Disclaimer: I am a multiply marginalized person on the radical left.

I see various issues with the slur filter.

The biggest one, I feel, is that many, many people in marginalized communities have reclaimed slurs. I’d go as far as to say that some (myself included) strongly identify with reclaimed slurs. The word “queer” is a very common example. Will those who identify with it not be allowed to express themselves fully here? The ban on slurs actually makes me feel far less welcome here as a marginalized person as a part of my identity that I am proud of, embrace, and find power in is banned. Most of my friends with various marginalizations have reclaimed slurs as well and would not feel welcome in this space. The reclamation of slurs can be an essential tool for marginalized people. Who are non-marginalized people to decide which slurs marginalized people are allowed to reclaim? I encourage you to read more about this, because it is incredibly important.

Additionally, the code used to filter slurs is flawed. Does it handle if users use alternate Unicode characters to write slurs? Replacing "O"s with "0"s? Slur filters have been implemented time and time again and the result is always the same: users get more creative in their use of slurs or even invent new ones. There are so many variations of slurs, and language is far too complex for this to be enforced with a simple regex. It’s also critical to consider different languages here. If Lemmy centers English in its slur filtering, it will inadvertently censor non-English words that are not slurs as well as not censoring non-English words that are. Not to mention – centering English is incredibly problematic.

Finally, the code is easily removed, and I speculate that if anything, it will lead to a fork of Lemmy by the alt-right even sooner that will gain significant traction. At the very least, marginalized users such as myself who simply wish to reclaim slurs will have to go through the labour of modifying the code and hosting our own instances.

tldr: as a multiply-marginalized person with experience developing and running community platforms, this is a huge mistake, and will end up alienating many of those that you wish to protect.

Please reconsider this change as it is far more nuanced than it appears on the surface. Thank you.

edit: a simple solution would be to allow individual users the ability to filter out slurs (or phrases, or whatever) that they are uncomfortable with.

  • @dengismceo@lemmy.ml
    23 years ago

    never in the form of somebody saying

    this is not true. i’ve moderated online spaces and plenty of people send messages asking for certain language to be disallowed. and even if it were the case that no one spoke up, a lot of times people just straight up leave online spaces when they are uncomfortable. im sure i could find hundreds of instances on reddit alone

    • @roastpotatothief@lemmy.ml
      13 years ago

      Okay I see. What for example was an online space, and a type of language users wanted banned?

      I was talking specifically about my experience of Lemmy these past few months. Lots of discussion about freedom of speech, moderation, and the banned words. But all of it abstract, like “other people might feel this way about banned words”. Never “I am an internet troll and I am leaving lemmy because of these words are banned” or your example “I am hurt by people using those words and want them banned”. If either thing happened in the context of Lemmy IMO there would be a stronger case.

      But I don’t feel strongly about it. It’s not the most useful form of censorship available. I don’t think it’s the most effective way to change people’s behaviour or anything.

      • @dengismceo@lemmy.ml
        13 years ago

        by “online spaces” i was referring to forums, message boards, subreddits

        type of language was slurs. reclaimed slurs specifically - slurs no one uses for themselves were banned outright.

        Never “I am an internet troll and I am leaving lemmy because of these words are banned”

        someone literally made a fork of lemmy without the filter so this has absolutely happened.

        “I am hurt by people using those words and want them banned”

        i am confident this would occur if the filter did not exist.

        I don’t think it’s the most effective way to change people’s behaviour or anything.

        it’s not the most effective way to change bigots. it is, however, an effective way of changing people with predjudices of which they are unaware. for example, if someone used a certain slur as normal speech and was forced to replace it in practice (while writing) they are being forced to think about alternatives and if confronted multiple times may eliminate the slur from their vocabulary entirely.

        for those who would refuse to just find alternate vocabulary… well, let’s just say this site is better for everyone when those people go elsewhere.