Virtual profanity filter bans the word "Bone" at a paleontology conference

Pete Flint

Posts: 6   +0
Staff
Facepalm: An eminent paleontology society was plagued this week by an over-eager profanity filter during their socially distanced industry conference. Other banned words included "stream," "beaver," "iffy," and "stroke."

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology gathered for its annual meeting this week. In true 2020 fashion, this conference was held virtually, containing daily presentations and follow-up, written Q&A sessions.

The conference's virtual meeting platform was provided by Convey Services, who include a profanity filter pre-built into their communication systems. It was made clear in an r/askreddit page about the event that this filter was tuned a bit too strong.

Words like "Bone," "sexual," and "Hell" were censored to users, the latter often used in discussions of an important site at Hell Creek. Stephanie Drumheller, a paleontologist from the University of Tennessee, in the subreddit Q&A, explained that most of the censorship was quite amusing, and the attendees managed to find workarounds to continue their discussions. "My personal favorite was Heck Creek for Hell Creek," said Drumheller.

The system was evidently designed for business and industry events rather than science gatherings, and attendees were feeding back unfortunate censorships to Convey Services for correction as the week continued. Attendees made a list on Google Docs of all the banned words they encountered.

"Words like 'bone,' 'pubic,' and 'stream' are frankly ridiculous to ban in a field where we regularly find pubic bones in streams," said Brigid Christison, a biology Master's student attending the event.

Other unexpected restrictions were less funny, as discovered by an assistant professor in biology at UC Berkeley, Z. Jack Tseng. "At first, when fellow conference attendees noted on Twitter that 'Hell' and 'bone' were banned, I was very amused by it," Tseng said in an email to Vice. "I became disturbed when I saw that the crowd-sourced list of banned words included 'Wang.' I personally know of several vertebrate paleontologists by that surname."

Tseng later put out a tweet, frustrated that "Wang," the surname of over 90 million Chinese, was banned, while the common Western surname Johnson, equally phallically synonymous, was not.

Even half a year into this new existence of Zoom calls, pre-recorded release events, and online conferences, we can still expect some pretty funny and unfortunate mishaps.

Image credit: Glen Millen

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,502   +3,346
Censorship forces people to become more clever to get around the censors.

There are words and phrases I use now to convey the exact same message/ intent and emotion that completely bypass censors.

But to ban the word "bone" at a Paleontology conference?

That's just silly.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,485   +5,992
The "censorship" should be reduced to a desktop by desktop environment rather than controlled on a server or platform. There are enough words that can be misconstrued and reduces the ability to convey idea's properly. The perfect example is to drop a 50 pound load on your foot .... there are only a few words to properly convey the sentiment of the sensation that runs up your leg to your brain and frankly, at that point I don't need some sticking computer to tell me otherwise ............... or so to speak.
 

CPO2U

Posts: 70   +27
Censorship forces people to become more clever to get around the censors.

There are words and phrases I use now to convey the exact same message/ intent and emotion that completely bypass censors.

But to ban the word "bone" at a Paleontology conference?

That's just silly.
One could even say, that's just... šŸ˜Ž bone-headed.
("yyeeaaahhhhh...!!!")
 

CPO2U

Posts: 70   +27
The "censorship" should be reduced to a desktop by desktop environment rather than controlled on a server or platform. There are enough words that can be misconstrued and reduces the ability to convey idea's properly. The perfect example is to drop a 50 pound load on your foot .... there are only a few words to properly convey the sentiment of the sensation that runs up your leg to your brain and frankly, at that point I don't need some sticking computer to tell me otherwise ............... or so to speak.
"FRACK!"
 

CPO2U

Posts: 70   +27
Got to love the weak snowflake and hamster ball people who get all butt sore and moist. Fruitloops! :D
FruitWHAT?!? Hey you watch your mouth, buddy! There's KIDS in the room! Don't make me turn you around and flagellate your gluteus with righteous indignation and misdirected moral outrage!

šŸ˜‚
 

Markoni35

Posts: 777   +270
Try putting the words "immigrant" and "rape" in comments on YouTube and there's a high chance your comment will be shadow-banned. That's a method of censorship where you can still see your comment (so you don't suspect anything) but nobody else can.

Most of people who are victims of censorhip on YouTube and other sites don't even know their comments were banned. They can see them, so they think everyone else can see them too. But one can easily check it by logging out and trying to see his comment as anonymous visitor, or visiting it from another computer, etc.
 

Angga B

Posts: 96   +90
Those words are profanities? OH, I SEE, maybe by tomorrow Merriam-Webster would suddenly accelerate their update for entries of those words and put them as offensive. Including revising the meaning of profanity itself to include those many words.

In all seriousness. When will we all united in fighting against these group or class of people who think they are rightful minister of truth? It has not been funny, they have been doing this for years. I see this comment section and realize that hey, we've all recognize this pattern of behavior and we have let these happen everyday.
 
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Endymio

Posts: 621   +514
By default tuned for christian children and not to consider scientists. Reminds me of soviet age mad censorship.
Actually, the Soviets were far more concerned with the use of censorship to enforce political orthodoxy, rather than moral. Rather like Facebook and Twitter today, in fact.
 
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quadibloc

Posts: 211   +126
Fortunately, these days we use pocket calculators that run from batteries and solar cells, rather than desktop scientific programmable calculators like the Hewlett-Packard 9100A, or the Monroe 1650, and therefore few people will have need to discuss the Model 500, 600, and 700 calculators devised by one Dr. An Wang at scientific conferences...
 

Krackan

Posts: 56   +61
Try putting the words "immigrant" and "rape" in comments on YouTube and there's a high chance your comment will be shadow-banned. That's a method of censorship where you can still see your comment (so you don't suspect anything) but nobody else can.

Most of people who are victims of censorhip on YouTube and other sites don't even know their comments were banned. They can see them, so they think everyone else can see them too. But one can easily check it by logging out and trying to see his comment as anonymous visitor, or visiting it from another computer, etc.
Sites that use Disqus use shadowbans too, especially the snowflakes at PC Gamer.