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

Andreas Kolbe jayen466 at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 11 16:19:58 UTC 2011


You asked for a reply to your earlier questions.

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

> 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?

If we provide a filter, we have to be pragmatic, and restrict its application to media that significant demographics really might want to filter. 

We should take our lead from real-world media.

Real-world media show images of lesbians, pork, mixed-race couples, and unveiled women (even Al-Jazeera). 

There is absolutely no need to filter them, as there is no significant target group among our readers who would want such a filter.

Images of Muhammad, or masturbation with cucumbers, are different. There is a significant demographic of users who might not want to see such images, especially if they come across them unprepared.

If there is doubt whether or not an image should belong in a category (because the potentially controversial content is mostly covered, far in the background etc.), it should be left out, until there are complaints from filter users. 

You mentioned a discussion about category-based filter systems in your other post. One other avenue I would like to explore is whether the existing Commons category system could, with a bit of work, be used as a basis for the filter. I've made a corresponding post here:


This would reduce the need to tag thousands and thousands of images in Commons to a need to tag a few hundred categories. Some clean-up and recategorisation might be required for categories with mixed content. (Images stored on the projects themselves, rather than on Commons, would need to be addressed separately.)

I understand you are more in favour of users being able to switch all images off, depending on the page they are on. This has some attractive aspects, but it would not help e.g. the Commons user searching for an image of a pearl necklace. To see the images Commons contains, they have to have image display on, and then the first image they see is the image of the woman with sperm on her throat. 

It also does not necessarily prepare users for the media they might find in WP articles like the ones on fisting, ejaculation and many others; there are always users who are genuinely shocked to see that we have the kind of media we have on those pages, and are unprepared for them.


More information about the foundation-l mailing list