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

Andreas Kolbe jayen466 at yahoo.com
Sat Oct 1 01:45:41 UTC 2011

--- On Sat, 1/10/11, Theo10011 <de10011 at gmail.com> wrote:

From: Theo10011 <de10011 at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Blog from Sue about censorship, editorial judgement, and image filters
To: "Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List" <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Date: Saturday, 1 October, 2011, 1:58

> 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.

You are aware, aren't you, that content is only hidden if the user specifically says they would 
like to hide content in that category? That is why it is an opt-in filter. If you don't make a point
of opting in, you won't even know it's there. 

Unless you go into your account set-up and take the trouble to specify that you personally 
do not wish to see a particular category of images, you will see everything that you see
now. Even if you have switched the filter on, you can still change your mind and view any
image. One click on it is enough to show it.  So what you are describing simply bears no
relation to reality.

If you want to make a valid counterargument, say that you are worried that some censorious 
ISPs and countries might use our category definitions as a starting point for a bolt-on 
censorship system that restricts access to these images. However, be clear that then it 
would be *them* who would be hiding our content, not us. The worst you can accuse us of 
is that we made it easier for them. We'd still be in good company, as all other major
websites, including Google, YouTube and Flickr, use equivalent systems, systems that are
widely accepted. If I google for images of cream pies in my office in the lunch break,
because I want to bake one, I'm quite happy not to have dozens of images of sperm-oozing
rectums and vaginas pop up on my screen. Thanks, Google. 

The point has been made that some people might be too inclusive in categorising, adding 
media to "controversial" categories that others would feel are not controversial at all. If this 
happens, the effect will simply be that fewer people will elect to use the filter. If a user 
switches the filter on, and finds that 9 out of 10 images the filter greys are images that they 
would really like to see, they'll simply get fed up with the filter and switch it off again. So it is 
in the interest of those wishing to offer people a useful filter not to go overboard in 
assigning media to any of the filter categories. 


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