[Foundation-l] category free image filtering

Tobias Oelgarte tobias.oelgarte at googlemail.com
Sun Oct 23 14:36:37 UTC 2011

Am 23.10.2011 15:46, schrieb WereSpielChequers:
> ------------------------------
>> Message: 3
>> Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2011 02:57:51 +0200
>> From: Tobias Oelgarte<tobias.oelgarte at googlemail.com>
>> Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] category free image filtering
>> To: foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org
>> Message-ID:<4EA3668F.5010004 at googlemail.com>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
>> Am 23.10.2011 01:49, schrieb WereSpielChequers:
>>> Hi Tobias,
>>> Do youhave any problems with this category free proposal
>>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:WereSpielChequers/filter
>>> WereSpelChequers
>> The idea isn't bad. But it is based on the premise that there are enough
>> users of the filter to build such correlations. It requires enough input
>> to work properly and therefore enough users of the feature, that have
>> longer lists. But how often does an average logged in user find such an
>> image and handle accordingly? That would be relatively seldom, resulting
>> in a very short own list, by relatively few users, which makes it hard
>> to start the system (warm up time).
>> Since i love to find ways on how to exploit systems there is one simple
>> thing on my mind. Just login to put a picture of penis/bondage/... on
>> the list and than add another one of the football team you don't like.
>> Repeat this step often enough and the system will believe that all users
>> that don't like to see a penis would also not like to see images of that
>> football team.
>> Another way would be: "I find everything offensive." This would hurt the
>> system, since correlations would be much harder to find.
>> If we assume good faith, then it would probably work. But as soon we
>> have spammers of this kind, it will lay in ruins, considering the amount
>> of users and corresponding relatively short lists (in average).
>> Just my thoughts on this idea.
>> Greetings
>> nya~
> Hi Tobias,
> Yes if it turned out that almost no-one used this then only the "Hide all
> image - recommended for users with slow internet connections" and the "Never
> show me this image again" options would be effective. My suspicion is that
> even if globally there were only a few thousand users then it would start to
> be effective on the most contentious images in popular articles in the most
> widely read versions of wikipedia (and I suspect that many of the same image
> will be used on other language versions). The more people using it the more
> effective it would be, and the more varied phobias and cultural taboos it
> could cater for.  We have hundreds of millions of readers, if we offer them
> a free image filter then I suspect that lots will signup, but in a sense it
> doesn't matter how many do so - one of the advantages to this system is that
> when people complain about images they find offensive we will simply be able
> to respond with instructions as to how they can enable the image filter on
> their account.
> I'm pretty confident that huge numbers, perhaps millions with slow internet
> connections would use the hide all images option, and that enabling them to
> do so would be an uncontentious way to further our mission by making our
> various products much more available in certain parts of the global south.
> As far as I'm concerned this is by far the most important part of the
> feature and the one that I'm most confident will be used, though it may
> cease to be of use in the future when and if the rest of the world has North
> American Internet speeds.
> I'm not sure how spammers would try to use this,  but I accept that vandals
> will try various techniques from liking penises to finding pigs and
> particular politicians equally objectionable. Those who simply use this to
> "like" picture of Mohammed would not be a problem, the system should easily
> be able to work out that things they liked would be disliked by another
> group of users. The much more clever approach of disliking both a particular
> type of porn and members of a particular football team is harder to cater
> for, but I'm hoping that it could be coded to recognise not just where
> preferences were completely unrelated, as in the people with either
> arachnaphobia  or vertigo, or partially related as in one person having both
> arachnaphobia and vertigo. Those who find everything objectionable and tag
> thousands of images as such would easily be identified as having dissimilar
> preferences to others, as their preferences would be no more relevant to
> another filterer as those of an Arachnaphobe would be to a sufferer of
> vertigo.
> Of course it's possible that there are people out there who are keen to tag
> images for others not to see. In this system there is room for them, if your
> preferences are similar to some such users then the system would pick that
> up. If your preferences are dissimilar or you don't opt in to the filter
> then they would have no effect on you. The system would work without such
> self appointed censors, but why not make use of them? I used to live with an
> Arachnaphobe, if I was still doing so I'd have no problem creating an
> account and tagging a few hundred images of spiders so that they and other
> Arachnaphobes would easily be able to use the image filter and the system
> would be able to identify those who had a similar preference to that
> account.
> I was tempted to augment the design by giving filterers the option of having
> multiple filter lists with their own private user filter labels. This would
> complicate the user experience, but if a user had two lists, one that
> triggered their vertigo and the other their arachnaphobia it would then be
> much easier for the system to match them with others who shared either of
> their phobias. It would also be easier for the system to use either of their
> lists to assist the filters of others who shared that preference. However it
> would also give anyone who hacked into the filter database a handy key to
> the meaning of the various preferences, and it would put us at the top of a
> slippery slope - if the data existed then sooner or later someone would
> suggest looking at the user filter labels and the images that came up in
> them. So I thought it safest to omit that feature.
> Regards
> WereSpielChequers
The tagging for others is the way to exploit this system or to make it 
ineffective. You wrote, that you would tag images of spiders for him. 
This would only work if you used his account. If you would use your own, 
then you would just mix his preference with your own, giving the system 
a very different impression, while it did not learn anything about him 
(his account).

Another issue is the warm up time. While it could happen relatively fast 
(under the assumption that there are enough people that would flag the 
images) to collect the needed initial data for group building and 
relation searches, there would still be the initial task to train the 
system for yourself. That means that someone who has arachnophobia would 
have to view at an image of a spider like creature and the guts to stay 
until he hid it and then calmly set his preferences. Ironically he has 
to look directly at the spider to find that button, while other images 
of the same category might be represented in close proximity. A first 
hard task to do, even if the system has finished it's warm up period.

To start with "all hidden" as an option would give the system an nearly 
impossible task. While it is easy to determine what a user does not want 
to see, it is a completely different story to determine what he wants to 
see, under the premise that he does not want to be offended. That means 
that he will at least have to view something 
offending/ugly/disgusting/... at least once and to take an action the 
system could use to learn from.

One open problem is the so called "logic/brain of the system". Until we 
have an exact description on how it will exactly work, we know neither 
it's strong points nor it's weak spots. Until i see an algorithm that is 
able to solve this task, i can't really say, if I'm in favor or against 
the proposal.


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