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We don't always blacklist problematic tags or terms, but when we do it's because they've become such a nuisance on a site that we can't control them any other way. Vague / meta tags that keep coming back, domains or urls that we really don't want links to, etc.

When someone tries to use a blacklisted term, the editing UI is good about noting exactly what is disallowed... But not so great at explaining why:

body cannot contain...

So folks encountering such blacklists either make some trivial change to the input to allow it to go through, or come to meta to ask why it's not allowed. Neither of these actions is quite ideal though...

  • Just because a change allows the post to avoid the blacklist doesn't mean it's the sort of change we were hoping to inspire. Using URL shorteners to get around URL blacklists is a prime example, but there are even worse unintended consequences.

  • Asking about it on meta is good, but time-consuming and... The meta discussion that prompted the blacklist almost certainly already exists!

It would be nice if we could include specific text - and links - to be displayed in the error message for a blacklisted entry:

as above, but contains alternate suggestions and link to meta

This would also enable something else we normally try to avoid: blacklisting unwanted tags before we've finished cleaning them up. By providing specific alternatives in the error itself, it would be much less painful for editors unaware of the cleanup effort while preventing its use on new posts while the cleanup effort was ongoing.

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    Would this change the scope of tag blacklisting from "only when it kills kittens" to "anytime we don't want a tag," or does the scope remain unchanged? – Robert Harvey Jan 29 '14 at 18:17
  • "Any time we don't want a tag" is overly-broad, @Robert; an awful lot of tags are fat-fingered mistakes and don't come back easily (or should be synonyms if they do). It would lower the bar a little bit, but mostly just make what we have more effective. – Shog9 Jan 29 '14 at 19:19
  • "This would also enable something else we normally try to avoid: blacklisting unwanted tags before we've finished cleaning them up" would be great! – Ian Ringrose Feb 18 '14 at 12:02
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Jarrod whipped this up last night. Check it out:

Trying to link to a porn site now explains why you can't

That's the first blacklist entry to have custom guidance added. We'll add more as needed.

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