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.

@nutomic
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One thing you should consider is that all Lemmy instances and communities are moderated by volunteers in their free time. It is important that we make their job as easy as possible, so they dont get overworked, and can focus on other tasks. If we removed the slur filter, it would cause a lot of extra work for them, as they would have to decide in each case if the slur usage is justified or not.

Like we said many times before, removing the slur filter is not up for debate, not unless someone comes up with a better alternative. But we are always open to discuss adding or removing certain terms.

If this is a deal breaker for you then thats okay, I’m sure there are many other platforms where you can use these terms.

Our Democracy™
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What do you think of OP’s idea to let individual users filter out specific slurs? I don’t know how difficult such a feature would be to implement, but it would help some users reclaim slurs without offending others.

@nutomic
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Anything per-user is quite complicated, because it needs database changes, api changes, and a user interface to change the settings. You can open an issue, but we wont be able to implement that anytime soon.

@TheConquestOfBed
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TBH, based on the huge amounts of drama about it at chapochat, requiring visible pronouns (including enby-friendly ones) for new users weirds out a lot of rightos. They will outright refuse to use them and incessantly complain about it. It seems like an effective deterrent for everyone but the more determined trolls.

@roastpotatothief
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What’s an enby?

@skrlet13
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non binary equivalent for boy or girl

@roastpotatothief
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Maybe it’s an age thing.

I’m sure this terminology makes sense to a lot of people, and I’m sure there’s a good reason for these new ideas. I believe they might be important and there might be an urgency for society to change to be more inclusive of a certain group of people.

But also consider mental energy it would take to keep up to date with these constantly evolving ideas and terms. I can believe it’s an effective deterrent, not only for trolls but for many reasonable people.

@dengismceo
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reasonable people are willing to learn. you are not expected to be up to date on every single new term that appears. asking what something means, as you did above, is perfectly fine.

Our Democracy™
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The part about Lemmy forks makes sense. Sites like Gab and removedute were very successful in using free speech as their main selling point, and the alt-right flocked to them almost immediately. As for reclaiming slurs, I think allowing users to filter out slurs would be a great idea.

@roastpotatothief
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They might just be full of alt-right because they are small and few. If there were more free-speech spaces they would fill with normal people, so you wouldn’t notice the alt-right, like you don’t in bigger platforrms today.

More free-speech plaforms could be a good thing. Like wikipedia and openstreetmaps - as long as the normal people drown out the crazies, it works brilliantly, much better than a more tightly controlled space.

@roastpotatothief
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That is a great idea.

Or even better, filter out comments/threads containing the “slurs”.

@wabooti
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removedchute hahahaha

@dengismceo
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this is not the hill to die on. it is not that hard to use other words. and even if there were zero other reasons, keeping fascists away is enough.

as a marginalised person you should know that a slur you reclaim may be extremely offensive to someone else in the same grouping. take your example: a lot of people have reclaimed it but there are others still who have been hurt by that slur and are very sensitive to hearing it. this is true for many slurs.

if someone you were close to irl was like “hey, that word makes me uncomfortable” you would stop using it around them. because it would be disrespectful and hurtful for you to continue to do so. sure, people on the internet are strangers, but does that mean you potentially subject marginalized people to harm just because you don’t know them?

@roastpotatothief
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To be fair, this issue comes up a lot, but never in the form of somebody saying “hey, that word makes me uncomfortable and I would like it added to the banned list". That’s not (as far as I know) how words ended up on the banned list, so for a lot of users the justification for banning them seems very weak.

@dengismceo
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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
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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
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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.

@cvieira
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A question: As I understand it, Lemmy is decentralized and federated, so is this as big of a deal as it sounds? Instead of a hard fork, couldn’t someone just host their own instance?

@xarvos
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Because the filter is hard coded, you must fork and remove that part in the source code, and then recompile it (Rust compilation is costly in terms of time and memory btw). Then you would have to manually apply patches from upstream whenever there is an update.

@roastpotatothief
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Yes somebody should do that. It could resolve this whole ongoing contention. The devs have (repeatedly) said they would support the guy who does it. They just won’t change the level of regulation on the flagship instance.

@xarvos
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There are aleady forks, though the one I’m aware of there’s just one instance (or so it seems) and since it’s mostly Russian I wouldn’t join it anyway.

@roastpotatothief
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You mean the one full of my little pony porn? I saw it.

I wouldn’t join it anyway

Me neither, I’m hoping for a different one. I think it couldn’t work without the support of the Lemmy devs, but given that it could be a great experiment, which make a whole network stronger.

@xarvos
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You mean the one full of my little pony porn? I saw it.

Yes, that’s the one (another reason not to join). Their source code seems to have some improvements besides the removal of slur filter, which are merged to upstream.

@lorabe
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Not gonna discuss the whole thing, but i want to say that i personally see the existence of Gab and Parler as a good thing.

If at a certain point an alt right person decides to create their own lemmy instances because here there’s a slurs filter, i don’t see that as something bad, quite the contrary.

I’d find very hard the idea that an alt right instance would become super mainstream at the point of replacing this one. In mastodon for example, mastodon.social keeps being the most popular one, meanwhile the alt right ones are more niche. Gab is the exception for sure.

I am not going to stop using Lemmy if the slur filter is not removed but I have to agree a lot, me and all my friends use reapropiated slurs (from Spanish, not English) and it would be really ugly not to be able to use them.

@roastpotatothief
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< Freedom is a synthetic enterprise, not a natural gift.> That’s a very good way to thinking of it

Yeah thats a really good sentence. Reapropiation rulez.

Everything about Lemmy; bugs, gripes, praises, and advocacy.

For discussion about the lemmy.ml instance, go to !meta@lemmy.ml.

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