[Foundation-l] Image filter brainstorming: Personal filter lists

Andreas K. jayen466 at gmail.com
Thu Nov 24 04:07:48 UTC 2011

We are currently discussing an evolving image filter proposal on the Meta
brainstorming page* that would give users the option of creating personal
filter lists (PFL). The structure and interactivity of these personal
filter lists would be comparable to those of editors' personal watchlists.

The way this would work is that each project page would have an "Enable
image filtering" entry in the side bar. Clicking on this would add a "Hide"
button to each image displayed on the page. Clicking on "Hide" would then
grey the image, and automatically add it to the user's personal filter list.

Any image added to the PFL in this way would appear greyed on any
subsequent visit to the page. It would also appear greyed on any other
project page where it is included, and (given an SUL account) any page
containing the image in any other Wikimedia project such as Commons itself
– including Commons search result listings. In each case, the user would
always retain the option of clicking on a "Show" button or the placeholder
itself to reveal the picture again, and simultaneously remove it from their
PFL. Of course, if they change their mind, they can add it right back
again, by clicking on "Hide" again. It would work like adding/removing
pages in one's watchlist.

Apart from enabling users to hide images and add them to their PFL as they
encounter them in surfing our projects, users would also be able to edit
the PFL manually, just as it is possible to edit one's watchlist manually.
In this way, they could add any image file or category they want to their
PFL. They could also add filter lists precompiled for them by a third
party. Such lists could be crowdsourced by people interested in filtering,
according to whatever cultural criteria they choose.

It became very clear during the discussions over the past few months that
tagging files for the personal image filter, or creating image filter
categories, was not something the community as a whole wanted to become
involved in – partly because of the work involved, partly because of the
arguments it would cause, and partly because it would not be possible to do
this truly neutrally, given different cultural standards of offensiveness.
Various people suggested that the Foundation do nothing, and leave the
creation of image filters to third parties altogether.

This proposal occupies a middle ground. The Foundation provides users with
the software capability to create and maintain personal filter lists, just
like it enables users to maintain watchlists, but it is then up to a
separate crowdsourcing effort by those who want to have a filter to find
ways of populating such lists. This is consistent with the overall
Wikimedia crowdsourcing approach, and a natural extension of it. Even if
this crowdsourcing effort should unexpectedly fail to take off, readers
will still gain the possibility of hiding images or media as they come
across them with a single click, with the assurance that they won't ever
see them again anywhere on our projects unless they really want to. That in
itself would be a net gain. Users who don't want to have anything to do
with filtering at all could switch any related screen furniture off in
their preferences, to retain the same surfing experience they have now.

Under this proposal, the entire informational infrastructure for filtering
would reside in readers' personal filter lists. The data structure of the
wiki itself does not change at all, just like adding pages to a personal
watchlist affects no one apart from the user whose watchlist it is. There
are no filter tags, no specially created filter categories, and no one has
to worry about defining, creating or maintaining them. The filter users do
that for themselves.

For unregistered users, their PFL could be stored in a cookie. However,
they would be encouraged to create an SUL account when they first enable
image filtering, so they can retain the same surfing experience even after
changing computers, or after accidentally deleting the cookie.



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