[WikiEN-l] "I want to at least simplify the problem a bit."

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Tue Feb 5 19:56:51 UTC 2008

Wily D wrote:
> On Feb 4, 2008 7:47 PM, Jussi-Ville Heiskanen <cimonavaro at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On 2/5/08, Rich Holton <richholton at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> All question of censorship aside, does it really make sense to have any
>>> image of historical persons that is not based on the actual likeness of that
>>> person on any page except [[depictions of...]] pages?
>>> Maybe there are a few exceptions, where a particular depiction has become
>>> universally identified with the subject. But that's not the case with most
>>> historical figures, Jesus and Muhammad included.
>>> Many, many depictions of Jesus look very European, which doesn't seem to be
>>> encyclopedic to me. But there's also a trend lately to have other depictions
>>> of Jesus that are targeted to a particular audience, without any concern for
>>> historical accuracy. This may be fine in liturgical settings, but not in an
>>> encyclopedia. But this is only more obviously wrong than a more
>>> "historically accurate" depiction. They're both still wrong.
>> It's worse than that. We still have no overarching policy that would
>> give us even *slight* guidance on what kind of imagery we should
>> include on wikipedia beyond the licensing issues and vague talk
>> about quality. There is no equivalent of NPOV for pictures worth
>> a damn.
>> Let's say we would like to have an image illustrating an article
>> about Andy Warhols depictions of Marilyn Monroe, to pick a silly
>> one with as few attached strings as possible. Which one of the
>> ones he printed would be appropriate? Any of them? Should we
>> have at least two, to give an idea of the variation between them.
>> Should we depict fakes? Does it matter what the resolution of
>> the images is? Assuming there would be no licensing issues...
>> Should we be guided by what Andy Warhol himself considered
>> his best copy of the Marilyn Image? Or by the auction price for
>> a particular copy? Or the preponderance of critical opinion on
>> what the most Ur-Marilyn-Copy is?
>> Really it would help to approach images by starting with the
>> cases that aren't so loaded with controversy. If you want to
>> make progress unraveling difficult issues, start unraveling
>> at a point where you can unravel at least a few loops.
> Well *explicit discussion* is not needed to determine consensus where
> a universal or near universal practice exists.  Every article where an
> image is available to represent someone it ends up getting used, even
> if there's no particular reason to believe it's accurate.  Pick any
> Old Testament figure, really ancient Greek philosopher, whatever, and
> there's a portrait if we can get our grubby little mitts on one.
> That everyone seems to feel they're useful indicates to me they're
> useful, even if it's tough to explain exactly why.
There is a fundamental fallacy in this argument.  Just as consensus in a 
discussion represents only the consensus of the participants, so too a 
universal practice represents only those who actually follow that practice.

I'm sure that many of our editors are addicted to having pretty pictures 
to decorate an article at all costs.  It seems to break up the monotony 
of straight text.  Where do you get the idea that "everyone" finds them 
useful beyond mere decoration.  When we show a bust of Socrates is it 
verifiable that Socrates.looked like this?  Perhaps all these pictures 
should be properly referenced.


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