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 “dc.gov” 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: