Wikipedia:WikiProject Wikipedians for encyclopedic merit

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WPEM can also stand for Wikipedia:WikiProject Electronic music

Wikiproject Wikipedians for encyclopedic merit was started on August 15, 2005 to coordinate and promote standards of encyclopedic merit for inclusion on Wikipedia. This project is intended to coordinate efforts to bring articles to appropriate standards of quality control, as defined by Wikipedia policy and Wikipedia guidelines, to ensure Wikipedia continues to be regarded as the finest source of web based reference material available. See also Wikipedia:Wikipedia as an academic source.

One aspect of encyclopedic merit relates to sexually explicit imagery and language. Specifically if some item of Wikipedia content appeals to only prurient interest as opposed to having encyclopedic value, it is generally preferred to substitute content that has encyclopedic value. The Miller test is illustrative in defining a work as obscene, in part, if it contains "patently offensive [content] and taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value" (SLAPS). A quasi-Miller SLAPS test is likely to closely match Wikipedia's meaning of "encyclopedic value."

However, it should be understood that the purpose of this project has nothing to do with censorship. It is merely an attempt to help Wikipedia establish a level or baseline of merit and what constitutes encyclopedic merit. A review of this statement by Jimbo Wales [1] helps us to establish what that baseline should be:

     "We don't show full-blown mainstream pornography on the front page of wikipedia as a matter of editorial taste and judgment."

Anyone who is interested in contributing, please sign up below and post any ideas and suggestions on the Talk page. Also, feel free to edit this page and add any articles that need serious work or that you feel require attention below in the Open Tasks sections.

This project has been renamed from a contentious initial name (Wikipedians for decency). Members who have joined, but made ironic comments indicating their distaste for a project under the old title may wish to revise the descriptions accompanying their listing. Likewise, editors who have refrained from joining because of the prior title and mission statement may wish to reevaluate whether this WikiProject is of interest to them.

Other WikiProjects relating to the topic[edit]

As of March 5,2005, Gerard Foley is encouraging people to "Express your opinion about Wikipedia:Censorship at Wikipedia_talk:Censorship#Poll." Johntex\talk 20:13, 5 March 2006 (UTC)


Moved to Wikipedia:WikiProject Wikipedians for encyclopedic merit/Members.

Open Tasks[edit]

Working standard for encyclopedic merit of images[edit]

  • Wikipedia:WikiProject Wikipedians for encyclopedic merit/Working standard for encyclopedic merit of images - a place in the WikiProject namespace for a working standard on the encyclopedic merit of images.
  • Develop proposals for Wikipedia style guidelines about when images that might be offensive or disturbing to some readers should be included by indirect reference rather than within the main flow of an article (or otherwise masked). It may be appropriate for some articles discussing sexually explicit, violent, or otherwise potentially uncomfortable content to contain links along the lines of "Click for an image of X" rather than directly inline versions of those images.

Suggest constructive ways to modify the statement of policy[edit]

Current policies:

Guidelines (not policy):

  • Wikipedia:Profanity
  • Undefined "no nudity policy" but that does not mean it must be G-rated
    • The current undefined "no nudity policy" is more on the lines of "no pornography" policy, the difference being that nudity could be found in an art museum, pornography could not.

Consider Possible Application of PICS[edit]

The mechanism designed to support 'content labelling' on the Web is PICS. This is feasible from a technical point of view, PICS is supported in IE and other browsers and is technically viable. Implementation in Wikipedia might require some code updates but this could probably be made painless by creating a special type of category linked to a PICS header.

Deployment of PICS would in a good faith world allow for labelling of potentially disturbing content in such a manner that would make it easier for Wikipedia to be used in schools. It would also allow for automated detection of certain types of vandalism, an attempt to add a pornographic image to a random article could be flagged.

The problem with PICS is that it is likely to be abused. PICS is a censorship scheme (no matter what the promoters claimed). I think it is reasonable to control content that might be used in a classroom. I don't think it is reasonable, sensible or even desirable to attempt to control what teenagers view at home. Furthermore, the tagging of images would likely be seen as POV and warred over for many borderline cases.

Analyze legal liabilities Wikipedia may be exposed to[edit]

In the USA material with "serious literary, artistic or scientific purpose" is generally free of exposure to obscenity prosecution. Recent legislation in the USA has reintroduced the concept of "indecent" content or content "harmful to minors". While Wikipedia is not (and should not be) created or maintained to meet the latest laws of some particular jurisdiction, it is hosted on United States soil, and we would like to understand the areas where legal restrictions and encyclopedic merit intersect.

Develop understanding of "blue law" exposure[edit]

  • Find actual legal opinion about any obscenity/decency prosecution that Wikipedia might plausibly face due to the physical location of its servers (in Florida).
    • According to BD2412, a Florida attorney, Wikipedia is not threatened by Florida laws.
  • Determine where Wikipedia is, in fact, hosted from a legal perpective. Expanded co-hosting by Google, Yahoo, or by mirror sites in various places may affect judicability and standing in case of potential suit against Wikipedia.
  • Determine whether a change in location of physical servers would avoid legal liabilities, should such be determined to exist with current hosting.

Standardizations for citable references[edit]

  • References utilized should be from retrievable sources, not from defunct and or no longer published sources which make cross referencing almost impossible.
  • Exercise quality control to ensure referencing is from reliable sources; where necessary, note the established consensus on the reliability of questionable sources.
  • Refrain from utilization of tabloid media without further support from mainstream sources, unless specifically discussing tabloid coverage of the subject (e.g., noting how a particular celebrity is covered in tabloids; a discussion of Bat Boy is impossible without reference to Weekly World News).

Related discussions[edit]

Category:WikiProject Wikipedians for encyclopedic merit