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Censorship Wikipedia

Wikimedia Confusion Swirls In Wake of Porn Charges 267

Posted by kdawson
from the crisp-execution dept.
Contridictory stories are circulating after Fox News's pursuing of Wikimedia Foundation for hosting pornography reportedly resulted in Jimmy Wales personally removing some pornographic material from its servers, then giving up his special editing privileges under pressure. Fox News reported that Wikimedia is "in chaos"; this report was picked up by VentureBeat and others. Wales denies that there is any chaos (any more than usual, that is) at Wikimedia. The Fox News report apparently relied on a single unnamed source, and Wales said, "They don't even bother to contact me before publishing nonsense." The background: on April 27 Fox News published an exclusive report about porn on Wikimedia servers, then followed up by contacting organizations that had donated to Wikimedia to ask them what they thought about it. In the aftermath, Wales took a position in support of purging porn from Wikimedia Commons. This all started when estranged Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger contacted the FBI with an allegation of child porn on Wikipedia.
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Wikimedia Confusion Swirls In Wake of Porn Charges

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  • by BoldAC (735721) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:11AM (#32233946)

    "Though he remains the president of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wales is no longer able to delete files, remove administrators, assign projects or edit any content, sources say. Essentially, they say, he has gone from having free reign over the content and people involved in the websites to having the same capabilities of a low-level administrator."

    Ignorance of the Masses => Democracy

    Will we actually notice any changes?

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:12AM (#32233960) Homepage

    I can't wait for Murdoch to get soundly trounced by the internet he hates so much.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:13AM (#32233962)

    Larry Sanger totally and completely discredited himself by starting this allegation fiasco. From a pursuer of an alternative editing strategy (which, despite shortcomings, was addressing a real (or perceived as real) problem of content quality of Wikipedia due to editorial policy, he turned himself into a cheapshot troll that will resort to the dirtiest tactic possible to attract attention. Even if his allegations were genuine (which clearly they aren't, on numerous points of principle), he'll never be able to get over the sour grapes analogy which will forever become his soubriquet.

    Even the minor PR damage caused to Wales (and I really think Wales was just looking for a reason/excuse to give up his adminship, as he was realizing "benevolent dictatorship" was no longer a fitting model for a project the scope and developmental maturity of Wikipedia) will not outweight the devastating damage to any professional reputation Sanger still had before this point.

    Bye Larry. From a legitimate oppositioner to a resentful clown, all by a single, stupid, stupid decision. How sad.

  • Well, duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:15AM (#32233978)

    "They don't even bother to contact me before publishing nonsense."

    FOX is in the business of publishing nonsense.

  • To Be Expected (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarkDespair5 (1179263) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `5riapseDkraD'> on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:21AM (#32234018)
    As soon as censorship is mentioned, media coverage (pro and anti) will jump in the fray. Not good for an organization committed to facts (in principle, anyway), not controversy. Fox and "family" groups will always contend Wikipedia is not going far enough regardless of anything they do. What I see happening (unfortunately) is the de-sexualization of topics (i.e. stick figures for examples and clinical language for descriptions) now that this can of worms has opened. This will inevitably lead to a loss of information, as Wikipedia's rabid destruction of lists and articles on rare subjects has told us time and time again.
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:32AM (#32234068)

    No one will die, if Wiki has a few porn images.

    Fox News, Cheerleaded an illegal war that resulted in over a million + dead.

    Porn > War

    Porn > Fox News

    Porn > All Religions

    Porn = Normal.

    Wiki... Do your porn thing baby.

  • by tokul (682258) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:40AM (#32234120)

    "Though he remains the president of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wales is no longer able to delete files, remove administrators, assign projects or edit any content, sources say. Essentially, they say, he has gone from having free reign over the content and people involved in the websites to having the same capabilities of a low-level administrator."

    If something belongs to somebody, they always have more privileges than low-level wikipedia admin. Do you really think that he can't restore his super privileges, if he really wants too?

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:40AM (#32234122) Journal

    Actually I don't blame Larry at all, in this witch hunt anyone that goes for the CYA strategy is just showing they have a brain. I mean we are living in an age where a drawing [themorningstarr.co.uk], no matter how crude [stuff.co.nz], and that involves no real children what so ever can get someone sent to PMITA prison depending on their location.

    The simple fact is it has long since quit being about "protecting the children" and become a classic witch hunt where I doubt anyone is truly safe if they end up with a zealous prosecutor and a hang 'em high judge. Is that an elf in the game you are playing? Looks like she might be loli! Hell we are gonna have to have every single fantasy/Sci Fi book have a porn style "all models depicted or described in this work was over 18" in the front of the book just to keep from risking jail!

    So don't blame the guy for CYA when it is the whole system that is completely fucked. I mean you can go to prison just for having words on a page [canadaeast.com] nowadays, so just the fact that he accessed those pages on his PC without reporting them could have landed the guy a jail sentence. I mean, what would you have him do, keep a stack of HDDs handy so he can burn his drive every time he accessed Wikimedia, in case something got cached? If you don't like this horseshit, write to your elected officials and try to organize your fellow citizens to get the laws overturned. Of course you'll probably be labeled a kiddy fiddler by the MSM and have your place raided, but that's what happens when you have a witch hunt and why most people will go for a CYA in this crazy time.

  • Next target (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:47AM (#32234146) Homepage Journal
    Medical books, specially pediatric ones, if they show any picture of the topic of the book.
  • by MoeDumb (1108389) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:47AM (#32234148)

    Hysteria can bring down a civilization.

  • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:50AM (#32234160)

    Normally, if you want to report a crime, you do it with an off the record quiet message to the authorities, which allows them to try to actually catch the people committing the crime in the act. Normally, if you want to get a project you are related to to stop doing something you worry might be a crime, you first contact the people responsible; especially those you believe aren't involved, and try to get them to do something about it. If, as it seems, Sanger went to the media first of all then that speaks volumes about his motivation.

    Having said that; Wales is probably an okay guy, but his position in Wikipedia has been totally inappropriate since his personal life and finances intruded on the project. Once Wikipedia set its self up as an independent foundation all his power should have been derived from some clear democratic process in that foundation. The stupid thing (and the one which shows that he's a completely inappropriate person for the role) is the fact that he could probably have quite easily got himself elected president of the board or something and then none of the arguments against him would be nearly as effective. What Sanger has done may be a bit late, but it's definitely one of the strongest hopes of strengthening the Wikipedia project.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:54AM (#32234178)

    Somehow I doubt Sangers actually feared being prosecuted. I agree the laws are nonsense, but when something's being openly hosted and accessed by thousands of people, the most likely people to be prosecuted are those hosting it, and Wikimedia had not been prosecuted for hosting any materials despite having these up for a long time. That makes the likelihood of some random visitor being prosecuted quite small, and I find it unlikely Sangers really believed he was in danger of being prosecuted. More likely, he: 1) hates Wikipedia, so wants to do anything he can to bring it down; and 2) is a media whore.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @02:04AM (#32234236)

    "Though he remains the president of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wales is no longer able to delete files, remove administrators, assign projects or edit any content, sources say. Essentially, they say, he has gone from having free reign over the content and people involved in the websites to having the same capabilities of a low-level administrator."

    Uh... on Wikipedia, the capabilities of a low-level administrator include being able to delete files, assign projects and edit content. And yes, he can still do those things too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @02:19AM (#32234288)

    ...More like Fox News published a story with one anonymous source that didn't say anything significant, and kdawson decided to take it seriously for some bizarre reason.

  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @02:47AM (#32234434)

    As much as I hate Fox News, Fox News really did nothing more than report what happened from the point of view of an outsider.

    That's a nonsense excuse. It's like that "just sayin'" crap that's used to pretend an unfounded accusation was just an "innocent" remark.

    BTW, I heard you like little boys too much. Just sayin' ...

  • by Protoslo (752870) on Monday May 17, 2010 @02:54AM (#32234474)
    You don't blame Sanger for being an unmitigated FUD-slinging asshole who is ostensibly using the law as his personal weapon, but who really knows that it doesn't matter that his charges have no legal merit as long as it gets him enough press?

    I doubt even Sanger himself would embrace such audacious apologism (in private).

    Incidentally, exactly who was holding a gun to his head, forcing him to attempt to find every last bit of nudity-related material on Wikipedia? By his own account, he was unaware that Wikipedia was such a den of iniquity until he started scouring it for anything he could call porn while promoting his new (children's) website. Even if what you said about the law were true (it isn't that bad in the U.S., yet), how could you possibly defend him for throwing fuel on the fire? It is taking all of my willpower not to Godwin myself here. That's the sort of argument you are making.

    I blame you for excusing Sanger's self-serving assault on free speech just because assaults on freedom are popular in the current political climate. It would be one thing to say that his actions are "understandable" (though I would still say it is complete bullshit to claim good faith on Sanger's part), but to claim that they are actually reasonable or even ethical? Your arguments themselves constitute an assault on free speech.
  • by DrXym (126579) on Monday May 17, 2010 @03:34AM (#32234634)
    Wikipedia has always spats, disputes and disagreements that can be inflated into news but considering the number of people involved is that surprising?

    I suspect that Fox & others like to pour hate on it because it's easy and cheap to do so. There is always someone with a a bruised ego (e.g. perennial cry babies like Larry Sanger) and with so many disputed articles, it's not hard to sensationalize some angle. In the case of Fox I think they are also motivated to pour hate on the site because (despite its flaws) does strive for impartiality, citation and a neutral point of view. It's also free.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @03:57AM (#32234730)

    I'm pretty sure that the "porn" in question was a couple of ALBUM COVERS that were sold openly in the 70's in both the US and Britain.

    To allow those albums to be sold openly in record stores for DECADES and then later decide that it is worthy of being classed as the worst offense that humans have ever committed seems a bit, well, like the puritans are taking back the world.

  • by Protonk (599901) on Monday May 17, 2010 @04:17AM (#32234834) Homepage
    Considering that he's been making these kinds of comments on various subjects for a few years, no I don't think Larry saw it coming. I'm always amused by the deference granted to Sanger. He left a successful albeit chaotic project to form a total failure. He didn't fail because he lacked startup funds or media attention (he was funded and the newspapers ate up the Citizendium breakoff). He failed because he misjudged the nature of the internet--badly. What makes you think he has some grand strategic vision?
  • Re:To Be Expected (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dangitman (862676) on Monday May 17, 2010 @04:58AM (#32234976)

    We simply want facts from wikipedia, nothing more, nothing less.

    That's not possible from any source. The creation of "facts" is always a subjective and fraught process.

  • by _0rm_ (1638559) on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:02AM (#32234988) Journal
    Sounds like Faux News making a big deal about rumors and gossip.
  • by couchslug (175151) on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:16AM (#32235032)

    ...any insufficiently moderated forum will turn into 4chan.

  • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Monday May 17, 2010 @06:01AM (#32235244)

    Seriously, porn is a part of our reality, whether we like it or not, removing it from encyclopedias is like pretending it doesn't exist. Ignoring reality is almost as bad as EVERYTHING that I have seen to date on Fox. Sickening.

    Breasts aren't pornography. Penises aren't pornography. The naked human body is not pornography. And yes, at least the more well-known pieces of classical art aren't pornography even if they depict things very much illegal today. You can have all of that on Wikipedia without it ever being pornographic.

    I've looked at what Sanger complained about. I've looked at my fair share of obscure Wikipedia articles. I've never encountered anything you could reasonably describe as pornographic. Yes, there were various organs and at one point I stumbled across a photo series depicting an ejaculating penis (appropriately enough illustrating the article about ejaculation) but none of that was pornography.

    Yes, someone might probably derive sexual stimulation from some of the pictures. The same applies to pictures of animals. That doesn't mean that zoos are peep shows.


    Neither is pornography evil nor is everything involving bare primary or secondary sexual features pornography. Man I wish the United States would just hit puberty already and get over their paralyzing fear of sex.

  • by SharpFang (651121) on Monday May 17, 2010 @06:08AM (#32235274) Homepage Journal

    While main focus of Wikipedia are historical articles about things that happened in the past (and either passed away or continue to exist and function), both Wikipedia main page [wikipedia.org] and Wikinews [wikinews.org] have a high quality recent news - independent, free, ad free, from all over the world, with no corporate control, in essence everything Fox is opposed to.

    So attacking Wikipedia is simply attacking the competitor.

  • Re:Internet Wars (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HopefulIntern (1759406) on Monday May 17, 2010 @06:11AM (#32235286)
    The true genius sticks to pico/nano.
  • by silentcoder (1241496) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:15AM (#32235604) Homepage

    >Yes, but there's no actual fucking on stage, so it should be OK.

    So a girl of 12 lying in bed dreaming out loud of her boy fucking her tomorrow is okay. At least some scholars believe that it was Shakespeare's intent to suggest she is masturbating while thinking about it - though of course hidden enough to pass the censhorship of the day. Several later stage productions show her in bed under the blankets with suggestive movements to reinforce this point. Even the 1996 movie with Leo DiCaprio very strongly hinted at the same thing.

    But just as long as they don't actually show them fucking, the fact that everybody KNOWS they did doesn't matter...

    I see your point. How do you get around inconvenient and obvious problems with a stupid law ? You find a stupid excuse to make it not apply to them.
    Doesn't change the reality. There is clear suggestion of erotica and sexuality in Romeo and Juliette. Even without the "touching herself" interpretation of Juliette's lament the dialog and plot still makes it blatantly clear that they HAD their wedding night before they died.
    So lets see where we get now. It's illegal to write about children having sex, but it's legal to write about children talking about having sex ?

    Desk --- head...

  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:33AM (#32235698) Journal

    The Sun are guilty of much hypocrisy - but sorry, doing something that is legal, and only illegal elsewhere is not one of them. It would be absurd as criticising the Wikipedia (hosted in the US) Virgin Killers article, because it might be illegal in places like the UK.

    A better example would be, as you note earlier in your comment, the habit of certain tabloids focusing on celebrities approaching 16 (most notably the Daily Star, who did this on one page, and then on the opposite page they were slagging off the Brass Eye parody).

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:34AM (#32235718) Journal

    Judas Priest people. Are you gonna start making pigs wear clothes, and babies cover their nakedness (ohnoes!). "Because God created it, the human body can remain nude and uncovered and preserve intact its splendor and its beauty." - Pope John Paul II

    THIS is not pornography: (Although it is not safe for work.) It is Homo sapiens in his natural state. And that is all the wikipedia shows - it does Not display pornography.
    http://www.domai.com/ [domai.com]

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:39AM (#32235750) Journal

    Nudity is not the crime.

    Possession of photos of the nudity is not the crime.

    The involuntary sex is the crime, and the man who did the act is the criminal. Get it straight. I'm sick and tired of seeing people get arrested for victimless crimes (like smoking weed while watching Star Trek at home - no victim? No crime).

  • Editor in Charge (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Herkum01 (592704) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:39AM (#32235754)

    Sounds like they hired J. Jonah Jameson to run their news network. I guess they did not realize they guy came from a comic book instead of a role model from journalism school.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:43AM (#32235786) Journal

    And even if those "pieces of classical art" were pornographic, that's no reason to censor them. It's not going to harm your little kid. You taught them to read the book "Everybody Poops", a rather disgusting act, so surely you can teach them "everybody procreates" too.

  • by paiute (550198) on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:36AM (#32237962)

    It is Homo sapiens in his natural state.

    Don't go there expecting to see much naked his.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday May 17, 2010 @06:57PM (#32246956) Journal

    >>>The victims are the people who have to pay more for their taxes or health insurance to cover the increased costs of paying for treatment of the various diseases caused by smoking

    By that reasoning, the government should be able to tell you to stop eating hamburgers, fries, et cetera. Also they should be able to limit your intake to just 2000 calories.

    BUT I prefer to live in freedom, not slavery.

  • Wikipedia Porn (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Baseclass (785652) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:22PM (#32247216)
    I sent an email to Wikipedia regarding this issue. Their response seems canned but encouraging.

    Thanks for your email. Wikipedia remains dedicated to providing an encyclopaedia free from censorship, and that includes topics some might consider inappropriate (after all, if we were to censor things based on the idea that somebody, somewhere, might find it inappropriate, we'd never write anything). While we are not censored by default, we must consider our legal responsibilities; there were some worries that we may violate the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act with the collection, which is what led to the spate of image deletions. We remain dedicated to our original goal, and will (usually) keep images if they prove helpful in an encyclopaedic context. Thank you for your message of support for Wikipedia Yours sincerely, Oliver Keyes

  • Fox porn (Score:2, Insightful)

    by UnixUnix (1149659) on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:31PM (#32248630) Homepage
    Frankly, every time I watch Fox News I get the distinct impression I _am_ watching porn. Bad porn, at that.

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