and not especially vulgar, IMHO. That being said, I didn't see the comments, and this particular user has something of a pattern of using inappropriate language in his answers and comments. May 23, 2018 at 2:14
  • 3
    Also, can we unlock the post considering the author has been suspended? I doubt anyone else will start an edit war over this, and it will allow voting. May 23, 2018 at 2:16
  • @Carpetsmoker Personally light weight swearing such as this is not offensive to me. However, I think the community as a whole frowns upon it.
    – Neo
    May 23, 2018 at 12:09
  • 2
    The community as a whole doesn't seem care about this particular phrase at all, and there's evidence that it's considered acceptable given the number of highly upvoted posts containing the full phrase. You might have had reasonable argument about previous incidents, but to make an iffy edit on this post having at minimum ignored others recently, you were picking on the user, whether you think it was justified or not.
    – user53718
    May 27, 2018 at 5:07

It's a saying, but it is definitely vulgar although it does seem to be acceptable mainstream with our site. I wouldn't use such a phrase.

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