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New “White List” System Gives Everyone a Voice

July 22, 2013

by Allen Liu


whitelistWe’ve overhauled our chatting system in order to allow those who are under 13 to speak freely and safely using a new chat filtering “white list” system. We tapped ROBLOX Web Engineer Allen Liu to explain the implementation and recent deployment of this new feature.

We want every single builder–regardless of their age–to have the ability to communicate, interact and participate in everything ROBLOX has to offer, and do so safely. Communication, in many cases, is one of the keys to creating and promoting content on our platform. We recently took steps to ensure that everyone has a voice. Those steps lead to the deployment of our brand new “white list” system.

ROBLOX already has a “black list” system in effect for users over 13. This system allows users to say almost anything, with the exception of foul or inappropriate language that is “black listed.” Whenever somebody uses profane language on ROBLOX, those words go through our black list filter and the inappropriate language is removed immediately.

Our new “white list” is essentially the opposite. Users who are 13 or younger will fall under the white list–which is essentially a different type of filter altogether–in that it’s a list of words that users can say. This has been successfully rolled out across all facets of ROBLOX, and the implications for younger users are varied– you can now do things like write game descriptions, update your status on your profile, participate in forum discussions, talk on group walls, name the clothing you create–you now have the power of communication and complete participation!

Here’s how it works. Every time a user under the age of 13 puts text on ROBLOX–and we mean anywhere, be it a profile, a group wall, the forums, or in-game–every word is put through the white list filter. This filter is much bigger than the black list, because it features words that are safe to use. So when a younger user says something anywhere on ROBLOX, that text is sent through our white list filter, then sent back to us with hash tags over inappropriate words.

This system is dynamic in that the list is constantly updating itself, and we’re constantly adding words to the system to ensure as many safe words get through as possible. Our white list initially blocked the use of numbers, for example, which we had to stop it from doing–numbers are an important way to communicate in ROBLOX, and we certainly want everyone to be able to communicate math and physics (not to mention Lua code) when they’re talking about building with friends.

We want the entirety of ROBLOX to be able to communicate with one another and participate in everything our platform has to offer. After all, ROBLOX is 100% fueled by our community’s hunger for creation and creativity. This represents one step toward getting even more people involved in expression.