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Discussion: Offensive Names on theCrag

  • Started: 12 days ago on Thu 25th Jun 2020

Public discussion This is a public discussion in Release forum.

started this discussion 12 days ago.

Offensive Names on theCrag

In recent weeks theCrag received a multitude of requests to change offensive climb and area names. As climbers we probably all have seen insensitive, hurtful, misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic, racist, sexist and other demeaning route and cliff names. There should be no room for this in our sport, or in our world.

However, it is also important to understand that theCrag as an information source is not responsible for the naming of cliffs or routes but reflects the choices made by those responsible (who this is might vary from country to country).

While theCrag's Code of Etiquette always foresaw the option to replace and hide offensive names, we rarely had to make use of it. Recent events and the subsequent discussions obviously brought the issue to our collective attention and also changed the level of sensitivity on the topic.

Please understand that we have no means to review all names and thus rely on the community to make us aware of offensive names.

Once this happens, theCrag applies the following procedures until further notice:

  1. If an offensive name is reported to us and we agree with the assessment, we will change the name of the route or area to "Sanitise review" and copy the offensive name into the name field for offensive names (the AKA name with the tag offensive).

  2. If the person responsible for the name (e.g. first ascensionist) proposes a name change to a non-offensive name, this name change will be applied and the old name kept in the offensive name field for historical reasons (note, the offensive name is NOT displayed).

  3. If we don't hear from the person responsible or the person responsible does not want to change the name, we respect any proposal made by a local authority like a regional advocacy group for a non-offensive name. If this is not happening, the name will remain "Sanitise review" until a new proposal is being made.

  4. If the person responsible does not want to change the name because they think it is non-offensive, we expect the person responsible to provide a publicly readable explanation for the name, preferably in the route description to avoid future issues. If the explanation is deemed non-sufficient, point 3 takes effect.

Obviously the best way forward for everyone would be that responsible persons propose or execute name changes. If you do so, please make sure to copy the offensive name into the AKA field ad tag it as offensive.

We kindly ask you to avoid "editing wars" - changing names back and forth. This might result in the suspension of your account.

Rather make use of the forum functionality and have honest and open conversations about names that are being perceived as offensive or to discuss new route names. Obviously not everyone has the same background and sensitivities, so please stay polite and forgiving as this will be the only way forward.

Last but not least we ask you for your patience as the increase of requests has put certain strains on our capacity.

Thank you for your understanding and for using theCrag!

Monty Curtis replied 11 days ago.

Is there some way of making an overall "profile" setting that allows the offensive names to be displayed? A bit like Netflix - I can have a child or an adult account and it displays differing content.

We all watch TV and movies with adult content - it just comes with a warning. Make it a choice not hard censorship. I'm especially concerned if you are suddenly removing simple swear words from route names.

Will search functionality display the offensive name? There are print guides with the old route names - and if people are trying to locate these routes on your database to "tick" them it needs to display them if they are specifically searched for. Again - a simple option "show me the bad names" needs to be available as a search function.

Secondly - have you spoken to someone who actually works in censorship? This is a very real job - any television station has multiple "censors". You need a document with clear guidelines of what is acceptable and what is not and examples.

Josiah Hess replied 11 days ago.

+1 with Neil. Censorship should be a choice. If someone is likely to get offended by route names on thecrag they should be able to flick a button in their settings, or perhaps have censorship as the default setting which a user can change.

replied 11 days ago.

Monty Curtis , you raise a good question about the search, maybe that could be explained, will searching for the offensive name cause the route to show up in the search results? And if so, will it do it transparently, i.e. still not show the offensive name?

I think the child/adult switch misses the point though. Maybe unless that setting makes it very clear that it was a former name (not just an AKA name), e.g. "Super happy fun route (previously knows as I don't like change)". Otherwise the old name tends to stick. Worried about breaking things? It will work itself out, ask the post office what happens when a gazetted name changes. The suburb I lived in changed names, a year later people got used to it, a few years later (or the time between guidebook editions in this context) people start forgetting the old name existed.

Also, censorship is nowhere near as clear cut as it is in TV and advertising (where there are rules per country, limited content creators, requirement to pass the censor). On the web, you have to manage things in realtime, and you have content coming in from potentially every end user.

replied 11 days ago.

Monty Curtis thanks for your comments. What you indicated is our long term goal - set the level of "rating" you want but this is far out at the moment.

The whole point with the AKA offensive name field is that it is searchable and will display the route even though you don't see the offensive name in the first place. This is why we ask everyone to make use of this field and not simply change the name in the name field.

To your second point, this is a clear no. We are new to this. So far we had only isolated cases and we left it mostly to the community to find a solution. This is what we are hoping for now as well. If something is perceived as offensive by someone but it isn't we hope that the responsible person comes up with an explanation (like you did) and everyone is happy or, if it is offensive that the responsible persons also sees it that way, maybe after pubic discussion and changes teh route name (we had one of these cases that made the press in Mexico not so long ago). My personal opinion is that the climbing community is new to this and many mistakes will be made. Look at the article today on Rock and Ice and the comments on Facebook - not knowing why something is named in the way it is often leads to strange results - this is why we hope people step up and let the community know...

replied 11 days ago.

I think the name of a route reflects the personality of the first ascensionist, his creativity and often the sense of humor. I wouldn't personally give a route an offensive name, but I think censorship on a rockclimbing site, is out of place. Unless a name is THAT offensive and the climbing community asking for removal. Just my 2c.

replied 11 days ago.

I think cristian gonzalez has just put his finger on the crux of this issue, which is that if censorship is on a sliding scale (and it undeniably is)... where on the scale will thecrag set its slider?

What I've read so far seems to indicate that they're being as liberal as they can be and making a brave attempt to accommodate as many opinions and points of view as possible.

Yep! They're feeling their way forward into the unknown... as they have successfully done in so many issues before this one.   Monty Curtis has raised a good point about searchability... and Ulfi has given equally as good an answer.

So, obscene, profane, anti-social names will be preserved for those who can't survive without them, history will be preserved, and parents who want to introduce their school-age children to online crag or route research will be able to do so knowing that the moderators have also taken their valid concerns into consideration.

As Ulfi says, they're new at this, feeling their way, and it may take some time to perfect, but thecrag is also the most open, consultative, and eventually consensus-directed social forum I have ever experienced anywhere. Perhaps "Censorship" is too harsh a word for what they are trying to achieve?   Perhaps providing information on a need-to-know basis is a more accurate and less divisive term for it?

What Ulfi has described, and I believe is working to achieve, really IS a system for letting each individual user decide how much information he or she needs to know.   It can't get any better than that!

replied 11 days ago.

And Cris, I also fully agree with your comment about sense of humour. Climbers do seem to have a unique, and at times excruciatingly funny, sense of humour, which surfaces in route names and time-and-again in comments on the forums.

It would indeed be a pity if this was suppressed.   It would be a travesty if it was supressed for something as trivial and irrelevant to real life as political correctness.

Jef Van Alsenoy replied 11 days ago.

Hi Ulfi, thanks for the valuable input. You refer to a case in Mexico, would you care to post some links to an article or something like that? I'd like to read more on it (can be in Spanish).

Danny van Bruggen replied 11 days ago.

It seems like a reasonable process for reasonable people. I bet this will apply to very few routes in the end. Thanks Ulfi !

replied 10 days ago.

Thanks for the link Ulfi, i actually never faced any situation like this so far and therefore never even thought about this kind of controversy, but this article raises an interesting point in a very clever way !

Jef Van Alsenoy replied 10 days ago.

Thanks for the link Ulfi, I climbed a lot in the region and came across many routes that fall into this category. Most are mentioned in the R&I article.

The area around Monterrey will be very prone to this review policy, will this mean that if someone starts reporting offensive names there will be a lot of routes named "Sanitise review"? I'm thinking crags like Cola de Caballo, Potrero Chico, etc. Shouldn't we introduce a number system per crag?

replied 10 days ago.

Sanitise review 1,

Sanitise review 2,

Sanitise review 3,

...

Sanitise review n...

Jef Van Alsenoy replied 9 days ago.

Yeah, that's what I mean Adrian Woodcraft

replied 9 days ago.

Yeah, this is what it will be but we will rely on the community to bring them up - especially in foreign languages and other cultures as it is super hard to understand. Would you have thought that "40 acres and a mule" is offensive? See here: https://www.thecrag.com/climbing/united-states/bighorn-mountains/area/957404292

Monty Curtis replied 9 days ago.

If I search for a so called "offensive" marked name - it does not display this name in the results list. It only displays the new santizied name. That is a problem as the name can be totally different to the original (for example Andrews Route) and it is not apparent it is the same route. People use current print guides (with the original names) most of the time - then they log on here to tick the route. They need to be able to find it.

replied 9 days ago.

Monty Curtis we are aware of this limitation - you see "quite surprising" search results sometimes if you don't know about AKA. We have this on the list of technical improvements to tackle due to all these name changes. Don't know yet how to solve / display it but we will do something to make it clearer.

replied 8 days ago.

"40 acres and a mule"?   I clicked on the link, but didn't find any specific reference to it.   Adrian.

Androo replied 8 days ago.

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replied 8 days ago.

I would call it just being a respectful human being, left or right. Why are you making it political Androo ?

Freddie Chopin replied 8 days ago.

Adrian Woodcraft - see this article linked in the description for more info. https://www.climbing.com/news/ten-sleep-route-names-changed-to-honor-racial-justice-movement/

While I could understand some name changes (for example all the vulgar or sexually-related names are just plain stupid IMO, as well as the names which clearly fall under "sexist" or "misogyny" or "racist" categories), the things mentioned in this particular article seem to be just ridiculous. Unless someone makes NIN and Prodigy to rename their songs, then what difference does it make to rename the route in a niche sport when comparing that to songs of internationally known music bands? Especially when the authors clearly explained that the names they gave were explicitly NOT meant as racially (or otherwise) offensive? When will someone propose to rewrite history books, removing all info that slavery ever existed? For me connecting "happiness is slavery" with "I support slavery" is really a BIG stretch...

This political-correctness-nonsense will surely end when the routes will just be labeled with letters (route a, route b, route c, ...) or dates of first ascent only. Numbers (route 1, route 2, route 3, ...) would be easier, but numbers would clearly suggest some hind of hierarchy, which would be considered as offensive by the SJW...

Freddie Chopin replied 8 days ago.

Another great example - shouldn't we rename "Action Directe" now? [sarcasm] Glorifying [/sarcasm] terrorist groups responsible for murdering many people doesn't sound like a good idea to me...

My point is - once you agree to the SJW demands, they don't stop. They want more. With enough creativity, every name can be considered offensive.

Androo replied 8 days ago.

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replied 8 days ago.

Freddie Chopin, I updated the index for 'Ten Sleep' because the route setters decided to do so. If you want to argue about the change get in contact with them and point them to my change and ask about a statement. Individual changes should be discussed in the affected crags forum or the corresponding stream event.

replied 8 days ago.

Freddie Chopin Isn't that a deflection tactic, i.e. moving the goalposts to a hypothetical? I think a middle ground needs to be reached, e.g. "rename the needlessly offensive ones that you can't justify with all any context, like 'flogging a dead faggot'". Once a balance is found, there will naturally be more demands to other FAs to acquiesce, but they won't be as fiercely sought after as they are now. The fact that this debate is drawing so much attention suggests the balance is out of whack.

If there is one thing I wish people would stop doing in all this debate, is picking the low hanging fruit. What I mean is people who look at a list of 50 questionable route names, and then say "but a few of those 50 are ok because it's music". Maybe they are ok, and I think I agree, some don't need changing. But it misses the crux of the issue, that a lot of names are excessively harsh, and are damaging to the community as a whole.

Also think not just about what offends who, or what right someone has to be offended. Even if you don't think someone ought to be offended by something, or that you too have been discriminated against in your life and you therefore think you understand all the nuances of the issue. Think also about implications that are hard to see at face value, e.g. how we appear to outsiders. Yes, there was a time when climbing was counter-culture and it was cool to be all "fuck the system" and "who cares what person X thinks", but we are now dealing with a mainstream activity that has to deal with important negotiations that threaten access to many of the places to do our favourite activities.

Freddie Chopin replied 8 days ago.

Taner:

> What I mean is people who look at a list of 50 questionable route names, and then say "but a few of those 50 are ok because it's music".

C'mon... "Happiness is slavery" offensive? Really? If the route would be named "slavery is happiness", then sure, but it's not. Even if I did not read that novel (which I did not) or did not know this song or band (I actually do), then I really think that the only offensive thing here is the word "slave". Funny fact - some years ago some people complained to the tech companies that the hard drives have a jumper to select "master" or "slave" mode and it offends them. Please... This is ridiculous... https://edition.cnn.com/2003/TECH/ptech/11/26/master.term.reut/

And "Happiness is slavery" is not a low hanging fruit - this is the main name mentioned in the article. It is also not "few of 50", because in this whole article about that particular crag I would say that "few of 50" maybe were really offensive, not the other way around.

> Isn't that a deflection tactic, i.e. moving the goalposts to a hypothetical?

Did anyone complain about the names like "happiness is slavery", or are we now proactively changing the names out of fear that they might offend someone somehow somewhen somewhere? This is the end goal that SJW are working towards - for you or anyone else to avoid any topic that can be even considered to be controversial, out of fear that it may offend someone.

> Yes, there was a time when climbing was counter-culture and it was cool to be all "fuck the system" and "who cares what person X thinks", but we are now dealing with a mainstream activity that has to deal with important negotiations that threaten access to many of the places to do our favourite activities.

I would argue that climbing is still "niche" when compared to most other sports, like biking, jogging, football or whatever you can see on TV or read in the news.

> Also think not just about what offends who, or what right someone has to be offended. Even if you don't think someone ought to be offended by something, or that you too have been discriminated against in your life and you therefore think you understand all the nuances of the issue.

Can't agree. When you think about it that way - anything can be offensive to someone. Therefore "fixing" this for everyone, or even just for "majority", is not possible. You say that I'm exaggerating, and you would be right. But where do we (or "they") draw the line? Where does it stop? You say that when the claims become ridiculous, they won't be implemented and the balance will be reached. But isn't "happiness is slavery" or "40 acres and a mule" (a clear historical reference) ridiculous and not-offensive? Sure, the "slavery wall" is offensive and that should be changed, but why these two particular route names?

I did a quick search (;

Can this name be considered offensive? Should we change it? Maybe we should even pretend that this:

actually dit not happen by changing these names too?

I hope you see my point (;

To reiterate - I'm all in favour of changing the names that are considered to be offensive by majority (or majority of the affected, for example by most women) or "clearly offensive" (like the "tinder pussy" from the other article, or things like your "flogging a dead faggot" example, or "slavery wall"). But if someone is triggered by all uses of word "slave", no matter the context, then sorry, but this is ridiculous. I'm partly biased here, because this nonsense has already reached (again) tech industry and similar ridiculous claims are being made, some of which are even getting implemented, like the most recent plan to avoid the word "master" as the name of the main git branch on github. https://www.cnet.com/news/microsofts-github-is-removing-coding-terms-like-master-and-slave/

replied 8 days ago.

> C'mon... "Happiness is slavery" offensive? Really?

Yeah, that's what I meant by a reference to music. I think that name is fine.

> And "Happiness is slavery" is not a low hanging fruit - this is the main name mentioned in the article. It is also not "few of 50", because in this whole article about that particular crag I would say that "few of 50" maybe were really offensive, not the other way around.

Ah ok, I see what's going on.
We're looking at two different lists. I was looking at the list floating around facebook. That one had things on the level of "kkk bitch, fat faggot, shoot it and root it, etc.". The "ten sleep" article contains some rather tame names in comparison.

> Can't agree. When you think about it that way - anything can be offensive to someone.

I see your point, hence why I think a middle ground needs to be sought after. We shouldn't suggest anything remotely offensive be changed.

> Mein Kampf

> Holocaust

Pfft... that's fine. I hate the names because it sounds like school kids thinking they're so edgy. But rename them? No way. Maybe it's not even just immaturity, maybe there is some context that makes it a semi-clever route name?

Again, I'm just saying a line needs to be drawn somewhere. I apologise profusely for having this written down, but could you imagine someone putting a route next to "holocaust" called "gas the lot of em", or worse, "gas the [slur plural]". That crosses the line, right?

> But if someone is triggered by all uses of word "slave", no matter the context, then sorry, but this is ridiculous.

Again, true. Apparently someone who flaunted their life as a sex slave named a few of the questionable routes for some more food for thought. I'm starting to think our stance on this topic is actually not that different!

> [...] like the most recent plan to avoid the word "master" as the name of the main git branch on github [...]

lol, I'm in the field and have heard of that. I actually don't care what they do with the change, it's a win win for everyone, if you or anyone doesn't think the change is necessary because of [insert social issue here], just think of all the keystrokes you save!

edit: the middle ground argument works for the github thing too. If they force renamed everyone's master branch to unicorn, and then blocked anyone from renaming their branch back, then cue all the outrage. But that's what I mean by insane hypotheticals, we're reaching a middle ground. Change the default name to something sensible, and make it easy to change it back to "master" if you prefer. My guess is we or at least the next generation in 10 years time will look at git history on wikipedia or an old codebase and say "wtf does master mean, like a master key or something, it doesn't make sense haha"

replied 8 days ago.

Thanks for the link Freddie Chopin and Marc dM...

...but who or what are SJW?

And, referring to some earlier comments, I agree that it SHOULD be about respect, and I assume most of us wish it was. But, especially in the wider world, it IS unfortunately about control of language, identity politics, cultural relativism and Gramsky hegemony.   Some of the things about which "offence" is claimed are absolutely absurd and I am incredulous that so many people and large corporations fall for it, cave in to it, have so little moral fibre or critical discernment that they go along with it or even actively support it, instead of making a stand for tolerance and common sense.

A recent example: People all over the world have fallen into step behind the "Black Lives Matter" movement, and rightly so.   But when one man flew a banner behind an aeroplane declaring that "White Lives Matter" mass media, social media and the corporate world exploded with outrage at the "disgusting racism". The poor bloke even lost his job over it!   IDENTICAL messages; the only difference being the colour. Why was one a noble humanitarian movement in support of human dignity and the other a disgusting and embarrassing racial slur - for which other people felt it necessary to apologise?

George Orwell had his finger on it in his book "Animal Farm" (which should be compulsory reading for all high school English classes). The pigs taught the sheep to bleat "Four legs good; two legs bad!"... until the pigs learned to walk on two legs. Then they taught the sheep to bleat "Four legs good; two legs better"... and not one single sheep realised they were chanting anything different.

Should I be banned from calling a new route "Pigs Might Fly" because some clown with too little else to think about might decide it is a derogatory reference to a Police helicopter? Should I just change the route name to "Police Helicopter" in the first place? It might have been what someone said to me about my chance of sending the route, before I made my first attempt. Outcome: subsequent politically correct name bears no relevance at all to original context. Or to what thought was in my mind as I reached the top of the climb.

Freddie Chopin replied 8 days ago.

Adrian Woodcraft:

> ...but who or what are SJW?

It's an abbreviation for Social Justice Warriors. I assume that calling them that way is in itself also offensive. In this case these would be people who are triggered by any phrase that contains the word "slave", no matter the context.

replied 7 days ago.

Ah! Thanks for the clarification.   A.

Danny van Bruggen replied 7 days ago.

I'd like to put this one up for broader discussion - not only the "I will change everything I want because I'm morally right" attitude, but also how the name needs context to be understood (or shouldn't it?): https://www.thecrag.com/discussion/3440480673/i-understand-why-the-original-name-may-be-controversial-and-i-have-no-objection-to-the-change-of-nam - not because I want to be right in that discussion, but because it seems to be a good example of the issues pointed out above. I just don't know what is right here.

Freddie Chopin replied 7 days ago.

> how the name needs context to be understood (or shouldn't it?)

If anyone disregards the context, then the whole thing gets extremely simple. Admins just run a SQL query to replace all uses of "slave", "master", "black", ... with "xxx" and the issue is solved, world is forever a better place and everyone lived happily ever after. But for real now - if the name consists of more than one word, then the context seems to be essential - after all it is a phrase, not a random combination of words used as a password.

> "I will change everything I want because I'm morally right"

Typical SJW attitude. Whenever you try to discuss with them, they quickly resort to the old "you're evil, I'm good, therefore I'm also right".

Androo replied 6 days ago.

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Simon Li replied 6 days ago.

@Androo, this slippery slope argument doesn't get us anywhere. You could make this argument about not changing anything, ever. As a product of the last "great Leap forward", I would call this a small step in the right direction.

I 100% agree we should be granting equality for all, and that requires actually doing something.

Your thought experiment suggests that "white people" in power better learn from their mistakes before "xyx people" get in power next and repeat history the other way around. Do something before it's too late, because one day it will be. Right now we're asking for equality not revenge. Tick Tock.

Tectonic Mann replied 6 days ago.

This world is a very offensive place.

Androo replied 6 days ago.

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replied 6 days ago.

I have stayed out of this discussion until now. My personal view is that some racist and sexist climb names need to be changed. However I saw a “ sanitize review” for a route at the Lair called “ shoot it”. This does not imply violence to humans, it’s not racist, nothing on the wall suggests it’s a theme. “Shoot” can have innocent connotations, though the picture in my mind was a shot kangaroo. There are Potentially more offensive names on the wall Than this one. The steps outlined for resolution seem hard to follow. Are you saying if a group of Nowra climbers form an advocacy body to suggest the name is alright it can be reinstated? This just seems farcical in this instance.

replied 6 days ago.

Vanessa Wills the original route name was "Shoot it and Root it" - please let us know if you think this name is ok. As we state in our policy, we are happy to keep names reported as offensive if the FA gives an acceptable "non-offensive" explanation for the name.

Simon Li replied 5 days ago.

I kinda like the idea of having a popup lightbox that provides the original name and the historical context behind it to "explain" why it was why it was in a very neutral tone. I believe that might be the right balance to strike here.

Priorities:

  1. don't marginalise anyone

  2. preserve history as much as possible while respecting point 1

  3. don't take sides

Ulfi - think of this as an opportunity. It's a huge advantage you have over paper guidebooks, lead the way here.

Max Stein replied 5 days ago.

Pretty sure, there are stupid and ignorant, sometimes even offensive names. However, only as of the use of special words, maybe even phrases, mostly it's more than hard to decide. Sometimes it would be necessary to know, what was thought and intended during designation.

Perhaps the name is provided in order to start or keep awareness of a situation, a problem, a historical fact?

Maybe it just should be occassion for considering of meaning, background and possibly abuse? Should it possibly force even to start a short research in order to do opinion forming on basis of the results yourself? Maybe it is a positive meant provocation?

Who knows and who would be suited to be judge at all!? Even voting would not be a really good idea!

You never will be able completely to prevent wrong understandings and misinterpretations. However, censorship and a police for thoughtcrimes is a problem for its own. Personally I think, even a broader use of requests for explanation and justification also means a very general suspicion to potentially everyone.

However, sufficient rules already exist

Gavin replied 5 days ago.

Well done to the crag team here.

Clearly this issue is now much bigger than a small website like thecrag.com. As such the rules suggested allow us to flexibly keep up with the fast moving issue, whilst avoiding knee jerk responses.

I for one think that these rules strike a very fair balance and will allow for debate before permanent changes.

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