One of the things we learned in our Community Health Index (CHI) research was how vitally important community ambiance is. Without a measure of civility, the atmosphere becomes toxic and participation drops like a rock.
Moderators are a community's first line of defense, but even great moderators can't be everywhere at once. Enter the smut filter: a handy list of words that you never want to see in your community. The mechanism is simplicity itself: when a community member clicks Post, the Lithium platform checks the contents of the post against the smut filter and flags any offenders.
The protection of a smut filter has long been available in English. Starting soon, it will become available in all of the languages that we support.
The process of assembling smut filters in 17 languages has been a challenge. We gave our translation service the list of English no-nos and turned them loose. We wanted not only literal translations, but also the local equivalent.
Some of the translation teams really got into it, sending us lists that were three and four times longer than the originals. Others were more circumspect. As a final check, we asked folks here at the office who are fluent in some of our supported languages to take the smut filters for a test drive. We knew that we had a winner when our own DavidGR, a native of Madrid, reported back that the Spanish smut filter made him blush.
So how do you smut-proof your multilingual community? That's an interesting question. What's to stop a community member from using another language to circumvent the filter? Do we make the filters cumulative and risk bumping out perfectly good English words that mean something entirely different in another language?
For now at least, we're leaving it up to each community. We've built in the ability to bulk-load filter terms and will make our list of naughty words available through our Community Success Managers (CSM).
Just, please, don't ask me what some of those words mean. Like David, I blush.
SusanM, formerly Lithium's wordsmith in residence, was responsible for product documentation, user interface text, and inline and online user assistance. She's now available to work the same magic for other companies.
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