Image filter referendum/FAQ/en

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The referendum ended 30 August 2011. No more votes will be accepted.
The results were announced on 3 September 2011.

Image filter referendum

Organization

This is a list of frequently asked questions and answers. Individual questions and other discussion should go to Talk:Image filter referendum.

What is the personal image hiding feature?[edit]

The personal image hiding feature would give logged-in and anonymous users the ability to easily hide images they do not wish to view on Wikimedia projects.

What are the principles behind its creation?[edit]

  1. It is an opt-in only feature. All Wikimedia content loads on all user browsers by default. The feature is activated only after all content has been loaded, and then only when specifically requested by a user.
  2. It is a personal system. Decisions you make are for yourself alone.
  3. Images cannot be removed by this feature, merely hidden. A simple command can reveal any hidden image at any time.
  4. The feature is to be culturally neutral, and all-inclusive.
  5. The principle of least astonishment is basic to its creation.

Difficulties in implementing this[edit]

  1. Readers may not see some images they would wish to see as the user will have to determine which group or category of images they would like to remain hidden.
  2. It is very difficult to be cultural neutral when deciding which images should be part of a group or class. Religious, political and personal motives between different users can easily lead to conflicts when determining which images belong to which group or class.
  3. While this may be an opt in only feature, this feature may be used in various setting to control which images are allowed. Institutions of education, libraries, public internet points are just a few examples of places where the filter can be put in place leaving users unable to decide for themselves which images they can see or not.

What is the principle of least astonishment?[edit]

The principle of least astonishment means that users should never be surprised by content they were not expecting to encounter on Wikimedia sites. If you click on an article about cycling, you do not expect to see images of nude cyclists. If you click on an article about locks, you do not expect to see graphic images of - for example - sexual bondage. The image hiding feature allows you to make decisions for yourself that will reduce these possibilities.

How would the feature work?[edit]

Users – both logged-in and anonymous – would be able to select from pre-established categories the kind of images they wish be hidden on Wikimedia pages. They may also hide individual images in those categories when they first come upon them. These decisions are reversible at any time. Images selected for hiding may still be viewed by a simple command.

What images would be hideable?[edit]

Hideable images will be grouped into categories. The community will decide the category structure and determine which images should be placed within those categories.

Problems with this implementation[edit]

Readers often play a small role in the administration of Wikipedia though may be the largest group of users who will opt in for the image filter. This would essentially mean that users will spend a lot of time categorizing images for a feature they will not use or do not like.

What's the background of the personal image hider?[edit]

The Board of the Wikimedia Foundation asked the Foundation and community to design and implement this feature this past May for inclusion on all Wikimedia projects, as part of their resolution on controversial content.

That resolution was the Board's response to the Report on Controversial Content that was commissioned last summer to help the Board and community come to grips with issues surrounding this type of content on Wikimedia projects, an issue long discussed within the projects. The introduction of a feature like the personal image hider was one of the recommendations of that report. The decision to survey editor reaction to the feature by way of a referendum was the Foundation's.

How would this feature affect the way content decisions are made on Wikimedia projects?[edit]

It doesn't affect them at all. The feature does not determine what content appears on Wikimedia sites. The Wikimedia community, following current policies and guidelines, determines that. The Personal Image Hiding Feature would merely allow readers and other users the ability to choose to view that content in a way that suits their own personal preferences.

Problems with the implementation[edit]

While an image filter may seem harmless in terms of the Wikipedia process, it may be a first step in indirectly censoring content of articles which have been created and edited based on shared work and community consensus. This filter may open the door to possible direct censoring of articles in the future.

Why is this being proposed?[edit]

The feature is being proposed to increase choice and satisfaction levels for those who use Wikimedia projects. It is thus expected the feature would lead to increased usage of Wikimedia projects worldwide. As it is a feature that increases some people's choice, without negatively affecting any other person's choices, it would allow us to serve our readers and other users in a more responsive way.

Is the personal image hiding feature a form of censorship?[edit]

On one hand, no. The feature only affects the viewing experience of the person who chooses to use it and only in the manner they choose for themselves. It does not affect any other user. The full range of Wikimedia content is always available to every user who wishes to view it. No content is ever removed from Wikimedia projects by this feature, even for those who activate it. Selected content is merely temporarily hidden from their view.

On the other hand, several users have expressed their concern that while the image filter itself is not a form of censorship that it may be used by those who administer a network as a tool to censor Wikipedia articles and that an image filter may be the first step towards an actual form of direct censorship.

What is the nature of the questions being asked in this referendum?[edit]

The design of the personal image hiding filter is in its early stages. The preliminary work on the feature can be seen at mw:Personal image filter. It is based on certain principles. Before we proceed any further on the design, we are interested in getting your views as to the relative significance of these principles. That feedback will guide the further development of the feature, which will occur with full community participation.