On Feb 4, 2008 7:47 PM, Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
On 2/5/08, Rich Holton
All question of censorship aside, does it really
make sense to have any
image of historical persons that is not based on the actual likeness of that
person on any page except [[depictions of...]] pages?
Maybe there are a few exceptions, where a particular depiction has become
universally identified with the subject. But that's not the case with most
historical figures, Jesus and Muhammad included.
Many, many depictions of Jesus look very European, which doesn't seem to be
encyclopedic to me. But there's also a trend lately to have other depictions
of Jesus that are targeted to a particular audience, without any concern for
historical accuracy. This may be fine in liturgical settings, but not in an
encyclopedia. But this is only more obviously wrong than a more
"historically accurate" depiction. They're both still wrong.
It's worse than that. We still have no overarching policy that would
give us even *slight* guidance on what kind of imagery we should
include on wikipedia beyond the licensing issues and vague talk
about quality. There is no equivalent of NPOV for pictures worth
Let's say we would like to have an image illustrating an article
about Andy Warhols depictions of Marilyn Monroe, to pick a silly
one with as few attached strings as possible. Which one of the
ones he printed would be appropriate? Any of them? Should we
have at least two, to give an idea of the variation between them.
Should we depict fakes? Does it matter what the resolution of
the images is? Assuming there would be no licensing issues...
Should we be guided by what Andy Warhol himself considered
his best copy of the Marilyn Image? Or by the auction price for
a particular copy? Or the preponderance of critical opinion on
what the most Ur-Marilyn-Copy is?
Really it would help to approach images by starting with the
cases that aren't so loaded with controversy. If you want to
make progress unraveling difficult issues, start unraveling
at a point where you can unravel at least a few loops.
Well *explicit discussion* is not needed to determine consensus where
a universal or near universal practice exists. Every article where an
image is available to represent someone it ends up getting used, even
if there's no particular reason to believe it's accurate. Pick any
Old Testament figure, really ancient Greek philosopher, whatever, and
there's a portrait if we can get our grubby little mitts on one.
That everyone seems to feel they're useful indicates to me they're
useful, even if it's tough to explain exactly why.
There is a fundamental
fallacy in this argument. Just as consensus in a
discussion represents only the consensus of the participants, so too a
universal practice represents only those who actually follow that practice.
I'm sure that many of our editors are addicted to having pretty pictures
to decorate an article at all costs. It seems to break up the monotony
of straight text. Where do you get the idea that "everyone" finds them
useful beyond mere decoration. When we show a bust of Socrates is it
verifiable that Socrates.looked like this? Perhaps all these pictures
should be properly referenced.