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Note, 2007: I'm leaving this as a period piece, though it does embarrass me a little five years (!) later and all seems a bit silly really. I'll offer the excuse that I was very ill at the time.

One regret I have experienced on e2 in the past few months, is that when my life is painful I can't use the catharsis of daylogging to cheer me up. This is because too many of my issues involve other noders. This time, however, I feel a daylog is certainly the most appropriate outlet for my thoughts on the events of the day. It also can be a record of how the events unfolded from my perspective and those to whom I have spoken to about it.

De-Barneyfication

This is a snippet of the catbox archive.

  • 09:39 Gritchka fuzzles bexxta and departs.
  • 09:39 call bitch-slaps Gritchka.
  • 09:40 <Gritchka> AAARGH
  • 09:40 <Gritchka> I swear to god that said FUZZLE when I was typing it.
  • 09:41 Gritchka is getting too old, this brain has worn out, this is too much.
  • 09:41 <Gritchka> GRRRRR
  • 09:41 <Gritchka> ANNOUNCEMENT We seem to have an amusing new feature.
  • 09:45 <Fruan> haha. OK. Nice. I owe whoever made this new feature a beer.
  • 09:45 <Orpheum> not so amusing me thinks....
  • 09:45 WonkoDSane noticed that BF issue earlier.
  • 09:46 <call> I owe whoever made this new feature a sound kick to the head.
  • 09:46 <WonkoDSane> Welcome to the Monkey House.
  • 09:47 WonkoDSane FUZZLEs EDB.
  • 09:48 Gritchka huggles self
  • 09:49 <dem bones> THERE CAN BE NO FUZZLE.
  • 09:49 Gritchka huggles self
  • 09:49 <dem bones> I LOVE IT.

Innocuous? Replace every occurence of fuzzle or huggle with one of the following words:

  • grope
  • defenestrate
  • BF
  • fuck
  • fondle
  • irritate

Gritchka fucks bexxta and departs.

No wonder call bitch-slapped him. The catbox was replacing the words randomly and without warning. Each pageload was different, so the words were not consistent across users. Everyone saw different.

call rushed off a msg to edev:

(edev) call says Alright, who's responsible for the 'De-barneyfication' code in showchatter? Own up.

No one did. I went off to look what he was talking about, having just missed the exchange above. Upon opening showchatter, it was plain to me what was up:

# De-Barneyfication. ENOUGH ALREADY.
my @fuzzlefucker = (
	'grope',
	'defenestrate',
	'BF',
	'fuck',
	'fondle',
	'irritate',
);

# That's AYN rand(), pally. It's a shame we can't (in perl) pull 
# a new replacement for each "Barney word" in a given message (or
# can we?)
my $shaddup = $fuzzlefucker[ int( rand( @fuzzlefucker ) ) ];
$text =~ s/(fuzzl|huggl)e?/$shaddup/gi;

It is a simple regular expression that swaps any occurence of fuzzle or huggle for one of the 'fuzzlefucker' words. I was livid. The stripping of ellipses was bad enough (I'll trail off my sentences if I fucking well want to...), but this was absurd. It changed the whole meaning of what a person was saying. I was sure it would upset someone very quickly. It wasn't until call directed me to wonko.com that I realised it already had. I sent a msg to edev:

(edev) ascorbic says sorry, but this is fucking fascist. Did anyone see what happened when Gritchka fuzzled bexxta? Something that drastically changes the meaning of a message, but only in certain media and differently on each pageload may be funny (yeah, ha, ha) but is bound to cause hurt. i hate fuzzles as much as the next guy, but fucking censorship by regexp? C'mon!

I was pretty angry. Anyway, shortly afterwards JayBonci arrived. He quickly removed the offending code and was greeted by many hugs in the catbox. There was some bitching, but people eventually started getting on with their regular noding. I wrote it off as a joke gone wrong.

I decided to have a further look through the showchatter code, to see if there was anything else in there that I hadn't spotted. Well, I found something:

	$text =~ s/(^|\W)em(self|$|\W)/$1him$2/;
	$text =~ s/(^|\W)eir(self|$|\W)/$1his$2/;
	$text =~ s/(^|\W)hir(self|$|\W)/$1her$2/;
	$text =~ s/(^|\W)sie($|\W)/$1she$2/;

Uh-oh. People were not going to be happy with that! What those four lines do is replace all the gender neutral pronouns (GNPs) that many people are fond of, with arbritrarily gendered pronouns instead. For example hir becomes her, em becomes him. Now, personally I find those words a bit silly. We have perfectly good GNPs in it and itself and their and so on. That said, if people want to use them it's up to them. English is a living language. I could also see how people who had chosen to be genderless would be offended by having a sex applied to them by the code. Another issue that I raised in edev, is that these are two and three letter words that are used in other contexts. For example <em> is the XHTML tag that makes text italic. Sie is used in German (which is often quoted in the catbox.

I tried this out in the catbox as I wasn't sure:

  • 13:12 ascorbic tries out hir gender-neutral pronoun
  • 13:15 <ascorbic> hir sie eir em
  • 13:15 sphere777 sighs
  • 13:16 <ascorbic> OK, looks like the Powers That Be have decided to filter gender-neutral pronouns and replace them with specific ones
  • 13:17 DyRE applauds.
  • 13:18 <DyRE> (for sphere, not gender-neutral lackiness)
  • 13:19 <DyRE> hmm, testing... sie hir
  • 13:19 sphere777 bows, wiping the sweat from hiz brow
  • 13:20 <Fruan> All made up words will die! The english language will remain static!

Many people were offended by this. See eponymous's daylog for an example.

During the time that the huggle/fuzzle filter was on, we quickly discovered a way around it. We took to putting empty hardlinks inside the word like this: h[]ugglez. The pronouns could be displayed by hardlinking the whole word. Some of the words in later logs will have been displayed correctly.

A few hours later, just as everyone was starting to forget the fuzzles and hugglez, they started filtering again. Upon checking the code, I could see wharfinger had put the code back in, and added a comment: (my pipelinks)

        # jb says "enough."
        # w sez "I ran this up the flagpole w/ bones and it stuck. 
        # Even *I* wouldn't pull a stunt like this on my own hook, 
        # y'know."

Then call is borged, for seemingly no reason. The reaction to that by me and BlueDragon provoked a flurry of borgings, which drove the tensions higher. I have reproduced some of this below. The only editing I have done is to remove a couple of messages from a previous conversation, and corrected a few of my own typos for clarity.

  • 17:51 BlueDragon decides to huggle hirself just out of boredom and idle curiosity
  • 17:51 <Chiisuta> These are truly the best days!
  • 17:51 <BlueDragon> mmm, that was nice!!!
  • 17:52 <wharfinger> call: All trucks do.
  • 17:52 <BlueDragon> I am so glad that the hiuggle has been recorded in the archive for posterity - dangerous games you ppl play
  • 17:53 <BlueDragon> oh my - and it changes all by iself...wonders never cease, and nor does my sarcasm
  • 17:54 BlueDragon wonders if the mIRC ways of getting round codes work in here
  • 17:55 <BlueDragon> Huggle
  • 7:56 <BlueDragon> nope, it seems not :(
  • 17:57 <ascorbic> what! the huggle thing is back in?
  • 17:57 <BlueDragon> so someone has put the code back in eh?
  • 17:58 <call> showchatter
  • 17:58 <trust the doctor> may i ask a questio about node content pleasen
  • 17:58 BlueDragon thinks huiggle is far less offensive than fuck
  • 17:59 ascorbic huggles wharfinger
  • 17:59 <call> Grr...
  • 18:00 call will huggle someone he cares about if he damn well pleases. Those whe disagree can go fuzzle themselves.
  • 18:01 <BlueDragon> use them as references, doctor, but dont copy and paste large chunks of info
  • 18:01 <jessicapierce> quoting a source is fine. copy and pasting the whole thing IS NOT
  • 18:01 EDB has swallowed call. moist noder flesh
  • 18:02 <Epyon> hahahaha, take THAT huggles!
  • 18:02 ascorbic will join call. fuzzle censorship, you bunch of fuzzleing fuzzlers. /me huggles wertperch
  • 18:02 <BlueDragon> hmm..hug?
  • 18:02 EDB has swallowed call. call yummy! More!
  • 18:03 <DyRE> is EDB reposting form data?
  • 18:03 BlueDragon hopes EDB chokes and dies
  • 18:03 <trust the doctor> you see the thing is, i have two articles about the author philip pullman, one from the times one from the mail on sunday both showing a different opinion of his dark materials trilogy.
  • 18:04 <Epyon> What a day, the Super Bowl and a passing comment from jessicapierce. Now if only dannye could teach me the ways of bullshit, this would b
  • 18:04 EDB has swallowed ascorbic. Mmmm...
  • 18:04 EDB has swallowed ascorbic. *GULP*
  • 18:04 BlueDragon huggles EDB

At this point BlueDragon was borged too, though the archive missed it. I am by now on the phone to wertperch who is trying to calm the situation. He has decided to stay out of the catbox, and is trying to talk to various gods about what is happening. BlueDragon logs in as another user.

  • 18:11 <Epyon> and when the edb is enjoying his bounteous christmas dinner, I hope he chokes...just a little bit
  • 18:11 <Lometa> whoa! Whatin the Sam Hill happened ?!?
  • 18:13 <jessicapierce> I feel I should remind the group that the EDB is just a handy way of taking away chatterbox privileges, thereby making the "eaten" users shut up for a while. Just a reminder.
  • 18:13 EstragonBleu is very tempted to huggle all new users
  • 18:14 EstragonBleu sighs
  • 18:14 <brassmule> Dude. Mean, nasty Ms. Jessicapierce spills her hatred into the catbox and burns us all.
  • 18:14 <EstragonBleu> the EDB is in danger of abusing his power!
  • 18:15 <EstragonBleu> every time someone gets unfairly borged they should try creating a new user..
  • 18:15 <DyRE> hahaha
  • 18:16 <Epyon> My nodes here are just a handy way of expressing my eternal love for Jessicapierce thereby making her love me back or borg me trying. Just a reminder
  • 18:16 EstragonBleu wants everyone to remember that EDB is just some jumped up user with an overly high opinion of himself
  • 18:17 <Epyon> Rock on doc, rock on, for the future!
  • 18:17 EDB has swallowed EstragonBleu. EstragonBleu yummy! More!
  • 18:18 Impartial watches as ranks of noders turn into Dman.

call and I log in as other users. I try and calm the situation down a bit, but find it hard to keep my head.

  • 18:18 <(c)all> brassmule: this is political, not behavioural
  • 18:19 <ascorbot> wertperch is talking to The Powers. Lets all keep calm. Is this worth causing such anger over?
  • 18:19 <Epyon> I wish bones had left the story of Dman in his homenode as a message to the rest of us
  • 18:20 <saintjim> Big Brother (or is it sister?) is watching you all, fair users, beware!
  • 18:21 <kiladogg> well, they must not succeed, anyway
  • 18:22 <(c)all> /asamoth call
  • 18:22 <wertperch> Please! Calm?
  • 18:23 <ascorbot> It is stuff like this that turns reasonable noders into dman or asamoth. wharfie: was it worth it?
  • 18:23 brassmule gets the feeling he walked into the convo, halfway started, and maybe said the wrong thing to start off.
  • 18:23 <saintjim> its too late!
  • 18:23 (c)all shuts up.
  • 18:24 <wertperch> Thanks, call.
  • 18:24 <(c)all> So, my point was what ascorbot said, but he put it more succintly.
  • 18:24 Impartial thinks ascorbot really oughtta listen to cooler heads. Is it really killing you?
  • 18:25 <getha> And, just for good measure, I personally think you guys have a point here...
  • 18:25 <brassmule> SOOOO. HOW ABOUT THEM LOCAL SPORTS TEAMS?
  • 18:26 <uncleozzy> GO PATS!
  • 18:26 <brassmule> WORD. GO PATS GO!
  • 18:26 <wharfinger> ascorbic: DMan was a lunatic, and he is responsible for his own lunacy. The same goes for Asamoth.
  • 18:27 ascorbic is listening to wertie more than you may think. Is just less able to do the calm thing
  • 18:27 kiladogg is torn, being a raiders fan and all
  • 18:28 <kiladogg> i think the sun is even shining
  • 18:28 EstragonBleu hates to see the lunatics taking over the assylum
  • 18:28 ascorbic is anti many things, but doesn't think they should be regexped out of existence

The arguments continued, but I got tired. They continued raging until JayBonci returned and removed the code again, with this comment:

        # jb says back: Well at any rate. We're done with it. It was originally
        # my idea, but for random borgings. This isn't worth it.
        # w sez: Great minds think alike. I still can't see any 
        # downside to it. 

No downside? Many people were very uspet by this. Gritchka blanked his homenode, replacing it with /me hugglez bexxta and disappeared. It hardly seems worth it just because someone was annoyed at displays of affection. It has been suggested that this is an attempt to stop people "behaving like children", and that e2 is "a writing project, not a chatroom", but I think that misses the point. As hermetic put so well: Everything is a Community. In fact I'd go as far as dann and say Everything is a family. There are a lot of complex relationships here. The chatterbox is the escape valve for this community. Yes we get silly in there. Yes we flirt and fuzzle and snog and cuddle. Yes people shout random bullshit and talk rubbish sometimes, but it's far better it's in there than in the nodes. In fact, those who are silliest in the catbox are often those who contribute some of the best factual nodes. Look at Gritchka's flirting. Look at wertperch's huggles. Look at BlueDragon, SharQ, ocelotbob. These are but a few examples, but are all people who contribute some amazing stuff to this crazy project we call E2. But they also mess about in the catbox. Would people rather I was writing loads of dumb daylogs and GTKY nodes, or pissing about in the catbox? I'm not blowing my own trumpet, but the stuff I do write here, people seem to like. Until the inevitable downvotes that this will trigger, I had a IQM rep of 13. That's quite good. BlueDragon was actually helping a newbie at the point she was borged, as you can see from the clip above.

Perhaps the solution to all this is an option for those who don't want to use /chatteroff, but liked the silly filters. Let them have them. Or maybe call was right:

call says Just a thought, but it' occurred to me that a more suitable and acceptable form of 'censorship' for the catbox really ought to be code that converts 'fuck' 'grope' or 'fondle' randomly inte 'fuzzle' or 'huggle'. Just a thought.

Just don't stop us expressing ourselves. It is the community aspect of this place that keeps me here, and I know many others feel the same. The writing here is often superb, and this is an amazing resource we are creating, but it is the catbox and the huggles and the vote tags and the noder meets that make this place special. E2 is noders. I guess what upset me most about this was I saw the place I love being taken away from me, and I saw those with whom I share it being upset. I felt like I wasn't welcome.

I'm certainly not one to quote scripture, but Tiefling and wertperch mentioned Psalm 133 verse 1, which seems appropriate to all this. Have a read of it.
To wharfinger, I'll quote one of his own nodeshells: sounds like somebody needs a hug!