From 7 to 7,000, the ever expanding list of words you can’t say on Xbox Live

Octopus pickle. Tangerine picnic. Norwegian metronome. They don’t mean anything now, but given enough time these phrases will be well-known references to some truly nasty deeds. And also among the ranks of Xbox Live’s ever expanding list of banned words. With language constantly changing and evolving, keeping tabs on all the new naughty words is a full time job, necessitating round the clock research on curses political, foreign and even fictional.

“You’ll see a meme running through high schools, suddenly you’ll see this phrase popping up everywhere and we have to be on top of it, figure out if it should be banned,” said Xbox Live’s policy and enforcement program manager Stephen Toulouse in an interview with Kotaku. “My guys spend a lot of time using Urban Dictionary to see if a new phrase is something that should be banned. It requires a lot of research, a lot of time sharing knowledge with each other.”

“Our forbidden names list is many thousands now,” continued Toulouse, whose team has had to develop an internal Wiki to keep track of all the verboten language. “My team spends a lot of time learning as slang evolves, as the Internet drives new communications. We have to work very hard to be abreast on those sorts of things.” He said abreast!