The fundraising website appears to be refusing charities with words like "library," "bicycle," and "gay" in their titles.
Rob Ford’s weight-loss website, which allows people to pledge money to charities, ran into some problems with bogus entries yesterday. (Anonymous pranksters pledged to donate to the “Sasquatch Rehabilitation Program,” “Marg Delahunty for Mayor,” and the “Toronto Craptors,” among other non-existent places.) Now, Ford’s web developers have equipped the site’s submission form with a filter for certain words, apparently including “library,” “gay,” and “bicycle.”
Before going into any further detail, it’s important to note that we don’t know exactly how Ford’s website, cutthewaist.ca, actually works. Quint Guglielmi, who is a managing partner of Thirdeye Technologies Inc., the company that developed the site’s backend, said that the word filter had been implemented by one of his employees.
“We’ve been getting a lot of people putting up bogus charities,” he said. “So we had to start blocking certain words.”
Asked which words were being blocked, he said, “To tell you the truth, I couldn’t even tell you. I had my programmer do it. It was just certain words.”
Guglielmi couldn’t say who had decided which words to block. An attempt to reach Mayor Ford’s press contact, Sunny Petrujkic, was unsuccessful, as was an attempt to reach Guglielmi a second time, for clarification.
But this much is certain: if, in the text box on cutthewaist.ca that allows a user to enter a charity’s name, a name of a charity that contains the word “bicycle,” or “cyclists,” or “gay,” or even “library” is entered, a red message will appear at the bottom of the screen. It says: “Blocked words entered.”
Charities without those words (like “The Scott Mission”) produce another, even more cryptic type of error message: a red “nah.”
Filtering for words like “bicycle,” “gay,” or “library” would prevent users from making joke entries relating to Rob and Doug Ford’s famous discomfort with those topics, but would also preclude donations to legitimate donor-supported organizations, like the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, the Toronto Cyclists Union, or the Toronto Public Library Foundation.
The Cut the Waist website doesn’t state any restrictions on the types of charities users may pledge money to as part of the campaign, and so it isn’t clear whether this is policy or a technical oversight.
We’ll update when and if we’re able find out more.