[Foundation-l] Wikipedia is not the Karma Sutra, was Re: commons and freely licensed sexual imagery

Aryeh Gregor Simetrical+wikilist at gmail.com
Thu May 14 21:59:58 UTC 2009

Anyone who thinks Wikipedia isn't censored because it allows pictures
of penises is fooling himself.  Wikipedia is absolutely censored from
images its editors find disgusting.  Most of its editors find sexual
images just fine, and a large percentage view their suppression as
harmful, "sex-negative", based on obsolete religious practice,
whatever, so they're allowed.  Look at David Goodman's message earlier
for a good example of this.  Sexual images aren't allowed because
Wikipedia isn't censored, they're allowed because the predominant view
of sex among Wikipedians is that it's a recreation like any other.

If you think Wikipedia's imagery is not censored, please explain why
[[Goatse.cx]] does not have an image of its subject matter.  Such an
image would clearly fall under our fair use criteria, wouldn't it?
It's definitely essential for understanding of the material.  But how
long do you think the image would last if someone added it?  I'd be
surprised if no one tried to add it before, in fact.  I'd also be
surprised if anyone could even upload the image without having it
speedy deleted as vandalism and getting a warning that they'd be
blocked if they did it again.

[[Nick Berg]] is primarily known because of the beheading video
released about him, but his article chooses for some reason to depict
a still from the video where he's still alive, rather than depicting
the act of beheading itself.  I would argue that the beheading part of
the video is very educational.  Most people's ideas of what beheading
is like come from the movies, and are terribly inaccurate.  Do you
think anyone would object if I added a picture of the knife passing
through his neck up at the top?  Somehow I think so.

Can anyone name me even *one* article where a gruesomely gory
photograph is prominently displayed, in fact?  There have been edit
wars even on more moderately disgusting articles, like [[Human
feces]], with no clear "Wikipedia is not censored!" resolution.  Why?
Because people don't like looking at images that are disgusting.  Real
surprise, huh?  But Wikipedia isn't censored, right?

Sexual images are not kept because Wikipedia is not censored.  They're
kept because the Wikipedia community thinks that people *shouldn't*
find them disgusting.  This does not serve our readers well and is
definitely not neutral.  We absolutely should accommodate readers who
would be viscerally disgusted by images on the site.  There are people
out there, probably a billion of them or more, whose reaction to an
image of autofellatio would be comparable to their reaction to an
image of a beheading or Goatse.  Saying "screw you" to all these
people rather than attempting to improve the utility of Wikipedia for
them is obnoxious, antisocial, and contrary to our mission.

Anyone who claims that it's too hard to draw a line of what should be
censored and what shouldn't is demonstrably wrong, because Wikipedia
has done it for more than eight years, and no one seems to have even
*noticed* that the line *exists*.  Trying to claim we can't censor
sexual images because it's a slippery slope is not only bad logic, but
grossly hypocritical.

There is *no* loss in educational value if explicit sexual images are
not displayed inline.  None.  Prominent links can be provided for
readers who are interested.  On the other hand, there is a significant
loss if parents want to stop their children from reading Wikipedia
because it contains offensive imagery.  The way our mission points is
therefore clear.  Are we going to try to be the best educational
resource we can be, or impose a sexually liberal ideology on all our
readers whether they like it or not?

On Thu, May 14, 2009 at 5:23 PM, Birgitte SB <birgitte_sb at yahoo.com> wrote:
> I think our efforts would be better focused making all of our content better suited for re-usability by different tastes and then letting third-party work out exactly which tastes need to be targeted.  Rather than creating a mirror ourselves for "No Nudity" and leaving the whatever existing stumbling blocks are in place for general re-purposing of the content.

It would definitely be a good start to create a hierarchy of
categories for the use of private parties who would like to censor
their own Internet access, or that of those they have responsibility
for.  The way to go would be neutral designations like
"Category:Pictures containing genitals", "Category:Pictures containing
breasts", "Category:Depictions of Muhammad", and so on.  This strictly
adds value to the project.

Then we would pick a set of categories to be blocked by default.
Blocked images wouldn't be hidden entirely, just replaced with a link
explaining why they were blocked.  Clicking the link would cause them
to display in place, and inline options would be provided to show all
images in that category in the future (using preferences for users,
otherwise cookies).  Users could block any categories of images they
liked from their profile.

To begin with, we could preserve the status quo by disabling only very
gory or otherwise really disgusting images by default.  More
reasonably, we could follow every other major website in the developed
world, and by default disable display of any image containing male or
female genitalia, or sex acts.  Users who wanted the images could,
again, get them with a single click, so there is no loss of
information -- which is, after all, what we exist to provide.
Wikipedia does not aim to push ideologies of sexual liberation.

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