[Foundation-l] Discussion Questions for Potentially-Objectionable Content

Ting Chen wing.philopp at gmx.de
Fri Jul 23 12:54:58 UTC 2010


(all below are my private opinion.)

> I'm strongly supporting the "No censorship" camp, and as of such i am
> against any wiki-wide measures that would make content unavailable, with the
> argument that people can choose whether or not to look at offensive content,
> but people cannot choose to look at content that others deem offensive if it
> isn't included. I would, however, strongly support a system that gives users
> a choice to censor if they wish. It should be possible to categorize commons
> in such a way that certain images can be blocked. For example, a user might
> choose to block "images of Muhammad", while allowing surgery related images
> (Others might swap there if they wish).

For me the merit of such a system is that we treat the user as somebody 
who takes responsibility for himself, who makes decision for himself.

What I find not convincing is the slogan "No censorship". I think this 
is a bad argument.

First of all it is not true. In every language version of every 
Wikimedia project, there are rules that can be considered as 
"censorship". The definition of censorship itself is difficult. Reading 
through all language versions in Wikipedia that I can understand, I 
found no definition of censorship that is really satisfying. Let me take 
some example. Ar-wp decides per community concensus not to use Mohammed 
images. Seen in the light of en-wp rules, this is a censorship. If we 
maintain "no censorship" then ar-wp must remove that concensus. If not, 
we cannot maintain the "no censorship" slogan. En-wp has the "null 
tolerance to pedophilia" policy. For centain activist this is certainly 
a censorship. If I draw a detailed educational sketch about how to build 
a mail bomb, put it under CC-BY-SA 3.0 and upload it on Commons, it 
would certainly quite quickly be "censored" away.

Beside of this, there is a second reason why this is not a good 
argument. "No censorship" is an overkill argument. Either you are "for" 
censorship, or you are "not for" censorship. It is quite digital, black 
or white. Searching for a community concensus cannot work in such black 
and white manner. The result of a community discussion and concensus 
searching is mostly something between black and white. The "no 
censorship" argument put every discussion to an end. It ignores every 
nuance that is possible between the arguments. Maybe a user is against 
every political censorship but is uncomfortable about having religious 
insulting images. Is he "for" or "not for" censorship?

I think everyone of us has a different opinion about what is 
educational, or appropriate and what is no more educational or no more 
appropriate. Let us don't talk about if someone is "for" or "not for" 
censoring, let us talk about what we can find together guidelines for 
what we think should be ok for our projects and what not.

What also made me very sad in this thread is to see that some community 
members obviously had taken a very foundamentalistic position. Either 
you agree with me, otherwise I will quit and fork. What difference is 
this agree-with-me-or-I-will-boykott-you position to the ace-wp template 
of boykotting Wikipedia because it contains Mohammed image? Refusing 
every discussion, no compromise at all, I find this a very strange 
stance for a Wikimedian.



Ting's Blog: http://wingphilopp.blogspot.com/

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