So remember the post about me checking with different definitions of “retard”?
I emailed the company that Apple’s Siri gets its definitions from – Wolfram Alpha. I instantly got a stock letter back, which is completely normal.
Today, I received an email –
We appreciate your feedback regarding Wolfram|Alpha. The issue you reported has been fixed on the site. See http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=retard
Thank you for helping us improve Wolfram|Alpha.
The Wolfram|Alpha Team
I am happy to see that they not only took the time to listen to what I, and others, had to say about how they defined the word, but took the steps to change how they defined it, as you can see in the link, and get back to us.
So thank you, people of Wolfram Alpha, for helping make the world a more considerate place. I know I’m not the only one who appreciates it!
ETA – I got another email today, from the Director of Content for Wolfram Alpha – I am becoming seriously impressed with this company and how they are dealing with this!
Phoebe:I was very happy to see this post today: https://phoebeholmes.com/2013/12/03/thank-you-wolfram-alpha/. And I wanted to send a more personal note to assure you that we were as shocked as you by our definitions for “retard” — particularly within Siri, where the extra emphasis given to the first definition made the problem stand out even more.To provide a little more background: the bulk of our data on words, definitions, etc. comes directly from Princeton’s WordNet (see http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=retard&sub=Search+WordNet&o2=&o0=1&o8=1&o1=1&o7=&o5=&o9=&o6=&o3=&o4=&h=). We’ve tried to take care to annotate or otherwise improve our results in similar cases, where WordNet failed to indicate a particular sense was offensive slang… but obviously this one slipped past us.Many thanks to you and the followers of your blog for calling this to our attention.
Sincerely,AlanC. Alan Joyce
Director of Content Development