[Foundation-l] Sexual images of questionable provenance

Nathan nawrich at gmail.com
Tue Dec 9 19:53:57 UTC 2008

There have been a number of discussion on the English Wikipedia lately
(sparked, of course, by the Virgin Killer image controversy) on the
propriety of various images and the need for retaining them on Wikipedia.
This is a problem that has a long history on Wikipedia, and a number of
controls are in place - limited ability to post explicit images on new
articles, some filtering of newly uploaded images to delete those that are
obviously duplicative, exhibitionist, etc. Many comments we've had in the
last few days concerned the legality of various images, particularly where
consent is not demonstrated or verifiable. I've commented [1] that the
legality issue shouldn't be a major concern for English Wikipedia editors,
because the Foundation itself ought to have limited liability and the
individual uploaders have primary culpability for any illegal images.

But I still think that there is a community issue here, and I wonder if
someone can fill in the details on how we currently deal with it. How well
is the Commons guideline COM:PEOPLE enforced with respect to sexual images?
Do the many projects with separate image databases generally have similar
guidelines? Does anyone know how well they are enforced? In a discussion
this past weekend someone else and I were discussing examples of problem
images, where the person in an explicit photograph is of questionable age.

I realized after a quick survey on Commons of image origins that many of the
explicit images are sourced to a single Flickr account. The license of the
images was verified closer to the time of upload, but since then the Flickr
account has been deactivated. We have no knowledge of the consent of the
photographed models, nor any mechanism for verifying their age, and many if
not most of the images are unused on Wikipedia projects (which is true, I
suspect, for many sexually explicit photographs in general). The whole
category of images [3] was previously put up for deletion [2] but the
discussion was closed in favor of individual image reviews, which I
understand mostly closed as keep.

I don't think the Foundation itself can or should do anything about this
issue in most cases, but I think the topic deserves some wider discussion
and reconsideration - not necessarily as a response to the IWF debacle, but
taking that as an opportunity to get a wider audience.

Of note is Jimmy's recommendation to the en.wp community (I assume, since it
was posted there) for this sort of reconsideration. [4]


[3] http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Peter_Klashorst

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