In an attempt to stop students from illegally downloading music and movies from certain websites, UNH had blocked access to these sites, but may have gone a step too far. The University blocked access to websites such as College Humor, Urban Dictionary, Cosmopolitan, blog forums, pornography sites, the Barstool Blackout site and certain tumblr pages. Any site with anything identified as “Adult Materials” was restricted.
At Urban Dictionary we are committed to providing the best definitions for any word, whether you’ve heard it from your friends, on the street, in a book, a song, or a movie. Whatever you hear, we want to have a good definition for it. “Good” is subjective. Maybe the people in Cleveland think the best definition of a Cleveland Steamer is a boat.
That’s where voting comes in. At Urban Dictionary, we put the question of what’s best to the users of the site, letting them vote and decide on the order that definitions are presented. Recently, we’ve been pursuing a more data-driven approach to monitoring this process, and we’ve identified some trends in the voting that we feel are detrimental.
Problem #1: Not enough people vote.
There is no other mechanism on the site for deciding what definition is best other than voting. Right now, voting seems to do a good job for the most part. However, because only a small number of readers vote, there is a chance that the results could become skewed. This is particularly a problem when someone might have an incentive to sabotage the process (see #2 below). For example, on a random day, only about 3% of visitors to the site actually voted, and only 2.7% of potential definitions received votes.
Over time, enough votes are cast to do a pretty good job at ranking definitions. However, we’d like to do better. Part of what we’d like to do is encourage you to vote more in order to get rankings that reflect how you actually speak. We have some ideas about this, such as making the icons more prominent and reminding you that your voice is important in the rankings.
Problem #2: Gaming the system.
Although this problem is relatively small, there has always been a certain element of Urban Dictionary’s users that try to influence the rankings for particular words. Most of the time, these words are relatively niche or specific. In other words, the affected words aren’t ones a lot of people seem to care about – but we still care!
Some of these attempts seem to be to push racist or potentially offensive definitions. Urban Dictionary will always have potentially offensive words in it – after all, slang is often offensive. However, it’s a problem when people are using the site more as a platform for this type of speech rather than as a source for definitions.
Sometimes, people try to mess with the rankings for popular words, which can be dangerous because newspapers and courtrooms refer to Urban Dictionary. Part of Urban Dictionary will always be a satire of an overly serious attitude towards language, but we’d like to reduce the impact of some of these automated or organized efforts to rig the votes.
We want to fix these, and so you may see some changes around the site in the future. We also wanted to share these problems in the hopes that someone reading this might have good ideas on how to solve them too. We’d love to hear from you about these problems or anything else you’ve noticed at email@example.com.
Who the Hell Cares if IBM’s Watson Swears? (Slate)
But Watson couldn’t distinguish between polite language and profanity – which the Urban Dictionary is full of. Watson picked up some bad habits from reading Wikipedia as well. In tests it even used the word “bullshit” in an answer to a researcher’s query.
From a user regarding diabeating your kids:
‘Juvenile onset diabetes’ is more commonly known as type 1 diabetes. Type 1 cannot be prevented and there is no link to obesity.
It is type 2 diabetes that is linked to obesity, but even then not in all cases. Type 2 is more common in adults but a small minority of younger people with diabetes also have this type.
People with type 1 diabetes and their families face an on-going battle because information is generalised and so misleading. The majority of people who do not have someone with type 1 in their lives don’t understand the difference between type 1 and 2 and many hold prejudices against those with type 1 because of ill-informed comments like these.
Whilst I understand that Urban Dictionary is ‘fun’ and the definitions are based on creative word play, many children and young people with type 1 already suffer daily bullying because their peers believe they were too fat or ate too many sweets.
Search, plus Your World (by Google)
(gets awesome around 0:41)
The DMV team in charge of approving California vanity plates has seen it all: vulgarities, prejudice, hostility, sexual innuendos and political statements.
The team uses search engines, Urban Dictionary, Wikipedia and Google Translation to help find dubious submissions. Between 20-40 plates a day are red-flagged for further inspection…
Urban Dictionary baby name definitions offer more intense name analysis and detail perceived personality traits that go along with a name.
Mr. STEFAN FATSIS (Sportswriter): So The Preakness hired an ad agency to try to make The Preakness hip again. Last year the theme was Get Your Preak On - a play on get your freak on. And I’ll let you look that up on Urban Dictionary, Robert [Siegel].