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What makes a bad word bad?

Warning: This post may contain language that is offensive to some.

Our own Fox Van Allen tackled the subject of the odd quirks of the mature language filter last week -- the fact that some objectionable words have been mysteriously left out of the filter, while others of a much less objectionable nature have oddly been left in it. None of this was noticed of course until the mature language filter was bugged so that it reset itself, resulting in a lot of people spewing a lot of random keyboard symbols until they remembered to turn it off again.

Personally? I'm not sure if the mature language filter is at all an effective tool. Since the first days of WoW, Horde and Alliance players have not been allowed to speak to each other. Part of this was because of faction separation, but part of it was to discouraging griefing, which happened all the time in PvP situations. Players of the opposing faction could kill you repeatedly, but they couldn't swear at you -- until, that is, players realized they could communicate with keyboard symbols arranged into letters. This ability was soon squashed.

And that's the problem, isn't it? It doesn't matter how much you block a word. If someone is determined to have their say, they will find a way to say it. If you can't talk to the opposing faction, you roll an alt and cuss them out that way, or over voice chat, or via email, or on Twitter, or wherever they can conveniently contact you. So why try blocking it at all? More importantly, what makes a bad word "bad," anyway?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

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