Censorship is a Dirty Word
I am talking about spam filters.
For reasons too boring to get into here I had been after some speaker equipment and a microphone for a client. I'd asked for a quote from a stereo hire place and was getting peeved off that I hadn't received a reply. Unbeknownst to me they had sent a quote three days previously and I hadn't got it in my inbox because of our company's overenthusiastic spam filters. Searching through the emails that had been herded into cyber-quarantine I saw scores of unreceived resumes alongside the three day old quote. No wonder we didn't have many replies for that ad we placed a fortnight ago.
I mentioned this to my friend Free Beer yesterday and he said, Oh yeah that happened at my old company as well. I said, That must have been a colossal pain-in-the-ass. It sure was, he mentioned gravely, it meant we couldn't conduct business in a productive way.
Say you're dealing with a Thai company (which they were). You send them an email and you never get a reply. You send another email later on the week and it also disappears. It disappears because the effing spam filters will filter anything with the word 'porn' in it. Now, how many Thai folks have names that have the word 'porn' in it?
'Heaps,' says Free Beer, 'It's like "John". A really common name.*'
Now we've got this company that won't accept any emails that comes from Nattaporn, Patsaporn or Porntip because the dumbfuck spam filter thinks its protecting the delicate eyes of 40-year old, ex-army, Financial Directors from donkey shows.
Not only that, but what they realised in Free Beer's old company is that the Australian branch swore a lot. Constantly. In nearly every email. They needed to vent their rage on a daily basis so they can conduct their business productively.
'If you need to call someone a fucking idiot because they were, indeed, a fucking idiot, the company shouldn't restrict you.'
'Hear hear,' I say in consent, 'You yell, you get it out of your system and then you get back to work.'
'That's right. Say we have a guy called "Bert" who is in charge of shipping. One day, because "Bert" is suffering from senile dementia or he's a raging alcoholic who gets smashed on gimlets during lunch breaks or just for the effing sake of it, "Bert" sends a shipment of...I don't know...medical equipment to Outer Mongolia. A whole bunch of colposcopes that costs an average of 3,000 bucks a piece. An office memo will surely surface within seconds of the mistake being discovered asking "Bert" why Mongolian goat herders are using specialist equipment that are usually used in finding cervical cancer as fence posts.'
'With spam filters the office memo will sound like something straight out of Ned Flanders land. "Did you know that funny, friendly old Bert made an oopsy that will cost the company thousands and thousands of dollars? Golly! Wowsers! etc".'
'Exactly. What you want to say is: "Bert, the felching, child molester is set to be fired in the most exciting way possible. We will be hurling his useless ass, screaming, off the top floor of the building. Afterwards we shall feed his remains to savage dogs and set fire to all of his worldly possessions. For the more enthusiastic of you, you are more than welcome to hunt down the rest of his family and destroy them to ensure that no one from his genetic line will walk the planet. All Welcome!".'
Productivity went down by 30% in Free Beer's company (I think he's talking horseshit here, but its his story so I'll bite my tongue on this one) until someone found an interesting loophole in the spam filter.
'The Grizzled Old Prospector method,' he tells me triumphantly.
'Whu...?' I ask, because I'm only half-listening.
'Someone discovered that the spam filter wouldn't recognise foul language from the 1880s. So everyone started to email each other like a grizzled old prospector.'
Soon, Free Beer and his colleagues were sending messages to each other that were along the lines of "Did you know what that varmint Mattherson did to my milk?"
"I hear that blasphemous heathen drank the rest of it and didn't replace it."
"Dangnammit! I'll find that treacherous cur and invite him to a duel in the car park. That blackhearted vulture will see what happens when he crosses me!"
'It was for a while,' agreed Free Beer, 'but then eventually someone from IT decided that it might just be easier to allow the Australians to swear normally and everyone went back to cussing at each other and downloading pictures from Cats That Look Like Hitler.com.'
*Probably more like "Elizabeth" since it's a female name. Which goes to show that you shouldn't ask Free Beer for information ever.