back to article Virgin Media's profanity warning triggered by chief exec's name

The mere mention of Virgin Media's chief exec Tom Mockridge is enough to trigger the profanity filter in the UK cableco's customer forum, El Reg has discovered. Typing in the name "Mockridge" prompts the response: "You used a bad word: Mockridge. Please clean up the language and try again." Even referring to the head honcho' …

  1. frank ly


    The 'filters' assume that the poster is about to start swearing because a primitive AI has noticed this happening many times before.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in more primitive times at the 'dawn of websites' I remember the people I worked for at the time being baffled why stuff from Scunthorpe always got rejected. I also remember something that mentioned 'spot welding' getting rejected. This really got us thinking. Eventually, we realised that the previous word ended in 'g' and the filter was being particularly prudish that day.

    1. JamesPond

      Ivor Baddick

      Whilst working at BT, one of our NHS customers from Wales was called Ivor Baddick . We also had a Scottish customer called Ronald Hugh Grant McDonald although he wouldn't trigger the smut filter.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ivor Baddick

        And if you look on there are two Ivor H Baddick 's , wonder what the H stands for, Hugh?

      2. Steve K

        Re: Ivor Baddick

        I used to work with someone whose sister was called Gaynor Hardon...

        Yes, really

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. wallaby

            Re: Ivor Baddick

            Pre internet I received an invite from a supplier to some big product launch from the head of customer satisfaction - Linda Lash

            my boss wouldn't let me go :(

            1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

              Re: Ivor Baddick

              I know a "Richard Large" (*) - imagine school register role calls...

              (*) No, I've never heard; never asked; don't want to know!

        2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Ivor Baddick

          "Gaynor Hardon"

          I was at university with someone called Gaynor Goodbody - and he was a large bloke(*).

          (*) About whom many stories can be told, but not in a public forum due to libel laws. :-)

        3. Tigra 07

          Re: Ivor Baddick

          We have a regular named Mrs Bastard...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ivor Baddick

        I'll see you Baddick and raise you one Phil McCracken - great bloke and yes, he always introduced himself using his full name even though he knew I knew who he was every time he called.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      It was bad enough having customers in Essex. But then the profanity filter kicked in...

    3. Oliver Mayes

      Our old spam filter didn't like the word specialist, as it has Cialis in it.

    4. aeonturnip

      Seconded - I worked for the neighbouring council to S****horpe at the time Tony B. Liar was giving out wads of cash to schools to get them online. Internet filtering was a big concern as there's nothing teenagers would like more than unfettered access to the kind of pictures they previous had to scour hedges/older siblings bedrooms for. A senior member of staff wondered whether there may even be a way to filter pictures based on their content, but this was the 1990's and things weren't that sophisticated - he wondered if we might have been able to block pictures which featured a large amount of pink, but clearly there'd be a lot of false positives, never mind introducing racial bias...

      1. Mike 16


        Was that the filter that blocked the website of a pig farm (mentioned in ElReg some years back)?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Pink

          I think it blocked both IBM and Apple at one point ...

    5. Don Dumb

      One of my early jobs was order processing the paper orders that came in to our mail order company.

      One day I turned to my colleagues and said "someone's taking the piss, look at this name". The response from the person who had been there before was "what's the matter?".

      A bit surprised that it wasn't obvious, I stated, "look they've created an order in the name of Mr [Redacted] Bastard".

      Her response - "oh yes, Mr Bastard, he gets lots of orders."

      I was flabbergasted that, not only was Mr Bastard real, but he was clearly old enough to have been able to change his name and had *chosen* not to. I can only imagine the number of service calls, that had cut him off on the assumption of him being a nuisance call. Nowadays I bet his family have real trouble using any online service, with the number of automated censors taking issue with that particular surname.

      I've always felt that anyone passing that name onto their children should be in breach of child cruelty laws, imagine being a legitimate Bastard child.

      1. WolfFan

        heh. Those who follow sports in the US might know of Dan Le Batard, of ESPN.

        There would be a _lot_ of people with variations on 'Bastard' as their names.

      2. Tigra 07

        I wish i'd seen this before you posted as it appears his wife is one of our customers. Lol!

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "not only was Mr Bastard real, but he was clearly old enough to have been able to change his name and had *chosen* not to."

        A quick trawl through the birth registrations for several years from 1900 shows that there were almost invariably a few born each quarter with that surname. Presumably these were mostly not some quirk of recording illegitimate children. Fairly often, however, the mother's maiden surname was given as Bastard so they may well have been genuine bastards.

        1. jake Silver badge

          I rather suspect ...

          ... that as a child/teenager I would have much preferred the surname Bastard to that of Coward. As an adult, however, I really don't care about an accident of history. My name doesn't define me, it's just a convenient handle that others use when referring to me. Hey, you! works just as well as jake in most contexts.

          Back to the woodwork ... pass me that bastard file, please.

    6. GruntyMcPugh

      sounds like 'MimeSweeper',...

      .... I used to work for ntl: and when we first installed MimeSweeper we experienced the Scunthorpe problem.

  3. Prosthetic Conscience

    "faceless change drivers with no concern for the <insert bought company name> values"

    So whats new?

  4. Zog_but_not_the_first

    "faceless change drivers with no concern for the Virgin values"

    Just like Virgin then.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: "the Virgin values"

      Like chastity?

    2. GruntyMcPugh

      Re: "faceless change drivers with no concern for the Virgin values"

      'Virgin Values',... say what? ntl: pulled the Virgin brand over themselves after buying Virgin Mobile. ntl: then bought a 30 odd year right to use the Virgin branding via a share swap. It was all smoke and mirrors to reinvent itself after it got thrown off NASDAQ, performed a debt for equity swap with the bank to save itself, and to distance the 'new' company from it's rather terrible customer service record. There never were any 'Virgin' values.

      Meanwhile I've just dumped them as my broadband provider, they keep upping speeds and then upping prices, and won't let me pay less for a slower connection, they force me to buy 100mb, which is a bit excessive considering there's just me and my wife, it's not like we have several kids all streaming at the same time.

  5. Mage Silver badge

    "faceless change drivers with no concern for the Virgin values"

    Were those values so good?

    I only know that NTL Ireland was poor, Chorus was rubbish. Liberty Global only rebranded to UPC (the name used elsewhere in Europe) once they had made massive improvements, a few years after takeover. People are baffled as to why UPC Ireland has been rebranded Virgin Media. Though it was before Brexit.

  6. AndrueC Silver badge

    Always good to be able to link my favourite Dilbert cartoon.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Using the words "Richard Branson" is an arrestable offence punishable by a term of up to 2 years in prison and/or a fine of no grater than £10,000

    1. Captain DaFt


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You know I was wondering why I could could use there word Trump on certain British web said.

    I asked why some said some thing about a nasty wet fart.

  9. Sartori


    Well, Virgin Media is pretty much encouraging me to swear today anyway, as their spam filter seems to have been placed into the 'Off' position. My inbox is being flooded by all sorts, I'd rather have the spam filter working than a profanity filter, thank you very much.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is why I post on El Reg.

    Cock womble.


    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Filters

      I must have missed that episode - what precisely did he pickup on Wimbledon Common?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Filters

        Cock Womble picked up a bollock smouldering UTI.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Filters

        I must have missed that episode - what precisely did he pickup on Wimbledon Common?

        Sadly, the episode involved never got past the censors. T'was made when the creator was in his.. "uncertain" period.

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Filters

      This is why I post on El Reg.

      **** womble.


      Did you really type four stars there, or is it the new El Reg filter?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ok ok...

    Lets get the funny names done.

    Phil Mike Hunt

    Over to you guys...

    1. Steve K

      Re: Ok ok...

      Mike Oxmells

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Ok ok...

        Hugh Jampton.

        1. Donchik

          Re: Ok ok...

          Isaac Hunt, and Wilfred Anker's, both real from GEC Marconi in the 1990's

          Hope Wilf is well he was a great dude and very tolerant of us all :)

          1. wallaby

            Re: Ok ok...

            Had a guy phone me from Boeing one day, his name was Herman Wanker

          2. Spasticus Autisticus

            Re: Ok ok...

            Back in the late 70's I used to get contract work from Marconi in Writtle with the drawings sent from W. Anker (thought he was a William), never met or spoke to him though.

            Also worked with Will Drown at Pumpkin Marine in London, nearly fell off my chair when he got a mention on QI by Sandi Toksvig, when he fitted her with a buoyancy aid at Crewsaver. Was very ill in his loo at a party!

    2. ICPurvis47

      Re: Ok ok...

      I was at school with a lad called Warren Peace. What were his parents thinking?

  12. Velv

    Let's face it, you're probably not going to post in the forums how wonderful the guy is. It's going to be a post about how bad Virgin Media have been and how his team have let you down.

    Apple has a similar policy of preventing any post that denigrates the company, its support or it's leadership, they just vanish it without warning after its submitted, not before.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fire up the swear filters

    Because wikipedia is begging for money again.

  14. Duffy Moon


    On the Flixter app, Alfred Hitchcock is Alfred *bleep*

  15. kain preacher

    Wasn't there an issue with face book not accepting certain cites or street names as it clashed with the filters ?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      The London Horniman Museum was almost forced to close since schools were blocked from arranging a visit.

  16. Patrician

    "But since then, some staff have been unhappy about the direction of the company. In a conference call last year, of which The Register saw a transcript, staff complained that Liberty Global were "faceless change drivers with no concern for the Virgin values"."

    "Virgin values"? So over subscribing their broadband services and taking months or even years to fix it, while still selling new connections in those areas! Do they mean those "Virgin values" do you think?

  17. quattroprorocked

    My surname name comprises in part a diminutive for Richard

    Many years ago it was rejected as obscene when I wanted to use it as a forum handle.

    My alternate suggestion of NaziOverlord was deemed absolutely fine :-)

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Many years ago it was rejected as obscene when I wanted to use it as a forum handle.

      Or maybe it was less than the minimum acceptable length.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virgin Media Forums

    Hows about we shorten that...

    Little Thailand perhaps?

  19. Herby

    This is a clbuttic problem.

    At one time when spell check was run, it highlighted as a spelling error the competitors program, and suggested their own as the correct way of spelling. I don't remember exactly which programs they were, but one might be Aldus pagemaker. I'm sure someone will correct me.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: This is a clbuttic problem.

      I remember the instance, but not the participants. Very early 1990s, I think. And it seems to me that there were calls on Usenet for the perps to be buttbuttinated.,

  20. Barry Rueger

    Dianna Dichlich

    No joke, and remarkably cool about it.

    Then there was the Appalachian News Express, which learned the hard way that had issues.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Dianna Dichlich

      No joke, and remarkably cool about it.

      And so she should be - liches *are* undead y'know.

  21. tedleaf

    Some parents hate their kids,like mine,any other initial for my Christian name would have been fine,but oh no,they had to pick something begining with t,so I have always been known as tleaff,which has.

    had nasty connatation in the 1960's,but it's now much rarer to hear it used for nasty little crooks..

    Thanks mum !!

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. TheElder


    I know a very nice woman who married a guy with the last name Outhouse. She even uses it too. The name I mean... Well, maybe both when traveling around here...

  24. s. pam Silver badge

    Evening Standard does this too

    Type in Osborne into a comments section and you'll get "Your posting is currently under moderation".

    Remove Osborne, posting goes through fine.


    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Evening Standard does this too

      Have you tried "Osb{b][/b]orne" ?

  25. Archivist


    I hope these pages get listed in El Reg's search exclusions, it would be sad that these poor people get further mocked by the great Google results.

    I know someone who's surname is Yaniger. He was refused a custom number plate in the US. Not surprising really.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Robots.txt

      Colo(u)r me confused ... What's wrong with Yaniger? I knew an Issac Yaniger at Stanford, and I know a James Yaniger today. Seems to me that a Yaniger was (is?) one of the Spiderman artists ... I've never heard any negative connotations related to the name.

      It's not mocking. It's immortalizing.

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