eUSC Logo 2001  eBay's vulgarity checker

1.4.   The good, the bad and the ugly on the chat board


eBay's vulgarity checker, Nov 13, 2001
Posted by malolo (311) star about me on Nov-13-01 at 20:17:39 PST Auctions

NOIP I thought I'd follow up my vulgarity checker problem with Ebay, so I sent an email. The following excerpt is from my original email:

"When I attempted to make a post on the Stamp Chat board, the vulgarity checker said I had used a vulgar word, which I hadn't. So I obviously need to go back and see what Ebay thinks is vulgar, but when I go "Back", my message no longer exists. What's going on?....I spent about 15 minutes formulating my message and think it is plain stupid that your computer joins words together in such a manner that vulgar words are formed,........."

Excerpts from the response:

"I am sorry to hear that you experienced a problem with our vulgarity filter on the chat boards. We put this in place because it was too easy to post a vulgar word and have it remain on the boards for days.

I suspect that what happened in your case was exactly what you suggest: two words were joined together. For example, the one I always run into is using a phrase such as "seller's who (geez) reply to email..." The problem phrase is "who (geez again) reply" The vulgarity filter picks up the first five letters of the two words and lets you know that it cannot be posted on the boards. This is a problem for good posters like yourself, but we found that folks were using all kinds of creative ways to get past the filter."

My response because I like the laaaaast word. LOL

"Thanks for your reply. As you say creative people can get past the filter, so why don't you just have the checker pick "words" rather than try to play games with the creative people. I've seen words on the chat board that seemed a little out of place, but that has not made me contact anyone, since it reflects on the poster, not Ebay.

One other point: Ebay only appears to filter English words. Every once in a while on the Stamp Board a foreign member will comment on phrases or words that they find extremely funny or out of place on a chat board, because in their language the word is obscene. So Ebay finds itself as an international venue censoring "vulgar" English words, which aren't words at all, but parts of two words, and letting obscene words of other languages through, due to Ebay's ignorance. This is exactly the same policy, ignorance, that allows German stamps of WWII to be sold, but not historic envelopes from the same period. I don't get it !!

Didn't your company realize that when it became a communications medium, via it's chat boards, that it is probably protected by the First Amendment, but also should probably not be censoring individual posts for the same reason? The chat boards are as public as a restaurant, and probably fall under similar anti-discrimination laws and censorship laws. Interesting world we live in, but you guys should really stop trying to be the morality guardians of the internet world."

Legally right or wrong, I don't care, stirring it up is good enough for me.


PS: Here's the irony of this whole little game. When I tried to post this message, I couldn't. Why? Because the example given by the Ebay Messenger wouldn't pass the vulgarity filter. I can receive abuse in private, but not make it public!

Posted by antonius-ra (351) star about me on Nov-13-01 at 20:48:32 PST Auctions

Tadas Sounds like as good a plan as any.
Myself, I just want every stamp I can get my hands on. For the big dogs lesser condition means lesser percentage. I'm usually a perfectionist in most things I do but perfectionists in stamp collecting have very few stamps unless of course they are rich.

Roger GRIN!

Posted by antonius-ra (351) star about me on Nov-13-01 at 20:55:38 PST Auctions

I just got an email from someone I thought was a non paying bidder I had in the past. Attached was a file named "Start.exe". I emailed him and thanked him for thinking of me but that he should really get a life! Well he emailed me back and said he didn't send it and didn't know who I was. I suspect that file is a worm. Does anyone know about it?

Posted by malolo (311) star about me on Nov-13-01 at 21:49:53 PST Auctions

Mitchell - Everything I ever heard is don't open an ".exe" file from an unknown source. Since I am a Mac user, it's of no concern to me. GRINNING back.

Reference vulgarity filter, and putting on my other hat as a finish carpentry contractor, I conclude with this creative means of beating the filter - "If you can't nail down an answer from Ebay, screw it."


2001  APS article in Linn's Stamp News        1.4.  The good, the bad and the ugly on the chat board        2001  Longley's 'new issue'