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Daily Dot on Commons and porn; Jimmy Wales accused of breaking Wikipedia rules in hunt for Snowden
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.
||You can't walk down a street on the Commons without stumbling upon some dude's penis, or something equally explicit or shocking. Search for a "wheel," and you'll shortly discover a photo from a BDSM torture session. The same goes for "jumping ball," "bell tolling," or "electric toothbrush."
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 Examiner.com 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:
||Certainly as the man who co-founded the Wikipedia project and who has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from speaking to assembled audiences about Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales should know better than to ask others to violate one of its community's most respected rules. But that does not appear to be the case.
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 complaint has some merit. In the case Snowden is an editor, and could continue to edit, outing him seems a bad thing to do, just like for any other editor.
- ...I agree that Fram's concern has foundation, and I am concerned with Jimbo's removal [of talk] page posts, as well as his dismissal of them as 'trolling.'
- ...I disagree with Jimbo when he says that this isn't a case of 'outing'.
- ...I fully support Fram's concern here. Journalists are entititled (sic) to investigate whether Snowden had an account on Wikipedia (and if so; which account/s); Wikipedians are not entitled to speculate on Wikipedia about real-life identities.
- ...Jimbo, you send mixed messages when you encourage us to out a Wikipedia editor just because he's in the news.
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.
- Doc Rivers' Wikipedia page hacked after news of Clippers trade: Larry Brown Sports reported on vandalism to Doc Rivers after the former Boston Celtics coach was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, and declared the Clippers fans the "winners" of the vandalism back-and-forth.
- Irate fan changes Kurtley Beale's Wikipedia page after penalty slip-up: Another article on sports vandalism came from the Score, who said that Kurtley Beale's article was vandalized to blame him for a loss in a rugby union international match.
- Wikipedia caught in German heat wave: Der Spiegel noted that the recent heat wave in Germany had led to unusually high page views for the German article on air conditioning. The entry for banana peel, too, had experienced record page views of nearly 38,000 in a single day. The reason, it turned out, was that the German Wikipedia main page had hosted a DYK noting that more than 20 million tonnes of banana peel were generated each year, which could be used to clean waste water and treat arteriosclerosis. The Spiegel article also reviewed recent stories on the Wikipedia Live Monitor and the apparent relationship between Wikipedia traffic statistics and such economic variables as stock market developments, or box office takings of cinema releases.
- Treat Wikipedia with respect: The Holmes Report, a website for PR professionals, featured a write-up of an interview with Jimmy Wales conducted at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the world's largest advertising festival. In the interview, Wales asked PR professionals to treat Wikipedia "with respect". He told the Holmes Report that "reputable, honest PR firms find it very easy to use Wikipedia. The issue comes when unethical, or more often, stupid people think that the right thing to do is to create a fake ID, argue with people in an unfair way and that just ends up embarrassing the client. You wouldn't hack into the New York Times' computers to change a story – you'd call them up to complain about something that's wrong. We'd ask to be treated with the same level of respect." Wales dismissed complaints from PR people that correcting errors in Wikipedia often turned out to be a laborious process: "It's very fast, it's very easy, I don't buy that argument at all. Obviously a PR firm has an interest in presenting their client in the best possible light, and we're certainly happy to run corrections or add perspective if they've published a response. But if you have unrealistic expectations that you can somehow go on Wikipedia and make something disappear that's a legitimate controversy, then of course you're going to be disappointed in the end." He urged PR professionals to be transparent about who they were, and said he could only think of rare cases where Wikipedians had "dropped the ball" and failed to respond adequately.
- UK primary school teachers use Wikipedia to prepare themselves for RE lessons: An article in the Telegraph reported that according to a recent study, "[p]rimary school teachers know so little about religion that more than two thirds are now relying on websites like Wikipedia to plan their RE lessons." Parentdish.co.uk also covered the story.
- Jimmy Wales on the NSA leaks: The Guardian featured a video interview with Jimmy Wales discussing the NSA leaks, also recorded at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
- Just edit it: Lexology.com, a web service for company law departments and law firms, posted an overview of how best to deal with "unfair, inaccurate, misleading or defamatory statements" in Wikipedia. Written by staff members of Heenan Blaikie, the article gave an overview of Wikipedia's policies and internal mechanisms and recommended a "self-help" approach: "Just edit it. Wikipedia is a 'wiki' which means that anyone can edit an unprotected page. Unlike most other sites with user-generated content (for example, online message boards), persons other than the poster or a site administrator can alter or remove existing content. The quickest and best solution when someone is posting unfair statements on an article will often be to just change it back and monitor the article. Such an edit can be justified if, say, the article contained an un-sourced personal attack, or if the cited source does not support the information. However, simple editing will not necessarily stop a determined user from re-posting defamatory content, nor will it necessarily be effective when the line between truth and fiction is not black and white. Wikipedia has internal mechanisms for dealing with these sorts of issues." The article advised against pursuing legal action, owing to the "cost of finding out who the proper defendants are".
- ¿Sabías que hay robots que escriben en la Wikipedia? [Did you know that robots write on Wikipedia?]: ABC Tecnología reported on the Swedish Wikipedia controversy over Lsjbot, a bot that writes articles. Sv.wikipedia recently reached the milestone of 1 million articles with the help of bots; this has generated debate over the value and quality of these articles (see Signpost coverage: "Swedish Wikipedia's millionth article leads to protests").
- Alternativas a Wikipedia [Alternatives to Wikipedia]: Bitelia published an article on Spanish-language Wikipedia alternatives, including Wikilengua, Vikidia, Frikipedia, Encyclopedia Espasa, Kalipedia, Archiplanet, Wikitravel, and Ballotpedia.
- La page Wikipedia en anglais d’el-Assir piratée [The English Wikipedia page on el-Assir hacked]: L’Orient-Le Jour reported on vandalism to Ahmed al-Assir.