Thursday, May 31, 2012

What should we do about Wikipedia’s porn problem?

By Larry Sanger here.  The logic of arguments for and against porn is interesting, although I don't have a great deal of time to go into it now.  The top level argument, as it were, is that people, i.e. all people, should have the right to see absolutely whatever they like, and that any restriction is an encroachment upon freedom.  The objection to this is that not all people, namely young children, should have this right.  Then we encounter all sorts of counter-objections and replies to the counter-objections.  For example, what exactly is wrong with children seeing such images.  If sex good or not?  If it is good, why shouldn't children participate in the good, etc etc.  Larry (who is a philosopher) covers some of these arguments in his post.

At least Augustine had a clear approach to this.  Sex, or rather shame about sex, is the result of original sin. I'll look up the reference some time.

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15 Comments:

Blogger Anthony said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:43 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> The top level argument, as it were, is that people, i.e. all people, should have the right to see absolutely whatever they like, and that any restriction is an encroachment upon freedom.

Who is making that argument?

11:44 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>Who is making that argument?

It's a distillation of many of the arguments I see on the net and particularly on Wikipedia, namely, that any restriction is a form of censorship, ergo etc.

12:01 pm  
Blogger William Connolley said...

Note that Sanger has blurred the distinction between wikipedia and commons. He is well aware of the distinction, and well aware than many of his readers won't be, so that is rather dishonest of him. The pageful of wanking, for example, is commons.

But the problem extends beyond porn to, for example, images of Muhammed. which Islamists routinely try to remove from wiki.

The solution is either the opt-in or opt-out image filter.

1:11 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> It's a distillation of many of the arguments I see on the net and particularly on Wikipedia, namely, that any restriction is a form of censorship, ergo etc.

I've read many of the arguments, and I've never come across one saying that all people, should have the right to see absolutely whatever they like, and that any restriction is an encroachment upon freedom. That would be pretty absurd. Especially considering that most of the people arguing "for porn" recognize a right to privacy.

1:30 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

"But the problem extends beyond porn to, for example, images of Muhammed. which Islamists routinely try to remove from wiki."

This is conflating two very different things, presumably on the basis of moral relativism.

1:31 pm  
Blogger William Connolley said...

> This is conflating two very different things

No, it is recognising the connection between two things. The connecting element is "images that some people find offensive, but others don't".

2:18 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

But the connecting element is irrelevant to the problem. The problem with having porn in Wikipedia is not that some people find porn offensive. The problem is that there shouldn't be porn in an encyclopedia. Whereas there should be images of Muhammed in an encyclopedia.

11:54 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

As for Wikimedia Commons, yes, it is not an encyclopedia, but I still thought it had an educational mission.

So once again, the problem is not that some people are offended. The problem is that porn does not serve the educational mission, whereas images of Muhammed do.

11:57 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>Note that Sanger has blurred the distinction between wikipedia and commons.

This, like the distinction between 'wikipedia' and 'wikimedia' is a completely artificial distinction. Sanger was right to ignore it.

>>The problem is that there shouldn't be porn in an encyclopedia. Whereas there should be images of Muhammed in an encyclopedia.

Yes and if you look at the arguments on Sanger's post it's clear most people confuse 'images of the human body' with 'porn'.

7:11 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>Whereas there should be images of Muhammed in an encyclopedia.

I don't see why. No one ever drew him or depicted him.

7:12 am  
Blogger William Connolley said...

> Sanger was right to ignore it.

Disagree.

>>The problem is that there shouldn't be porn in an encyclopedia.
> Yes

Why not? At least, why not, given the images that Sanger has chosen to categorise as porn?

7:20 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> At least, why not, given the images that Sanger has chosen to categorise as porn?

When I say porn, I mean porn given the images that I choose to categorize as porn, not porn given the images that Sanger has chosen to categorise as porn. By no means am I agreeing with Sanger.

Given my definition (and the common definition) of porn, I would say it doesn't belong in an encyclopedia by that very definition. Educational images (e.g. of the nude human body) are not porn, by definition.

>> >> Whereas there should be images of Muhammed in an encyclopedia.

>> I don't see why. No one ever drew him or depicted him.

Fair enough. I was going to bring this up but I thought it was overly pedantic.

11:41 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> Note that Sanger has blurred the distinction between wikipedia and commons.

Well, the distinction is pretty blurry. And they both fall under the explicit mission "to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally".

>> He is well aware of the distinction, and well aware than many of his readers won't be, so that is rather dishonest of him. The pageful of wanking, for example, is commons.

Has he changed his description since you wrote this? The one I am reading now says "Wikipedia and its image and file archive, Wikimedia Commons".

11:54 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>Fair enough. I was going to bring this up but I thought it was overly pedantic.

Anthony being overly pedantic?

12:13 pm  

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