[Foundation-l] Discussion Questions forPotentially-Objectionable Content

Sue Gardner susanpgardner at gmail.com
Sat Jul 24 18:32:21 UTC 2010

Sorry to top-post.

Google and Flickr actually handle this quite differently though, I think, Andreas.  Going from memory -- I think that Google defaults to a "moderate" setting, but allows users to easily switch to an unfiltered setting. As long as they allow cookies, users don't need to be registered, and there's no other impediment to switching that I'm aware of.

Flickr also defaults to moderate, but in order to get unfiltered results you need to be registered, and I think you might also have to make some kind of statement about how old you are.  So, you can't see unfiltered results on Flickr without jumping through some hoops. And, users in a small number of countries (going from memory I think they include Singapore, India, Korea and Germany) do not have the option to see unfiltered results.

Plus, I believe that certain types of content are disallowed entirely throughout Flickr, although I don't know what they are or how that is policed.

So the devil is very much in the details :-)


-----Original Message-----
From: Andreas Kolbe <jayen466 at yahoo.com>
Sender: foundation-l-bounces at lists.wikimedia.org
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2010 17:28:33 
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List<foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Reply-To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Discussion Questions for
	Potentially-Objectionable Content

Thanks Alec. I wouldn't like to see Wikipedia fork either. 

Excirial's suggestion -- which I understand to mean enabling readers to self-censor the type of content that offends them, or that they don't want their children to see -- strikes me as the way we can have our cake and eat it.

It's also in line with what people like google, YouTube and flickr are doing. If you want to see certain types of content, you are asked to set up an account, and/or change your default preference.

In practice, this could mean --

- That I don't see images I don't want to see in Wikipedia articles. 

- That I can click on a grayed image if, in an exceptional case, I do want to see it.

- That I can set up my child's Wikipedia account in such a way that my child can NOT click to display the image I don't want them to see.

- That I can set up my or my child's Wikipedia account in such a way that Wikipedia will not display articles I do not want it to display.

- That IPs are shown a mildly "censored" version, and that seeing the uncensored version of Wikipedia requires registering an account and setting the preferences up accordingly.

This requires a lot of thought and work behind the scenes to categorise content. But it is surely the best approach to make Wikipedia the encyclopedia for everyone. 

And that's an encyclopedia that can happily host the goatse image, too, for those who want to see it. 


--- On Sat, 24/7/10, Alec Conroy <alecmconroy at gmail.com> wrote:

> From: Alec Conroy <alecmconroy at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Discussion Questions for Potentially-Objectionable Content
> To: "Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List" <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
> Date: Saturday, 24 July, 2010, 15:47
> I have no idea whether anything in
> here is productive or just
> reiteration of the same old themes.   I
> doubt it will be coherent or
> persuasive, but this discussion is too important not to try
> to say
> something.   Opinions were solicited, so
> here's such an opinion.
> I don't really know if a discussion at this point is wise,
> particularly from me and my verbosity.  :).  So
> skip if skeptical, and
> abort if you start finding my words, well, unproductive.
> :)
> -Alec
> ----
> > What I find not convincing is the slogan "No
> censorship". I think this
> > is a bad argument.
> Okay, I think that's my cue.   I'm
> definitely in "No Censorship" camp,
> so let my try to explain why that argument has such pull
> for some of
> us.
> -
> To begin with, please consider that  NOTCENSORED has
> been the law of
> the land for many years and Wikipedia has prospered under
> it.   It's
> not a new idea.
> What's new is this idea that "potential offensiveness" is a
> threat to
> us, and thus,  a valid criterion for making editorial
> decision.   That
> would be a huge deviation from our very successful status
> quo.
> Maybe you think it would be a good change, maybe you think
> would be a
> bad change,  but I think we can all agree it would be
> a very
> CONTROVERSIAL change among Wikimedians.
> And when you stop and think about it, of course any such
> proposal is
>_bound_  to be very very controversial among those
> very individuals
> who are already deeply invested in a NPOV/NON-CENSORED
> project.
> After all, we've spent years explaining NPOV / NOTCENSORED
> to Muslims
> over Muhammad images, for example, and to Christians over
> Piss-Christ.
>   We've defended racist imagery, we've defended
> neo-nazi hate-sites.
> We've committed to not-censored, we've worked for
> offended totally innocent people so wikipedia could be
> and it was even theoretically  possible somebody might
> have died over
> We did this because Wikipedia successfully convinced us
> that an
> uncensored encyclopedia was a wonderful thing. And we've
> grown very
> attached to it and the principles it espoused.
> Maybe we do need a "potentially non-offensive" project in
> addition.
> But if there is to be a "Brave New Encyclopedia" that
> promises freedom
> from potential offense, shouldn't it be started as a NEW
> project with
> a NEW userbase and a NEW editing community that's committed
> to these
> NEW principles?
> I'm skeptical that that a "potential offfense" can actually
> work, even
> as its own project.  But, no harm in trying. 
> Meanwhile, our
> Wikipedia, the "NPOV/NOTCENSORED" Wikipedia, does
> work!   And It
> continues to work!
> Wikipedia ain't broke-- don't fracture the community into
> bits by
> trying to impose a "fix".
> --
> Some say:  "What's the difference between deleting
> offensive material
> and deleting anything else?   REALLY, isn't
> ANY deletion, on some
> level,  censorship?"
> Well, no.  :)
> Normal run-of-the-mill deletions (e.g. of nonsense, 
> etc) HELP our
> mission by preserving our limited computing
> resources.  Censorship
> HURTS our mission by intentionally making it harder for our
> readers to
> find legal, legitimate information they themselves are
> actively trying
> to access.
> Normal decisions are justified using terms like
> "usefulness" and
> "notable."  Censorship is justified using terms like
> "potential-offensiveness", "pornographic",  "a threat
> to children", or
> "immoral".
> Normal decisions are democratic, culture-neutral, and are
> based on
> verifiable facts.  Censorship is beyond debate, it's
> not
> culture-neutral, it's imposed rather than accepted, and
> it's based on
> unstated emotional biases and prejudices.
> (And if those distinctions don't help determine which is
> which--
> Censorship is the one that's really, really controversial
> around here.
> :)   )
> -- 
> > 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.
> Admittedly, "free-information" people can be very black and
> white--
> but even I'm  not  quite THIS black and
> white.  :)
> I, for one, am not at all troubled that WMF might host a
> project that,
> via TRUE consensus, decides to be, by my standards,
> censored.   (I
> actually really wish we had a few censored english-language
> projects
> lying around, so people would be less tempted to try to
> co-opt
> EnWiki.)
> I don't oppose people 'censoring' themselves if that's
> truly their
> choice-- what I oppose is someone censoring US against our
> consent.
> What I oppose is WMF trying take a NONCENSORED project swap
> out
> NPOV/NOTCENSORED in favor of a fiat-imposed 
> "potential-offensiveness"
> standard.
> > Maybe a user is against every political censorship but
> is uncomfortable about
> > having religious  insulting images. Is he "for"
> or "not for" censorship?
> There's nothing wrong with wanting to avoid offending
> people.   I have
> a LOT of sympathy and patience for people who think that
> wikipedia
> should be censored, ESPECIALLY with the Muhammad issue
> where issues of
> culture, religion, race, and violence are superimposed over
> issues of
> Being uncomfortable is a understandable and laudable
> response.
> Sincerely.  Many many great minds throughout history
> have reached the
> conclusion that some sub-populations need "protection"
> from
> "potentially offensive" information, and I certainly can't
> prove them
> wrong.
> So if somebody undergoes a 'conversion experience' and
> realizes that
> what we've  been doing here these many years,
> providing free access to
> potentially-offensive information, is actually morally
> wrong-- well
> that's okay with me.    Maybe they're right and
> I'm wrong.  A change
> of heart isn't a sin.
> But if that individual really feels strongly about stance,
> then maybe
> they should reconsider serving in a capacity that requires
> them to
> help provide "Free Access to All The World's Information".
> Cause the world's information is really very
> offensive.  And providing
> that information, offensive or not, is what we do here.
> -- 
> If  "No porn or other potential offensive material"
> this had been the
> rule all along, that'd be one thing.  But that's not
> what our social
> contract has been.
> Our social contract included NPOV, its corollary
> strong commitment to the consensus process. Now, ten years
> in, these
> rules suddenly aren't good enough
> anymore?   The clock has struck
> Midnight, the coach has turned back into a pumpkin, and
> wikipedians
> are no longer able to form  consensus on any tough
> issues?  Nonsense.
> I thought we all agreed EnWiki/WMF wasn't going to be
> child-safe (or
> conservative-safe, or liberal-safe, or muslim-safe, 
> work-safe or
> nudity-safe or anythingelse-safe).  In fact, I thought
> we all agreed
> on that years ago.  I thought that was what we stood
> for.
> So, in May, it felt a little "slap-in-the-face"-ish when
> WMF, having
> spent years collecting our edits and our dollars under the
> banners  of
> suddenly surrendered at the
> first sign of trouble from Fox.
> It seems naive now, but I think most of us had assumed
> that,  when
> inevitable US-based pressure against our content
> arose,  the board
> members would all side WITH the projects and AGAINST
> FoxNews.
> I don't think anyone foresaw our then-leader publicly
> confirming Fox's
> allegations and insisting that not only DO we have too much
> porn, but
> that we have so much "hard code" pornography that required
> an
> emergency fiat deletion campaign.    I definitely
> never EVER expect to
> see such individuals deleting in-use images over literally
> scores of
> objections.
> To put this into perspective if free-information isn't
> essential to
> you--  this was a little bit like being a volunteer at
> your local
> library for years-- helping the staff, donating your
> valuable time and
> limited funds, etc.   Then one day, you come
> in and see that someone
> from Fox News has come to your public library while you
> were gone  and
> managed to convinced half the librarians that they need to
> start
> burning through the stacks.
> Yeah, it's intense experience.
> -- 
> #"A  'Thought'  Experiment"
> What if we did  actually allow "potential
> offensiveness" as a
> criterion?   What does that kind of a debate
> look like?
> Suppose, for instance that an admin showed up and demanded
> that a
> notable work of art be deleted on the ground that it was
> "potentially
> offensive".    How do you defend against that
> charge?
> "Offensiveness" isn't really a NPOV-Verifiable fact, so
> it's up to
> personal opinion.   No matter what you say,
> somebody else can always
> say "Well, I don't care if this IS a famous work of art--
> to me it's
> just old porn.  And old porn is still porn.  I
> still find this content
> to be offensive and I still want it deleted and I'm going
> to delete it
> myself and i'll block you if you try to stop me!"
> What does kind of a deletion debate that look like?? 
> Is it civil?
> Does it encourage mutual respect?  Does it promote the
> free exchange
> of information?
> No no.. This approach was tried and it failed miserably:
> http://tinyurl.com/2fuo3eq
> And it was destined to fail, because no one can fairly play
> the role
> of moral censor for a population as diverse as
> Wikipedia.  Not me, not
> you, not Jimmy, nobody.  No one can fairly decide what
> is "too
> offensive for 12 million people spread across the
> globe".  Can't be
> done.
> All such a censor can do is decide what's "too offensive to
> me".  So
> if you're asked to be a censor, you do what you know-- you
> delete
> stuff that offends you but other people think is important,
> and you
> keep stuff you think is important but that other people
> find
> offensive.
> And once you start down that road, it's little more than
> modern-day
> bigotry that ultimately makes the judgments.
> Deleting "offensive art" may not be how you guys meant for
> things to
> go, but it is where things  ended up, and quickly too.
> You slid right
> down the slippery slope-- just than like we free-speechers
> always said
> you would only, only far faster than anyone could have
> predicted.
> Before anyone could believe it,  the art was being
> taken down off the
> walls and heaped on the fire.
> Jimbo demonstrated he was utterly unable to responsibly
> use
> "potential-offensiveness" as a deletion
> criterion.   For us now to ask
> ALL of our editors to use a similar criteria would only
> bring far, far
> worse results.
> The "potentially offensive" approach just plain doesn't
> work.   (And
> even if it DID work-- it's not the approach we signed up
> for. )
> --
> > Searching for a community consensus cannot work in
> such black
> > and white manner.
> That's quite a bold statement.  (or at least, I've
> seen some bold
> statements on this subject)
> I don't think our current projects are fundamentally
> flawed.
> I see no sign that consensus can't work here.  On the
> contrary, May
> seemed to demonstrate that not only CAN consensus form in
> these
> situations, but sometimes the consensus can be quite
> deafening.
> I think the real issue is that that consensus HAS been
> reached on the
> NOTCENSORED / NPOV/Sexual Content policies issues-- 
> the community
> consensus just match the pre-designated conclusion, and so
> it was thus
> ruled to be the outcome of a "broken and flawed" process,
> something
> the community just  can't handle on its own, not
> without grown-up
> help.
> --------
> # Spot the Difference
> > What difference is  this
> agree-with-me-or-I-will-boycott-you position
> > to the ace-wp template of boycotting Wikipedia because
> it contains Mohammed image?
> Great question.  Turns out there's a really really
> simple difference.
> Wikipedia never promised anyone that  "Wikipedia
> Doesn't Show Muhammad
> Pictures"!
> But Wikipedia promised everyone "Wikipedia Is Not Censored"
> and
> "Wikipedia is written from a NPOV"
> Allowing Muhammad images doesn't involve any breach of
> promise.
> But allowing censorship and non-neutral POV does involve a
> breach of trust.
> So a better analogy is this:
> Suppose a very conservative mosque, after years of
> forbidding images
> of Muhammad, suddenly reversed itself, and started
> distributing the
> offensive cartoons of Muhammad.   Its
> members would, rightly, feel
> betrayed.
> Wikipedia isn't a mosque, but we have unique culture of our
> own.
> Seeing  19th century art deleted as "old porn"-- well
> that's as
> disrespectful of OUR traditions, just as offensive images
> of Muhammad
> might would be disrespectful in the context of a 
> mosque.
> I think NOTCENSORED is fundamental and inseparable from
> Wikipedia's
> mission.  But-- even if we can't convince you that
> fundamentally important to Wikipedia, at least recognize
> that it's
> very important to many many many Wikipedians.
> > Refusing every discussion, no compromise at all, I
> find this a very strange
> > stance for a Wikimedian.
> Indeed:
> http://tinyurl.com/2w2ayy2
> Things work better via traditional consensus
> building.  Even I,
> free-speecher that I am, would very sincerely abide, in
> relative
> silence, by a TRUE consensus to repeal NOTCENSORED.
> In May, it seems like some people got the idea that since
> the
> discussion wasn't producing the results they wanted, they'd
> just stop
> all discussion and start enforcing instead.
> And If ever you want to kill civil discussion, just say "We
> can
> discuss later after I'm done implementing it"
> Once that happened, the time for discussion was basically
> over and the
> time for revising roles had begun.   When
> someone is done listening
> but not yet done acting, the only remaining options are
> blocks and
> boycotts.   I'm not happy about that, but
> there was no alternative.
> --
> If we seem fundamentalist, perhaps we are a
> little.   But this sort of
>  free-information advocacy is a part of Wikipedia's very
> DNA--  from
> our open-source platform to our free-licensed content, from
> our open
> community anyone can join  to the open protocols that
> our internet
> runs on.   It may be an annoying and
> pseudo-fundamentalist stance, but
> it is part of how we got
> here.   Free-information advocacy built
> Wikipedia.
> Many of us thought that, via projects like Wikimedia, we
> were helping
> to eliminate censorship from the rest of the world. 
> Many of us write
> software, to make free laptops, for kids we'll never ever
> meet, just
> so that people all around the world can have a chance to
> see what free
> speech is really like.  Some of us are here because
> help STOP
> censorship around the world, not to help perpetuate
> it,  and certainly
> not to subjected to it ourselves.
> -- 
> In our early days, when we had nothing to lose, no big
> media
> interviews, and no way to be blackmailed, NOTCENSORED
> seemed to work
> just fine for us.  Now that we are more successful and
> independent
> than ever, now, in our finest houst, NOW suddenly this
> long-cherished
> principle has to go?
> Now, some faction of our community, Jimmy first among them,
> has
> decided that after years of success, we should trade in our
> "Not
> Censored" Wikipedia for a swiss-cheesed encyclopedia in the
> hopes of
> making a "potentially non-offensive" project??
> I have no idea what the purpose or cause of this is-- a
> personal
> religious conversion?  an acquired distaste for
> negative press?  The
> promise of more donations from a conservative big-money
> donor or a
> prominent university?  The influence of Russian
> spies?  Contact from
> an extraterrestrial intelligence in the form of a
> monolith?  A
> windfall for Wikia if our projects substantially narrow
> their scope?
>  All of these?  Something else entirely?  Or
> maybe no reason at all.
> I have no idea what shiny new bauble we hope to obtain, if
> only we'd
> renounce a few of our  core principles.  But I
> really hope we don't
> take the deal.
> Is there something different about the world of 2010 that
> makes 2009's
> "Wikipedia is Not Censored" policy suddenly unfeasible?
> Have we been spending nine years destroying the minds of
> the youth
> worldwide to such an extent that an immediate 180-degree
> change of
> course is necessary?
> -- 
> > 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.
> Well, I'm probably the biggest offender of anyone here on
> this one,
> because I think it's ESSENTIAL that we fork if WMF adopted
> a scope
> that excluded material on the grounds of 
> "potential-offense".
> But our motivation isn't malicious.  It's not: 
> "You're guys are evil
> and we should all quit rather than associate with
> you."   Not in the
> slightest.
> Instead, our motivation stems from wanting to protect
> Wikipedia and
> its current policies:  "We love Wikipedia the way it
> is! So if
> wikipedia does get deleted ,if it's replaced with an
> identically-named
> but "potentially-non-offensive" project , our first
> priority should be
> restore the uncensored Wikipedia and continue working on
> it."
> However, I'm infinitely glad that the foundation appears to
> be
> stepping away from the brink.  The best home for a
> free, uncensored
> wiki remains the Wikimedia Foundation.
> But ultimately, the greatest protection Wikipedia has is
> that there
> are other homes out there for a free, uncensored collection
> of the
> world's information, where everyone gets offended equally
> and "I find
> this offensive" carries no weight.  After all,
> Wikipedia has already
> shown us just how wonderful it is to have such a project!
> No matter what WMF does, there will always a place for
> Wikipedia-as-it-currently-is. A lot of us want such a
> project to
> continue, a lot of us want to improve THAT project, and a
> lot of us
> want to protect that project.  If fact, one of the
> main reasons so
> many of us gave money last year to WMF was because,
> ironically enough,
>  we were told those funds would help PROTECT that very same
> Wikipedia
> from outside pressures.  But ultimately, not even
> millions in
> donations was really able to truly "protect" a free,
> uncensored
> Wikipedia, it seems.
> (Indeed,  in the back of my mind, I sometimes worry
> that our new-found
> fund-raising success might somehow be part of the
> problem.   Perhaps
> we've seen these unilateral actions precisely because
> funding is now
> so secure that whole swaths of our content and our
> community can now
> be considered "expendable".  Heck, perhaps some
> fanatic with very deep
> pockets is offering to hire the entire board, en masse,
> with
> high-paying salaries, if only they'll delete the right
> paintings.
> Those are just pulled from thin-air, of course,  but
> clearly,
> something is going on now that wasn't going on from
> 2001-2009-- and
> the amazingly successful fund raising is one of the few
> big
> differences I can think of.)
> Fortunately, where $10 million fails, Creative Commons
> succeeds.  IT
> DOES protect Wikipedia, because foundations and servers can
> come and
> go, but Wikipedia will endure.
> And there is no good reason for it not to endure right
> here.  It's
> done really here, these past 9 years, after all. 
> Let's go for 20, and
> in the mean time, let's give the green light to people who
> might like
> to try their hand at making a non-offensive
> english-language
> encyclopedia here at Wikimedia.
> Alec "been writing this for WAY too long" Conroy
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l


foundation-l mailing list
foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org
Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l

More information about the foundation-l mailing list