User:AlecMeta/Referendum on Image Filter

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I wrote quite a bit on the filtration subject. Now that the proposals are something I can support, it wouldn't be proper to let the referendum pass without sharing my thoughts with the same passion and zeal I demonstrated in the past.

Introduction to an Anti-censorship Fanatic[edit]

Establishing my info-anarchist street cred to those who don't know me.
  • "Information Wants to be Free". This statement is practically theology for me.
  • Indeed, this value is a core of my own real-life deeply-held philosophical/spiritual/religious beliefs. If a God or Divinity exist, one of our 'sacred duties' is to share information. It's not even a dogma for me, it's an axiom. It's a big deal. That's why I love the Wiki Movement.
  • In my day job, I'm a medieval monk in a decaying monastery deep in the heart of what may well be a dying civilization. I love it. I consider it my personal sacred duty to facilitate information sharing. It's "what gets me out of bed in the morning", not the paycheck [obviously].
    • Only, ya know, it's the 21st century, so we're agnostics instead of Catholics, libraries instead of monasteries. But the passion, and the zealotry, is absolutely the same. Never let librarians fool you-- they're just especially warm-and-fuzzy medieval monks.
May 2010
  • In May 2010, when they tried to delete porn images, I was one (if not the) most hysterical and passionate voices opposing it.
  • I engaged in an snarky edit war with a supremely-well-respected board member on their own talk page.
  • I actively worked to make the board realize the full implications of the May 2010 policy as quickly as possible. I did some very very loud screaming to get heard.
  • I may have substantially accelerated the timetable by alerting chapters to their loss of editorial control. (Or they may have all been well aware)
  • Even after a pause in the May 2010 policy implementation, I more than anyone else pressed for the remove of the founder flag. I felt the era of a movement-wide godking had to come to an end, and I pressed strongly for it.
  • If Jimbo was Caesar, was I one of his Brutuses? I hope nobody thinks of it that way, but if anyone had a dagger in his hand at the end of the god-king, I was one of them. I really hope that's not what it looked like, that's not how I thought of it, but I worry that's what it looked like, I worry that's what it felt like to him and those who care about him.
    • The founder bit was like Dumbo's magic feather-- he didn't really need it to fly at all, and I never doubted that for a second. Regardless of what title we give him, he'll do a better job at it than I would, and his words will always carry weight, for the rest of his life, no matter what his job description is.
  • May 2010 is the past, let it lie in the past.
    • I discuss it only to remind the reader-- I take censorship really, really seriously. "Overthrow the Founder" grade seriously.
  • I am Mr. Anti-Censorship.
  • I'm the last person I'd expect to support any filtration. And I support this.

On the Issue Itself[edit]

  • This process has been very open, thoughtful, public, and respectful. This is what change should look like.
    • A lot of visible thought has gone into making sure we could keep our values AND meet our readers' needs.
  • With Phoebe and Jessamyn nearby (plus lots of amazing names I'm omitting), I know we have some exceptionally competent people who can filter in a way 100% consistent with our values.
    • The influx of genius isn't an accident. Our board consists of very smart people who recruited very smart people who in turn have recruited even more very smart people.
  • All indications are that a filtered image would never, ever be more than a single click away from viewing for any user under any circumstances. This isn't something I ever asked for, I was content to let controversial images 'disappear' entirely for users who wanted it. This feature-- "1-click-to-view-at-all-times", is a great innovation. It does ONLY what we truly require a filter to do, it does none of the truly nasty things we don't want a filter to do.
    • "1-click-to-view-at-all-times" is a beautiful thing.. It is us "modeling our values" without "imposing our values". This is a win-win-win, this is wiki.

Ideology must be balanced against Reality.
  • Ideological rigidity is a recipe for institutional failure.
  • Filtration as presented resolves 95% of my ideological concerns.
    • Technically, WMF shouldn't spend money on censorship. It's bad form.
      • As long as the price tag is relatively small, it's just a technicality. Even I don't stress over it.

  • Do we have a strategic interest in building this?
    • No! This will dilute our message.
      • Yes! This will cement our message that we don't delete over controversy, ever.

    • No! This will attract the wrong kind of editors.
      • Yes! This will attract brand new kinds of editors.

    • No! This is a slippery slope to a worse solution!
      • Yes! This is a slippery slope to a perfect solution that we can model for the whole world-- where every user can customize their own content preferences endlessly.

    • No! This will cause endless debate and arguments over censorship categories!
      • Yes! This will cause endless debate and argument over censorship categories! We want more content and more data, even if it's just connecting censor's location, stated religion, their basic demographics to their objected image-set. Think how amazing and useful that dataset would be!
    • No way! Are you Kidding? censors arguing endlessly over which images are most immoral is a good thing?
      • Yes Way!. It would be highly educational and useful. A reader preparing to travel to a new culture could learn so much about differences in culture-- especially differences in what is 'controversial'. It's really valuable content, honestly. We should welcome it aboard and get into the spirit of a more open Wikimedia-- a Wikimedia so open, we even allow censors to participate here, so long as they can't impose their prejudices on the unwilling.

    • Do I represent Alec's point of view, or do you?
      • Even he doesn't know.
Just what is in our strategic interest?
  • Okay, I'll level with you people. I don't know
  • The board and staff are in the best position to decide this.
  • A lot of very smart people seem to be very concerned about this issue.

Going Global and Remaking Ourselves
  • I feel justified in asking members of my own culture to accept their own responsibilities in our censorless world.
  • I do not feel justified in forcing readers from very distant cultures to read in the way I think they should.
  • If whole cultures desperately want this feature, and I think they do, don't let me stand in their way.

Proposed -vs- perfect...
  • It's proposed to have a few dozen to a few hundred categories of 'objectionable content'.
    • The perfect system would have infinite categories. Each user could filter on a per-image basis.
    • The proposed system will lead to arguments. The perfect system won't.
  • Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good.
    • The arguments will occur among censors, not editors or readers.
    • If censors want to come together and collaboratively argue over what's offensive, let them.
    • That's a useful information dataset too.
  • Arguments may ultimately force us to upgrade the system.
    • That's okay.
    • If it costs too much, just insist 3rd-parties fund development.

Rationalization: pro quo, quid.[edit]

Sellout, not surrender.
  • I'm 'compromising my ideology'-- but I'm not giving up, just selling out.
  • I expect this compromise to 'buy' us all some good things in return.

Bigger fish to fry
  • The Openness/Editor Trends issues is a "Big Problem".
  • The problem may be systemic. There may be no quick fix.
  • The problem needs big thoughts and bold innovation. It needs our best minds.
Let's move on
  • We need to get past "controversial images".
  • Use the filter, let the board and staff stop stressing over it.
  • Use the filter, let's focus on finding big answers to big problems.

To boldly go where no one has gone before...
  • We need to expand and innovate.
  • Our movement is artificially narrow.
  • We must expand to thrive & survive.
New stuff
  • Many people want some non-profit foundation to facilitate wider-scope information sharing.
  • We should be the ones to do it.
Experimenting is our business...
  • We are too cautious right now.
  • We haven't found a single new good project idea in a long, long time.
    • How many wikis has Wikia found in that same time? Lots and lots and lots.
Good ideas are out there.
  • The ideas want to be here.
  • New things happen elsewhere because we turn away good ideas.
  • Stop turning away good people with good ideas. Let them try and fail!
    • If the home plate umpires haven't seen a strike in years, find new umpires, not new pitchers.

Filters may help us expand
  • Buy us PR breathing room, perhaps?
  • Filters may help us, a little, in getting more diverse editors.
    • Filters + Userspace sandbox content might actually make a dent in the trends.
  • Filterable is inherently less controversial.
  • All potential new innovations/projects are less controversial if their content can be per-user filtered.
  • This filter could ease any jitters that new projects might open us up to negative PR.

Filters will legitimize experimentation.
  • Many organizations devote a small percentage of their resources to "off-mission" spending.
  • Sufficiently trivial "off-mission" spending is okay. Highly controversial major investments are bad. But trivial investments that appeal to niche audiences are okay-- why they're even a good idea!
    • Let's first remember that philosophy now, as we develop new filters.
    • Let's also remember that philosophy in the future, as we develop new projects.

Ideological Preference order[edit]

If I consider "just" my own ideological beliefs, and not pragmatic ones, what would my preferences be?

  1. We never fund or explicitly aid filtering, but readers can filter without any help from us.
  2. We allow groups of people to collaborate on a WM project for developing personal filters, but the collaboration and its data resultant data must be free content. We don't fund them or help with the filtering, but readers are able to filter with help from the filtration project.
  3. We do the collaborative image filter project, but we also have to provide some minimal help to allow readers to turn it on.
  4. We do the collaborative image filter project, but to get it right it it requires a 'somewhat more than minimal" resource use.
  5. Status Quo-- some readers just get shocked, over and over.
  6. We do the collaborative image filter project, but to get it right, we make a 'moderate-to-large" resource use.
  7. We do a half-right filter, but quickly upgrade if it presents problems.
  8. We do a half-right filter, but it presents problems we aren't prepared to handle.
  9. We do a "wrong" filter-- where there's only one filter option for the whole planet.
  10. We shutter other images but not Muhammad. This is the only foreseeable way an error by us on Image Filtration could wind up causing loss of life. We have readers in Muslim nations who are more upset by an image than anyone else on the planet that I am aware of. Right now we have a very good answer for them-- we don't filter for the Christians or the Jews either. They may not like us for that, but with time they can easily see that we our "staying true to our own set of values". If we were to filter for some people, but still refuse to help them avoid the images they want to avoid, they will rightly conclude Wikimedia policy values Westerners more than it values them. Under no circumstances should we even think about censoring nudity when Muhammad is still unfilterable. --AlecMeta 21:20, 23 August 2011 (UTC)