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Apple Censors 'Ninjawords Dictionary' iPhone Application

clevin

macrumors G3
Original poster
Aug 6, 2006
9,095
1
http://www.engadget.com/2009/08/05/apples-new-low-censoring-a-dictionary/#continued
http://daringfireball.net/2009/08/ninjawords
Apple censored an English dictionary.
A dictionary. A reference book. For words contained in all reasonable dictionaries. For words contained in dictionaries that are used every day in elementary school libraries and classrooms.
"We were rejected for objectionable content. They provided screenshots of the words '****' and '****' showing up in our dictionary's search results. What's interesting is that we spent a good deal of time making it so that you must type vulgar words in their entirety, and only then will we show you suggestions in the search results. For instance, if you type 'fuc', you will not see '****' as a suggestion. This is in contrast to all other dictionaries we're aware of on the App Store (including Dictionary.com's application), which will show you '****' in the search results for 'fuc', 'mother****er' for 'mother', etc."

In essence, you would have to already know the word in order to be able to look it up in the app -- your mind would have had to be already poisoned with the sinful idea.
 

sl1200mk2

macrumors 6502
Oct 17, 2006
320
3
Completely ridiculous.

I'm not giving up my iphone anytime soon, but Apple will definitely lose some degree of market share from people willing to move to more open or at least better policy defined platforms like Android and Palm. Google and Palm are more than happy to pick up and capitalize on all the apps and functionality Apple seems to be willing to give away. Case in point, the Google Voice apps that were pulled.
 
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MacRumors

macrumors bot
Apr 12, 2001
51,581
13,207
Apple Censors 'Ninjawords Dictionary' iPhone Application

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Daring Fireball's John Gruber reports on the case of Ninjawords Dictionary [App Store, $1.99], a dictionary application for the iPhone based on Wiktionary offering a high-quality user experience and information content that was recently approved by Apple for inclusion in the App Store. Unfortunately, Apple's approval process for the application required several months and multiple rounds of refinement for the application, ultimately resulting the application carrying a "17+" age rating and also lacking a number of words deemed "objectionable" by Apple's reviewers.
Apple censored an English dictionary.

A dictionary. A reference book. For words contained in all reasonable dictionaries. For words contained in dictionaries that are used every day in elementary school libraries and classrooms.
Gruber's lengthy post details the seemingly ridiculous hoops the application's developers jumped through to win Apple's approval, from adding the mature age rating to preventing "objectionable" words from appearing as suggestions for partial word matches when searching to finally removing the "objectionable" words entirely. A number of the words that Apple objected to and have been removed from the application also carry entirely non-objectionable definitions, and it is unclear why those entire entries were required to be removed instead of merely the offending definitions for those words.
Every time I think I've seen the most outrageous App Store rejection, I'm soon proven wrong. I can't imagine what it will take to top this one.

Apple requires you to be 17 years or older to purchase a censored dictionary that omits half the words Steve Jobs uses every day.

Article Link: Apple Censors 'Ninjawords Dictionary' iPhone Application
 
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ouimetnick

macrumors 68030
Aug 28, 2008
2,960
3,922
Beverly, Massachusetts
Apple's own dictionary on OS X. has the definition for words like F*ck, a*s, b*tch and more. Apple must remove safari from the iPhone , as anyone can view porn and bad things on Safari on the iPhone.

DUMB Apple! ;:)mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad:
 
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dejo

Moderator emeritus
Sep 2, 2004
15,981
450
The Centennial State
Sounds very similar to the hoops that my company, Another Roadside Attraction, had to jump through in order to get our craigslist app, [app]CraigsHarvest[/app], approved. It took over two months of back and forth with Apple to finally get it OKed. First, we had to remove the Personals and Erotic Services categories (this was back in December before craigslist moved Erotic to Adult and way before ratings; we've been allowed to include those in our latest version). That wasn't sufficient, though. We also had to prevent the user from using search terms of profane words. And we had to guess what that list of objectionable words was. Apple never gave us any direction as to what that might be, other than to provide specific examples of searches that weren't allowed. We could never get an answer to the question "what are all the other words you find objectionable?".
 
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griz

macrumors 6502a
Dec 18, 2003
581
220
New London, NH
The App approval process must go through a series of people who are oblivious to the rest of the world around them. I love my Mac, but I am beginning to think that Apple is run by a bunch of people with their heads buried in ** Censored ;) **.
 
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Stargaze

macrumors member
Aug 26, 2008
88
4
Someone needs to put an end to this pointless "REVIEW" process apple has in place..

they are Playing "God" and for some reasons i see why but they are taking their power and going too far!
 
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Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
38,448
4,959
Los Angeles
This is extremely draconian of Apple. I wonder if the bad publicity will get them to change their minds.

In the meantime, I guess Urban Dictionary isn't going to become an iPhone app anytime soon.
 
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dasmb

macrumors 6502
Jul 12, 2007
283
199
The App approval process must go through a series of people who are oblivious to the rest of the world around them. I love my Mac, but I am beginning to think that Apple is run by a bunch of people with their heads buried in ** Censored ;) **.

Let's say there's a set of criteria for rating an app. And let's say that criteria states that the use of certain language is grounds for a higher rating.

If an app has its rating increased for using this language -- even if it's only to define it -- this isn't being oblivious, it's being consistent.

Besides -- this isn't a set in-memory dictionary with content developed and controlled by Ninja -- it's a window on user generated content. If an app is based on user content, and that content isn't policed, technically there's no way to judge that app's age appropriateness. Similar to the "ESRB will change when you go online" warning with games, once you enter an unpoliced environment the complexity of maintaining age propriety increases dramatically. I could, for example, visit the Wiktionary site and edit the entry for "feather" to include an erotic example. It's likely that the entry would be reverted -- but not guaranteed, and certainly can't be guaranteed by the app's authors.

Of course, they could likely offer an in-memory dictionary with the same functionality, omit the naughty bits and obtain a different rating...but that would require owning the distribution rights to the content.

In the end, though, who gives a ****. If a parent has to clear their child's purchase of an application, that's about as much of a censorship issue as their having to sign a permission slip for them to watch an R rated movie.
 
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jazz4ivo

macrumors newbie
Jul 7, 2008
27
0
Apple are starting to piss me off to be honest with their stupid review process. I hope the FCC gives them more stick and make them change their tunes (pun intended)!!
 
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Eso

macrumors 68000
Aug 14, 2008
1,792
219
It's clear that the only solution that will make every party happy is sllowing apps to be purchased and downloaded directly from the developers and imported directly into iTunes.

Apple wins because they can approve/reject any app they want without everyone getting into a big fuss.

Developers win because they don't have to submit to Apples subject review to reach their market.

Consumers win because they won't be limited to apps deemed appropriate by a coporation.
 
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griz

macrumors 6502a
Dec 18, 2003
581
220
New London, NH
Let's say there's a set of criteria for rating an app. And let's say that criteria states that the use of certain language is grounds for a higher rating.

If an app has its rating increased for using this language -- even if it's only to define it -- this isn't being oblivious, it's being consistent.

Well then they should apply that same consistency to Safari. It is an App that gets content outside its own code. If they are going to police everyone else who creates an app that gathers content, then they need to police themselves. And stay consistent.
But wait there is another side to the coin. USE SOME JUDGEMENT!!. Obviously Apple feels that it is ridiculous to police Safari given it is a web browser. Well then they need to find a way to allow content delivery apps by posting, as you said, a "rating may change" warning when you go to download it. Otherwise, they need to back off, and leave these developers alone.
 
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Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
38,448
4,959
Los Angeles
It's clear that the only solution that will make every party happy is sllowing apps to be purchased and downloaded directly from the developers and imported directly into iTunes.
It's not clear to me.

If the approval process protects me from faulty, misadvertised, or malicious software, or produces ratings that help me make informed choices, I don't mind Apple's approval process, even if it causes release delays. Buying directly sounds tempting but could invite risks I'd rather avoid.

On the other hand, if Apple prevents me from buying apps I might want, or causes developers to remove features of their apps I might want to use, then Apple's heavy-handedness is hurting me as a consumer.

It's the latter case for anyone who wanted to buy this dictionary app.
 
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toddgarvin

macrumors newbie
Jan 23, 2007
11
0
So... let me see...

So... let me see...
I can't view "dirty" words on my iPhone, but I can open the Dictionary app that comes with EVERY MAC and see all the "dirty" words I want??
Can Apple be any more hypocritical??

WTF?
 
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griz

macrumors 6502a
Dec 18, 2003
581
220
New London, NH
It's clear that the only solution that will make every party happy is sllowing apps to be purchased and downloaded directly from the developers and imported directly into iTunes.

Apple wins because they can approve/reject any app they want without everyone getting into a big fuss.

Developers win because they don't have to submit to Apples subject review to reach their market.

Consumers win because they won't be limited to apps deemed appropriate by a coporation.

I think you miss the point of why Apple does this. They don't want unapproved apps being loaded onto the phone. 2 main reasons. They don't want malicious code being anywhere near the iPhone and secondly they want control of the outward appearance of the phone's contents. In other words, by approving the apps, they guarantee the users showing off their iphone will be showing off only what they know they have cleared. Keeps the waters clean so to speak. Not that I agree with part 2 though.
 
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slu

macrumors 68000
Sep 15, 2004
1,636
107
Buffalo
I think you miss the point of why Apple does this. They don't want unapproved apps being loaded onto the phone. 2 main reasons. They don't want malicious code being anywhere near the iPhone and secondly they want control of the outward appearance of the phone's contents. In other words, by approving the apps, they guarantee the users showing off their iphone will be showing off only what they know they have cleared. Keeps the waters clean so to speak. Not that I agree with part 2 though.

The main reason Apple does this is to get their 30%.

What is happening now is downright ludicrous. The GV Mobile episode drove me to jailbreak, and I am glad I did. I only use two apps from Cydia (Cycorder and GV Mobile), but just the satisfaction that I can do what I want with MY phone is worth it. And how easy it is to do. I knew it was easy, but I didn't think it would be that easy.
 
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Eso

macrumors 68000
Aug 14, 2008
1,792
219
It's not clear to me.

Apps would still be available in the App Store, subject to Apple's approval, but they wouldn't be exlusive to the Appe store alone.

If a developers app gets rejected, they could simply offer it through their own channels and fund their own advertising, distributing, etc.

If functionality of an app is restricted on the App store, the developer could also market it through their own efforts, which would be great for apps like Skype, Slingplayer, etc.

They don't want malicious code being anywhere near the iPhone

Apps are still produced with the official SDK. It's nice that they want to keep malicious code out (has any app EVER been rejected from the app store for malicious code?), but that is their store. I don't need Apple to babysit me so I don't get malicous code on my iPhone. Luckily the App store would still exist for those that do.

secondly they want control of the outward appearance of the phone's contents. In other words, by approving the apps, they guarantee the users showing off their iphone will be showing off only what they know they have cleared.

Obviously this is just where they are plain wrong, but I agree that it is rather the motivation to make the 30% commission. Apple is too stubborn to change on their own, so hopefully the FCC inquiry and this type of press will force their hand.
 
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Silencio

macrumors 68030
Jul 18, 2002
2,548
400
NYC
Apple are starting to piss me off to be honest with their stupid review process. I hope the FCC gives them more stick and make them change their tunes (pun intended)!!

How exactly does the FCC have jurisdiction over the App Store WRT a dictionary app? And even if they did, you think they would go after Apple for not allowing naughty words? :rolleyes:

Agreed that Apple is really doing a horrible job with the App Store and the app approval process in general. They need to be a lot more clear, communicative, and consistent with developers as to what is acceptable and what is not, and they should give developers specific advice on how to fix their apps.

Couldn't a dictionary app in theory tie in to the parental controls in iPhone 3.0 and block the "bad" words from users who are parentally controlled? Couldn't the developers add that functionality to their app?

On the other hand, we all know what would happen if Apple let an app like this through with the "bad" words intact: some high school kid would look up said words, their parents would find out about it, they'd run to their lawyer and attempt to sue the pants off of Apple.
 
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rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
27,397
12,513
On the other hand, we all know what would happen if Apple let an app like this through with the "bad" words intact: some high school kid would look up said words, their parents would find out about it, they'd run to their lawyer and attempt to sue the pants off of Apple.


Then why do all Macs ship with Dictionary.app and all its "objectionable" words?
 
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