[Wikimedia-l] Resolution: Media about living people

Jeevan Jose jkadavoor at gmail.com
Sat Dec 14 17:07:56 UTC 2013

And an application at


On Sat, Dec 14, 2013 at 10:31 PM, Jeevan Jose <jkadavoor at gmail.com> wrote:

> "Is there a discussion happening on Commons somewhere about the
> implications of this resolution? - John Vandenberg"
> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Village_pump#Resolution:Media_about_living_people
> Jee
> On Sat, Dec 14, 2013 at 10:24 PM, John Vandenberg <jayvdb at gmail.com>wrote:
>> On Sat, Dec 14, 2013 at 6:08 PM, Craig Franklin
>> <cfranklin at halonetwork.net> wrote:
>> > Hi Jane,
>> >
>> > I am concerned about the issue surrounding the comment "the real BLP
>> >> problems happen when heavyweight (in edit count terms) Wikipedia users
>> >> swing their weight around"
>> >>
>> >
>> > I think the problem is that if you ask ten different people about the
>> > reason why we have BLP problems, you'll get ten different answers.  All
>> ten
>> > would probably have some truth in them, but any one in isolation would
>> be
>> > inadequate.
>> The list of problems becomes even longer for images.
>> The 2009 resolution on biographies of living people was about
>> identifiable people, given they were the subject of a biography.  This
>> new 'media about living people' resolution doesn't make any such
>> distinction for media, which I guess will result in lots of confusion
>> about whether the scope includes images of unidentifiable people.  It
>> should, but ...
>> This resolution appears to be asking for verifiability regarding
>> images of living people.  We are going to need some clarity around
>> what the board considers to be verifiability (how do we prove the
>> photo was taken at a public event and it is real? etc), and whether
>> that includes unidentifiable people.
>> "Ensuring that all projects in all languages that describe or show
>> living people have policies in place calling for special attention to
>> the principles of neutrality and verifiability in those articles;.."
>> On English Wikipedia we have some guidance regarding photos of living
>> people, but I can't find anything relating to verifiability or
>> neutrality.
>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:No_original_research#Original_images
>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Biographies_of_living_persons#Images
>> Wikimedia Commons has a policy which rejects 'neutrality', and it
>> doesnt have a verifiability policy.
>> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Project_scope/Neutral_point_of_view
>> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Photographs_of_identifiable_people
>> Is there a discussion happening on Commons somewhere about the
>> implications of this resolution?
>> > My own point of view is that our policies and procedures are actually
>> > pretty good on paper, but they're just very unevenly and inconsistently
>> > applied in the real world.  The "Tier 1" biographies, such as those of
>> > Messrs Obama, Cameron, and Abbott are pretty safe from BLP hijinx, but
>> > there is a massive underbelly of poorly defended BLPs on minor
>> celebrities,
>> > local politicians, and the like, which are not watched consistently and
>> > where hagiography or defamation can take root.  This is why, while
>> things
>> > like the BoT's declaration are not unwelcome, I feel that they don't
>> have
>> > any practical effect in fixing the problem.  All it takes is for one
>> > negatively written bio to slip through the net to do real harm to
>> someone
>> > in the real world.
>> I agree with you Craig up to here ..
>> > My preferred way of dealing with this on en.wp would be to massively
>> > tighten the notability criteria where they related to biographies of
>> living
>> > or possibly living people, but this would no doubt be met with cries of
>> > "deletionism!".
>> And agree your preferred approach could help.  On English Wikipedia, I
>> think we have an article/editor ratio problem, which is only getting
>> worse as articles increase and editors leave, and is meaning
>> watchlists are less useful to scan for problematic edits.
>> The test for this is what is the average length of time between an
>> edit of an old page (e.g. created in 2005) to the point in time that
>> the edit a) appears on a watchlist, or b) is viewed as a diff, or c)
>> is loaded as a page view, or d) leads to another edit.  Then compare
>> those averages with the averages from a year before, to determine
>> whether edits are slipping past watchlists and recentchanges. I'm
>> guessing that the length of time from edit to (a) or (b) is
>> increasing, while (c) may be decreasing as Wikipedia readership
>> increases.
>> A smaller Wikipedia scope means there are less articles, with more
>> editors watching and editing the pages the BLP problems appear on.
>> I think it is necessary to add here that FlaggedRevs (Pending Changes)
>> also helps, as any BLP problems are held in a queue.  The 'volume of
>> edits' can be a problem with FlaggedRevs in practise, but a) the
>> 'size.
>> > Indeed, I don't think it's possible to adequately address
>> > the issue on large projects like en.wp or commons without a massive
>> > cultural shift and sweeping changes to policy that would cause immense
>> > disruption in the community; something the BoT is understandably
>> reluctant
>> > to do.
>> Another way the board can get serious about this problem is to mandate
>> that each project write a BLP management strategy that needs to be
>> approved by the WMF board, which would involve some type of periodic
>> review of all content.  The strategy would differ for each project
>> based on their policies, scope and the size of the project.  e.g.
>> Wikisources would need to review only unpublished sources added each
>> year; Wikipedias using FlaggedRevs could do spot checks annually;
>> Wikipedias which have chosen to not use FlaggedRevs would be required
>> to come up with feasible alternative solutions to verify the existing
>> BLPs are clean of significant BLP problems.  Projects which failed to
>> complete their periodic reviews of the content would be put into
>> maintenance mode(s) until they have completed the review.  e.g. The
>> devs might be asked to disable 'creation of new pages in mainspace' on
>> the wiki as a first step measure to focus the community on the task.
>> More generally, we should have tiers in the notability system, by
>> which we agree that not everyone is as notable as Barack Obama, and
>> therefore their 'living' bio should not contain every detail that is
>> ever published.  The lowest tier is bios about people with
>> questionable notability or low notability and avoid publicity, such as
>> (most) referees, sports people who only played a few matches, most
>> academics, which should only include facts that are relevant to their
>> notability and their brief appearances into 'public life'.  On English
>> Wikipedia, those articles should all be put under FlaggedRevs, and
>> edits that increase the scope of the biography are
>> rejected/held/not-approved until there is consensus on the talk page
>> that the subject is notable enough that other aspects of their life
>> are of general interest to understanding their achievements or actions
>> which have become notable.
>> Perhaps not just yet, but Wikidata should bring new solutions to this
>> problem.  We may have more consensus to remove classes of living
>> people biographies from Wikipedia as the basic details of their life
>> can be placed into Wikidata.
>> For example, only a few of these referees deserve a proper 'biography'
>> - for the others, their bio exists on Wikipedia only because it is
>> useful to have a unique identifier for the person, and we like to
>> record a list of a person's public appearances.
>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Australian_soccer_referees
>> In a few of those articles, there are unsourced claims that the
>> referee made a significant mistake.  Besides official honours awarded,
>> there is not similar commentary describing all of the times that
>> sports commentators spoke highly of the referees decisions.  i.e.
>> these articles are either BLP problems now, or will be in the future.
>> A referees decisions are usually only relevant within the context of a
>> match, and don't belong on their bio.
>> In almost every case, the details in those articles can be moved to
>> claims in Wikidata once a few Wikidata properties are created, and a
>> non-editable page could be automatically generated on Wikipedias to
>> describe the subject and list the events the person appeared in.
>> --
>> John Vandenberg
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