Tuesday, 18 August 2009

`When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.`

The Citizens Advice service has banned staff from using the term 'blacklisting' over fears that it is offensive and 'fosters stereotypes'.

The taxpayer- funded quango, which advises members of the public on consumer, legal and money issues, has instead replaced it with 'blocklisting' to avoid appearing 'prejudicial'.
*sigh*
The two terms are both used in IT to mean the same thing. They refer to what are effectively lists of computers or computer networks which have been identified as sending spam and enable mail servers to ban or flag up mail sent from them.

Emails to members of staff at the service say the move has been made to keep 'in line with aims and principles of the Citizens Advice service'.
Oh. Not just because you have too many penpushers with very little to do, then, which was my first guess?
Critics branded it 'daft' and 'political correctness going over the top', but the Citizens Advice has refused to back down, even though critics say it renders everyday communications unintelligible.
Well, at least that fits in with the rest of these quangos’ output…
The ban on blacklisting applies across the whole of Citizens Advice. A former volunteer said banning blacklisting was 'the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen' and has stopped helping at his local branch because of it.
So, this barmy decision is actually having an effect on the staff, albeit not one they probably planned for….
A spokesman for the service said: 'Our approach to language is not prescriptive or dogmatic, but where we know or become aware that something is offensive, fosters stereotypes or prejudice, or is inaccurate, it makes sense and is respectful to use alternatives.'
If someone considers the term ‘blacklisting’ to be offensive, they undoubtedly have problems far beyond the ability of the Citizens Advice Service to fix.

So, why bother…?

17 comments:

Blognor Regis said...

Some years ago Plymouth City Council (Labour) tried to outlaw the use of 'manual' within their realm because it was "sexist". You've got to hand it to them. No fear of exposing their ignorance whatsoever.

Nigel Sedgwick said...

Ah, I understand. The word "blacklist" and derivatives have been blacklisted by the Citizens' Advice service.

I note they've dropped the apostrophe too, but I've put it back in above, as no one has told me it's 'officially' blacked.

Best regards

Umbongo said...

NS

"as no one has told me it's 'officially' blacked."

I'm sure you were meant to say "officially blocked"

Rob said...

So if some monarchist objected to the use of "Citizen", given that we are not a republic, would they change that?

Er, no. Depends who is complaining. At the CAB, it is 1981 over and over.

Optimistic Cynic said...

"The two terms are both used in IT to mean the same thing."

Actually, they don't mean the same thing. Blocklisting refers to "blocks" of IP addresses, in other words, an organisation may have a large block of IP addresses, so rather than having to set them up individually, you ban a range of them.

Mike said...

'There is no racial bigotry here; I do not look down on greazers, niggers, woks or kytes. Here you are all equally worthless.'
Full Metal Jacket

Mike said...

lol, woks
I couldn't be racist if I tried

Pavlov's Cat said...

Reminds me of an episode of 'Spin City' where the new 'Diversity Advisor' has all the computers changed to automatically replace the word black.

Which lead to the amusing scenario of hundreds of invites being send out to the Mayors 'African-American Tie Ball'

gordon-bennett said...

The CAB used to be a good organisation until a few years ago when it went all nulabour. Instead of handing a budget to a board of local trustees to administer in the local interest, it centralised control, threw away the links to local people and introduced annual integrity checks by an ofsted-like body.

What vandalism.

JuliaM said...

"Some years ago Plymouth City Council (Labour) tried to outlaw the use of 'manual' within their realm because it was "sexist"."

/facepalm

"I note they've dropped the apostrophe too, but I've put it back in above, as no one has told me it's 'officially' blacked."

You aren't this chap, are you? ;)

"At the CAB, it is 1981 over and over."

Like the 'Life on Mars' episode from hell....

JuliaM said...

"Actually, they don't mean the same thing. "

Facts & the 'Daily Fail' aren't friends. Not even acquaintances...

"Full Metal Jacket"

Heh, great film!

"Reminds me of an episode of 'Spin City' where the new 'Diversity Advisor' has all the computers changed to automatically replace the word black."

I believe I remember reading about a similar over-enthusiastic profanity setting that would no longer allow users to enter addresses for 'Scunthorpe'...

"The CAB used to be a good organisation until a few years ago when it went all nulabour. "

Yes, it always got good publicity from users, and was truly independent. Now, it's just another cog in the wheel...

Mike said...

I'm no movie buff but there are so many great quotes and I find there is usually one that fits most moments. Without that crutch I'd descend into an emotional wreck and/or utter gibberish too often. Perhaps with a dollop of analphabetism thrown in for good measure;

marc said...
Mike,
You are really Melvin t. Gray but with added analphabetism, aren't you?
There can't be 2 people as stupid as you on the internet at the same time can there??
07 August 2009 22:27
Still makes me laugh marc ;o)

I propose – systems access limitation controls applied as a consequence of previously recorded mission adverse activity identification list

or

blacklist

Arden Forester said...

Next we will hear of quango merchants looking under carpets to see what's been swept there. They have nothing better to do it seems. Why not go the whole hog and ban the word black altogether.

Blackberries to become blockberries. They've got their whiteboards. Basically they are bonkers. But bonkers pays these days.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Ha!

This is for beginners. In among my most treasured possessions is a reader's letter to The Metro making a snide remark about the Welsh government trying to ban the word 'manila' (as in 'manila envelope', a term familiar to stationers the world over) because it might offend Filipinos.

I shit ye not.

blueknight said...

Racism in the eye of the beholder?
During the 1980 street riots, there was one occasion when several Police units had to remain on the street in case of further problems and this meant that they could not go back to the station to get fed. (The vans did have hot water carriers and tea bags by the way)
These days it would be the nearest MacD or Burger King but in the 1981such establishments were thin on the ground.
Eventually someone in the control room managed to put in an order at the local cake shop, not the ideal situation but food is food.
Once the cakes had been purchased, the control room called up the Inspector and told him, 'You've got a load of macaroons coming'.
- so the Inspector got all his men to line up across the road with shields, to fight them off.....

JuliaM said...

"Basically they are bonkers. But bonkers pays these days."

Sadly true...

"...trying to ban the word 'manila' (as in 'manila envelope', a term familiar to stationers the world over) because it might offend Filipinos."

Good grief!

"Once the cakes had been purchased, the control room called up the Inspector and told him, 'You've got a load of macaroons coming'.
- so the Inspector got all his men to line up across the road with shields, to fight them off....."


Bwahahah!

Mike said...

I'd love to hear an example of 'elf and safety and equal ops going head to head over something.