Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




I hate "smart" software

I hate it when programmers try to create "smart" programs.  In the end they just get in the way and make things harder instead of easier (the Microsoft Office animated paper clip immediately comes to mnd).

Here's another real life example:

I'm on Ebay and trying to post a message in one of the forums, but Ebay has software designed to prevent people from using "bad" words.  After several attempts at posting my message I finally notice what the "offensive" words are:  my message contained the words "one group".

If you take the "ne" from the end of the first word and combine it with the first 3 letters of the second word you get the word "negro".

So, somebody at Ebay has decided that "negro" is a "bad" word that should not be allowed in public.  That's troubling enough by it self,  but, because they are using a "smart" program to catch these bad words, the program thinks I'm trying to sneak the bad word past the censors by breaking it up into two pieces., and so won't allow me to use the pefectly innocent and harmless phrase "one group".

Common Sense Guy
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Just try adding the well known science fiction and fantasy author "Michael Moorcock" to.. well just about anything that has a watchlist of bad words.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I think the problem is not "smart" software... but rather "not-quite-smart-enough" software. It's obviously not taking into account that the white space between words, and therefore letters-that-form-a-"bad"-word, are actually attached to more letters at the beginning and end. In other words, if you just remove the white space...
onegroup != negro

That IS pretty lame.

HeyCoolAid!
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

How about "overly PC software" or "censorware"?

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, November 11, 2003


I can't fuc king believe it.

/.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

> It's obviously not taking into account that the white space between words <

Quite the contrary, it is taking into account the fact that people often write c u r s e words in str.ange ways to circum vent wordfilters.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

That is sofa king amazing.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

The German Ebay.de makes it even impossible to search for model trains of the Dutch National Railways in their auctions.

The abbreviation for Nederlandse Spoorwegen is NS which is also the abbreviation for National Socialism.

Very lame.

intelligent software should be stopped
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Outlook's explicit content filter is triggered off by things like:

"1918+ users visited the Contact Us page..."

Outlook sees 18+ and promptly decides something foul is afoot.

Walter Rumsby
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I guess I didn't get the memo...."Negro" is now considered an offensive, slang word?

I suppose someone better call up the "United Negro College Fund" (http://www.uncf.org/) and let them know they are a bunch of backward, ignorant racists.

Not Very PC.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

More like sofa king we todd did.

Mark
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

In the US, "Negro" is generally not considered an appropriate word to use in reference to black people. It's been that way for at least the past 20 years. The United Negro College Fund was founded in 1944, at which time the rules were different.

Software that filters out "bad" words generally tends not to work. People who really want to get around the restrictions will find a way. But the web sites that use it probably feel like they've got to make their best effort. In some cases, they're legally obligated to make an effort.

Beth
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Reminds me of a guy who called himself sofa king, only not the way you'd mean it.


http://www.custom-code-factory.com/display_all_messages.asp?mid=1008#1008

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I'd like to sofa his king!

ThreadTerminator
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

A cold remedy called lemsip had to drop their strap line: "For Coughs and Colds take Lemsip" when the school children of Britain started to use it a lot.

I also believe that 2 Samual used to be 4 Kings.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

What about AOL ?

The poor people in Scunthorpe have to use the name Sconthorpe because of a naughty word filter. I don't live there, but I find it objectionable that a place that is hundreds of years old has to bow to some crappy software.

whattimeisiteccles
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I ran into one of that "trying-to-be-smart" software a few years ago.  I rephrased my sentences several times, baffled as to why it kept flagging my post as offensive.  It wouldn't even point out the specific word(s)!

Eventually I figured it was the word "documentation" that was causing the problem, because of the three-letter sequence starting with the "c".  I removed the "u", and voila! it was accepted.  What a stupid piece of C.R.A.P.

T. Norman
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

OK, I will say this, FUCK political correctness!

Tapiwa
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Of course, it's not smart software at all. It's f-in DUMB software. See other post. Programming is getting dumbed down.

.
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Keyword-based filtering is downright evil. At work I can't look at anything containig "canal" (channel in Portuguese).

Klodd the Insensitive
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"A cold remedy called lemsip had to drop their strap line: "For Coughs and Colds take Lemsip" when the school children of Britain started to use it a lot."

Maybe I'm not awake yet, but I don't get it... can I buy a clue?

Grumpy Old-Timer
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I remember one of these filters in a chat room from when I was a kid.  Apparently, in their world, Sa****ay is a day of the week.

Greg Falcon
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Slur it all together...

F'koff's and colds....

A company here in the UK called Anker has had to stop their staff answering the phones with "Hello, Anker"

Tom
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

It would be OK if they just beeped out the letter combination that they find offensive but some software beeps out the whole word.

So "cockney" becomes "beep" and so does "cocktail".

The only words that don't get filtered out are the really offensive ones, because people know to use full stops as in f.u.c.k.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, November 16, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home