Seven words you can’t upload

Many of us older than compact discs (they turned 26 yesterday, hooray) remember George Carlin’s classic comedy routine, Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV. The routine was controversial, memorable, and (at least to me) quite hilarious. Carlin’s routine has recently come to mind here at Biblio World Headquarters, as we’ve realized that certain large search and shopping sites have begun to censor file uploads. Files with records deemed inappropriate are dropped.

So we thought it might be of interest to folks to hear what kind of words are being dropped from searches. Introducing, The Partial and Incomplete List of Banned Words:

  1. casino
  2. balisong
  3. vibrator
  4. salvia divinorum
  5. faux passeports
  6. designer knockoff
  7. anabolic steroid

And announcing the Special Bonus Auxiliary Word:

  1. anal

This one has caused more than it’s share of troubles, because the words Analysis and Analytic are often abbreviated to Anal.  I would make the effort not to use this as an abbreviation.  It frequently shows up in foreign titles as well.

We’ve identified a few more, but I think that gets the point across. Our products are books, and books with these words in the title will become harder to find using the general purpose search engines. There is an appeal process, but the sheer volume of titles we deal with makes it difficult to tackle this on any kind of case by case basis. Books that we’ve seen dropped include mysteries, medical texts, and texts of significant historical value. Along with a slew of books providing advice on gambling.

I have mixed feelings on censorship. The founding fathers rightly feared it. As a parent, I think there should be areas that are more kid-friendly than a pop-culture that has become increasingly gutter-mouthed. Commercial sites have the right and probably the responsibility to maintain minimum standards of decency, and to adhere to statutes regarding commerce. But when decisions about what is morally acceptable are made in secret, with no discussion, that also becomes worrisome.

One last thing: it might just be bad luck to be an author with the last name of “Gambling.”

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