We all know why web sites and other fora have swear filters for their users. It's because it's a site for all ages, and we don't want little kids to be out there cursing like drunken sailors (sorry, Saint) because of something they picked up on our web site.

Ok, I get it.

But why do they have to be so arbitrary and strange?

On GIO, you can say "ass" but not "d*mn" (which is actually, in my opinion, more innocent than "ass"). Other sites, it's the other way around.

Hell, Black Ops has the weirdest example of this. You can't even name a class, something only you will ever see, "assault gun" because the filter doesn't like "ass." WTF?

Some sites, you can say "b*tch," while others you can't (I'm not even sure what GIO's opinion of that is, so I'm "bleeping" it, just in case).

One news channel I watch had somebody quote somebody else saying "son of a b*tch" (using the actual word), and then used the word *again*, and then the next time (in the very same conversation) edited themselves to say "s.o.b."

I really don't get it.

Language can be such a beautiful thing, even in its occasional vulgarity. Yes, some words are too vulgar for a "family" site or network or whatever, but shouldn't there be a few standards? Why are they so arbitrary?

And if you're a serious site, you have to have a swear filter that doesn't screen out words because *part* of the word is bad. Amazon refuses "shitake" (as in the mushrooms, and yes, I know the more regular spelling is "shiitake," but I've seen it used both ways occasionally, and that's beside the point of this blog). Then there's the previously-mentioned "Assault" on Black Ops. Your swear filter should be more sophisticated than that, or you're going to get a lot of words refused that are really harmless (I assume that "assume" would be one of them).

The weirdest example of this was on a blog I read today, where the guy who wrote it actually wrote out "cocktail" as "****tail". WTF? And this is a blog, so I assume that wasn't a swear filter issue, though I have asked just to make sure. To me, this seriously damages the language and public discourse. This kind of sensitivity drives me up a wall.

Or how about Talk Radar? Where they say every swear word imaginable, the vulgarity almost dripping from the mp3 that's downloaded every week, but they don't allow themselves to say "rape?" Yes, they bleep that word out. Obviously, I'm against the concept, and I would be against making jokes about it, but the word itself?????


And if it is your site or you administer the site, don't try to get around your own rules with that neat little asterisk. If the swear filter is picking up something that you don't believe it should pick up, then change the thing. Don't get around it yourself. One of the employees here actually said "d*mn" or "b*tch" (can't remember which one).

The swearing doesn't offend me. The getting around it doesn't offend me (this whole post wouldn't be possible if I was against that).

No, what annoys (not offends) me is that the swear filter is so sensitive that even the employees think some of the stuff you can't say is stupid.

Change it! Somehow. It must be possible, I would assume (or is that "a*sume, which, funnily enough, wouldn't get past the Black Ops filter either, as it's evidently intelligent enough to know what an asterisk is).

Again, I'm not against swear filters. Especially for the more heinous words.

But shouldn't there be some common sense involved?