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Monday, December 06, 2004

Why MSN Spaces Censors

Dare Obasanjo, a Program Manager working on MSN Spaces, has a post explaining the whole MSN Spaces censorship situation. Apparently, this is creating quite a stir on the net and at MS; the Boing Boing post is the number one result for MSN Spaces on Google (not on MSN Search, though). He links a post by Mike Connelly (Spaces Group Program Manager) on his Space that explains:
We block a set of specific words from being used in 3 areas: the url you select, the title of your Space, and the title of your blog entry. These three fields are reused and displayed in a variety of areas, like search results, so we thought it would be a little thing we could do to cut down on the obvious cases that would most easily offend.
He also explains that there was a bug where the filter was turned on for comments, and since it wasn't designed for long blocks of text, it reported false positives (that's been fixed). I can't agree witht the filtering of blogs, since it limits their ability to be used as a legitimate news source. Perhaps MSN could find a way to censor the search results, so while there could be anything in your Space, searches would show a bunch of *******. Doorway pages as a form of parental control? Could work, could work.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is anybody really hamstrung by not being able to use profanity in their blog names or entry titles? This is like the biggest non-story ever. Gee, my DMV won't let me put "Fuck you!" or "Who farted?" on my license plate, I think I'll throw a hissy fit.

Another reason why they might not want to allow this is that one of their modules lists new or changed blogs -- which helps promote other people's MSN blogs. If not for the censoring, anybody using these modules would have displayed on their own blogs all those bitchin' blog names that spring from the ultra-mature minds of people like Xeni Jardin.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Nathan Weinberg said...

True, I understand why they'd want to censor, but wouldn't it be better to let the user choose whether to display objectionable content or replace it with asterisks.

"ultra-mature minds of people like Xeni Jardin." Hehe.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm sure it'd be better, I just chaff a bit at people (not you, Nathan, just all the press this has received) getting all worked up about the deficiencies of free products, especially over such a sophomoric issue.

This Spaces stuff isn't supposed to be all things to all people, and they've never presented it that way. If they were, they'd probably let you insert your own ads, and either let you use your own layout / style -- that's a bigger limitation to me than the horror that I'll probably never be able to create a space called The Vagina Monoblogs.

As far as actual criticism, I tried sending a pic to my Space ( http://spaces.msn.com/members/n00b ) from my cell phone, and it totally gacked on it.

And while I'm in a complaining mood, Yahoo mobile says that I should be able to select my favorite Theaters to see if a movie's playing there. Problem is, if I go to "My Theaters," it says I haven't selected one. Fine, but how do I choose one? Doesn't say on their website -- the help on their website seems to be outdated anyway and didn't reflect the messages I was getting. :|

That about does it for now. :)

2:46 PM  
Anonymous mike said...

search results manipulations...

7:04 AM  
Anonymous MER1978@gmail.com said...

What about when Microsoft demands that u remove a picture from your BLOG... even though you only give access to select ppl on your MSN contact list... they claim they were "informed" of a breach in their "code of conduct"... I think they need to cut the BS and admit they look for things they might find offensive.

9:38 AM  

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