So I play Pokémon Go. It’s something to do when I’m out and about on foot. I’ve recently got to the point where I actually care a bit about the relative strengths of my pokémon. To that end, I’ve started using the naming feature to include some details. However, due to the crazy short length limit for names, I have to abbreviate some of the longer pokémon names to fit the extra information in.
Anyway, I ran into some annoyances with that. Apparently they have some sort of filter that bans “inappropriate words” from appearing anywhere within the name. Sure, I can see banning a few of the more egregious ones, but they’ve gone insanely overboard here. And they don’t have overrides for longer words that contain their banned words. So, for instance, you can’t use a name that includes “tart” anywhere in it. Not even “starter” or “start”. And you can’t even call a Weedle “weedle” even though it’s the name of the pokémon in the first place! And why are they banning “weed” anyway? It’s a common word that isn’t generally considered rude!
Anyway, I tried to abbreviate “Shroomish”. The obvious abbreviation would be “Shroom”, yes? Well, that’s a no go. Neither can I use “Shroomi” or “Shroomis”.
It seems pretty clear to me that the idiots at Niantic haven’t bothered to consult with anyone who speaks English fluently to vet whatever list they’re using to block “inappropriate text”. Which is odd considering that, as far as I can tell, they’re located in San Francisco. Hell, they’re blocking proper names like “Virginia” (because it contains “virgin”? What’s inappropriate about that?).
This feels like a ZOMG!!!! Think of the Children!!!!!™ move that has just been phoned in. It’s like some executive chucklehead at Niantic suddenly panicked and demanded Immediate Action™. I expect this is part of the eventual launch of their accounts aimed at children. However, it seems far more reasonable to just censor “inappropriate” stuff when shown to accounts registered to children (or flagged to block such stuff for the special snowflakes out there) and just not worry about pokémon names or friend nicknames. Then the rest of us who actually are adults can just get on with playing the game.
In the mean time, if any of the chuckleheads at Niantic happen to see this (and, if you are a lawyer representing Niantic, you don’t have any legal grounds to have this taken down so I won’t be doing so), try exercising some intelligence and consider whether your inappropriateness list is actually accomplishing what it is meant to do or if it, just maybe, is overreaching by several light years. Pro tip: don’t just blindly use some list or other you got from somewhere. Exercise some bleeping judgement! Also keep in mind that pretty much every word in English can have some unfortunate connotation to someone somewhere. If you’re going to continue down the path you appear to be on, you might as well just ban all text everywhere, shut down your company, and go live in a yurt on the moon.