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Are you the PoliteType?

Are you the PoliteType?

Disarming bullies one word at a time

The Polite Type is an open-source font that rewrites hurtful words, replacing them with more inclusive ones. The Polite Type is meant to be used for educational purposes, at schools or by parents - one way to approach this issue and to create a safe space for discussion.

The initial vocabulary for the font has been co-created with high-school-aged teenagers and youth from diverse backgrounds in Finland, together with The Children and Youth Foundation. In Sweden, the initiative is supported by Friends-organization. The project is open to NGOs committed to fighting bullying.

We want to create room for the important discussion to make the online world a safer, more inclusive place for everyone.

Join the discussion #thepolitetype

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For this one time, it’s ok. The Polite Type recognises common insults and slurs related to a range of themes identified by our diverse project team.

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The Initiative

An initiative against online bullying

The Polite Type has been developed in close collaboration with a diverse team with wide-ranging backgrounds in anti-racism work, gender research and D&I consulting. Additionally, the initial vocabulary for the font have been co-created with high-school-aged teenagers and youth from diverse backgrounds in Finland, together with The Children and Youth Foundation. Additionally, we have referred to the publicly available recommendations of a variety of NGOs promoting diversity and inclusion.

We are inviting individuals, developers and companies worldwide to further develop the font and join the cause against cyberbullying. We want to spark conversations among people of all ages about ways of tackling bullying. The Polite Type is one way to approach this issue and to create a safe space for discussion.

As the global pandemic has moved our social encounters, workplaces, classrooms and schoolyards online, addressing cyberbullying is more topical than ever. Globally, studies show that a third of all bullying now takes place online. Of the participants of our youth workshops, 65 percent reported they had faced online bullying, with the number of incidents increasing with the coronavirus.

We are against hate speech in all its forms. We believe that being polite and respectful should be the default choice on the internet.

Steps towards our solution

Launch

The Polite Type font is launched in an open-source format, which enables for further development. We want to share the font with everyone interested in addressing this issue in their own lives or on a societal level.

Development

As of now, the font utilizes a continuously expanding vocabulary. In the future – with the help of machine learning – it could be taught to understand and recognize broader contexts. Our open-source approach invites those who want to develop it further to get involved.

Goal

Our aim is to ignite discussion and invite people to take action against cyberbullying. We want to get individuals, developers and other organizations around the world to join the cause against cyberbullying.

Behind the Type

TietoEVRY
A leading Nordic digital services and software company.
TietoEVRY creates digital advantages for businesses and societies. Guided by its Nordic values and heritage, TietoEVRY seeks to take tangible steps, in collaboration with its partners, to build a smart, sustainable and digital society.
The Children and Youth Foundation
A non-profit organization building a future in which young people can experience a more meaningful life.
The Children and Youth Foundation brings forth young people’s voices and promotes issues concerning youth by inviting people in positions of responsibility in society to get involved. The foundation was established in 2001 and is politically and religiously non-aligned.
Michaela Moua
Senior Officer at the Office of the Non-discrimination Ombudsman, Solution-focused brief therapist
"The power of words and language can not be downplayed. Words hold power and they are not separate from the reality they create. By using The Polite Type, it could be possible to create digital environments that are free from bigotry and hatred and safer environments for everyone."
Jonna Louvrier
Diversity and Inclusion Consultant and speaker with a background in research at Stanford University
"In school environments, tools like The Polite Type can be extremely valuable and create real change. Young people use words they hear their friends and other young people use, sometimes totally unaware about the hurtful consequences of those words. By educating students about the power of words and the implications of discriminatory language, we can help them choose to be The Polite Type."
Sara Salmani and Inklusiiv
Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Inklusiiv, a non-profit with a mission to advance D&I in working life
"The Polite Type has the potential to help organizations be more aware of biases in our daily language and communication. It's not just a tool to call out intentional harassment or discrimination, but can also be applied to educate organizations about unintentionally excluding language or dated terminology. It's a great tool to help foster inclusion."
Doug Melville
Chief Diversity Officer at TBWA Global, Host of The Disruptor Series podcast
Doug works at TBWA Global with the North American collective of agencies on diversity efforts across talent outreach, culture, and creative vendor relationships. He has presented TEDx talks on the topic, speaking about improving one’s diversity IQ and his own experiences on diversity.

The Design

An Inclusive design

The font design retains a visually positive and progressive feel throughout the whole typeface design. It also emphasises the sensitive nature of the overall project.

How does it work?

Understand and replace

The font is an OpenType font file (OTF) that recognises a number of either discriminative and/or offensive English-language words. After typing the word, the font substitutes it with a more neutral, inoffensive word.

The symbol

The blur is an integrated part of the design for the words that have no literal translation, or their meaning is too broad to replace with just one word or their purpose is only that of hurting someone. Blurring is commonly used as a way to censor or to hide something offensive, but it has never before been used as a symbol in a font.

The library

The library of words deemed hurtful has been put together in collaboration with people from different origins, religions, world views and sexual orientations. Naturally, the library is always changing with the language itself. This is why we ask for everyone to find words that are not yet in the library to collaborate with us in broadening its vocabulary.

We are glad to receive feedback on the current vocabulary and chosen substitutive words, as words can have multiple meanings. Once the font is installed, it works both offline and online.

Developing the PoliteType

As hate speech is a global problem, further development of the font, word libraries and other possible solutions requires all interested parties coming on board and breathing this initiative into life. We appreciate and encourage all feedback and additions, which you can leave directly through the links below. We take all feedback under consideration and view it regularly to adapt the font accordingly within the possible scope.

If you’d like to participate in the co-development of the font, test it in your company or use it in your software, you can get in touch through the links below:

Support the Initiative

“In the future, TietoEVRY suggests that machine learning could be used to teach the font to understand and recognise broader contexts for how language is used.”

“A Nordic IT company has developed a new tool designed to curb online bullying among kids.”

Questions and answers
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