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Profanity blacklist
Posted by Arthur on Tue 31 Oct 2006 at 10:17
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I just tried, unsuccessfully, to post what I thought was a reasonable reply to another blog entry. The profanity blacklist trapped it, despite the fact that there was not one even mildly offensive word within the message. After several attempts to work around the thing, I gave up in frustration.

UPDATE: Apparently, the term for a disease that's also a sign of the zodiac and a "Tropic of" is considered profane. Some of the others have me scratching my head, too... oh well. 'Tis not mine to wonder why, and all that.

I've always been offended by profanity blacklists. Some of the most offensive things I've ever heard have been communicated without profanity, and some of the most insightful and profound things I've ever heard have been sprinkled with peppery language -- and the quality of the message could have only been diminished were the colorful terms omitted. Not that I can cite an example here...

I'm not suggesting that the profanity filter be removed. I don't often feel compelled to offend one of delicate sensibility, and I can imagine no circumstances in which I might feel compelled to do so here. I don't know much about the software that runs this site, but I do think it'd be nice if it were hacked just a bit to flag the potentially offensive terms that are trapped by the profanity filter. If I were to use spicy language, I would not be offended by a bit of highlighting of it saying "Hey, Arthur, you can't sprinkle that kind of fertilizer here". But, as I said, I am offended by profanity filters, and especially so when they misfire and give me no indication of which string or substring is in need of further attention.

That all said, I've downloaded the yawns code, and since crufting together perl is what I do for a living, I'm going to see what I can do with coming up with a patch that would depeeve me. I hope it'll be considered.

 

Comments on this Entry

Re: Profanity blacklist
Posted by Arthur (66.28.xx.xx) on Tue 31 Oct 2006 at 10:52
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Replying to my own entry with a patch because I'm not sure if the formatting is geborken by editing a previous entry and it's well past my bedtime:

--- Pages.pl    2006-10-23 08:53:52.000000000 -0600
+++ Pages-whatd_i_say.pl        2006-10-31 03:34:00.000000000 -0700
@@ -1173,7 +1173,7 @@
                     #
                     if ( $submit_body =~ /$bad/i )
                     {
-                        return( permission_denied( bad_words => 1 ) );
+                        return( permission_denied( bad_words => 1, naughty => $bad, ) );
                     }
                 }
             }


--- permission_denied.template  2006-10-31 03:46:44.000000000 -0700
+++ permission_denied-whatd_i_say.template      2006-10-31 03:47:06.000000000 -0700
@@ -71,6 +71,7 @@
 
   
   <p>The comment you attempted to post contains some word(s) which have been blacklisted - we try to keep things clean here, so if you reword your comment you should be able to post it later.</p>
+  <p>The specific term that triggered this action is: <tmpl_var name="naughty"></p>
   
 
   


If anyone currently running yawns cares to use it, and the formatting isn't too fouled up...

[ Parent ]

Re: Profanity blacklist
Posted by Steve (80.68.xx.xx) on Tue 31 Oct 2006 at 14:07
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The patch you submitted will be applied this evening. Thanks for tracking it down.

As a minor issue I use the long form ("<-- tmpl_var ... --->") for all HTML::Template variables. If you run ./admin/clean-templates that will report failing expansions/loops/conditionals.

Steve

[ Parent ]

Re: Profanity blacklist
Posted by Steve (80.68.xx.xx) on Tue 31 Oct 2006 at 14:13
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I guess you've managed to find the list? Well the reason for that being introduced was a spate of anonymous anti-semetic comments being left on the site.

That explains the terms chosen, since they were all used in the messages and not elsewhere. (I did scan the comment table to make sure i had no false matches at the time I added them).

Like you I'm not a fan of the blacklists but at the time they were a very fast and reliable solution to the particular problem. (Nowadays we have the "report comment" which allows other people to report comments which I think is a much better solution.)

I will do two things this evening:

  • Update the code to only apply the stop words to Anonymous comments - not to signed in users.
  • Remove the particular word which tripped you up.

I could probably remove the code completely, but I think there is little harm in leaving it in place for anonymous people. If they receive an error message (with your change showing the term which was blocked) then they will be capable of creating an account and leaving their comment if they still wish to.

Sorry for the troubles, and thanks for raising the subject. Sometimes I'm not sure how I should react to particular things. Asking for opinions rarely works out, but seeing your post here has been useful.

Steve

[ Parent ]

Re: Profanity blacklist
Posted by Steve (62.30.xx.xx) on Tue 31 Oct 2006 at 19:48
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Applied.

Steve

[ Parent ]

Re: Profanity blacklist
Posted by dkg (216.254.xx.xx) on Wed 1 Nov 2006 at 06:01
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Awesome. This kind of transparency is a good thing. Thanks for keeping the signal-to-noise ratio as high as it is here, and also for being responsive when problems arise.

[ Parent ]

Re: Profanity blacklist
Posted by Arthur (66.28.xx.xx) on Wed 1 Nov 2006 at 21:28
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Thanks!

I very greatly appreciate your responsiveness to the nits and niggles that sometimes come up here. It's a refreshing thing on an internet so well populated by dictators.

[ Parent ]

Re: Profanity blacklist
Posted by Steve (62.30.xx.xx) on Wed 1 Nov 2006 at 23:38
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This is where I find things hard to judge sometimes. On the one hand this is very definitely my site. On the other hand it is definitely a site which is worthless without a community.

I hope I do a good job of making appropriate decisions, but sometimes it is hard to know - people complain every now and again, and it is hard to know whether they are complaining for genuine reasons, or because there are people who will complain about anything.

I hope I'm doing OK. At the very least I make things as open as I can, both in terms of the code, or in terms of justification for unpleasant/tricky decisions.

At the end of the day I guess you can please most of the people most of the time ..!

Steve

[ Parent ]

Re: Profanity blacklist
Posted by Arthur (66.28.xx.xx) on Thu 2 Nov 2006 at 01:58
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Well, shucks, I have had only one niggling complaint and now it's gone, so you've pleased this luser most of the time. :-)

In my opinion, you're doing a lot better than just OK. This is one of the best sites, for my interests, on the entire web. Thanks for putting it out there!

[ Parent ]

Re: Profanity blacklist
Posted by Anonymous (59.178.xx.xx) on Thu 2 Nov 2006 at 07:02
Cool. I have at times been tripped by the profanity filter, and thought it was overly sensitive (I prefer not to login). The lack of highlighting was a gotcha too.

PJ

[ Parent ]