The Signpost

In the media

Daily Dot on Commons and porn; Jimmy Wales accused of breaking Wikipedia rules in hunt for Snowden

Contribute  —  
Share this
By Emily Temple-Wood, Go Phightins!, Jayen466

Daily Dot on Commons and porn

In a 25 June article entitled "How Wikimedia Commons became a massive amateur porn hub", the Daily Dot examined the perennial controversy over explicit or pornographic media on Commons. This latest salvo was touched off when Russavia uploaded a portrait of Jimmy Wales made by the artist Pricasso, who paints with his genitalia. The conflict between Wales—who declared that the image was "sexual harassment"—and Russavia (with other editors becoming involved along the way) has been brewing over the issue of pornographic material on Commons since 2010 and has intensified in recent months. Recent areas of conflict include the issue of model consent and the scope of Commons itself, which the author calls the "black sheep" of the Wikimedia projects. Commons hosts a wide variety of media of drastically differing quality, and the categorization scheme means that explicit media is hosted in a variety of categories that may appear innocuous.

The Daily Dot says that Commons has an "exhibition culture … dominated by men", and cites the example of Hansy2's extensive upload log, including "at least 29" explicit pictures of his genitalia. When the images were all put up for deletion, all were kept because one penis picture exhibits a rare skin disorder and is used in the article on that disorder.

The author asked both Russavia and Pricasso if he commissioned the portrait, and both confirmed that Russavia had requested the portrait, though the latter claims that "there was no exchange of cash or quid pro quo involved"; Pricasso was quoted in the article as saying that the anonymous patron offered a Wikipedia article with him as the subject in exchange for the portrait, yet another controversy in the continuing paid-contribution saga. The debate over this portrait has included a massive deletion discussion at Commons (commons:Commons:Deletion requests/File:Jimmy Wales by Pricasso.jpg), where it was kept, many noticeboard debates, several discussions on User talk:Jimbo Wales, and two essays in the Signpost. The author concluded that the community's decision to keep the files was wrong, saying "And what better way, incidentally, to prove that Commons is ethically broken than for one of its top bureaucrats to employ the site in a harassment campaign against the cofounder of Wikipedia itself?"

Jimmy Wales accused of contravening policies in hunt for Snowden

The banned English Wikipedia user Gregory Kohs, who is also a member and frequent commentator on Wikipedia criticism site Wikipediocracy, published an article on claiming that the "notorious" co-founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales (User:Jimbo Wales) had looked into whether the PRISM leaker and current fugitive Edward Snowden had ever edited on Wikipedia, due to his active online presence. The article goes on to chastise Wales for what Kohs claims was a violation of Wikipedia's policy against "outing" editors. The article, to which the Signpost cannot link because of the English Wikipedia's spam blacklist, states:

After Wales’ initial comment on his talk page, a thread on the Administrators' Noticeboard was initiated by Wikipedia administrator Fram. The article quotes several Wikipedians' responses (without revealing their usernames in the article), commenting that editors "picked apart Jimbo with a precision only Wikipedians could exact":

The article then quotes Wales, who said that all editors except Fram are welcome to discuss the issue at his talk page, and finally goes on to harshly criticize Wales and Wikipedia in general.

Wales and Kohs later directly exchanged perspectives on the popular Q&A site Quora.

As to whether or not Wales actually did violate Wikipedia policy, views in the ANI thread were mixed. Fram, who started the thread, said, "Speculation on which accounts may be used by named (notable) persons, for the sake of curiosity, have no place on Wikipedia." Nick, who closed the thread, remarked in his closing comments, "BLP policy and our civility guidelines apply everywhere so if Edward does have any publicly acknowledged accounts, they need to be kept free from inappropriate comments and behaviour. The same care and attention will need to be lavished upon any accounts discussed in the press, regardless of whether they are confirmed to be Edward's accounts." Dennis Brown fell somewhere in the middle: "Jimmy, I don't think you were trying to out him directly, but your comments are what some might call a 'red flag' comment, an indication that a user is trying to connect dots. If you weren't 'Jimbo' and were instead a <5k editor, I would have given a polite notification and a pointer to WP:OUTING. The comments as they are might be seen as you encouraging or condoning others outting him, even if that isn't your intention."

This story was widely covered in the international media, including ITPro, Softpedia, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Tech2. France24 pointed out that usernames similar to TrueHOOHA, Snowden's username on sites like ArsTechnica, came under suspicion by Wales and others following an investigation into his other online activities. However, as of now, it has not been verified whether or not Snowden edited, nor under what name, had he edited. France24 noted that the outing policy is a "golden rule" of Wikipedia and reported Fram's criticism of the search for Snowden's username, as did Der Spiegel (Germany) and Der Standard (Austria). Both of these latter articles later had statements by Wales added to them. According to Der Spiegel, Wales told them it was the community that had asked questions about Snowden's activities on Wikipedia, while he himself had warned against an outing – a statement that seems hard to reconcile with the discussions that took place on his talk page and at the administrators' noticeboard. The article in Der Standard was updated after an an exchange of views on Twitter between Wales and Florian Hirzinger.

In brief

+ Add a comment

Discuss this story

These comments are automatically transcluded from this article's talk page. To follow comments, add the page to your watchlist. If your comment has not appeared here, you can try purging the cache.

Daily Dot on Commons and porn

Ethically broken? Eh…

What is ethically broken are not the Commons but the entire United States society which dominates also the English Wikipedia. Proof of that came by the Supreme Court of the United States itself, which within 24 hours both supported gay marriage and revoked black voters' rights in Texas and other rogue states. --Matthiasb (talk) 20:20, 27 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Well gee, now that's a bloody large brush to tar the entire United States with. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 22:53, 27 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
And the large brush flings tar but sheds no light on the issues discussed regarding Commons. Because we can all be assured that one can simply go to Windsor, Ontario or Tijuana, Mexico, and escape the problems of "United States society", can't we? And if problems spill over to those two cities, then certainly London, Paris, Rome and Berlin are entirely exempt from these problems. They are, aren't they? But if not, then all the world's problems are due to "United States society", aren't they? Matthiasb told me so. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:55, 28 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Well. Gay marriage is legal in London, Paris, Rome, and Berlin though none out of the UK, France, Italy, and Germany needed anti-discrimination overseeing of state election laws been overturned by the Supreme Court. Bearing that in mind, yes, the UK, France, Italy, and Germany are exempt of these problems, I guess. --Matthiasb (talk) 17:31, 28 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
You are simply incorrect about same-sex marriage, Matthiasb. It is not yet fully legal in the United Kingdom, Germany or Italy. Same sex marriages are being performed this evening in California. Your statement about black voter rights being "revoked" in "Texas and other rogue states" is also inaccurate and hyperbolic. Although I disagree profoundly with this ruling on voter rights, I can assure you that the black and minority right to vote is not being "revoked". Instead, it is argued that ID and voting access restrictions will affect minority voters disproportionately. It is a problem analogous to Turks in Germany#Discrimination, if Germany had any problems, that is. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 01:30, 29 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Matthiasb, I find your trolling to be "ethically broken". I also find it strange that you support the civil rights of racial minorities, but not sexual minorities. Why discriminate in your bigotry? Kaldari (talk) 21:16, 2 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Wikidata to the rescue

While the Signpost keeps trying to milk the cheap drama cow, they fail to inform about the most relevant news of the week, which is the Wikidata proposal to "fix" Commons: Wikidata for media info. It might not seem much on the first sight, but this proposal will allow to get extreamely accurate search results. So accurate, that this tiresome sensationalism might become irrelevant when everyone is able to find what they are looking for.--Micru (talk) 23:31, 27 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Hi Micru, and thanks for your feedback. Unfortunately, I think you might misunderstand this section of the Signpost. In the media only covers how Wikipedia was covered in the media in the preceding week. So far as we saw, no media outlet had reported about Wikidata. In the future, if you see something that you think should be included, feel free to suggest it on the suggestions page. Thanks again for reading as well as for your feedback! Sincerest regards, Ben (Go Phightins! 03:27, 28 June 2013 (UTC))[reply]
I'll second that, we can't see and find everything, especially a little-linked proposal on Commons that was created only a couple days ago. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 03:40, 28 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Ok! No problem! Sorry if my comment sounded too harsh, but after having Commons-soup for two weeks straight, giving such prominence to an article that it is just a repetition of well-known issues and that doesn't add anything new, it seemed too much. Other than that I take the chance to praise you for your dedication with The Signpost. I read you often and I will keep reading you! --Micru (talk) 04:16, 28 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
No worries. We miss far more than we cover. Please leave suggestions and links at Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/Newsroom/Suggestions—we do read and use most of the posts there. :-) Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 05:39, 28 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Google SafeSearch to the rescue

Here is an easy way to stop the perennial whining of the prudes. Add Google Search links to the commons:Special:Search page:

The Google image search links for the Wikimedia Commons can be put on Special:Search on every Wikimedia wiki. We could also add a few site search links from other major search engines such as Bing. And a link to a page with yet more search links.

An additional Google site search link can also be set to search for images particular to a specific Wikimedia wiki. That would allow Google search of images uploaded only on that wiki, and of fair use images on that particular wiki. --Timeshifter (talk) 01:05, 28 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

It would also ensure that every reader who tries to use commons has their data tracked by google. This would be a tremendous violation of our privacy policy and I strongly doubt it will be implemented. Okeyes (WMF) (talk) 11:00, 28 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
It is an option, not a requirement that people use it. I am sure you know this. Why do so many WMF staff seem to abide by the Just Say No school of interaction? Think of ways to make ideas of others work. Stop trying to be the mother of people using the Commons. People know the risks, and can think for themselves. They may not be as paranoid as you. If you, or they, are that paranoid, then you can install addons such these Firefox addons: DoNotTrackMe: Online Privacy Protection. It blocks hundreds of online trackers. CNET info. Or selectivecookiedelete, and set it for Google cookies.
Many people use Google frequently to search the Commons. I have over 19,000 edits on the Commons, and so I know what I am talking about. I have gotten a search gadget added to Commons preferences. Other gadgets too. Many, if not most, people have Google Toolbar, Google home page, Google addons, etc.. I have all 3 depending on the browser. Firefox does not allow the Google Toolbar (which is fantastic for site searches of any site). So I use this Firefox addon to search any website with Google: Search Site.
But the bottom line is that Google is already used in various Wikimedia projects. For example; Wikipedia:WikiProject Geographical coordinates. Click on the link for latitude and longitude coordinates at the top of most city pages on Wikipedia for example. On the Commons see commons:Special:Preferences#mw-prefsection-gadgets and go to the "Geocoding tools" section. See this gadget there: "Locate images on Google Maps: On Category pages, adds a 'Map' link to locate geocoded images from that category on Google Maps." --Timeshifter (talk) 21:45, 28 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Here is another browser addon:
Self-Destructing Cookies. --Timeshifter (talk) 19:34, 2 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
I had forgotten about this in Wikipedia preferences (gadgets tab):
"Add a selector to the Wikipedia search page allowing the use of external search engines". It adds search options to Special:Search for Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.. It would be nice if that gadget were in Commons preferences too. An additional entry for Google images SafeSearch could be added.
I just found this preference on the Commons in gadgets: "GoogleImages tab: On File pages, adds a new tab to easily search for similar images on the Internet using Google Images." It is for doing reverse image searches. See documentation at commons:Help:Image searching. --Timeshifter (talk) 02:54, 5 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]

What are RE lessons?

I've never heard this term before. Hawkeye7 (talk) 21:57, 27 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

RE is short for Religious Education, sometimes lumped together with History, Geography and Citizenship under an umbrella subject of Humanities. In the UK; RE lessons are predominantly Christian in state schools but also include Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism etc as chosen by the Local education authority. Nanonic (talk) 22:08, 27 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]


I find it interesting how many of these news reports refer to vandalism as "hacking". Do they not know that anyone can edit the 'pedia or ?? --TKK bark ! 22:54, 27 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Wrong Sport

"In brief"

Hi. When referring to something specific, like titles of movies, plays, articles, and so on, one normally uses quotation marks. I see no reason not to have these. I actually changed a bit of text before realizing what the author(s) had done here. Killiondude (talk) 01:06, 28 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Bot generated articles

Even though it has not raised as much controversy here, I think bot generated articles are a problem on En. Usually these articles are systematically created in either an automatic or semi-automatic fashion working from a reference book. For example, we have about 5000 one-sentence articles on unsignificant asteroids, that really should have been simply referenced in a table. From what I understand, the astronomy Wikiproject is generally on board with merging them into the summary table articles, but it is difficult to weed the somewhat-notable ones from the non-notable ones in an automatic fashion, so they have lingered. When we let people create systematic articles such as these, the workload generally falls on other editors to clean up the mess, and/or keep an eye on thousands of micro-stubs indefinitely.

Part of the problem comes from our practice of inherent notability for certain things, such as tiny settlements and professional sports players. These classes of inherent notability create situations where it is very hard to stop someone from doing mass article creation. Sometimes there is an outcry, and they do stop, but often the damage is done, because if the articles were on a topic that is presumed notable regardless of demonstrated secondary source coverage, a mass deletion is off the table as an option. Gigs (talk) 14:06, 28 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Commons and "porn"

The major reasons Commons is so resistant to censorship is that the last big attempt to censor it included removing non-photographic artworks by relatively important artists, which were in wide use. There's also various other issues - in any censorship LGBT images tend to get censored for far less than heterosexual ones, for instance.

Now, there's no reason to have Commons be an "amateur porn hub", but at the same time, the last attempt to censor Commons (by Jimbo himself) actually included talk of old master paintings being deleted - and a lot of artworks by still pretty darn notable artists were deleted. That's a good way to both gut our educational mission and make ourselves look stupid.

We can probably get some good rules. But every single attempt to deal with issues at commons has been a knee-jerk reaction, with no time for debate or ability to come up with policies that genuinely will protect the projects, or that will recognise that sometimes nudity, even large amounts of nudity, can be educational (non-sexualised nudes of all body types, poses, races and ages would be very educational to artists, for instance.)

So, if we're to deal with the issue, we need good policy, and that means actually taking the time to discuss what's actually needed, and consulting all Wikimedia projects. I never want to see a pose of notable artworks and images in use happen again. Adam Cuerden (talk) 03:48, 29 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Actually there was a long drawn out process at Commons:Commons:Sexual content, a fairly moderate proposal which was fairly narrowly rejected. The bottom line is that there simply is no problem, no matter how much lobbying certain people now on the Signpost do on a weekly basis. Commons has been this way for a decade, and despite Larry Sanger's agitation to the FBI a few years back trying to get it prosecuted over some kind of anime cartoons, the bottom line is, it is fully legal, thoroughly educational, and expresses the prevalent academic norm that freedom of expression is actually a good thing. No matter what the artist uses for a paintbrush. Wnt (talk) 16:22, 30 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
"LGBT images tend to get censored for far less than heterosexual ones". Maybe this is because most of the pornographic images on Commons are heterosexual. Just a thought. Kaldari (talk) 21:22, 2 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
It's a general rule. It was an issue during the last attempted purge, when, for example, relatively tame lesbian artworks were getting deletedwhen noone was deleting heterosexual imagery of similar, relatively tame levels. Adam Cuerden (talk) 22:03, 2 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Sorry, I misread your original sentence. I didn't read the 'for'. I thought you were saying that heterosexual images were being censored more. Kaldari (talk) 00:17, 3 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Attracting women editors

On the one hand, it can be good to just let things blow over, but on the other hand, when our community norms for enforcing civil behavior are permanently set at the "minimizing, denying" stage it means a certain number of potentially valuable contributors-- especially women-- are just going to walk away. Djembayz (talk) 14:14, 29 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]


The Signpost · written by many · served by Sinepost V0.9 · 🄯 CC-BY-SA 4.0