City Desk

Too Hot for D.C. Government!

Too Hot for D.C. Government!The Office of the Chief Technology Officer wants you to watch your mouth.

Send an offensive word in an email to a city government employee, to be received at a "" email address, and you'll be censored. The message will bounce back with a note that says, "Your recent message for [email address] titled [email subject] contains unacceptable words or phrases. Please contact OCTO Citywide Messaging for assistance or re-word your message."

The filter is well-intentioned: It blocks spam and other malicious or inappropriate messages from city email addresses. But it also applies to humans, should they choose to use uncouth language toward a D.C. government employee via email.

Ayanna Smith, OCTO's public information officer, says that despite the friendly offer in the receipt, no one has approached her for help with rewording a message—in fact, Smith wasn't aware of the receipt until Washington City Paper inquired what words would trigger it. At the Citywide Messaging office, an OCTO employee says she had never received any requests to help reword an email.

The same employee (requesting anonymity because she isn't authorized to speak to the press) says the filter could be expanded if spammers—or real humans looking to contact D.C. government employees—become increasingly lewd.

So, what words might cause you to receive a gentle reminder from OCTO requesting that you reword your email? The official list:


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  • Walter Fauntroy

    Also, Dude, chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature.

  • Lee

    what happens is the sender is making a complaint regarding a DC government employee's use of the language cited above while performing their duties?

  • Dude

    Walter, I'm not talking about the guys who built the railroads.

  • Davy Hampton

    Sweet, so I can still refer to the people down at Human Services as D-Bags.

  • Charlie

    I am sure this is not a complete list. I number years ago I had a friend who worked for DC (they RIFed him and gave him lots of money and then begged him to come back six months later). I forwarded him a viagra joke and it got blocked.

    My guess is that they just bounce all spam (rather than silently discarding it), and that there is a 99.99% probability that a message with these words will be considered spam. This leaves you out in the cold if for some reason you need to discuss the medication viagra with a DC government official, such as asking if Medicaid covers it. But again, that is guessing.

    I knew someone who needed to visit the DisneyWorld web site to get information about a convention being held there. He couldn't because the IT department blocked it. Anyone looking at a Disney website was presumed to be wasting valuable work time. And 99.99% of visitors probably were.

  • What the flocka???

    I am writing my complaint about the black dog at the DMV, he was such a pain in the colon that I wanted to kick his hind-pots. He was such a cry-baby that his snotty attitude has just flushed my kidneys off. I will never ever go back to DMV and you all can go to h-e-double hockeys sticks. You're not worth fecal-matter.

    Now was that straight to the point.

  • Anonymous

    I don't endorse ending offensive messages to DC government employees, but as it relates to many of them on the fornt lines of customer service, how about some less offensive responsiveness for a change?

  • Anonymous

    correction: "I don't endorse "SENDING" offensive messages to DC government employees....."

  • Stanton Park

    Well, since Kafkaesque, counterproductive, childish, and incompetent aren't blocked, so I'm OK.

  • Truth Hurts

    Let's see: HONKEY is out, CRACKER is in; COCKSUCKER is out, MUFF-DIVER is in; EJACULATE is out, CUM is in; JACKOFF is out, JERKOFF is in; FUCKING is out, NUTSUCKING is in.

    The idiots in charge of this effort are probably having a CIRCLE JERK (not banned) right now.

  • John Miller

    The list is not complete. My "unacceptable" words or phrases contained none of the words on the list but still I was rejected. There was once a time I taught writing at the college level. Now I must rely on the government
    to correct my woefully inadequate writing skills.
    If I find out what the objectionable word or wrds were,
    I will get back to you.

  • John Miller

    In a report of threats and intimidation submitted to the Metropolitan Police Department I wrote, "The man began to tell us how he hated [us] and would kill us if he could. At this time he "cocked" his fist as if it were a gun and fired imaginary bullets into both me and my companion." Octo City Messaging insured the Police
    Department in its innocence would be protected from the
    obviously sexual associations of the word "cocked" and
    so my report was delayed if not actually totally and
    completely blocked. I can visualize the next Police
    Department regulation: "Police officers may pull the hammer back on their revolvers but under no circumstances
    will they be allowed to cock their weapons!"