[Wikimedia-l] Resolution: Media about living people

Jane Darnell jane023 at gmail.com
Sat Dec 14 17:41:06 UTC 2013

Thanks Jee for those links. It strikes me as odd that on a
Commons:Contact us page there is no link to any explanation about how
it all works. In my (limited!) experience of helping BLP subjects, it
has helped them enormously just to talk about how Wikipedia works.
Sometimes they are certain that some family member is making revenge
edits, and just by showing them the user pages of the editors who made
the problematic edits, they are often very relieved. Looking at
history pages, discussion pages, and user pages is all very easy for
Wikipedians, but most BLP subjects have no clue and go ballistic over
something that might be trivial to fix. Instead of reducing our
content-intake, we should try to help people to help themselves more
by teaching them how to discover who made their page, who posted
comments or pictures to that page, and how to contact those users
either on their talk page or through the "email this user" feature.

2013/12/14, Jeevan Jose <jkadavoor at gmail.com>:
> And an application at
> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons_talk:Contact_us/Problems#Suggested_change
> Jee
> 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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