I need to implement a feedback tool for a website, would you provide a profanity filter or you wouldn't? And why? From one side, I think would be disturbing for the site owner receive feedback like "@u€k you!" from the other site I don't believe is a good thing hiding data. Where do you stand?

  • 1
    Surely that question should be 'would you allow profanity', not 'would you provide profanity'! Sep 5 '11 at 15:22
  • 2
    @Roger Attrill I suppose it depends on your opinion of the site!
    – Ben Brocka
    Sep 5 '11 at 15:43
  • Indeed! I dropped the "filter"..edited now
    – Davide
    Sep 5 '11 at 18:34
  • And, TBH, I have been tempted to provide profanity to some site owners..... Sep 5 '11 at 18:34

I would not bother in general, because it is only sent to the site owner - and if they cannot cope with the usual sort of spam and profanity that may come through then they may need to toughen up. Profanity filters may remove stuff that needs to stay, and are unlikely to completely remove anything offensive.

If the feedback is going to go out publically, then it needs to be moderated to an extent, and offensiveness removed. But I don't believe it is going to be public.

And yes, it may be offensive to be told "Your site is a piece of f**ing S*t, A*h*e". But that is the danger of running a public site.

  • The audience is the generic site owner. I think I will follow yiu're advice..after all if somebody wants some feedback about the website, even profanities are "useful".
    – Davide
    Sep 5 '11 at 18:37

If this is for a specific website, then the best solution is to just ask the owner.


Two comments: First, I think it very much depends on the audience the website is targeting. Few adults are going to get upset at the occasional swear word, but if it's aimed at children then clearly one would want to remove such words. Second, I suggest a 'Profanity Filter' should be a human being rather than some automated tool; I can't send an email to my wife ending with 'xxx' (meaning several kisses) without a stupid bot deducing this is something obscene and filtering it out. Very irritating.

  • I once spent ages trying to work out why the Disney website would not allow me to send an e-card. Turns out I had two words together: one ending with -nu and the next starting with de- ! Sep 5 '11 at 16:27
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    Youtube does this "don't let you post" stuff when entering a URL into a comment, but it just gives you an error message if you do so, to doesn't say "don't use urls in comments". If you do this for the love of god tell the user why something is wrong!
    – Ben Brocka
    Sep 5 '11 at 16:44

There are really only two ways of doing this and both require human intervention. Any automated system will eventually fail by allowing something through it shouldn't or stopping something it shouldn't.

The solutions are:

  1. Pre moderation. All user supplied content has to go though an approval process before appearing on the site.
  2. Post moderation. User supplied content goes onto the site "as is", but you have means for visitors to report the offensive content or edit out themselves.

Which you choose depends on your target audience. A site aimed at children must have pre moderation. A site aimed at adults can have post moderation but it will depend on the community.

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