'Bane of internet profanity filters'
We all know automatic profanity filters on message boards and elsewhere on the Internet can be ridiculously and unimaginatively strict. But the problem is much worse: Sometimes, it sees swearwords inside
other words. Thus, you can get hilarious Malapropers
— like "hecko" instead of "hello", or "teasfecesn" instead of "teaspoon" — or else you get results like "cl***
" instead of "class", ironically
making those words more profane, not less (assuming, of course, that the filter doesn't outright censor the whole message and ban you from the board).
This is known as the Scunthorpe Problem
, after an incident in 1996 when AOL's rather simple-minded dirty-word filter prevented residents of several English towns and counties — among them Scunt
er and Middlesex
— from creating accounts with AOL because it matched strings within the town names to "banned" words. Since it also checked the town names against the postal codes, users from these towns could not get around it by entering modified versions of the names — they were darned if they did
, darned if they didn't
. It's also known as the "clbuttic mistake". The ubiquity of the trope suggests that the profanity filter industry employs a lot of very lazy programmers
. Read this
to see what they likely have to wrestle with.
And of course when anyone reads some bizarrely censored text, they are absolutely going to assume that you swore like a drunken sailor at them, with either terrible or hilarious results.
Compare Censored for Comedy
. See also The Problem with Pen Island
. May overlap with Have a Gay Old Time
Now featured on The Other Wiki
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- That there is a legitimate variety of sword called a bastard sword, which shows up in many RPGs, makes discussion of said weapon somewhat annoying if the website in question thinks you're trying to swear.
- AOL once banned users from putting the word "horsemen" in their profiles. Sucked for anyone who wanted to mention the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or talk about Ric Flair!
- Twelve Ounce Mouse had a character named "C.J. Muff", or "C.J. ***", as the [adult swim] forums would render it.
- Amazon.com's profanity filters will delay or block reviews or comments with "four-letter"" words, even if these are buried inside the name of the author of the work being reviewed (for example, Yamashita).
- Anime News Network censors at least one style for writing Niconico Douga. No, seriously. Example here.
- AT&T has banned numerous words from use as or in usernames, including some not normally considered offensive, and it will not tell people the words they can't use. At least one anecdotal account reports that a complaining user was told he should change his name in order to avoid the filter.
- Atlus' forums have this issue with the Persona Yoshitsune, and is replaced with Yo####sune instead.
- On the World of Warcraft and Battle.net forums, "rape" is censored. Want to talk about and link that Drape of the Twins your guild's healer obtained in the Bastion of Twilight? You're SOL, sorry. Also, "Osama" and "Nazi" are censored, but not "Hitler" or "Soviet."
- Of course one could subvert this filter. Just add a space, bold the space and delete the space. This fools the word filter into thinking that the word is "ra[b][/b]pe" rather than "rape," but not the typical forum user or the reply box.
- The BBC online chatrooms always used to automatically censor the word 'shat'. This caused discussions about Star Trek, featuring that great actor William S***ner, to become a whole different experience. After several complaints from users, the word was (quietly) removed from the automatic censor.
- Bethesda Softworks' Official Forums censor the word "handbag" to "han***" because of a word most users will not know without recourse to the Urban Dictionary.
- Don't try to say Homo Sapiens on Bungie.net. Why? Because they will be -blam!- Sapiens. Yes, the filter replaces swears with -blam!-, as it was Halo's second codename. The first one was Monkey Nuts, and was changed when Bungie founder Jason Jones (no relation to the one on The Daily Show) wanted to tell his mother about the game.
- They have a similar problem with naming a custom map in Halo 3. Among others, you can't use the word assault... even though there's a game type called "Assault"!
- The BIONICLE fansite BZPower has run afoul of this from time to time. For instance, the word "mod" filters to "moderator", a filter put in place early in the site's life to discourage discussion of rival fansite Mask of Destiny (commonly abbreviated as MoD). However, this poses problems in discussions of "mods" (modifications) for sets, and such discussions come up fairly frequently. Additionally, a lot of even minor insults like "jerk" would filter to #### or "idiot" to "cool dude" (Both words that actually appear in BIONICLE media) in order to discourage flaming, which made a line in an official BIONICLE short story posted to the site by BIONICLE writer Greg Farshtey seem shockingly profane. Most members simply learn to alter their vocabulary since BZPower has well-enforced rules against bypassing the word filter in any way. Most mods (moderators) recognize that some filtered words are silly or out-of-date and that the filter is in major need of an update, but they still enforce the rule against bypassing the word filter so new members don't think that putting spaces between letters is allowed for serious infractions.
- On the old Broadway.com message boards, talking about your favorite stars like D*ck Cavett or D*ck van D*ke could be problematic.
- Capcom Unity's forums can censor many things, including names. For instance Jim Cummings, (or any intentional mispellings (except for "Jim C+ Ummings) will be rendered as Jim Mings.
- Chaoticgame.com had a similar problem with its own censor, but the moderators created a white list of all non-profanity words to fine tune the censor software and fix the issue.
- The Chicago Sun-Times censors words like 'sex' and 'rape' in its comments section, presumably out of porn fears, but it can make it annoyingly awkward trying to comment on certain types of articles. And for some odd reason, 'wife' is censored as well.
- The forums at City-Data.com have word filters that make it impossible to say "He graduated magna cum laude." without "cum" being blocked.
- The Comics Curmudgeon once had a problem with the comment system spam filter catching posts containing "MILF" when Gil Thorp, a comic regularly discussed on the site, takes place in a town called "Milford".
- Cracked censors the "jap" in "Japan". Considering that almost half of their articles are about how crazy Japan is (the other half being dick jokes), this is quite annoying. An article can say all seven dirty words with no censorship, yet they feel the need to censor the comments section. This is made even more ludicrous because Cracked's primary demographic consists of 18-34 year old males, who would have no need for a filter. One can turn off the filter, as there is a button that says "show profanity". But it's always on by default, and one must switch off the filter for every individual article.
- Not to mention the "cum" in "documentary" and the "cock" in "shuttlecock" or "cockerel", though as of this writing it does not censor anything containing "dick."
- And the "i" and "c" in "spices"
- They censor the term "homo". You'd expect Homo Sapiens, Homo Erectus and Homo Superior to be blocked thanks to the space, but H**ophobe?
- And they censor the "spic" in "suspicious."
- The DC Comics Message Boards had this problem, too. You couldn't discuss one of comics' most well-known heroes, Dick Grayson (aka the original Robin), without that first name being censored. What made things worse is that, as Nightwing, the character whose name you couldn't even mention had his own dedicated board for fans to not mention him in!
- The DDR Freak forums have always had a swear filter. Yes, it's been known to catch a few innocent words at times. Notably there is a DDR song called Little Bitch. It got censored to Little Fish on the old forums, and on the newer ones it was Little Doggy. However, bypassing the filter with html markup not only worked fine, but is actually allowed, even if the profanity is intentional. The admins just think people getting censored when they are angry is funny, and then getting even angrier when other people cuss just fine is even funnier.
- The Discovery Channel forums once censored fart (That's right. They considered the word fart to be obscene), leading the word "farther" to become ***her.
- The Doctor Who Answers site previously had this problem with TARDIS being blocked because it contained the term 'tard'.
- ESPN.com's filters apply only to the user comments, not to the writers themselves, so you could be directly quoting the article on which you're commenting and end up getting censored. (This was particularly bad when "Boobie" Gibson was involved; thankfully, the nickname seems to have passed and all references to him use his actual first name.) Oddly enough, "eff" is considered out of the question, which is unfortunate considering that Bill Simmons was the one who popularized the idea of the "No Effing Way Game".
- Likewise, players of their online Poker client will find themselves talking about a player getting a *ll house, or how aw*l their luck is.
- Final Fantasy fan-forum Eyes on Final Fantasy filtered "lol" to "I cried aloud in mirth and merriment", intended to prod users towards lessening their usage of chatspeak. It also changes "fuck" to "smurf" and "shit" gets replaced by a line of White Mage emoticons.
- Facebook revised their censor for people's names about a year ago; before then, people whose last name was "Gay" had to come up with something else.
- Their in-game chats still have censors, which can run into this type of problem sometimes.
- Facebook chat's habit of disallowing swearing caused some unintentional hilarity here.◊
- Fanfiction Dot Net seems to hate the Nazis. Not enough to censor the word itself in private messages, but good luck trying to say, for example, "Third Reich" without it coming out as "Third R***". They also blank out anything that resembles a URL, presumably to deter spam, which includes direct mention of their own name including the initialism FF.net.
- The latter appears in My Immortal: there's a bit where Tara tries to include a link to an image of the costume she's describing but it comes out as "http/".
- Fark.com has various filters, that it replaces in words (and even between words, not counting the spaces, so "wish it" would become "wishiat"). Shit is replaced with "Shiat", Bitch replaced with "Biatch", Fuck with the site name, Nigger replaced with "attractive and successful African-American", and Nigga replaced with "Nubian" (thus, "niggardly" becomes "nubianrdly".) It would also render this trope's title as the Scoonthorpe Problem. It's usually Played for Laughs: Fark doesn't have a problem with autofiltering; it enjoys every minute of it.
- Not only will it filter across spaces, it will filter backwards. When you combine the two, it can lead to great confusion and amusement. As an example, an article was once posted where someone was shot for egging a car. All occurrences of the phrase "For egging" were replaiced with "Fonaibung".
- While not profanity, the phrase "First Post" is filtered to "boobies"note . This eventually lead to the word "boobiesulated". Similarly, "first comment" becomes "Weeners", and "last post" becomes "minimum post" (even on the profile page). The most well-known example within the site is when a "this day in history" post of "Benjamin Franklin became the first Postmaster General of the United States" was translated to "the boobiesmaster General of the United States".
- Over at the GameFAQs forums, Japanese named like "Shizuru", "Shizuka", "Fukurou", etc. were once blocked on account of the first four letters. It got worse when the superhero movie Hancock was publicized, but at least the latter was corrected.
- It skips over line breaks, which can make it frustrating when trying to compose a list (at least until you learn that putting a space just before the line break fixes it without being visible.)
- The GameFAQs boards for the Disgaea series makes it really hard to discuss top-tier equipment, since the regular Infinity+1 Sword of the series is named 'Yoshitsune'.
- GameSpot has (or had) the word "class" censored out thanks to it containing "ass", which makes talking about character jobs/classes in games that have them, like Golden Sun, Team Fortress 2, Mass Effect, Fire Emblem, more than a few Final Fantasy installments annoying.
- GameFAQs also ignores return characters when checking for banned words - even though it does count spaces - meaning people producing un-punctuated lists often end up vexed by claims of profanity that spans between lines.
- The Mons game Robopon 2 featured a line of monsters that were thieves. Atlus decided to name one of these monsters after a famous thief from another work of fiction (Robopon is filled with Shout Outs). Thus, they chose Fagin from Oliver Twist. Thanks to this trope, the (numerous) Robopon lists have it listed as F*gin.
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City had a little scooter called the "Faggio", made "***gio" on the GameFAQs boards. Appropriate given it's an Italian feminine word for "beech" but still.
- The Giant in the Playground forums used to use a filter that would replace any text deemed to be racist with [racist language is not allowed], and obscene words for male of female genitalia with [male genitalia] or [female genitalia]. Which resulted in several discussions about someone looking for a [racist language is not allowed] in his armour, and one forum member having his forum name automatically changed to "Nigh[female genitalia]ch".
- "Google+ doesn't like my surname. Profile is suspended pending review. Had this problem with FB. But I'm stubborn and won't change my name." — Matthew Cock
- The IMDb boards keep mild swearing but replace worse words with *beep*. For example, "ass" is allowed, while its derivative, "asshole", is beeped (though strangely, "Goddamn" is left alone). As a further result of this filter, talking about Alfred Hitchcock is more or less impossible. The censorship policy also beeps certain Japanese words with worse English swear words within them, such as "dashitara" and "Odago"note , both of which are perfectly okay. This occasionally makes talking about characters in Japanese films a problem - Yoshitoki Kuninobu's name being rendered as *beep* Kuninobu, for example.
- They had to allow the word "Pussy", after a minor outcry by James Bond fans.
- Marx Brothers fans have difficulty referring to Harpo's trademark funny face, called the "Gookie," because the word contains the ethnic slur "gook" within it.
- JournalFen, famous as the home of Fandom Wank, blocks any comment (without explanation, for added confusion) with the word "cialis"note in it, making it difficult comment about socialism or specialists or similar things. Before being widely known (and occasionally since), this led to some users wondering what the site admins had against socialist ideology. The Fandom Wank wiki gives advice on dealing with this.
- It inexplicably was also keyed specifically to that capitalization, so anyone actually talking about Cialis® was able to do so.
- Kissthisguy.com, about misheard song lines and mondegreens, will not let you make ***sumptions about the words you thought you were listening to. Nor any other word containing the string "ass".
- Online card game Kongai has a character named Higashi, The master. Kongregate's own forum doesn't have any kind of censor, but sometimes hilarity ensues when talking about the character on another forum.
- The Let's Play Forum has installed a word-filter that turns "lol" into "I lick old ladies" as a way of making fun of those who overuse the acronym. However, not only has it failed to prevent clueless newbies from spamming the phrase in every one of their posts, but it's also caused problems for a certain user who LPed Adventures of Lolo.
- LiveJournal blocks interest searches for anything that squicks Moral Guardians, such as "baby carrots with cumin."
- Specifically, any phrase that has both a sexual-sounding word and a word for any family member hidden somewhere in it—for example, "unclean horsemen"—gets blocked, because apparently it could somehow be referring to incest or something.
- Ludia has admitted to this problem in their games. Among the things which trigger their swear filter are screwdriver, Saturday, scrap, and basement. It also tries to catch people trying to circumvent the filter, by also censoring "hore", which hits "shore" and "chores". Then the filters looking for Spanish cussing also hits "reputation". It also censors the "hoo" in "hooray", perhaps because "hoo hoo" is a euphemism for the vagina in some regions.
- Marvel.com censors the word "homo", despite the name of the mutant race in their very popular X-Men comics being "Homo Superior", or Namor belonging to the species "Homo mermanus".
- Meebo Rooms tries to prevent people from circumventing the swear filter by ignoring hyphens when looking for swear words. This leads to a lot of false positives when taking about Post-Its. Typing "is hit" or any word that ends with the letter "S" before Hitler, saying "finish it, or Simpson's HitN'Run is difficult too. The phrase Sit on my face is also censored, oddly enough, as it is probably rare among anyone aside from the more savvy Monty Python fans.
- The movie review site Mr. Cranky has fun with its profanity filter: Offensive words in posts come out as "Melanie Griffith".
- At one point, MSN news article comments sections censored Muslim swear words - unfortunately, some of these words were incredibly common in English.
- Here's an example from ms-news.net with a post from an aspiring ***embly programmer who can't find any do***entation. assembly and documentation.
- And another, from someone having a problem with Se***emCount() (SetItemCount).
- A Myst-related chatroom that bleeped the innocent words "manuscript" (for containing the word "anus"), "Uranus" (for the same reason), and "shell" (for containing the word "hell"). Some fora-members still use "m***cript" or "mcript" as an Unusual Euphemism.
- Neopets used to have this problem on its forums. Saying the word firetruck would get censored. Also, too bad if your RP character's wearing a bikini — it'd inevitably get switched to "cardigan".
- The fact that SpongeBob SquarePants was often said to live in Cardigan Bottom was rather less optimal.
- It got worse recently, where the filter for Neomail (Essentially private messages) played this trope painfully straight. Words such as "something", "document", "circumstances", "facepalm", "hello", birdy, "skill", and so on would be blocked.
- "Uncle" is also not allowed, for some reason.
- They're also not very fond of "isn't it", "doesn't it", or anything of the sort.
- For a while, anything Twilight-related for be filtered out to various silly things, such as rendering Twilight itself as My Little Pony and the author Stephanie Meyer as Krusty the Clown. This caused problems for someone named Stephanie, as mentioned in this editorial
- A Nickelodeon-related forum once censored the word "fag", reasonable enough, right? Except anytime that someone mentioned Bill "Patrick Star" Faggerbakke, the last name became "f*ggerbakke" (without the capitalization, either!), along with the less risque Rodger "Squidward Tentacles" Bumpass.
- The (now defunct) Nintendo of Europe forums had this problem with a certain legendary bird Pokémon called Ho-Oh.
- The Spanish forums had this with the word "Rojo" (literally "Red"; blame Spanish history), which made talking about, say, Pokemon Red And Blue kind of hard.
- Ninja Kiwi, of Bloons Tower Defense and Bloons Super Monkey fame, has "M.O.A.B. ***in (Assassin), ***e (price), and "doumo arigatou gozaima***a ne" (doumo arigatou gozaimashita ne, which is Japanese for "thank you very very much") in the BTD5 and BTD Battles chat functions.
- The Christian news Web site "One News Now" automatically changes "gay" to "homosexual" in wire reports. It was pretty funny when Tyson Gay ran a 9.68-second 100-meter dash to win the event in the 2008 U.S. Olympic trials — the resulting headline was 'Homosexual Sent to Olympics'.
- It gets better — the censored headline was accurate. Beijing also featured the first outed homosexual to win an Olympic gold medal, Australian diver Matthew Mitcham.
- For a while, the RPGamer forum on the Final Fantasy series made things difficult to talk about the character designer, Yoshitaka Amano. To the webmasters' credit, they later just pulled the entire filter.
- Sega Forums has a swear filter that replaces swears with smiley faces. This causes words like "assassin" to be rendered as :):):):):):)in, much to the annoyance of many forumgoers.
- The MySpace-like social networking site Sitemodel.net was run by some very strict Christians, so not only were cuss words censored (and even words containing cuss words), but also words like "devil" and "Satan". The word "anal" was also curiously censored, and this turns the word "canal" into "c***". The mostly secular role players who moved to the site after MySpace changed its look and gave the site most of its traffic constantly complained about this in the site's suggestion blog, but to no avail, until the site's owner decided to create a separate site for them called Roleplayer.me, with fewer rules. Then so many flocked to this site and abandoned Sitemodel that it was eventually forced to shut down.
- Popjustice, a music forum, censored the word "bitch", replacing it with a long condemnation of the term. This made it pretty difficult to discuss songs like Sexy Bitch or any lyrics using the word. The filter was removed pretty sharpish due a deluge of complaints, although still remains for the word "chav", and also turns ROFL into "I am a gaping bumhole". The forum owner is strict about using proper English, to say the least.
- Slashdot's lameness filter appears to impose a limit of four times that "troll" can be used in a post. This forces people discussing game controllers to self-censor themselves, such as use of "gamepad" in this post.
- Invoked by Something Awful. Though profanity flows freely and edited posts have "[username] fucked around with this message at [timestamp]" added to them, it has swear filter only for unregistered viewers to make the forum uncomfortable to read for them, as well as to prevent SA from popping up in strange google searches. The filter replaces several words with "gently caress", "poo poo", and "stinkyhole".
- The word "asshole" is censored to "rear end in a top hat".
- B3ta dabbled with a similar system, the cranberries.
- A long time ago there was a filter changing "sir" to "fag" after creator Richard "Lowtax" Kyanka got sick of posters constantly addressing each other by "good sir." It was eventually taken out, but for months everyone was eating fagloin steaks and hearing fagens.
- The Spore forum does this, censoring any swear for "SPORE". And, inevitably, new members who type SPORE in all capitals when talking about the game are mistaken for swearing and placed under close scrutiny.
- While we're on the Sporum, as it is called, they censor "Roblox", thanks to a spamming spree relating to said website. And also "sperm", which has problems for people trying to talk about whales.
- Even then, they don't bother to censor Flash items in user signatures, or fix the problem with UBBC code bypassing the censor (example: f[b][/b]uck). Actually, the whole forum is a massive goddamn mess, and it needs to be seen: Right here.
- Spring.me (formerly known as Formspring) has this problem when you're viewing a comment and you aren't signed in. For example, "hyperness" shows up as "hy***ess". Strangely enough, it also censors the word "stupid". And the word "fig" (try and ***ure out why...)
- The Steam Forums have a Scunthorpe Problem. Any banned character string is replaced with hearts (complete with colour-formatting code to make them pink), no matter where in the post it was. You can't even link them to this page when trying to complain about it, because the very name of this trope triggers the auto-replace, which screws up the hyperlinks.
- Perhaps it would be advisable to use a URL shortener such as TinyURL to cir***vent this problem?
- It's particularly problematic when talking about certain games such as Stealth Bastard Deluxe.
- Valve does have some Fun with Autocensors, though, in that "piss" is turned into "jarate", leading to people saying they're "really jarateed off" by whatever happens to have eared their ire.
- TalkCity did this in their chatrooms, which caused a lot of problems in the chatrooms devoted to pet discussion. Words like 'Cockatiel','Cockapoo' and 'Cocker Spaniel' got hit with the censor. (chatters got around the cockatiel problem by just calling the birds 'tiels', or clockatiel and cocker spaniel became clocker spaniel. Or a zero was subbed in: c0ckatiel,c0cker spaniel.)The site is still open, but whether anything has changed is hard to say.
- The Unforgotten Forums had (or has if it comes back) only two censored words. "Fuck" is changed to "boink". And "Will" is changed to "Rob''. The site's creator put in that joke because of his fiancée's "views" on Will Smith, but it sometimes got annoying.
- Who Sampled censors every instance of slurs in titles and people names, which comes across not only as annoying (as in the examples above, Yoshitaka becomes "Yo***aka", and so on), but also as hypocritical: being primarily a site about samples in rap and hip-hop songs, words like "bitch", "whore" and "niggaz" aren't exactly uncommon.
- In Whuddle World, not only are swears filtered, but certain non-swearing religious words. (Ostensibly, religious discussion is disallowed because of the emotional response involved, potentially creating an atmosphere that they don't want to foster.) In any case, running afoul of the filter keeps the whole message from being posted. And you can't go back and make a few edits unless you stuck it in Notepad or something first. The chat just tells you "Inappropriate message." to keep innocent eyes from seeing the word "Hello!", while the forums display "Stop swearing." regardless of the class of inappropriateness you have unwittingly tried to post.
- The Other Wiki doesn't have an edit censor filter, but it does have a filter that flags usernames containing certain words. A surprising number of legitimate accounts get flagged, especially those with proper names containing an embedded obscenity or slur (Nazir, Takeshita, etc.).
- The old Wizard World comic book forums back in the late 90's and early 00's had this problem. It was very noticable when someone wanted to talk about famous comic artist, Dave Cockrum.
- The Wizards of the Coast message boards used to filter out 'cock' which is understandable enough, except that it led to interesting exchanges involving crossbows, handguns and body language. "I got into an argument with a player once when he insisted that he could *** his gun quietly enough to avoid detection by the guard next to him." or in the roleplay forums "She ***ed her head and smiled..." or "How many rounds does it take to *** your crossbow?"
- When the expansion set Champions of Kamigawa was released, some (presumably younger) members of the community were highly amused by the fact that it could be abbreviated to CoK. The moderators cracked down hard on this, insisting that the set's abbreviation is CHK and that calling it anything else constitutes disruptive behaviour, which was against the Code of Conduct (or CoC, an abbreviation which the moderators didn't object to at all).
- It doesn't help that the shipped product correctly lists the set code as "COK" followed by the contents: Booster packs. COK Boosters.
- Wizards publishes Magic: The Gathering, which features a Cockatrice as a creature. "Cock" is legitimate (if potentially naughty) shorthand.
- Magic Online had a notoriously restrictive swear filter. "Damn" was verboten, despite numerous Magic cards existing with "damned" or "damnation" in the titles (and, indeed, one card existing whose entire name is "Damnation"). The card "Deep Analysis" suffered from a similar problem. "Mick" is also censored thanks to it being an old slur against Irish Catholics
- The Gatherer Magic card database's discussion section has a similar problem. You get the old standby cl***ic, as well as the somewhat less common cir***navigate. Not to mention ***ulative upkeep, a (now outdated) rule that appears quite often in older cards.
- On the World Of Warcraft information board, 'Wowhead', the censorship renders 'cock' into a line of asterisks. This shows most clearly in discussions about the minipet, the ***roach. The word 'snatch' is also censored, leading to interesting discussions on the ability of the Bird Of Prey hunter pet: *** (a disarm where the bird grabs the enemy's weapon).
- The Xbox forums censor the word hell. This is all fine and dandy until you're talking about Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway.
- Occasionally a site will consider "yahoo" to be offensive. One site that does so? Yahoo.
- The Brazilian yahoo site has a weird problem. You can't use "fica" or words with those four letters (signiFICAr, etc) in it. Now, "fica" means "stay" in Portuguese, nothing in English but the abbreviation of some law and "cunt" in Italian. However, bad words in Portuguese aren't censored. Nor are bad words in English. And nor are other bad words in Italian. So, the reason for a perfectly common Portuguese word or termination to be censored shall forever remain a mystery.
- The Mexican Yahoo News site seems to be suffering from this as well in the comments section. Comments in this article show that you can't write "vehículo" (vehicle in Spanish) or "cucaracha" (cockroach) because it censors the partial match for "culo" (ass, specifically the anus) and "cuca" (pussy).
- YTMND used to have this problem. This page pokes fun at it.
- Zug.com uses a profanity filter that substitues the names of famous poets for swears. This led to a Scunthorpe Problem when an article was written citing "John Belushi, then the leader of..."; the writer left out the comma and space after "Belushi," turning the sentence into "John BeluShakespearehen the leader of...."
- One chatroom banned the use of the word "gif" so people couldn't post pornographic images. The word "gift" always appeared as "*CENSORED*t."
- Not an attempt at censorship, but the principle is the same: Some message boards and instant message services will try to convert typographic emoticons into equivalent graphical smileys. Things get weird when you try to talk about Windows XP or quote from the King James Bible, which finishes a lot of parenthetical statements with colons or semicolons.
- It also raises problems if you make an enumerated list that contains at least 8 elements, or write out a calculation that uses both parentheses and an 8, as 8) is rendered as a face with sunglasses.
- Deviant ART's can even screw up URLs this way, including ones inside HTML hyperlink tags.
- There's also some Wiki software used that also makes a mess of any TLAs you throw at it.
- Many forums forget to censor the special character SOFT HYPHEN (U+00AD), which can be typed on Windows as Alt+0173 (that's hold ALT then type 0173 on the number pad) or on Linu as Ctrl+Shift+U, A, D, Enter. A soft hyphen is ordinarily used to break words at the end of a line but doesn't show up otherwise. Thus a crafty user can get away with liberal use of f----ucks and ba-s--ta---rds (and other banned strings) all day long, since they're not identical to what's in the filter. Usually ends with a ban though.
- One online script for Sweeney Todd censors Mrs. Lovett's line about "popping pussies into pies". However, she's talking about cats.
- A fifth-generation Pokémon by the name of "Cofagrigus" has created this problem.
- The in-game Global Trade Station is designed to reject any Pokémon who have offensive nicknames. At the moment, "fag" is on the list of banned words, which means every Cofagrigus traded on the GTS is either non-English or nicknamed. At least Cofagrigus is an evolved Pokémon.
- Which means that when innocent children have learned why they can't put up their Cofagrigus on the GTS, they've also learned the offending word. Great planning there, guys.
- Pineco, has the same problem and is not an evolved Pokémon. And Ho-oh, which is a legendary. Oddly, the words "pine" and "ho" are only banned in Generation V. (At least for Ho-Oh, you must have owned one to trade for it.)
- Weedle, Marshtomp, or Skuntank are also banned because of their names.
- Nosepass and Probopass are still unable to be traded without a nickname, though Cofagrigus has at least been fixed.
- French people are suffering similar problems with their Seismitoad, or Crapustule as they call them.
- There's also the Bulbasaur line, which is likely a bit confusing to anyone who doesn't speak German...'Sau' is German for 'Pig', and is used as an insult like it is other places. Thus, you can't trade a non-nicknamed member of that family either. (Ironically, the German names for those Pokémon don't actually contain the offending syllable in the first place. In ascending order, they're "Bisasam", "Bisaknosp", and "Bisaflor" — no "Sau" in sight.)
- Any X and Y player hoping to snag a Ratata off the GTS to complete their National Pokédex is out of luck.
- Pokémon X and Y got hit with this hard when it comes to nicknaming your Pokémon, far moreso than the GTS in Gen V. This is because the game now outright prevents you from giving your pokémon a nickname which contains an offensive word, instead of simply preventing it from being traded on the GTS. Worse still, all offensive words from all languages are banned, no matter which the language you use in your pokémon game. For example, spike is banned because it contains the Dutch word "pik" which is slang for "penis". note (Wanted to name your new Flabébé Violet? You can't, sorry.) This will undoubtedly annoy players who want to name a pair of canine Mons "Lady" and "Tramp", or try to call a Burmy "Corkscrew" due to the shape of its head.
- Actually used as a plot device in Goblins' Tempts Fate 9. The dragon says his name is so powerful that "If I were to say my name to you, you'd find yourself sucked into a black plot-hole from which time, space and bad writing cannot escape," so the name is censored. But then the second half of the word "destroy" gets censored.
- At least one board replaces "or egg in" with "onubian" due to a racial slur spelled backwards.
- One board censors the string "tard" because it's a slur against people with mental disabilities...which leads to the ironic censorship "bas***".
- One release of PHPBB would allow all of the "7 dirty words" but would change the N-Word into "n1663r", and the name "Turner" into "Phillpe J. Suckmonger." Changes references to the racist novel The Turner Diaries into "The Phillipe J. Suckmonger Diaries" but it also meant you couldn't speak about how Ted <s>Turner</s> started Cartoon Network and CNN, err I mean Ted Phillipe J. Suckmonger started television networks like Cartoon Network and CNN. But you could say that Ted T.urner did so.
- One news site◊ censored the name of British actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
- Experts-Exchange.com, a site for experts to answer computer and IT related questions, was originally located at expertsexchange.com, but a hyphen was added because that could be mistaken for "expert sex change". Full story at The Problem with Pen Island.
- Nintendo of America's forums had this issue as well. As it turns out, one could not have a discussion about the Nintendo GameCube component subcontractors. Specifically, the optical drive was made by Matsushita.
- Some users of the now-lost Ion Storm forums had difficulty talking about The Chronicles of Riddick game; others were just confused as to what the hell 'Chronicles of Rid***' even was.
General English Examples
General Non-English Examples
- German message boards unexpectedly censor words like anspornen [to encourage, to incite, to cheer on], Rittersporn [larkspur]...
- Filters are not good for Japanese written in the conventional Hepburn romanization. Most formal past tense verb forms end in -mashita or -deshita. There are also tons of sa-hen verbs in the language, to the point where virtually any loanword verb by default gets -suru added to the end of it and is conjugated as a sa-hen verb. For these verbs, the (very frequently used) -te form ends in -shite, the provisional form ends in -shitara, and so on. As a direction, "down" or "underneath" in Japanese is shita. (Note that in all these examples, there's a syllable break between the shi- and the -te or -ta.) With a filter in place, it is very rare to post multiple sentences of romanized Japanese without something being filtered.
- Or even to talk about some Japanese companies in English. The parent company of Panasonic, for instance- Matsushita. This was averted in 2003 when the company announced it would be phasing out the Matsushita brand and just using Panasonic for everything instead.
- On the ancient Prodigy online service, it was impossible to discuss the then-Prime Minister of Japan, Noboru Takeshita.
- Chat filters on the World of Warcraft chat are clever enough to detect swears intentionally misspelled, such as 'kunt'. Unfortunately, in Dutch that word means 'can', and almost all Dutch-speakers play on English servers, and will still communicate with each other in their own language.
- At one point, a Dutch Video Game/Minecraft server called GameCeptionNL decided that it was a good idea to filter out any instance of "kanker" (the Dutch word for cancer, often used as profanity). This included the rarely-used shorthand "kk". To make it worse, people who said it 3 times would be banned. And there are quite a lot of words that have "kk" in them.
- Latin has the word "ducunt", which means "they lead".
- The Russian word "describe" (a request) is "opishite".
- Apple iTunes' automatic censorship can get pretty ridiculous. Here's an example from the MythBusters episode Sinking Titanic (a direct quote): "Find out if a sinking ship will s**k passengers down as it goes under." (Yes, they starred out "suck").
- An episode of a podcast talking about vampire movies was filtered out to "They Vant to S**k Your Blood."
- It gets really hilarious when applied to non-English titles; e.g., iTunes is under the impression that the 19th movement of Orff's Carmina Burana is called "Si puer c*m puellula". (Given what the movement is about, this is actually oddly appropriate.) And it appears that iTunes doesn't know about actual Latin dirty words, because it doesn't censor the title "Ameana puella defututa" (from Orff's Catulli Carmina).
- iTunes also offers at least a dozen settings of Shakespeare's well-known lyric from The Tempest, "Where the Bee S***s".
- In the Law & Order: SVU episode descriptions, "rapist" is censored but "rape" is not.
- And the Pogues album "Rum, S***y and the Lash".
- The word "Playboy" is also filtered to "P***y", making it look like the title is much more naughty than it actually is.
- "Jailbreak" is censored thanks to the iDevice modding community, affecting albums and songs entitled "Jailbreak".
- Battlefield 2 servers with the profanity filter enabled will call you out for saying "assets", as in "Commander Assets" — the widely used term for certain structures that can be destroyed to hinder the enemy team.
- A small Internet Backdraft erupted in 2008, when Richard Gaywood was banned from Xbox Live for using his real name as his gamertag. Microsoft eventually resolved this issue by removing the prohibition against "Gay" and related words in gamer tags... and then history repeated itself in 2010, when another gamer was banned for being from Fort Gay, WV. Cracked's 6 Spectacularly Failed Attempts to Be Politically Correct explains further.
- SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 falls victim with its new "create a story" mode. When shared online, stories are run through the censor filter, which is clearly more sensitive than the source material's own standards. Title, as in the one for which you're fighting, and Christian, the wrestler, both get censored.
- A fairly casual Team Fortress Classic server kicks players who say "HWgay," not for being offensive so much as for being whiny. Fine and dandy, except that it does so if it detects letters in that order, regardless of how many letters come between them. So if someone says "I have a baby shower to go to today", they get the boot.
- Rock Band has a filter preventing bands with offensive names or slogans from posting their scores to the online message board. It once censored "Laissez les bons temps rouler" without comment, possibly because "les bo" looked like a censor bypass.
- Lego Rock Band is designed to be family friendly, and so the filter is more severe — to the point at which girls named "Cassie" cannot name their avatars after themselves.
- Zwinky chat filters out "ass", as people discover when asking around for the "p***word" to play a game.
- Tetris Friends live beta's chat censor was incredibly inconsistent in the beginning. "Ass" was perfectly acceptable, but "lust" was not. This was made even more irritating by it ignoring spaces and punctuation, so "Well us too" turns into "Wel* ** *oo" alongside warning against profanity.
- A Safari 5 security extension called Cuss Off also has this problem. When this extension is installed and enabled, it ignores context: For example, "grasshopper" becomes "gr***".
- Inklink, a picture charades game, includes "cocktail" and "pussywillow" in its limited word list. If they come up on your turn to draw, you'll have to pass it, because correct guesses are blocked as inappropriate.
- This sort of filtering is not limited to profanity. In World of Warcraft, the moderators of the game banned the display of a number of website names that were notorious for violating the terms of service (mainly selling in-game gold and items for real-world money). One of the banned names was "ukow", and it has been banned in all forms, including with spaces in the middle. The result was a rash of humorous, faux(?) outrage that it was no longer possible to say that one's "talbuk owns" (a talbuk is a type of animal in the game) in the in-game chat. A forum moderator with a sense of humor responded to the "controversy" by suggesting an extensive list of alternatives to the word "owns" that could be used to describe an exceptional talbuk.
- Also on the forums, the word "rape" is censored. Why is this a problem? Linking an item with drape in it (i.e. http://www.wowhead.com/item=87159) gets censored on the forums. It would appear as Daybreak D$#@% instead of Daybreak Drape.
- The filter in the avatar mode of Kingdom Hearts Re: coded censors all sorts of things out of your username, including, for some reason, the word "race". Good luck to you if your first name is Grace (or Tracey). If you're Dick Tracey, don't even bother playing.
- Spiral Knights has a few filters. One turns all your capital letters into lowercase ones if there's too many (rendering something like "YES, WE DID IT" as "yes, we did it"). One - the only one which can be disabled - turns certain cuss words into random punctuation, even if they're in the middle of a word. And one simply destroys posts containing strings like 'rape' and 'viol'. So, no, you cannot talk about grapes or your violins.
- In an amusing, non-swear example, a man bought Crime and Punishment to read on his Nook tablet, and was confused when he came across the word "Nookd" several times. He found a print version and checked the word; apparently all cases of the word "Kindle" (their main competition) were replaced by "Nook". This appears to have been the result of an overzealous search/replace when they created the Nook version directly from the Kindle version (to change the details about the store, etc.)
- Uniracers on the SNES has a Take That towards SEGA where if you try to enter "Sega" or "Sonic" as a name for your player or league, it considers the name "Not Cool Enough". What brings this into the Scunthorpe problem territory is most swear words and certain other words/names like "Satan" were also deemed "Not Cool Enough", and the detection ignores all other letters in the intended name. So you're out of luck if your wanted name contains an "uncool" word.
- The Playstation 3 comes with peer to peer chat software but the filters are so insanely conservative that any sort of communication is pretty much impossible. Users can't type more than a couple of sentences without using a word that contains a blocked string. This can actually be used to learn new swearwords.
- In Pokémon, you can't put the Pokemon Cofagrigus, Froslass or Sharpedo online without nicknaming them.
- Good luck talking about "heroes" or "zeroes" in the chat or the names and descriptions of tracks/carts/characters in ModNationRacers, because the censoring software bleeps out the letters e, r, and o in that exact order, even if you didn't intend to type "Erotic" or "Erotica".
Whoa, I've spent this much time on TV Tropes
?! Better get back to my U.S. History homework and study the Consbreastution...