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Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people
This week, the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees unanimously
passed a resolution addressing the issue of controversial content on
the projects. The Board also unanimously passed a resolution
addressing images of identifiable, living people on the projects. The
resolutions are posted at:
http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:Controversial_content
http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:Images_of_identifiable_people

These topics have been the subject of active debate on the Projects,
and particularly on Commons, for a long time. Last June, following
extensive community debate, the Wikimedia Foundation Board requested
the Executive Director undertake a study of the issue of controversial
content on the projects, acknowledging the difficulty of the issue
(http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:Commissioning_Recommendations_from_the_Executive_Director).
Robert and Dory Harris were commissioned to do this study, which they
did on meta in consultation with the community, publishing
recommendations in September 2010. Their report is available at:
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/2010_Wikimedia_Study_of_Controversial_Content

At its October 2010 meeting, the Board was presented with this report.
The Board discussed the recommendations in depth, and developed a
working group to act on them. The working group's report was presented
at the Board's next in-person meeting, in March 2011; and these
resolutions were subsequently drafted and voted on. The working group
report has also been posted on meta, at:
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Controversial_content/Board_report

Note that the controversial content resolution uses the term
"curation." We are using this term to refer to all aspects of managing
images and other content on our projects, including recruiting and
acquiring contributions and uploading, categorizing, placement of
images in articles and other pages (including gallery pages and the
main page), featuring or highlighting, flagging for improvement, and
deletion and removal. All of our projects are curated in line with
broad editorial principles; this is an essential feature that
distinguishes our projects from indiscriminate or general-purpose
repositories.

Not all of the Harris recommendations are addressed in this
resolution. In particular:
* At this time, we refer the recommendation to create a WikiJunior
project to the editing community; the Board would like to see
demonstrated community support before creating such a project.
and
* In agreement with the Harris report, we do not recommend that
changes be made to current editing and/or filtering regimes
surrounding text in Wikimedia projects; we feel editorial mechanisms
regarding text are working well.

Finally, we urge that the community, the Foundation and the Wikimedia
movement continue to discuss the appropriate scope of Commons for
fulfilling Wikimedia's mission; this is a difficult and important
question.

Thank you to everyone who has worked on this issue, and special thanks
to Robert and Dory Harris for their hard work.

-- Phoebe Ayers, on behalf of the Board working group and the Board

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
Forgive me if I find these resolutions rather toothless; this is
another in a string of board resolutions that simply "urge the
projects." I'd love to understand what the Board thinks such
resolutions will accomplish. I understand there are legal constraints
on the ability of the Foundation to exercise control over content, but
these "urgings" are weakly stated even compared to other Foundation
content resolutions (c.f. the licensing policy). Statements of
principle are all well and good, but when community positions are
firmly entrenched they are likely to have little impact. In the area
of images of identifiable subjects, I suspect the WMF will need to be
sued over a particularly vicious set of circumstances before
substantial progress will be made, and that is disappointing.

Nathan

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
"Wikimedia projects are curated and edited collections, according to
certain principles: namely, we host only content that is both free and
educational in nature."

So Board said that Wikinews is out of scope. Its nature is
informational, not educational.

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On 6/1/2011 2:03 PM, Milos Rancic wrote:
> "Wikimedia projects are curated and edited collections, according to
> certain principles: namely, we host only content that is both free and
> educational in nature."
>
> So Board said that Wikinews is out of scope. Its nature is
> informational, not educational.
I'm sorry, but I don't understand what distinction you're trying to
make. In this context, those look like synonyms to me.

--Michael Snow

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On 1 June 2011 21:35, Nathan <nawrich@gmail.com> wrote:
> Forgive me if I find these resolutions rather toothless; this is
> another in a string of board resolutions that simply "urge the
> projects." I'd love to understand what the Board thinks such
> resolutions will accomplish. I understand there are legal constraints
> on the ability of the Foundation to exercise control over content, but
> these "urgings" are weakly stated even compared to other Foundation
> content resolutions (c.f. the licensing policy).  Statements of
> principle are all well and good, but when community positions are
> firmly entrenched they are likely to have little impact. In the area
> of images of identifiable subjects, I suspect the WMF will need to be
> sued over a particularly vicious set of circumstances before
> substantial progress will be made, and that is disappointing.

I agree. This is a very disappointing conclusion to a very long and
expensive process. The only real resolution was to create a software
feature that was proposed many times before the formal process started
and had quite wide support too, so could have just been implemented.

The reason we needed this complex process is because the community was
unable to sort the problem out on its own. A few urgings aren't going
to make any difference. Those kind of urgings only work when they come
from an individual or group with a lot of trust and respect that
people think probably knows better than them. I'm sorry to say that
the WMF board is not such a group (although that's mostly because the
community largely doesn't know anything about them, rather than
because they've done anything wrong).

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
Information is educational. When I read Wikinews, it educates me as to
significant matters going on in the world, and provides other related
resources.

FT2



On Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 10:03 PM, Milos Rancic <millosh@gmail.com> wrote:

> "Wikimedia projects are curated and edited collections, according to
> certain principles: namely, we host only content that is both free and
> educational in nature."
>
> So Board said that Wikinews is out of scope. Its nature is
> informational, not educational.
>
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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On 06/01/2011 11:05 PM, Michael Snow wrote:
> On 6/1/2011 2:03 PM, Milos Rancic wrote:
>> "Wikimedia projects are curated and edited collections, according to
>> certain principles: namely, we host only content that is both free and
>> educational in nature."
>>
>> So Board said that Wikinews is out of scope. Its nature is
>> informational, not educational.
> I'm sorry, but I don't understand what distinction you're trying to
> make. In this context, those look like synonyms to me.

If so, I am fine with it. What do Board members mean with that?

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On 1 June 2011 22:05, Michael Snow <wikipedia@frontier.com> wrote:
> On 6/1/2011 2:03 PM, Milos Rancic wrote:
>> "Wikimedia projects are curated and edited collections, according to
>> certain principles: namely, we host only content that is both free and
>> educational in nature."
>>
>> So Board said that Wikinews is out of scope. Its nature is
>> informational, not educational.
> I'm sorry, but I don't understand what distinction you're trying to
> make. In this context, those look like synonyms to me.

They aren't synonyms, although there is a lot of overlap. To inform
means to provide information to. Educating involves understanding and
skills too. I think Wikinews can both inform and educate, though.

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On 06/01/2011 11:11 PM, FT2 wrote:
> Information is educational. When I read Wikinews, it educates me as to
> significant matters going on in the world, and provides other related
> resources.

I fully agree with you. Any information is educational; it just depends
of particular project scope would it be there or not. For example, you
don't want to put Shakespeare's works on Wikipedia, because the proper
place for it is Wikisource. Particular colony of ants is educational and
could be interesting for making a photo of it, but it is not likely that
it would get an article on Wikipedia. And so on.

But, why then Board decided to force "educational" component as
mandatory in its statement? If there is no difference between
"informational" and "educational", statement "we host only content that
is both free and educational in nature" doesn't have a lot of sense, as
it would sound like "we only host content which is free" (and that's the
very known information), as "content" is more precise synonym for
"information" (to be precise "content" could be interpreted as "set of
information" or so).

So, I would like to know distinction between "informational" and
"educational" interpreted by Board members; or it is, as you and Michael
said, just not so common interpretation of the synonyms of the adjective
"educational".

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 5:33 PM, Milos Rancic <millosh@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I fully agree with you. Any information is educational; it just depends
> of particular project scope would it be there or not. For example, you
> don't want to put Shakespeare's works on Wikipedia, because the proper
> place for it is Wikisource. Particular colony of ants is educational and
> could be interesting for making a photo of it, but it is not likely that
> it would get an article on Wikipedia. And so on.
>
> But, why then Board decided to force "educational" component as
> mandatory in its statement? If there is no difference between
> "informational" and "educational", statement "we host only content that
> is both free and educational in nature" doesn't have a lot of sense, as
> it would sound like "we only host content which is free" (and that's the
> very known information), as "content" is more precise synonym for
> "information" (to be precise "content" could be interpreted as "set of
> information" or so).
>
> So, I would like to know distinction between "informational" and
> "educational" interpreted by Board members; or it is, as you and Michael
> said, just not so common interpretation of the synonyms of the adjective
> "educational".
>

I doubt the language selection was parsed to such a degree. Whatever
the difference, it's minor, and I seriously doubt they meant to
exclude Wikinews (or, for that matter, the huge volume of data hosted
on all the projects that is meta-content rather than outward-facing
educational material) from the umbrella mission of the WMF. Seems like
there are more substantial questions about the resolution the Board
could address.

Nathan

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On 1 June 2011 21:35, Nathan <nawrich@gmail.com> wrote:

> Forgive me if I find these resolutions rather toothless; this is
> another in a string of board resolutions that simply "urge the
> projects." I'd love to understand what the Board thinks such
> resolutions will accomplish.


It says very effectively (I thought) to the censorious: "We have given
your position a great deal of due careful consideration, and urge you
to go away. The issue is dead." Of course, I could just be projecting
my own feelings onto it. In which case, it's even better.

It should be thought of, IMO, as being primarily for external consumption.


- d.

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 2:14 PM, Milos Rancic <millosh@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 06/01/2011 11:05 PM, Michael Snow wrote:
>> On 6/1/2011 2:03 PM, Milos Rancic wrote:
>>> "Wikimedia projects are curated and edited collections, according to
>>> certain principles: namely, we host only content that is both free and
>>> educational in nature."
>>>
>>> So Board said that Wikinews is out of scope. Its nature is
>>> informational, not educational.
>> I'm sorry, but I don't understand what distinction you're trying to
>> make. In this context, those look like synonyms to me.
>
> If so, I am fine with it. What do Board members mean with that?
>

Hi Milos,

We meant what is stated there: that Wikimedia project content should
be at a minimum both free and educational in nature. (In general, you
can assume that language in resolutions like this is intentional).
However, you can also safely assume that the Board did not
specifically discuss the scope of Wikinews when writing this
resolution; we were focused on the topic at hand. I personally think
there is a very valid argument to be made that Wikinews, like most
news sources and like the rest of our projects, is educational (as
well as possessing other qualities, such as the more general quality
of being informative, which also arguably applies to all of our
projects).

If people want to discuss these subtleties of language (or the scope
of wikinews) in depth however, a separate thread might be best.

-- phoebe

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 2:33 PM, Milos Rancic <millosh@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 06/01/2011 11:11 PM, FT2 wrote:
>> Information is educational.
> I fully agree with you. Any information is educational;

I also strongly agree that any information is educational. The two
terms are synonymous.

We use 'educational' as a fig leaf that hides a fundamental schism
over the future of the movement. There are two very different
interpretations of "educational" and thus two fundamentally different
visions of the road ahead.

One view holds that information is inherently educational, and in an
ideal world, we'd host all the information we could. (with obvious
restrictions like legality and not-being-evil). In the future, we
will expand the diversity of both our audience AND our content.

A second camp views "educational' in a very narrow "classroom" way.
To this group, most information is "garbage/trivial/cruft", not
"educational". In an ideal world, our movement would include ONLY
the very best educational materials. In the future, we will expand
the diversity of our audience while honing our content to only the
very best.
..
All the same, I'm glad to read that mass content deletion has been
taken off the table.

Alec

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
I took it as stating the obvious, what we all knew to expect, with one
bonus:


1. *"The Wikimedia Foundation Board affirms that Wikimedia projects are
not censored"* is stated first, and as a positive affirmative assertion.
Everything else follows that. I like that establishment of basic principle
as being first and clearly said, before discussing the minority cases of
contentious material. It gives something firm to stand on as a principle,
if in years to come, this or that group or country tries to limit or
manipulate. A positive statement's useful that way.

It then says what we all pretty much knew it would.

2. Actively manage uploaded files to make sure they are relevant and
appropriate to our mission and criteria; and
3. Develop a way that people who don't want to see certain types of image
can collapse or not see them without other people being affected.


No surprises, much as anyone expected. Endorsement of not-very-contentious
conclusion.

FT2



On Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 10:52 PM, David Gerard <dgerard@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 1 June 2011 21:35, Nathan <nawrich@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Forgive me if I find these resolutions rather toothless; this is
> > another in a string of board resolutions that simply "urge the
> > projects." I'd love to understand what the Board thinks such
> > resolutions will accomplish.
>
>
> It says very effectively (I thought) to the censorious: "We have given
> your position a great deal of due careful consideration, and urge you
> to go away. The issue is dead." Of course, I could just be projecting
> my own feelings onto it. In which case, it's even better.
>
> It should be thought of, IMO, as being primarily for external consumption.
>
>
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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 5:52 PM, David Gerard <dgerard@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 1 June 2011 21:35, Nathan <nawrich@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Forgive me if I find these resolutions rather toothless; this is
>> another in a string of board resolutions that simply "urge the
>> projects." I'd love to understand what the Board thinks such
>> resolutions will accomplish.
>
>
> It says very effectively (I thought) to the censorious: "We have given
> your position a great deal of due careful consideration, and urge you
> to go away. The issue is dead." Of course, I could just be projecting
> my own feelings onto it. In which case, it's even better.
>
> It should be thought of, IMO, as being primarily for external consumption.
>
>
> - d.
>

I expect and hope that the WMF board is a little more honest and
straightforward than that would suggest. The resolution could be read
as CYA - an intentionally deflective statement with no concrete
impact. But I'd prefer to assume that the Board expects some sort of
gradual adjustment in procedures enacted by local projects on their
own initiative, using the resolution as ammunition in the inevitable
debates. Hard to be sure, so I'd rather hear it from the horse's
mouth.

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On 1 June 2011 23:03, Nathan <nawrich@gmail.com> wrote:

> I expect and hope that the WMF board is a little more honest and
> straightforward than that would suggest. The resolution could be read
> as CYA - an intentionally deflective statement with no concrete
> impact.


I think that opening line is pretty damn clear and concrete.

"Hi, we're that 800lb gorilla. Today we actually have a clear opinion
to state." I think you're greatly underestimating the impact that
alone will have.

What bits are you finding insufficiently clear or strongly worded?


- d.

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 3:03 PM, Nathan <nawrich@gmail.com> wrote:
> The resolution could be read as CYA - an intentionally deflective
> statement with no concrete impact.

I feel that basically _is_ the role of the board. I feel like my
dream board personified is a little like a judo master. When push to
rule on a dispute, usually they should pull that energy and
productively deflect that energy back to the community.

No concrete impact is all we need from the board on this. Status quo
works great.

(also, there is the enactment of "Not Censored" at the foundation level. )

Alec

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On 1 June 2011 16:17, phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki@gmail.com> wrote:

> This week, the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees unanimously
> passed a resolution addressing the issue of controversial content on
> the projects. The Board also unanimously passed a resolution
> addressing images of identifiable, living people on the projects. The
> resolutions are posted at:
> http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:Controversial_content
>
> http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:Images_of_identifiable_people
>
>
I think the more important part of this announcement is the resolution on
images of identifiable people, and it is this section that requires
considerably more self-examination on the part of every project that hosts
or uses images.

Commons has a guideline on the subject, found here:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Photographs_of_identifiable_people


This is a starting point for the discussion. In particular, I think that
the Board in its resolution is looking specifically at the uploading of
images by third party editors/users who are not the subject of the image,
nor its creator, nor the person who has claimed the right to it. (The most
obvious example is images from Flickr, but there are many other "resource"
sites.) This, of course, does not exempt users who upload images that they
create or own. The resolution and (where applicable) guidelines do place an
important onus on both the uploader and the project to ensure that
personality rights have been appropriately confirmed. The resolution places
this obligation on a near-equal footing to ensuring that copyright status is
appropriate to the project.

It may also be worth noting that the term "identifiable" is used. Unusual
physical structures, jewelry, tattoos or other features may render the
subject of an image identifiable even if the facial features are not
included in the image.

It should probably be emphasized that this would apply equally to projects
that host "fair use" or other images, and is not simply an expectation on
Commons.

Risker/Anne
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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 3:17 PM, Alec Conroy <alecmconroy@gmail.com> wrote:
> I feel that basically _is_ the role of the board.   I feel like my
> dream board personified is a little like a judo master.   When push to
> rule on a dispute, usually they should pull that energy and
> productively deflect that energy back to the community.

That is a lovely metaphor, though I occasionally feel in this role
more like a student of Zen (complete with koans to study!)

I will say that the Board drafted these resolutions with good faith
and a great deal of care, and the one thing I would ask as you debate
them is to consider them as a whole. We think all of the principles we
articulate are important, and have implications for how we manage our
content. And a few of you have noted that these ideas are not new; of
course that's true. We are simply building on the work that many
community members have done over the years on this difficult problem.

If there are specific questions for the board, I or other trustees can
try to answer them; but there are of course many areas of debate and
opinion where we can only speak for ourselves individually. "The
board's opinion", such as it is, is expressed in the resolutions.

best,
-- phoebe

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On 2 June 2011 00:00, phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki@gmail.com> wrote:
> I will say that the Board drafted these resolutions with good faith
> and a great deal of care, and the one thing I would ask as you debate
> them is to consider them as a whole. We think all of the principles we
> articulate are important, and have implications for how we manage our
> content. And a few of you have noted that these ideas are not new; of
> course that's true. We are simply building on the work that many
> community members have done over the years on this difficult problem.

The principles are, indeed, important. However, they are generally
quite uncontroversial. There are vocal minorities that disagree with
them, but I think the vast majority of the community agrees with the
principles you have outlined and that has been clear from numerous
discussions over the part couple of years. We didn't really have a
problem with the principles, we had a problem with doing something
about them. It's doing something about them that you haven't helped
with.

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 6:53 PM, Risker <risker.wp@gmail.com> wrote:
> I think the more important part of this announcement is the resolution on
> images of identifiable people, and it is this section that requires
> considerably more self-examination on the part of every project that hosts
> or uses images.
>
> Commons has a guideline on the subject, found here:
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Photographs_of_identifiable_people
>
>
> This is a starting point for the discussion.  In particular, I think that
> the Board in its resolution is looking specifically at the uploading of
> images by third party editors/users who are not the subject of the image,
> nor its creator, nor the person who has claimed the right to it. (The most
> obvious example is images from Flickr, but there are many other "resource"
> sites.) This, of course, does not exempt users who upload images that they
> create or own. The resolution and (where applicable) guidelines do place an
> important onus on both the uploader and the project to ensure that
> personality rights have been appropriately confirmed. The resolution places
> this obligation on a near-equal footing to ensuring that copyright status is
> appropriate to the project.
>
> It may also be worth noting that the term "identifiable" is used. Unusual
> physical structures, jewelry, tattoos or other features may render the
> subject of an image identifiable even if the facial features are not
> included in the image.
>
> It should probably be emphasized that this would apply equally to projects
> that host "fair use" or other images, and is not simply an expectation on
> Commons.
>
> Risker/Anne
> _______________________________________________

I agree that, for me at least, the identifiable image issue is much
more key. A lot less has been done there by the projects themselves
than in the realm of controversial text, and there is considerable
risk of harm at stake. While the board resolution does urge some
appropriate action on the part of the projects, it doesn't require it.
In the absence of a firm commitment from the board to respect the
principles and spirit of model release laws, I have no reason to
expect that any project, particularly Commons, will undertake a
re-evaluation of their policies. I'm most particularly disheartened
that the board specifically endorsed having uploaders affirm subject
permission; that kind of requirement will do nothing to stop bad faith
uploaders.

What I'd ask the Board is this: what do you expect the impact of such
a resolution (referring again specifically to the image content
resolution) will be? By restating the ideology that the projects are
not censored in one resolution, and merely "urging" a minimal standard
of care in the other, is it not likely that the status quo will reign
and we'll be in the same position years from now absent some other
motivating event? Is it really going to take a series of Seigenthaler
moments to spur substantial change?

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 4:38 PM, Nathan <nawrich@gmail.com> wrote:
> What I'd ask the Board is this: what do you expect the impact of such
> a resolution (referring again specifically to the image content
> resolution) will be? By restating the ideology that the projects are
> not censored in one resolution, and merely "urging" a minimal standard
> of care in the other, is it not likely that the status quo will reign
> and we'll be in the same position years from now absent some other
> motivating event?

The important point is that it's not the role of the board to change
the status quo of a specific project in dramatic ways-- it's their job
to speak up for what they think the project should be doing.

Non-notable people shouldn't be shown on WM against their will- that
isn't controversial. There are a lot of details to work out about
when it's reasonable to infer consent and when it's not, but that's a
debate for the leadership of Commons.

So long as a project stays within the law, doesn't grossly misuse
their resources, and isn't "evil", it is free to make mistakes.

Alec

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On 06/01/2011 11:56 PM, phoebe ayers wrote:
> We meant what is stated there: that Wikimedia project content should
> be at a minimum both free and educational in nature. (In general, you
> can assume that language in resolutions like this is intentional).
> However, you can also safely assume that the Board did not
> specifically discuss the scope of Wikinews when writing this
> resolution; we were focused on the topic at hand. I personally think
> there is a very valid argument to be made that Wikinews, like most
> news sources and like the rest of our projects, is educational (as
> well as possessing other qualities, such as the more general quality
> of being informative, which also arguably applies to all of our
> projects).

Thanks for clarification. According to the last sentence, I would say
that everything is fine for now, at least.

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
Risker, 02/06/2011 00:53:
> I think the more important part of this announcement is the resolution on
> images of identifiable people [...]

I agree. It's also the first time (if memory serves me well and if I
understand it correctly) that the board asks for a specific content
policy of a specific project to be changed in some direction:
«Strengthen [...] the current Commons guideline», compared to «_continue
to practice_ rigorous active curation of content» in the other
resolution. I'm not sure I like it, although the spirit of the
resolutions is balanced and agreeable.

> It should probably be emphasized that this would apply equally to projects
> that host "fair use" or other images, and is not simply an expectation on
> Commons.

That's not what the resolution says, though. I think that it would be
more interesting to have some clear legal guideline to understand what's
/legal/ in different countries (at least the most important ones, or the
countries whose citizens more frequently ask deletion of images to the
WMF), because this is something the community is often not able to
produce and the WMF has the indisputable right to keep the projects
lawful (at least in some countries, which are tough to define; see e.g.
the quite generic draft
<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Legal/Legal_Policies#Applicable_Law>).
Instead, we'll now have a «Consent of the subject (who is a non-public
figure) is required even for photographs taken in public places in the
following countries [...] (incomplete list)», a "Citation needed" in
"Legal issues" section and finally some links to random websites about
some (very few) countries.
I don't expect this to improve much on Commons, not to speak of other
projects; I know people who work in television companies and it's clear
that even professionals don't know all the details of the law, because
it's just too complex.

Nemo

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Re: Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people [ In reply to ]
On Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 1:28 AM, Federico Leva (Nemo) <nemowiki@gmail.com> wrote:
> Risker, 02/06/2011 00:53:
>> I think the more important part of this announcement is the resolution on
>> images of identifiable people  [...]
>
> I agree. It's also the first time (if memory serves me well and if I
> understand it correctly) that the board asks for a specific content
> policy of a specific project to be changed in some direction:
> «Strengthen [...] the current Commons guideline», compared to «_continue
> to practice_ rigorous active curation of content» in the other
> resolution. I'm not sure I like it, although the spirit of the
> resolutions is balanced and agreeable.
>
>> It should probably be emphasized that this would apply equally to projects
>> that host "fair use" or other images, and is not simply an expectation on
>> Commons.
>
> That's not what the resolution says, though.

Hi Nemo and all,

I don't want to get into wikilawyering (that dread disease!), but the
resolution does state that we urge the global community to:
"Ensure that all projects that host media have policies in place
regarding the treatment of images of identifiable living people in
private situations."

In other words, we recognize that these concerns apply to any project
that hosts images. However, clearly the vast majority of our photos
are on Commons and Commons already has an example of such a policy
(inspiring this resolution); that policy could be an inspiration for
policies on other projects.

I think that it would be
> more interesting to have some clear legal guideline to understand what's
> /legal/ in different countries (at least the most important ones, or the
> countries whose citizens more frequently ask deletion of images to the
> WMF), because this is something the community is often not able to
> produce and the WMF has the indisputable right to keep the projects
> lawful (at least in some countries, which are tough to define; see e.g.
> the quite generic draft
> <http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Legal/Legal_Policies#Applicable_Law>).

I agree this would be helpful. However, I think the spirit of the
consent guideline, and of this resolution, is more in line with other
editorial policies -- it's a common-sense guideline that is meant to
encourage special editorial care under particular circumstances, and
we are stating that being freely licensed by itself is not enough in
these cases. This is part of being a curated collection.

There are parallels here with the BLP resolution
(http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:Biographies_of_living_people),
and those are intentional. In that resolution, we don't tell the
editorial community that they need to understand every detail of libel
law in every country; rather, simply that particular editorial care
should be exercised in those cases. Similarly, image copyright law is
exceedingly complex (though if anyone can figure it out I bet it's
Wikimedians) but that's not quite the point: this is an editorial
discussion. I think Risker laid out some of the issues involved very
well.

-- phoebe

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