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Jimmy Wales wades into Wikipedia porn debate

Wikipedia

By Stuart Turton

Posted on 7 May 2010 at 14:18

Jimmy Wales has poured fuel on the Wikimedia pornography row, by encouraging admins to delete images that "appeal solely to prurient interests".

The comments come almost a month after Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sagner reported the Wikimedia Foundation to the FBI for serving up "depictions of child sexual molestation" on its servers.

The report brought a scathing response from the Foundation, which claimed "we don't have material we would deem to be illegal. If we did, we would remove it." The organisation denied hearing from the authorities.

Wikimedia Commons admins who wish to remove from the project all images that are of little or no educational value but which appeal solely to prurient interests have my full support

However, Wales has now waded into the argument by encouraging immediate deletion of pornographic content, calling for "a large-scale cleanup project" of the site.

"Wikimedia Commons admins who wish to remove from the project all images that are of little or no educational value but which appeal solely to prurient interests have my full support," he said.

"I am stating here my public support for admins who are prepared to enforce quality standards and get rid of a large quantity of what can only be characterised as 'trolling' images of people's personal pornography collections," he concluded.

In a separate post he claimed Wikimedia would be making a formal statement on the issue in the next few days.

Speedy deletions

The comments brought a swift backlash from the community, with contributor Adam Cuerden claiming that Wales' desire for "speedy deletions" threatened legitimate images.

"One would wish Jimbo would stop making statements by fiat that are meant to be implemented immediately, and instead state that things need to be done, give his initial thoughts, and ask the community to craft a policy," he argued.

"I propose that we suspend all deletions related to this for one week, and work out a good policy that doesn't threaten encyclopedic content, while getting rid of the amateur porn cruft," he concluded, arguing that the policy as it stood was simple censorship.

The argument drew short shrift from Wales. "Enforcing the scope of content to be consistent with the Foundation's mission is not censorship. But if you want to view it that way, I'm fine with that. The main thing is that policy will be enforced, and the pornography will be deleted," he argued.

We have contacted Wikimedia for a statement on the issue, and were awaiting a response at the time of writing.

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User comments

Crusading admins

While I have no problem in principal with purging Wikipedia of images that users have just put up because they can, the lack of regulation means that Wikipedia has a real problem with "crusading editors" who just charge straight in and deleted content without waiting for a consensus to be reached like they are supposed to.

Not just images, everything, and it's really hard for everybody else to stop them. despite the fact that they are going against both the letter and the spirit of the communal editing policies.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are half a load of them out there this very second just batch deleting any image with more than a square inch of skin showing.

Generally speaking you're supposed to put up a notice inviting people to justify the existence of the image and its purpose, but I've come across cases where admins will delete 30 or 40 images without at a time without following procedure or even checking to see if there is a genuine reasons for them to be there.

It's one of Wikipedia's biggest faults.

By Perfectblue97 on 7 May 2010

"The main thing is that policy will be enforced, and the pornography will be deleted"

I'm not saying that Jimmy Wales is mad with power but that is what someone who is mad with power would say.

By steviesteveo on 7 May 2010

Even old erotic prints

Even old prints are getting deleted now. Excluding "visual depictions of explicit sexual activity" is a legitimate position, says Jimmy Wales, and extropolating his actions a bit, also Greek vases and old editions of the Kama Sutra will have to go.

By pietkuip on 7 May 2010

Shocking... especially as WP is one of the prime sources of pornographic material online, theres so little of it out there.

By ste_d_indica on 9 May 2010

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