Scunthorpe problem  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Scunthorpe problem is the blocking of e-mails, forum posts or search results by a spam filter or search engine because their text contains a string of letters that are shared with another (usually obscene) word. While computers can easily identify strings of text within a document, broad blocking rules may result in false positives, causing innocent phrases to be blocked.

Origin and history

The problem was named after an incident in 1996 in which AOL's profanity filter prevented residents of the town of Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, England from creating accounts with AOL, because the town's name contains the substring cunt. Years later, Google's filters apparently made the same mistake, preventing residents from searching for local businesses that included Scunthorpe in their names.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Scunthorpe problem" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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