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Blocking the Blocklists

The code I found online was for its leaderboard. You remember these — play Pacman, get a high score, and you can put your initials in. (I’m aware I’m dating myself with that reference, thank you.)

With Slay the Spire, though, you can put your whole name in if you want. Or your username. Or really any words you want.

And that’s the problem. You know the saying: Give the Internet an inch, and it’ll take it vile.

The code was a list of bad words that the game would block from usage in the leaderboard. Profanity, racial slurs, sexual references. Even common words like camgirl, OMG, and — my favourite — Santorum. Spelled like the American politician, though you might want to Google that word… if you don’t have a weak stomach.

The list was a goldmine for me, because I run a social media engagement and moderation agency. And it provided more words we could add to our existing list of full service and client-specific blockwords.

In the media buying world, blocklists are used too: Terms and topics that the advertiser doesn’t want to appear next to.

And an interesting piece up on Digiday suggests that keyword blocklists may be doing more harm than good.  

The Problem with Blocklists 

Experts say these lists often reward soft content while penalizing socially relevant and controversial topics, such as hard news, leading to missed opportunities for brands and depriving publishers of revenue from premium audiences. It can also create roadblocks for diverse advertising featuring underrepresented groups.

Moving Beyond the Blocklist 

The piece is definitely worth reading — it says advertisers must challenge themselves, their media buying partners, and their brand safety vendors to create ways to avoid punishing hard news.

Quoting the piece: 

Consumers are smart. They know what they are getting into when they visit hard news sites. If they see a story about a violent protest on a reputable news site, they will not think that a brand advertising on that site is violent. Blocking all news stories covering violence is too crude an approach to brand safety.

More E-commerce Channels, More Problems 

Navigating the ever-expanding world of e-commerce channels is no easy feat for retailers, with half saying there are too many channels for them to effectively manage. 

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