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Wikipedia founder in hot water over porn

14 May

If you’ve used the internet, chances are good that you’ve at some point used Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. The site is an incredible resource for anyone looking to find information on anything from the history of Iron Man’s armour to the humble beet, and everything in between.

What has made the site so amazing is its ability to crowdsource, or rely on the collective wisdom of the masses to get its information right. If somebody posts an entry on, say, Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson, and gets some facts wrong, somebody somewhere will eventually get on there and fix it. Unlike a paper encyclopedia, entries on Wikipedia are therefore fluid and ever-evolving.

As many journalists know (or should know), this is one of the main reasons why you shouldn’t really trust Wikipedia. It’s a great source of information, especially for basics, but you really should take it with a grain of salt and, if you’re going to publish anything, you need to confirm facts found on the site.

Interestingly, the site’s founder – Jimmy Wales – has been caught with his pants down, so to speak. Wales has been criticized by some of the site’s other regular editors for removing photos from entries that he deems objectionable. According to the Telegraph, Wales has been getting rid of images that “appeal solely to prurient interests” – a.k.a. porn – and doing it without communicating with his cohorts on the Wikimedia Commons, a group of people in charge of maintaining the site.

Wales said his main target was child porn, but the dispute proved to be enough for him to renounce some of his editing powers, including the ability to delete and edit so-called “protected content.”

As is almost always the case when it comes to this type of thing, some of the reader comments on the Telegraph story asked the inevitable question: who is to judge what is objectionable and what isn’t? Wales may have had good intentions, but once this stuff begins – and it always does with porn – it’s a slippery slope. It’s the age-old question of censorship versus freedom of speech, and it’s clearly alive and well on Wikipedia.

On an unrelated note, I’ve been meaning to share the below video, which was released in April, for some time. It’s a public service announcement from the Free Speech Coalition, or the adult industry’s lobby group, that’s pleading for people to stop downloading and watching free porn.

If there’s ever been an uphill battle, this is it. I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of people – and the vast majority of porn consumers – don’t have too much sympathy for the adult industry. The popular perception, whether correct or not, is that these are a group of people who make zillions of dollars while having copious amounts of sex. Appealing to the public’s sense of morality, that people shouldn’t be stealing money from the porn industry’s pockets, makes zero sense.

It’s even funnier when the plea is coming from people named “Sinammon Love.” Really?

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1 Comment

Posted by on May 14, 2010 in online, sex

 

One response to “Wikipedia founder in hot water over porn

  1. Scott

    June 2, 2010 at 2:32 am

    I would say that part of Wales plea may be a legal standing. From a legal perspective, child porn would prove to be a crime, and thus, he wouldnt want to go through the longer editor approval process of removal. Good on him for at least taking responsibility for it, even if it means he takes heat from freedom of speech advocates.

     
 
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