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

Andreas Kolbe jayen466 at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 14 04:45:36 UTC 2011


>From: David Levy <lifeisunfair at gmail.com>
>To: foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org
>Sent: Friday, 14 October 2011, 3:52
>Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Letter to the community on Controversial Content
>I wrote:
>> > In an earlier reply, I cited ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspapers and magazines
>> > that refuse to publish photographs of women.  If this were a mainstream
>> > policy, would that make it "neutral"?
>Andreas Kolbe replied:
>> NPOV policy as written would require us to do the same, yes.
>The community obviously doesn't share your interpretation of said policy.

It's not a question of interpretation; it is the very letter of the policy. Due weight and neutrality are established by reliable sources.

Now, let's look at your example: if you and I lived in a society that did not produce reliable sources about women, and refused to publish pictures of them, then I guess we would be unlikely to work on a wiki that 

- defines neutrality as fairly representing reliable sources without bias, 
- derives its definition of due weight from the weight any topic (incl. women) is given in reliable sources,
- requires verifiability in reliable sources for every statement made in our wiki, 
- and disallows original research. 

Instead, we would start a revolutionary wiki with a political agenda that 

- denounces the status quo, 
- criticises the inhuman and pervasive bias against women, 
- refuses to be bound by it,
- sets out to start a new tradition of writing about, and depicting, women, 
- and vows to subvert the established system in order to create a new world.

We would set out to be *different* from the existing sources.

However, in our world, that is not how Wikipedia views reliable sources. Wikipedia is not set up to be in antagonism to its sources; it is set up to be in agreement with them.


> In the same way, if no reliable sources were written about women, we would not
>> be able to have articles on them.
>The images in question depict subjects documented by reliable sources
>(through which the images' accuracy and relevance are verifiable).
>Essentially, you're arguing that we're required to present information
>only in the *form* published by reliable sources.
>> By following sources, and describing points of view with which you personally do
>> not agree, you are not affirming the correctness of these views. You are simply
>> writing neutrally.
>Agreed.  And that's what we do.  We describe views.  We don't adopt
>them as their own.
>If reliable sources deem a word objectionable and routinely censor it
>(e.g. when referring to the Twitter feed "Shit My Dad Says"), we don't
>follow suit.
>The same principle applies to imagery deemed objectionable.  We might
>cover the controversy in our articles (depending on the context), but
>we won't suppress such content on the basis that others do.
>As previously discussed, this is one of many reasons why reliable
>sources might decline to include images.  Fortunately, we needn't read
>their minds.  As I noted, we *always* must evaluate our available
>images (the pool of which differs substantially from those of most
>publications) to gauge their illustrative value.  We simply apply the
>same criteria (intended to be as objective as possible) across the
>> Images are content too, just like text.
>Precisely.  And unless an image introduces information that isn't
>verifiable via our reliable sources' text, there's no material
>David Levy
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>foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org
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