[Foundation-l] Proposals re : sexual content on wikimedia

Geoffrey Plourde geo.plrd at yahoo.com
Fri May 22 03:17:42 UTC 2009

PM, while I respect your opinions, I must express my strong disagreement with most of them. 

Your first idea is restricting sexual content from userspace. This would encroach on personal freedom, because why shouldn't people be able to post whatever they want in their personal space?

The second is a soft opt in. Why would we want to make another hoop for people to jump through? It would appear that such a system would hinder complete useability. Also, we don't follow UK or Australian law. 

When it comes to model releases, I have no objections whenever a person can be distinguished from the photograph. 

From: private musings <thepmaccount at gmail.com>
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Sent: Thursday, May 21, 2009 7:50:09 PM
Subject: [Foundation-l] Proposals re : sexual content on wikimedia

Hi all,

I saw this news item today;


and felt that it was tangentially related to the discussions on this list
concerning sexual content on wikimedia - it's prompted me to make this reply
anywhoo (both the story and the comments are worth reading, and I feel they
deal with the 'baby' and 'bathwater' aspects reasonably well).

In a bid to avoid Birgitte's ignore list (the ignominy ! ;-) I thought I'd
respond to a few further comments and detail my proposals / reasoning for
good ways forward;

( see http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Sexual_content for details
on my proposals )

Firstly, the issue of whether or not Wikimedia should try and meet the needs
of a market, for example schools, who prefer to not display images of sexual
activity, for me is a somewhat moot - the issue is more that wikimedia's
policies in this area are not the result of careful thought, we're really
more just ended up in the status quo. It seems sensible to me to closely
examine whether or not we like that status quo, and whether or not there are
policies and practicies on various projects which should be improved. I
think we're doing some things a bit wrong, and should want to improve, as
oppose to inviting someone else to do them better. Perhaps my slightly dull,
but canonical, example of this is that I don't think it's necessary for
commons to host pictures of topless women, taken at the beach, without their
permission - this sort of user genearted content is a net detriment to the
project in my view. I'd be interested to hear if anyone disputes this
specific asasertion.

My 'proposal 1' is that sexual content be restricted from userspace - I
concur with Jimbo (
that an image of shaven genitalia is inappropriate on a userpage

My 'proposal 2' in the linked page is broadly synonymous with the technical
implementation discussed by Brion previously - the addition of some sort of
soft 'opt in' / age verification requirement seems a bit of a no-brainer to
me - I had an interesting chat recently with someone who was insistent that
the lack of such means Wikimedia is technically breaking UK and Australian
law - I have no idea as to the veracity of this (or whether it matters!) -
but am interested in the ideas and opinions of those more cluey in this

My 'proposal 3' suggests that we need to apply more rigour in checking the
model releases and licensing - basically we're just too easy to game at the
moment, and various mischievous souls have delighted in leading various
communities up garden paths in the past - what's interesting is some
community's willingness to be somewhat complicit in this process (the 'we
must assume good faith, so yeah - this image is clearly fine' problem - the
burden of evidence is all wrong in my book).

Those antipodeans who've heard be chat about this at Wiki Wed. here in
Sydney may be interested to hear that there is some follow up interest in
this topic in general, and I may be boring more folk on this subject with a
nattily written post on a Fairfax blog - I'm particularly keen at the moment
to try and discern whether or not it's possible to move forward in any way
on this issue, or whether or not we're sort of stuck in the bed we've made
to date.... all thoughts and ideas most welcome... :-)


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