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Image filter referendum/en

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
The referendum ended 30 August 2011. No more votes will be accepted.
The results were announced on 3 September 2011.

Image filter referendum


The Wikimedia Foundation held a referendum to gather more input in to the development and usage of an opt-in personal image hiding feature, which will allow readers to voluntarily screen particular types of images strictly for their own accounts. Such a feature was requested by the Board of Trustees in June 2011.

The referendum began on 15 August 2011 and ended on 30 August at 23:59 (UTC), and is conducted on servers hosted by Software in the Public Interest. Further details and educational materials are available on these pages.


The Board of Trustees has directed the Wikimedia Foundation to develop and implement a personal image hiding feature.

Its purpose is to enable readers to easily hide images on the Wikimedia projects that they do not wish to view, either when first viewing the image or ahead of time through individual preference settings. The feature is intended to benefit readers by offering them more choice, and to that end it will be made as user-friendly and simple as possible. We will also make it as easy as possible for editors to support.

The feature will be developed for, and implemented on, all projects. It will not permanently remove any images: it will only hide them from view on request. For its development, we have created a number of guiding principles, but trade-offs will need to be made throughout the development process. To aid the developers in making those trade-offs, we are asking you to help us assess the importance of each by taking part in this referendum.

Why is this important?[edit]

In the 2010 Harris report, two of the recommendations (7 and 9) were to create a way for readers to hide images they did not want to see; and that there be an option for readers to hide all potentially controversial content.

There are several rationales for a feature like this. Images of sexuality and violence are necessary components of Wikimedia projects for them to fulfill their mandates to be open, free and educational. However, these images – of genital areas and sexual practices on the one hand, or mass graves and mutilated corpses on the other – will inevitably still have the power to disturb some viewers, especially if they are children, or if they are happened upon unintentionally. The point of the opt-in personal image hiding feature is to help alleviate that surprise and dismay, by making the images unavailable for viewing without a second command. Often, within the Wikimedia world, this is referred to as the principle of least astonishment, or least surprise.

On the other hand, we believe that this command should only delay, not prevent, the presentation of these images. Access to information on Wikimedia Foundation sites should be compromised only to the extent needed to satisfy our responsibilities to respect and serve all of our audiences. A shuttered rather than a completely hidden image satisfies those responsibilities.

What will be asked?[edit]

On a scale of 0 to 10, if 0 is strongly opposed, 5 is neutral and 10 is strongly in favor, you will be asked to give your view on how important it is:

  • for the Wikimedia projects to offer this feature to readers.
  • that the feature be usable by both logged-in and logged-out readers.
  • that hiding be reversible: readers should be supported if they decide to change their minds.
  • that individuals be able to report or flag images that they see as controversial, that have not yet been categorized as such.
  • that the feature allow readers to quickly and easily choose which types of images they want to hide (e.g., 5–10 categories), so that people could choose for example to hide sexual imagery but not violent imagery.
  • that the feature be culturally neutral (as much as possible, it should aim to reflect a global or multi-cultural view of what imagery is potentially controversial).

You will also have the option of saying that you do not have sufficient information to answer.

What will the image hider look like?[edit]

As development of the image hider has not begun yet, only early mock-ups and designs are available. These are subject to change based on the outcome of the referendum and the realities of feature development, but it's likely that the final product would look very similar to these mock-ups. These mock-ups assume three main ways that readers will be able to adjust these settings: from the navigation, from a displayed image, and from a hidden image. These screenshots show how the hider might look to an anonymous user.




You may vote from any one registered account you own on a Wikimedia wiki (you may only vote once, regardless of how many accounts you own). To qualify, this one account must:

  • not be blocked on more than one project; and
  • not be blocked on the project you are voting from; and
  • not be a bot; and
  • have made at least 10 edits before 1 August 2011 across Wikimedia wikis and projects (edits on several wikis can be combined if your accounts are unified into a global account)

MediaWiki developers qualify to vote if they:

  • are Wikimedia server administrators with shell access; or
  • have commit access to Wikimedia's SVN and have made at least one commit.
Staff and contractors

Wikimedia Foundation staff and contractors qualify to vote if they are employed by the Foundation on the date of their vote, and were employed prior to August 1, 2011.

Board members and advisory board members

Current and former members of the Board of Trustees and the Advisory Board are qualified to vote.

How to vote[edit]

If you are eligible to vote:

  1. Read the statements and decide on your position.
  2. Go to one wiki you qualify to vote from. You are currently reading a page at meta.wikimedia.org. For most users, you will have to leave Meta and return to your main wiki project to be able to vote. In the search bar at your regular wiki project, type in Special:SecurePoll/vote/230. For example, if you are most active on the wiki meta.wikimedia.org, go to meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:SecurePoll/vote/230.
  3. Click "Go to the voting server". This will direct you to the SPI server to vote.
  4. Follow the instructions on that page.

You have to enable cookies on wikimedia.amellus.net and third-party cookies to be recognized by the voting interface, before opening page with form of voting, because otherwise you'll get an error. If you get the error "Sorry, you are not in the predetermined list of users authorised to vote in this election.", you're on the wrong wiki: try to access "Special:SecurePoll" from your home wiki.

You can return to the voting page and change your votes later.



  • 2011-06-30: announcement made; initial translation phase begins.
  • 2011-07-25: referendum details and FAQ published; main translation phase begins.
  • 2011-08-08: ideally all translations have been completed.
  • 2011-08-15: referendum begins.
  • 2011-08-17: mail sending begins (to all eligible voters who haven't opted out)
  • 2011-08-30: referendum ends; vote-checking and tallying begins.
  • 2011-09-01: results announced. Results will be announced on 2011-09-03. Please see Image filter referendum/Results/en for further details and notices.


To ensure that a representative cross-section of the Wikimedia community takes part in this referendum, it is important to translate notices and referendum information into as many languages as possible. To help translate, please see the translation page. If you speak other languages, we would appreciate your help.