Urban Dictionary has made its name through user-submitted definitions, explaining words which normal dictionaries don’t.
While this freedom allows the site’s users to explain the most vulgar of slang, it’s opened the doors for egregiously racist and discriminatory definitions of regular words.
As reported by Junkee, an online campaign spearheaded by the Facebook page Blackfulla Revolution appears to have been successful in forcing the site to remove offensive definitions of the word “aboriginal.”
These definitions were specifically targeted at Indigenous Australians, and were prevalent on the majority of the word’s entries up until recently.
“Laws should be introduced to stop this race [breeding] as they [are] all oxygen wasters,” reads one entry.
“Black people in Australia that are too lazy to get jobs and constantly force the government to give them an apology for nothing,” reads another entry from 2005, referring to the Australian government’s apology for forcibly removing Indigenous children from families throughout the 20th century.
A Change.org petition received more than 7,000 signatures, asking the site to remove “hurtful and dangerous entries” for the definition of the word “aboriginal.” The offensive entries have been wiped, but the entry for the derogatory “abo” still contain unpleasant descriptions of Indigenous Australians.
In a New York Times profile, Urban Dictionary founder Aaron Peckham explained how the site’s democratic approach reveals the manner in which people are really speaking on the street. But he noted “funny” definitions get voted up on the site.
“Dictionaries may be more heavily researched, but the real authority on language and the meaning comes from people who speak the language. The whole point of Urban Dictionary is we are defining our own language as we speak it,” he told the newspaper.
It would appear Urban Dictionary has decided to draw the line on racism this time around, thanks to the pressure.
Mashable has contacted Urban Dictionary for comment.