Online social faux pas avoider launched to accompany NZ Comedy Festival

When is it too soon to crack jokes about something?

The NZ International Comedy Festival gathered together an elite team of stand-up comedians, sit-down mathematicians and Colenso BBDO digital folk to try and solve this riddle, and the result is toosoon, a search engine that uses ”a complex algorithm” to find millions of current online conversations, sample the tone of those conversations and calculate the positive and negative sentiment to make a prediction.

If public sentiment is mostly positive, the topic gets an All Clear (eg Hitler, John Banks, rugby players, the irish, gays, 9/11, Rena). And if public sentiment is mostly negative, the topic gets a Too Soon (Maori and Erebus were in there, but there may be some kinks to iron out because so were Shane Warne, Sally Ridge and the Port Dispute).

If it’s Too Soon, the search engine uses the collected data to estimate a time and date you’ll safely be able to joke about it and after five searches it matches the search terms to upcoming shows.

There’s also a  mobile version so people can avoid social blunders and buy tickets to Comedy Festival shows on the go.

And, given the wowser rates in New Zealand, the site also comes with a disclaimer: “We apologise for any offense taken. We take no responsibility for topics entered, results produced, or jokes told. If your search produces a result that you strongly feel is still too soon, please contact us at“.

This story originally appeared on StopPress.

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