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

Andreas Kolbe jayen466 at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 11 12:35:21 UTC 2011

From: David Levy <lifeisunfair at gmail.com>

Andreas Kolbe wrote:

> The way it is supposed to work is by creating categories that simply describe
> media content. A bit like alt.texts, I guess. Examples might be:
> Images of people engaged in sexual intercourse.
> Videos of people masturbating.
> Images of genitals.
> Pictures of the prophet Muhammad.
> Images of open wounds.
> In other words, the idea is to give the user objective definitions of media
> content (not a subjective assessment of any likely offence).

As has been mentioned numerous times, deeming certain subjects (and
not others) "potentially objectionable" is inherently subjective and

Unveiled women, pork consumption, miscegenation and homosexuality are
considered objectionable by many people.  Will they be assigned
categories?  If not, why not?  If so, who's gong to analyze millions
of images (with thousands more uploaded on a daily basis) to tag them?

And what if the barefaced, bacon-eating, interracial lesbians are
visible only in the image's background?  Does that count?


Please let's get real.

If I search Commons for "electric toothbrushes", the second search result is an image of a woman masturbating with an electric toothbrush:


If I search Commons for "pearl necklace", the first search result is an image of a woman with sperm on her throat:


If I search Commons for "cucumber", the first page of search results shows a woman with a cucumber up her vagina:


Please accept that people who are looking for images of electric toothbrushes, cucumbers and pearl necklaces in Commons may be somewhat taken aback by this. Surely your vision of neutrality does not include that we have to force people interested in personal hygiene, vegetables and fashion to look at graphic sex images? There is theory and practice. Philosophically, I agree with you. But looking at the results of trying to find an image of a cucumber or pearl necklace in Commons is a pragmatic question. Users should be able to tailor their user experience to their needs.


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