[Foundation-l] Collecting or spreading information (was: Wikipedia is not the karma sutra)

effe iets anders effeietsanders at gmail.com
Thu May 14 12:34:48 UTC 2009

Here we have an interesting discussion topic. So what /is/ the main focus of
Wikimedia? Is it about collecting together free knowledge, or is it about
spreading it? If it would only be about spreading, I think we have at least
chosen the wrong shape, because a page full of links would then be more
appropriate. But we're not just about collecting either, it seems, since we
try to work on spreading the content through dumps (although not optimally),
DVD's and printed versions. We do a lot of activities which are focussed on
spreading the stuff we collected first.

But which of the two is more important to us, and which takes preference? To
think about that, we should take a few things into consideration:

* Are we the only one able to perform a certain task? Are we the single (and
therefore important) link in a chain from knowledge to receiver?
* Is there an activity someone else could do more effectively?
* Is there an activity we could do most effectively?
* Is there a part that is connected directly to our identity, which we do
not /want/ to let go?
* What are the side effects to limiting/extending ourselves on one of the
* How does the main public (also our main moneymaker) see us/expect us to

This type of questions we should try to answer in a more general shape to
find an answer on the specific question of the " necklace"  article and
specific photo's.

I don't claim to know all the answers to these questions, nor do I think
anyone does, actually. However, I hope we will alltogether try to address
this type of questions, perhaps as part of the strategy process.

I personally don't think we can see this specific group of articles as
different as the other 12 million. There are many many categories, and
there's a lot to say for deleting each single one of them. (insulting to
some people, confusing, dangerous if people follow it, dangerous information
for terrorists, distracting from the real information, you probably know all
the possible reasons even better then I do). If we would ever exclude one
set of topics, we should be very carefully considering where to draw the
line exactly, to avoid that we will drift off to who-knows-where with the
argument "yeah, but if that gets deleted, this should be going too". That
goes both for articles and images (even editors who are getting blocked).

I think that Wikipedia is best in collecting information. That is the place
what we are best in, that is what no other website is able to imitate on
this scale. That is also what the general public expects from us. I feel
that this is what Wikipedia's primary focus should be. However, that should
not exclude any thoughts about restraining ourselves if that furthers the
other goal, spreading. But also consider that the spreading to people who
want to avoid sexual content, could also be done by others. It should not be
too hard to build a filter to censor Wikipedia from that type of information
and even images for example based on the categorization.

Best regards,


 Fred Bauder <fredbaud op fairpoint.net>

> The image is an excellent illustration of its subject. However I would
> prefer a policy which excluded both it and the article in which it is
> used as an illustration. I'm not sure how the policy should be elaborated
> in our policy pages, but essentially this sort of material is
> incompatible with our core mission, to provide an accessible compendium
> of knowledge to the world.
> I was discussing Wikipedia with a Mohs surgeon the other day, he happened
> to be a Mormon. Other than the articles on dermatology and Mohs surgery,
> we talked about his 13 year old daughter who had been discouraged by her
> school from using Wikipedia. An article such as Pearl necklace
> (sexuality) adds little to a girl's knowledge base in comparison to the
> barrier it raises to her use of the encyclopedia.
> I suggest that Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not include Wikipedia is not a
> manual of sexual practices. It could be phrased Wikipedia is not the
> Karma Sutra.

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