The Sc*nthorpe problem

Posted: November 26, 2013 in Internet Filters, Profanity Filter, The Scunthorpe Problem

Many years ago, back when the internet was fresh and new, and AOL was *the* service provider a problem arose for the small town of Scunthorpe (pop 72,514) in North Lincolnshire.

It would seem that AOL in their moralistic wisdom had implemented a profanity filter and had decided that Scunthorpe was a “bad place”.

As word of this spread, the programming fraternity soon became aware of what was to be known as “The Scunthorpe Problem” and modified their code to say that a certain vulgarity was only permitted it if was preceded by the letter “S” and suffixed with the word “thorpe”.

And thus the problem was solved. In 5 lines of code which would look something like this….

if profanity = true then

if profanityword contains(“scunthorpe”) then

profanity = false

end if

end if

See – 5 lines exactly! (OK so I simplified the substr clause in to “contains” for readability but you get my meaning.)

And adapted for Penistone (pop 10,101).

So despite being a world leader in all things internet in recent years, Microsoft appear to be unaware of the “Scunthorpe Problem” anyway, below is the transcript between myself and Microsoft support.

A week later the matter still lies “unresolved”

11/18/2013 09:58
Enter a short description of your issue:
domain name rejected due to profanities

Enter a detailed description of your issue:
I am trying to link this outlook account with my domain TheScunthorpeIndependent.Com

Obviously because the word c*nt appears in the town name Scunthorpe your filters have identified it as being a profanity.

could you please sort this out as I’d like to use outlook as the email for this domain

many thanks.
11/18/2013 10:00

From:Microsoft Support

We are writing to let you know that we have received your request for support and will reply within 24 hours.
If you don’t see a message from us within 24 hours, check to see if email from is in your junk mail folder. You can check the status of your request on the Microsoft Support site.

Thank you,The Microsoft Support team
11/18/2013 14:29
Subject: 1223900685
From: Escalation Agent


I understand that you are having issues with your account and let me assist you with this concern. To further isolate the issue, please provide the information needed below.

– What is the exact error message that you receive when you try to link the account with your domain?
– Can you provide the detailed steps that you’ve taken when you try to link the account?

We will be waiting for your reply.

Katherine N.
11/19/2013 14:17
Subject:RE: 1223900685
From:Scunny News

The exact steps…

I follow the wizard to link my domain TheScunthorpeIndependent.Com to this outlook account

The error – you can not use this domain name as it contains a profanity

cant really get any more specific than that other than to say because the word CUNT appears in Scunthorpe thats the problem.
11/22/2013 18:36
Subject: 1223900685
From: Escalation Agent


Good day.

I would like to inform you that your issue has now been escalated to our Support Specialist for further review. We will keep you posted as soon as an update has been provided.

Thank you.


11/26/2013 17:51
Subject:RE: 1223900685
From:Scunny News

Will your systems now process the word Scunthorpe?




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