[Foundation-l] Blog from Sue about censorship, editorial judgement, and image filters

Theo10011 de10011 at gmail.com
Sat Oct 1 00:58:35 UTC 2011

Hiya Bishakha

On Sat, Oct 1, 2011 at 2:20 AM, Bishakha Datta <bishakhadatta at gmail.com>wrote:

> On Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 10:54 PM, Theo10011 <de10011 at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Bishakha, call it editorial-content, call it censorship or any other
> > euphemism - at the heart of it, it is deciding what someone gets to see
> and
> > what not.
> Theo: they are different things, and given the premium on accuracy and
> precision at wikipedia, I don't think we can claim that editorial judgments
> and censorship are the same.

I have said, it is a matter of perspective how you view them. But if we go
by the assumption that editorial judgement is a separate thing, whose job is
it to exercise it? WMF has long held the position that the project are
independent and it has not editorial control over what the community
decides- this would not be the case if we consider the filter an editorial
judgement. Keeping in mind the reaction that has been shown by different
communities, would it mean, WMF would be exercising that control? using an
already existing structure of categories created earlier, possibly by
editors who don't agree with the filter, to implement the said editorial
control? What about editorial independence[1]?

> > It should not be our job to censor our own content.
> We're not suggesting that as far as I know. Nothing is being removed from
> the sites. [1]

No, it is only being hidden. Based on an arbitrary system of categories that
can be exploited. We are indeed hiding our content, same as any dictatorial
regime who chooses to hide works of literature, art or knowledge (I hope the
last one is not us) from its people.

Mediawiki also works in a similar fashion, it hides revisions rather than
delete it outright when an article is deleted - Irony?

> > The strongest
> > argument I read against this has been - it is not something WMF and the
> > board should implement and develop, If there was a need to censor/cleanse
> > graphic content, there would a successful mirror or a fork of the project
> > already somewhere. Instead, we have small distributions/projects which
> use
> > 1-2 year old offline dumps to cleanse and then consider safe.
> >
> > Now, If you were to apply this argument to a government, or a regime and
> > they decide on removing things that make them flinch -
> >
> how different would
> > we be from dictatorial regimes who limit/restrict access to Wikipedia for
> > all the people that do flinch?
> There is no proposal to remove anything from the sites; as I understand it,
> it is proposed that users can click on a button to turn off some images -
> those who want to continue to see everything can continue to do so. Nothing
> goes.

I never said there was. I said "restrict access to Wikipedia for all the
people that do flinch". There is a big gap on how this system would be
implemented, if we go by the proposed system in the mock-up, it would be
using categories to implement what is deemed offensive. The problem is, when
you click on a filter the decision on what is offensive might not be a users
alone, but a standardized one across the board.

> But when the Indian government bans Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses or
> James
> Lane's book on Shivaji, that is censorship.[2]
> I can point to Indian I&B ministry issues or
> > Film censor board of India, but you probably know more about them than
> me.
> >
> > Yes, I know from personal experience - had a huge brush with the Censor
> Board in 2001 and refused to remove any content from my docu as demanded by
> them. [3]
Depending on the perspective, one can argue that they only wanted the
content hidden, not visible to those who do flinch. Would it be different if
they argued that they were only exercising editorial control? for the
children, the general public and all the people who do flinch.



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