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

Florence Devouard anthere9 at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 10 09:19:43 UTC 2011

On 10/9/11 11:57 PM, Bjoern Hoehrmann wrote:
> * Sue Gardner wrote:
>> Please read Ting's note carefully. The Board is asking me to work with
>> the community to develop a solution that meets the original
>> requirements as laid out in its resolution. It is asking me to do
>> something. But it is not asking me to do the specific thing that has
>> been discussed over the past several months, and which the Germans
>> voted against.
> There is nothing useful to be learned from the Letter to the Community.

The problem is that what is usually called "the Board" on this list is 
not a single entity. It is actually a group of persons.

And right now, the situation is that there is no real agreement within 
"the Board" about what to exactly do or not do.

Accordingly, it is probably tough for "the Board" as an entity to issue 
statements or letters or recommandations without bumping in the fact 
that they do not have a single common position.

Consequently, there is nothing really useful in any statements they can 


> What we can assume is that someone on the Board raised the issue about
> people complaining about images, someone suggested if there are images
> people don't like, they should have the option to have them hidden from
> them, and then they agreed that someone should figure that out. Board
> members do not thing they have to contribute to the solution and they
> don't think the community should have any say in whether the feature is
> actually wanted by the community. Whoever is tasked with figuring this
> out isn't actually taking useful steps towards solving the problem.
> Instead we are burning goodwill by arguing the finer points of what is,
> exactly, censorship, how there are provocateurs in our midst, and how
> important, relative to not, it is that users have this feature whether
> they are logged in or not, and any number of other things. This is not
> an issue where you can hope to get everyone on board by appealing to
> people's empathy and understanding, people do not know whether they are
> to board the Titanic or the QE2, so you get a lot of talk about how the
> ship will sink if you build it incorrectly or steer it badly.
> It would be easy for the Board to resolve that at this point they ex-
> pect whoever they tasked with it to come up with a technical proposal
> in coordination with the community which might then be implemented on
> projects who volunteer to test it and then there will be an evaluation
> also in coordination with the community before any further steps are
> taken, for instance. But the Chair has chosen to instead inform the
> community that it's far too late to argue about this feature and there
> is no reason for the Board to do as little as hint at the possibility
> that this feature will not be imposed on projects by force.
> We can read the Letter to the Community carefully if you want. I note,
> e.g., "deliberately offending or provoking them is not respectful, and
> is not okay". This is insinuating a notable group of people is taking
> the opposite position, which is not true. That part starts "We believe
> we need, and should want, to treat readers with respect. Their opinions
> and preferences are as legitimate as our own". The list of opinions and
> preferences humans have held throughout history that today "we" would
> find abhorrent is very, very long. "The majority of editors who
> responded to the referendum are not opposed to the feature." I do not
> see how one can have followed the discussion without running across the
> fact that this statement is regarded as invalid inference from the poll.
> Like I said, it does not really matter what he wrote, the people who've
> expressed concern about the filter do not care about random claims how
> the Board is listening and hearing and paying attention and wants us to
> work with "you" despite the Board being openly hostile towards the com-
> munity, whether it means to be or is just exceptionally bad at dealing
> with the community in a manner that is well received. What they want is
> that this issue goes away, whether that is by abandoning the project or
> a brilliant idea that nobody has thought of so far or whatever.
> Clearly an image filter can be developed and maintained. Having one has
> costs and benefits. It may well be that no filter can be developed such
> that the benefits outweigh the costs. Without knowing that it is not
> reasonable to command implementation of the filter. If this had been
> framed as some explorative feasibility and requirements gathering study
> with an open outcome and proposals sought, we would have a different
> kind of discussion.
>> The Board is hoping there is a solution that will 1) enable readers to
>> easily hide images they don't want to see, as laid out in the Board's
>> resolution [1], while 2) being generally acceptable to editors. Maybe
>> this will not be possible, but it's the goal. The Board definitely
>> does not want a war with the community, and it does not want people to
>> fork or leave the projects. The goal is a solution that's acceptable
>> for everyone.
> Well, then the Board should not have commanded implementation before an
> idea what to implement had been developed, the development should not
> have happened way out of reach of the community, there should not have
> been a referendum without a proposal that enjoys some meaningful level
> of community support, the referndum should have asked more meaningful
> questions, and the whole thing should have been very clearly branded as
> an experiment participation in which will be genuinely optional. It'll
> be necessary to move a few steps back to re-synchronize with the rest of
> the community and move together from there on. There would need to be a
> forum and process to discuss and agree on questions like whether it's
> sufficient if there is a feature to hide, blur, or otherwise obscure all
> images, and if not, what kind of process should be used to decide to de-
> cide how to classify images, and all manners of questions like these.
> If the people who wish to participate in this come up with something
> they anticipate overwhelming support for, let them doublecheck with the
> larger community informally, like calling for comments in the Signpost
> or whatever may be suitable, ideally allowing people to test this in a
> test wiki with reasonable sample images, then ask the community if they
> want this feature on their wikis and enable it as appropriate. This is
> not rocket science, if you want community support, make it easy for the
> community to be informed about and participate in all steps in the pro-
> cess, make decisions only after people could voice their well informed
> opinions, improve documentation based on what you learn in discussions.
> Gather more data, conduct a representative poll among german speaking
> people, ask them how often they use Wikipedia, how often they encouter
> images in some general category that would rather not see. If you have
> 50% of regular users who find such images on 1 of 10 articles they see,
> german speaking editors would most likely be surprised and re-evaluate
> their position, not necessarily with respect to the filter, but they'd
> pay more attention to their image selections, perhaps there are areas
> where image selection is a problem because we lack better ones, then
> new images could be made and so on. Conduct a global poll, demonstrate
> that this is an issue for so and so many people. The "referendum" is of
> no use here since, when the Board decides we must have a filter, people
> assume they have carefully studied the need and the feasibility and are
> all the more likely to agree than if it's a matter of "some people com-
> plain, someone suggested maybe some sort of filter would help, should
> we spend donor's money on this problem rather than better tools to com-
> bat vandalism?". Having studies would allow you to cite your sources
> when making claims about whether there is a problem; a familiar concept.
> As it is, we do not even have the full results of the "referendum" ...

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