Voting ‘yes’ to marriage equality can be a happy moment, but in most cases, it’s really no laughing matter.
Except it was exactly that for one voter, who found a very Not Safe For Work word in the barcode of their postal survey.
The barcode read: U78FBUMSEXKN8.
Did you miss that? It says “bumsex”.
Barcodes are made up of a completely random combination of letters and numbers, right? So it stands to reason that eventually they’d spell out a rude word or two.
Apparently, checks are supposed to stop this from happening and in this case it was an oversight, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has explained.
Responding to at least one report of a barcode that may contain an “offensive” word, ABS deputy statistician Jonathan Palmer said the codes were issued using an algorithm generating “more than two quintillion combinations of letters and numbers”.
“The ABS acknowledges that in issuing 16 million barcodes it did not check and remove words and phrases that may be offensive,” he said in a statement.
“The ABS apologises to the survey recipient and will issue a new form if requested.”
He said the ABS will check newly issued barcodes.
Listen: This whole “offensive” word mess could have been avoided…