[Foundation-l] Letter to the community on Controversial Content

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen cimonavaro at gmail.com
Mon Oct 10 04:44:50 UTC 2011

On Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 6:47 AM, phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sun, Oct 9, 2011 at 9:10 AM, MZMcBride <z at mzmcbride.com> wrote:
>> David Gerard wrote:
>>> On 9 October 2011 14:18, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> On 9 October 2011 13:55, Ting Chen <tchen at wikimedia.org> wrote:
>>>>> The majority of editors who responded to the referendum are not opposed
>>>>> to the feature. However, a significant minority is opposed.
>>>> How do you know? The "referendum" didn't ask whether people were opposed or
>>>> not.
>>> I fear this point will need restating every time someone claims the
>>> "referendum" shows support.
>> I wonder what the image filter referendum results would have had to look
>> like in order to get anything other than a rambling "we march forward,
>> unabated!" letter from the Board.
>> MZMcBride
> Hi MZM and all! Greetings from the end of a long -- but productive and
> inspiring -- meeting weekend.
> "Marching forward unabated" is not, in fact, what we are saying. The
> board, and individual members of the board, are quite aware of all of
> the criticisms from the vote and from the conversations on and off
> list -- believe me. This is not an official report on behalf of the
> board, but here is what we discussed doing:
> * not going ahead with the category-based design that was proposed in
> the mockups; it is clear there are too many substantive problems that
> have been raised with this. Although this design (or any other) was
> actually not specified in the resolution, it is obvious that many of
> the critical comments were about using categorization in particular,
> and we hear that.
> * we are asking the staff to explore alternative designs, e.g. for a
> way for readers to flag images for themselves, and collapse individual
> images. This isn't fixed yet because it shouldn't be: we need to have
> a further period of iterative community & technical design.
> * not changing or revoking the Board resolution, because we do still
> think that there is a problem with our handling of potentially
> controversial content that needs to be addressed. We don't want to
> ignore the criticism, and we *also* don't want to ignore the positive
> comments from those who identified a problem and thought such a tool
> would be helpful and useful in addressing it. Our view is holistic.
> The Board discussed amending the resolution (we think, in particular,
> that the word 'filter' has led to many assumptions about design), but
> decided that for now the language of the resolution is broad enough
> that it leaves room for alternative solutions. And we also do not want
> to ignore the rest of the resolution -- the parts that call for better
> tools for commons, and that lay out that we respect the principle of
> least astonishment.
> The speculation on this list the last few weeks about what individual
> board members think and want has generally been wildly, hilariously
> off base -- I have seen many statements about board member motivations
> that couldn't have been more wrong -- but so has the speculation that
> we don't care and have not been paying attention. My own views on
> whether a filter as proposed is workable have changed over the past
> couple of months. I appreciate especially the reasoned comments I have
> seen from people who have taken the time to think it through and who
> have wondered if a design as proposed would even work for readers, or
> would be implementable. And I have been gratified to see people dig up
> things like library statements of principle; as foundational documents
> these are a good place to start from (as someone who has always seen
> herself as a free speech advocate inside and outside of the library
> world, this tactic has made me glad, even if we may differ on
> interpretation). I also am glad for those comments that took the time
> to look critically at the vote process -- we did make a lot of
> mistakes, but we did learn a lot, and I hope with the help of all of
> this input we can do a better job next time we have a broad-scale vote
> (did you know that this was the single largest participatory exercise
> in wikimedia's history? I could not have imagined that at the
> beginning of this summer).
> None of us on the board have any intention of being censors; that is
> no one's desire and within no one's tolerance. I do think the
> resolution principles (neutrality, principle of least astonishment)
> that we laid out as guidelines for the tool are still good, strong
> principles; and I wouldn't have voted for the resolution in the first
> place if I thought what we were proposing encompassed or enabled
> censorship. And what hasn't changed for me is the impetus behind the
> resolution: a desire to work on behalf of *both* the editing community
> and our broad (up to 7 billion!) community of readers, and a desire to
> get perspectives from outside our own sometimes narrow conversational
> community on the mailing lists and wikis.
> We know there are a lot of questions that have been resolved over the
> last few weeks about releasing vote data and so on that aren't
> addressed in this letter; we did not address everything in our board
> meeting either. As a board, we trust Sue to continue to implement the
> resolution; that means both managing the vote and its results, and
> design issues as well. And while we all of course are coming from
> different backgrounds and have different opinions, I think we are all
> on the same page about wanting to build helpful things for both our
> readers and our editors, and in wanting to treat minority views in our
> community as well as we treat majority ones.
> best,
> phoebe

I would like to spread a wide expanse of blue water between the view that
there are no trolls at all opposing the filter, and the view that the history
of this issue does seem to inform; trolls have been driving the filter issue
historically. Never gained any traction. Now it seems (only talking about
appearances) the trolls are running the asylum. I know that is not accurate
and you do too. But it is a perception we have to address, head on. This
issue is a Perennial Proposals Elephant Graveyard. That is the main
thrust. What people in favour of "doing something" are still trying to achieve
is "no we are not doing what we promised to not do, nudge nudge, wink wink.".

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen, ~ [[User:Cimon Avaro]]

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