The New Word Filter
Over the years, I've heard many people discuss changing the word filter. Heck, I knew people were kicking around that idea when I joined nearly eight years ago; Taka-Tahu-Nuva mentioned to me that discussions were going on back when I sent him updates to the BBCC History topic. It was full of what were, objectively, bizarre and silly holdovers from the past, as vestigial as the policies that have been culled from the rules in recent months. "Jerk" and "idiot" were two that always really bugged me, because they're pretty tame words. Filtering the former out only made it look worse and the "cool dude" of the latter lived in infamy.
I'm mainly going to talk about the latter filter, because I hated that thing.
However, there are a lot of folks on the member rolls, active and inactive, that liked it. Its actual purpose was to prevent members from spamming forums by calling each other idiots, and it long outlived that function. It was a fad. I never understood the explanation of keeping it around because its reason for implementation might once again rear its noobish head, and I certainly didn't understand excusing its continued presence by claiming that it was somehow an integral part of BZPower.
I certainly understand the viewpoint that those folks come from. "Cool dude" is as much of BZPower history as the Secret Stomach Message. Yet BZPower has survived without connor's infamous message, as it was deleted along with the rest of the Archives. Yet it is preserved in a great many ways: through screenshots, the Wayback Machine, and - perhaps most importantly - through BZPower's culture.
We no longer need to filter the word idiot, because "cool dude" is part of our culture. It's part of BZP lore and tradition. Call me crazy for saying that a web site has a culture, but how else can you explain the memes that have perpetuated themselves on BZP and could not make the jump elsewhere? I only need to point to the Secret Stomach Message as an example of this.
A web site is more than a single filter that is as long and unfunny as a Family Guy episode. Keeping it around to be a part of BZP tradition - when it will continue in perpetuity nestled inside its bubble of bizarre infamy, regardless of whether or not it's in the filter - was, I believe, harmful to BZPower's perception for a couple of reasons.
The first was amongst prospective members. While I doubt anyone has ever not joined (or left) BZPower because of something as small as the word "idiot," filtering it was one of the things that presented BZPower as a site still rooted in the past.
The second was in stories. Be they in the Library, OTC, the Blogs, or anywhere else, words like "idiot" and "jerk" - words many people use, and useful words when it comes to both fiction and in recounting personal stories - were avoided. The only time I've ever seen the word used in the Library before now was in 2006, when bonesiii inserted some carefully placed dots to evade said filter. (I remember reporting it, but I don't believe that anything came of it.)
Ever since then, I've seen a number of instances where flow and realism would be improved by the addition of words such as those, and now writers are free to use them.
Third, "idiotic" has never been (and hopefully never will be) filtered.
Finally (and I haven't seen this point raised anywhere else), we turn to the Comics forum, which I have patrolled since my promotion. Many times, comic makers would make innocent comics which would happen to have a filtered word in them. I always regretting having to report them because I felt like we were handling non-issues.
Comparing those filters to the "first to post" filter is tricky. I haven't seen anyone say "first to post" in a while. Its presence, which I miss only vaguely, was not as obtrusive and it got back at members whose posts would otherwise be annoying. It was a precision strike, unlike the cool dude cluster-bomb.
I will say it before and I'm sure I'll have to say it again in the future: BZPower is resistant to change. Its longstanding members, by and large, have grown so attached to aspects of the site that necessary and overdue changes - such as updating the front page - meet with some manner of resistance every time an issue of its ilk arises. I can count myself in amongst those members; my eight-year BZ-versary is next month and Senior Staffhood is six months out. But I've seen BZP in the old days and the new, and I've had to come to terms with my conclusions.
Fundamentally, what is nostalgic to members of a certain age is the exact opposite of what will sustain BZPower in the coming years, especially if the rumors of BIONICLE's return turn out to be true.
I applaud and urge on the implementations of reform that BZPower still needs. Its overdue makeover may be long in its gestation and yet longer until completion, but things are happening.
And that makes me happy to be a part of this community.