Should You Use Profanity Filters?

no swearing profanityThe worst features in the world #1: Profanity filters.

Features are nice. Everyone likes features. If you look at a new piece of software, the first thing they’ll tell you about are the features. No matter which forum software you use, it’s going to have a ton of different plugins, addons, widgets, dongles. You know. Features. A word that sounds weird the more you say it. Features.

Talking about the features of your software that you like is super passe, so I’m going to buck the trend and talk about one that I don’t think anyone should use: profanity filters. You’ve probably seen or used one of these yourself; they take any naughty words from a specific list and either blank them out or replace them with something else. That seems good, right? I don’t think so. In fact I think it’s a manifestation of a larger problem within community management.
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Ideation Software vs. Customer Intimacy

Wants-Vs-Needs

“The customer only knows what she thinks she wants based on her experience with the current product. The innovator can take into account everything that’s possible, but often must go against what she knows to be true.” (Ben Horowitz, from his book ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’)

I’ve spent much of my career in product management roles and have spent countless hours trying to build winning product roadmaps. One of the toughest parts of the roadmap exercise is explaining to a big customer or to sales why the feature they need soooo badly didn’t make the list.

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