NYU’s Anti-Facebook ‘Diaspora’ Sneak ‘Icky’ F-Word Into the New York Times


Oh, you crazy NYU kids. While there may not have been any awesome shenanigans at the Class of 2010’s graduation today (unless you count Alec Baldwin’s speech?) in comparison to the year before, your younger brethren still managed a solid in the New York Times.

Via a great catch by Robert Quigley over at Geekosystem, some scrappy young NYU students who want to take on Facebook got profiled by the Times. It’s interesting! They’re young people raising their own money for their own ambitious, bright-eyed, idealistic project that sounds like a pretty great thing. And in said profile, you learn about the four guys’ product – a website called Diaspora – that’s basically an open-source social network that’s somewhere between Wikipedia and Facebook without the creepy privacy molestation of Mark Zuckerberg and Co. ruining your user experience. They did, however, ruin the ‘fun’ of the New York Times‘ draconian anti-profanity style guideline by slipping an F-Bomb right past it.

Check out the following picture, currently accompanying the article on the Times‘ website:

Funny, though, because that’s not that one Robert Quigley and everyone else saw when they read the piece this morning. Which looked like this in print:

And this online:

See the bizarre F-Word in the upper-left corner? Quigley explains:

“TOUCH GREP UNZIP MOUNT FSCK FSCK FSCK UMOUNT.” Wait a second: That’s not intelligible code! It’s almost as if it has another meaning. Pretty much every command on the blackboard is missing the argument(s) that makes it useful (e.g. filenames for ‘unzip’ and ‘touch’). So: Dirty joke. fsck, which is short for “file system check,” has a long and storied history as programmer profanity.

The canonical dirty UNIX joke, as immortalized by countless message boards, is even more graphic(al user interface?): “unzip, strip, touch, finger, grep, mount, fsck, more, yes, fsck, fsck, fsck, umount, sleep.”

Teehee. Naturally, the Times freaked out and cropped the picture, no doubt because of Quigley’s post. This of course comes on the same day when the New York Times‘ City Room writes a post entitled “Is an Icky Joke Worth a Million Bucks?” in which J. David Goodman works very hard to explain a dirty joke that a news website made at said website’s expense, noting the other places readers could go if they sought out anything beyond a “family-friendly euphemism.” It might not have been the exact same one, but birds of a feather! Looks like Times readers didn’t have to go but a click away. Funny how that works. Literally.