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"commons is ethically broken. You should be ashamed."
June 26, 2013 5:59 AM   Subscribe

How Wikimedia Commons became a massive amateur porn hub
"Diving into Wikimedia Commons is like walking into a hoarder's photography warehouse. It is a vast, comprehensive mess."
Warning: The following story contains sexually explicit language.
posted by andoatnp (107 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Porn, like nature, will find a way.
See also: Tumblr
posted by Thorzdad at 6:09 AM on June 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was under the impression that anything, if left unattended, becomes full of porn.
posted by The Whelk at 6:10 AM on June 26, 2013 [39 favorites]


The Whelk: "I was under the impression that anything, if left unattended, becomes full of porn."

Shit, I'd better go turn the compost bin.
posted by jquinby at 6:12 AM on June 26, 2013 [135 favorites]


Well, gracious! What ARE photos the author doesn't think are necessary or decent doing in a public archive? My congressman will certainly be hearing about this!
posted by DU at 6:16 AM on June 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


"The video is educational and provides insight into how art can be created with penises."

Indeed.
posted by L0 at 6:18 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


"The video is educational and provides insight into how art can be created with penises."

That would have been a much better title for this post than the quotation that I used.
posted by andoatnp at 6:19 AM on June 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


This is just an allegory. Kind of like the Garden of Eden, where Adam drew a penis graffiti on a rock, right?
posted by surplus at 6:20 AM on June 26, 2013


Sounds like the tragedy of the.....
posted by bq at 6:32 AM on June 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


The Whelk, I believe that's the -1st law of Thermodynamics... Porn comes before even entropy in the hierarchy of things...
posted by symbioid at 6:33 AM on June 26, 2013


bq

If you're suggesting there's livestock involved, I'm definitely not clicking those links.
posted by The Confessor at 6:34 AM on June 26, 2013


Now I feel like I've been doing it wrong for years, as I've never seen a penis on Wikicommons. Well, except for those on Roman pornography and Greek statues, but they don't count.

(That piece had some great lines, including, "Wales's improbable collision course with Tim Patch's paint-covered penis likely began in 2010")
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:34 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


The author seems to be complaining, among other things, about this series of relatively tasteful explicit illustrations: Pegging, Oral Nipple Stimulation, Fisting, Mammary Intercourse, Bukkake

I've encountered these illustrations on Wikipedia before, and always thought that they were excellent for being completely informative without being either prudish or unnecessarily salacious.
posted by 256 at 6:35 AM on June 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


Well, gracious! What ARE photos the author doesn't think are necessary or decent doing in a public archive? My congressman will certainly be hearing about this!

You have not read the article and are incorrect about its content.

Porn, like nature, will find a way.
See also: Tumblr


This seems from this account to be far less a case of "porn finding a way" than of corrupt interests using the fig leaf of "educational content" to turn the entire archive into their personal playground. No one ever suggested that explicit content should be verboten. Merely that explicit content is not the raison d'être for the site and yet the users have contrived to arrange it so that the site cannot be used without encountering it. I mean, yeah, yeah, life itself is filled with explicit content, wear a helmet. But personally I think that if an archive that was created to better illustrate an encyclopaedia turns into a way for exhibitionists to trick users into watching them masturbate, there's a problem.
posted by Diablevert at 6:43 AM on June 26, 2013 [29 favorites]


Sometimes porn is just porn.
posted by tommasz at 6:44 AM on June 26, 2013


@256 Perhaps within context, but you do NOT want to be searching for media files on wikipedia: Human male, one stroke, prince albert, coddle, homework used to return dog on fake nun porn, furniture, etc, etc.

The other issues ouside of whether the images is tasteful or not is that you have no idea whether any of the people consented to the image being placed on Commons. Neither do you have any idea what the age of the participants is. Last year a whole load of pics of young teens were found on there. One with GPS data locating the kids bedroom. Images taken by nintendo gameboy devices are not the first choice of adult photographers.
posted by lilburne at 6:46 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Porn comes before even entropy in the hierarchy of things

Look, sometimes porn gets nervous, perhaps a little too excited, and things happen. Don't make it feel worse.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:46 AM on June 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


The author has searched for things with double meanings or single meanings and then complained. Who is shocked at seeing ejaculation after searching for it?

That said, I think commons could do with an explicit flag for images and the ability to turn off explicit images in settings if desired.
posted by jaduncan at 6:50 AM on June 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


The other issues ouside of whether the images is tasteful or not is that you have no idea whether any of the people consented to the image being placed on Commons. Neither do you have any idea what the age of the participants is. Last year a whole load of pics of young teens were found on there.

This can be said for literally any UGC site.
posted by jaduncan at 6:50 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


You have not read the article and are incorrect about its content.

Your assumption is wrong.
posted by DU at 6:52 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Porn abhors a empty server space.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:53 AM on June 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yet loves a vacuum.
posted by Panjandrum at 6:56 AM on June 26, 2013 [25 favorites]


But personally I think that if an archive that was created to better illustrate an encyclopaedia turns into a way for exhibitionists to trick users into watching them masturbate, there's a problem.

That's nice and high-minded, but, as anyone with even a modicum of experience online would understand, if your intention is to be a porn-free repository of images, you'd better have some very serious moderation in-place to weed the shit out. Failure to do so, given the reality of the online world, is pretty much capitulation.

I realize heavy moderation would run counter to the ideals of the Wiki world, but to do otherwise results in exactly the current situation. This is a bit like someone leaving the doors of their home wide open and leaving on a year-long vacation, then being shocked!!! that squatters have moved in, eaten all the food, and trashed the place.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:57 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]



Your assumption is wrong.


Then I don't understand your viewpoint, because it seems wildly at variance from the article I read. Could you explain what you mean more?
posted by Diablevert at 6:57 AM on June 26, 2013


@jaduncan Other UGC sites do not appear as first google hit, nor do they advertise that the content is free to use, nor do they advertise themselves as an encyclopaedia. Put those three things together and the site has a greater responsibility to behave as good as a good citizen than 4chan.
posted by lilburne at 6:58 AM on June 26, 2013


There is inappropriate stuf that happens in public spaces, and the author called out one harassement case, but visual discussion of sex, nudity, porn, art with penises, etc. all sound perfectly appropriate. I haven't paid any attention to commons, but overall the wikipedia-like processes work acceptably well at removing actually problematic material. I'd therefore rank the author as a prudish asshat who tries to exploit unfortunate but correctable abuses to force his pathological perversely anti-sexuality views upon others.
See also : The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:58 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


According to the article: The Commons is so supersaturated with porn that explicit content bleeds into places you'd never expect. You can't walk down a street on the Commons without stumbling upon some dude's penis or something equally explicit or shocking.

All I can say is that I personally have yet to stumble across any sexually explicit images unexpectedly on Wikimedia Commons. This cannot be said for the Web as a whole.
posted by baf at 6:59 AM on June 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


@jaduncan Other UGC sites do not appear as first google hit, nor do they advertise that the content is free to use, nor do they advertise themselves as an encyclopaedia. Put those three things together and the site has a greater responsibility to behave as good as a good citizen than 4chan.

Commons isn't Wikipedia. It doesn't and isn't.
posted by jaduncan at 7:00 AM on June 26, 2013


That's nice and high-minded, but, as anyone with even a modicum of experience online would understand, if your intention is to be a porn-free repository of images, you'd better have some very serious moderation in-place to weed the shit out. Failure to do so, given the reality of the online world, is pretty much capitulation.

Well, that's the interesting thing, right? Sociologically speaking? Because Wikipedia itself is, I'd say, extremely heavily moderated to make sure that articles conform to the site's guidelines. Yet it seems that this portion of the foundation has inculcated a separate culture which is actively subverting the site's stated purpose.
posted by Diablevert at 7:00 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Commons isn't Wikipedia. It doesn't and isn't.

That said, and as I already stated, I think it would benefit from a explicit tag and an optional block on explicit images (maybe even opt-in). This is really a small section of Commons in any case.
posted by jaduncan at 7:02 AM on June 26, 2013


Then I don't understand your viewpoint, because it seems wildly at variance from the article I read. Could you explain what you mean more?

Did you read the paragraphs about deleting images of walls because who needs 'em and how the internet doesn't need pictures of human body parts because ew?
posted by DU at 7:06 AM on June 26, 2013


I'd already flagged one user's talk page to my friends for exactly this reason. The dialogue is priceless.
If you wish to show your equipment to the world, there's about a billion pages out there to do that. I however do not believe this to be the goal of Wikipedia, Commons, or any related project. And in accordance with Note: This gallery does not need more general home-made images of penises. If you upload a home-made photo of your penis, do not be surprised if it gets deleted. in the header of the Penis-Gallery, I will continue to delete home-made pictures without any encyclopedic use. Lennert B 17:26, 18 February 2008 (UTC)
Images despoticly deleted by Lennert B were primarily in the category shaved genitalia, there are not many male images in this category. Obviously Lennert B wants omnipotently keep only female images there. This is not a suitable or an equal way of handling things under admin rights. Richiex 13:18, 20 February 2008 (UTC)
posted by fatbird at 7:15 AM on June 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Did you read the paragraphs about deleting images of walls because who needs 'em and how the internet doesn't need pictures of human body parts because ew?

I didn't agree with all of its points, but that does not seem like a terribly accurate representation of the article.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:16 AM on June 26, 2013


but visual discussion of sex, nudity, porn, art with penises, etc. all sound perfectly appropriate

They sound appropriate to me too, but can't, say, 200 images of user X's genitalia be deleted as duplication or images of little common utility? If someone doesn't want the resource cluttered with 1000''s of cock shots, it doesn't make them a prude. I find this especially strange given Wikipedia proper's deep concern for notability.
posted by tyllwin at 7:26 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Did you read the paragraphs about deleting images of walls because who needs 'em and how the internet doesn't need pictures of human body parts because ew?

But the article has nothing to do with "the Internet." Do whatever the hell you want on the Internet. Get a blog or a tumbler or resurrect geocities if it strikes your fancy and upload away. The article's about Wikimedia Commons, which as I understand it was meant to be an image-based companion to and supplementary source for Wikipedia. The public library is not a bastion of censorship because it doesn't keep a copy of your personal diary on the shelf. Being a web-based archive rather than a physical one gives you a lot more flexibility and leeway as to the amount of stuff you can preserve, I'd agree. but there's 6 billion people on this earth;I don't think that you need 3 billion snapshots of their individual dicks in order to adequately cover the subject of penises. If porn gets to be the majority of what's on there, to the point that it becomes the top search result for non-porn things and you can't filter it out, then I think the purpose of the site is subverted.

Of course, other people in the thread have suggested that that's not true and the author's way off base in asserting that. I personally haven't had enough experience with the site to tell who's right about that.
posted by Diablevert at 7:33 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a tempest in a penis-shaped teapot.
posted by Mister_A at 7:34 AM on June 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Tyllwin, I agree that it doesn't make someone a prude, but a whole lot of people trying to make sex organs invisible on the internet sure seem like they are doing it for prudish reasons. "Think of the children!" or "I don't want to help perverts get off!" are sentiments that have popped up in this very thread.
posted by rebent at 7:35 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would humbly suggest that they be sorted through for A: the most physically informative and B: the most arousing, and culled in this manner. That way everybody is happy.
posted by solarion at 7:36 AM on June 26, 2013


"The video is educational and provides insight into how art can be created with penises."
posted by grobstein at 8:11 AM on June 26, 2013


Can't they do something basic like tag these works in such a way as to filter them from turning up in non-sexual searches a la the 'wheel' example?
posted by Mister_A at 8:21 AM on June 26, 2013


Does a jpg even qualify as pornography these days?
posted by Teakettle at 8:40 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I went to commons and loaded a random image. It showed me a labeled rendering of a vagina.

I loaded about 60 random images after that and didn't see anything even vaguely sexual. Lots of old european buildings. Lots of pictures of people of dubious notability.

I glanced through 20 or more pages @ 50 per page of 'most recent' photos, and did find a slightly curious and probably male-oriented obsession: Airliners. Something between 10-20% pictures of airliners.
posted by lodurr at 8:44 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I glanced through 20 or more pages @ 50 per page of 'most recent' photos, and did find a slightly curious and probably male-oriented obsession: Airliners. Something between 10-20% pictures of airliners.

An obvious phallic symbol and probably some fetishist's idea of pornography.
posted by asnider at 9:03 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The penis-artist is called Pricasso. Just for that, I fully endorse his artistic vision.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:04 AM on June 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


According to the article: The Commons is so supersaturated with porn that explicit content bleeds into places you'd never expect. You can't walk down a street on the Commons without stumbling upon some dude's penis or something equally explicit or shocking.

All I can say is that I personally have yet to stumble across any sexually explicit images unexpectedly on Wikimedia Commons. This cannot be said for the Web as a whole.


Yeah, before I spent 5-10 minutes reading this claptrap, I decided to peruse the commons, searching for possibly surprising images: donkey, monkey, boys, romance, seduction .. and didn't get much. Usual stock stuff.

Then I clicked on the "random file" link ~20 times: church, monkey, sluice pumping station, coat of arms, snow-covered cabin, waterwerks electra (?), Lidwien Gevers, The Swan (building), two boys on a beach, path in Prince William Forest Park, rochester it project, large stile, SEMI-ERECT PENIS WITH COCK RING, le jardin japonais Albert Kahn, Encyclopaedia of Imam Ali, Carlos Bala, Shrine of Hazrat Ali or The blue mosque, church, Zinaida Volkonskaya by Bruni, Fenced Trees beside Allt Dearg, Schloss-Nordkirchen-Venusinsel-Nordufer (statue), Motorhome Stopover Germany Altötting ...

I can't see much fuss, but I'll read the article anyway ...

And if the founder of Wikipedia himself is powerless to stop sexual harassment on Wikimedia Commons, what hope do the rest of us have?

I didn't watch the video. Can it really be called sexual harassment? What is the harassment?

This is a tempest in a penis-shaped teapot.

I agree. The fact that the author spends so much space on that penis painting indicates there's not much of a story here.

"The video is educational and provides insight into how art can be created with penises."

I admit I was interested to learn how to paint with a penis. I'm glad the video is still live.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:13 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Regarding the kid who wants to use the commons, and wikipedia itself to help with schoolwork, stumbling onto the BSDM Wheel when searching for "wheel".... This is exactly why I block the commons from my kids surfing. She doesn't need to see that.

It's a shame that she can't use the commons, but I have bought her alternatives. It's worse for the kids who don't have alternatives. I'm not sure schools block the commons, but they should. It is not something to be used in school research.
posted by dabitch at 9:18 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can it really be called sexual harassment? What is the harassment?

"Hi! This portrait of you was painted with a penis by a famous penis artist, and arranged to exist by your nemesis."

It seems self-evident, whatever Commons mission, that this is sexual harassment of Wales.
posted by fatbird at 9:19 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


See also: Tumblr

Also: Flickr. I had a perfectly innocent picture of me aged 17 getting ready to go out, and I ended up taking it down as it kept being favourited by tights fetishists. And not all of their favourites were perfectly innocent pictures.
posted by mippy at 9:22 AM on June 26, 2013


It seems self-evident, whatever Commons mission, that this is sexual harassment of Wales.

Yes, that is certainly true. The particularly pernicious part of it is that he is in a position where it's hard to complain too much for political/project PR reasons.
posted by jaduncan at 9:22 AM on June 26, 2013


I know one of the UK Wikipedia admins (David Gerard) is a big name in the polyamory/fetish community, and one of his partners was deemed 'notable' enough to have a page on Encyclopaedia Dramatica. So it may not be Wales specifically, but when that crowd get a bee in their bonnet about someone, they tend to make trouble.
posted by mippy at 9:27 AM on June 26, 2013


eh, I'm not sure about "massive" or "hub"
posted by Bwithh at 9:39 AM on June 26, 2013


I don't think that you need 3 billion snapshots of their individual dicks in order to adequately cover the subject of penises.

We all have different needs.
posted by bongo_x at 9:39 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Commons isn't Wikipedia. It doesn't and isn't." says jaduncan.

Really does it have a separate funding stream? Does it have a separate back office? Does it have separate servers? No it doesn't, it is part and parcel of the same organizational control and delivery. Next you'll be telling us that r/jailbait had nothing to do with reddit.
posted by lilburne at 9:52 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here are some images that one might go looking for obviously NSFW:

Human Male, one stroke, pearl necklace, Prince Albert.


Now do the same searches on Google Image Search.
posted by lilburne at 10:05 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought most of the Wikimedia Commons server space was dedicated to clocks.
posted by ymgve at 10:27 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Regarding the kid who wants to use the commons, and wikipedia itself to help with schoolwork, stumbling onto the BSDM Wheel when searching for "wheel".... This is exactly why I block the commons from my kids surfing. She doesn't need to see that.

It's a shame that she can't use the commons, but I have bought her alternatives. It's worse for the kids who don't have alternatives. I'm not sure schools block the commons, but they should. It is not something to be used in school research.


I'm going to speak up as a parent with a polar opposite mindset. We have three boys and we're a gay couple. Our family's arrangement means that, historically, we haven't been able to shield our kids from things they "don't need" to hear about, whether through the conversations their curious friends have at school ("your dads are gay, do you know what 'rimming' is?" was an early one), the books on our shelves, or conversations they overhear on television or with our friends. I thank god that they can freely search for things that inform or titillate them, because we've thoroughly established that they ask us questions when they come up with something they don't understand.

When I hear "kids don't need to see that," or any version of the "think of the children" argument, I think that it's a coded way of saying something more along the lines of "I don't want my kids to see things about which I have negative feelings." That's fine, of course, if a bit naive. And therein lies a tragedy of parenthood--the ease with which we forget how little agency over our own interior lives and interests our parents had, no matter how hard they fought to control our exposures. It seems to be a rule that children are better at seeking than their parents, and it's felt very good and rational to embrace that.

Also funny to think that controlling a kids' access to the commons is somehow blocking access to, well, anything at all. The internet, she contains multitudes.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:59 AM on June 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


I thank god that they can freely search for things that inform or titillate them, because we've thoroughly established that they ask us questions when they come up with something they don't understand. sez - "late afternoon dreaming hotel"

I think you need to do the telling yourselves. If you leave it to wikipedia to describe sexual relationships whether straight or gay they'll come away with a very skewed version. See no where on wikipedia will they describe real sexual relationships. Pearl necklaces - yes, fisting - yes, cock and ball torture - you betcha, screwing or being screwed by the family dog - sure thing there boy, tit torture we got it whipped, bukkake there is a fair dollop of coverage, hell wikipedia has also got loads of descriptions of sexual activity that only occur in fantasy porn. A normal description of sexual behavior between two consenting adults of whatever gender nope.
posted by lilburne at 12:07 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Still, maybe they could implement a some kind of filter that allows users to filter out dickpics? You can find all that stuff on flickr (depending on what country you connect to the site from), for example, but if you search NSFW pictures are filtered out by default.
posted by delmoi at 12:11 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Such an old trope Encyclopedia Dramatica (NSFW) has a page.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:18 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


See no where on wikipedia will they describe real sexual relationships. Pearl necklaces - yes, fisting - yes, cock and ball torture - you betcha, screwing or being screwed by the family dog - sure thing there boy, tit torture we got it whipped, bukkake there is a fair dollop of coverage, hell wikipedia has also got loads of descriptions of sexual activity that only occur in fantasy porn. A normal description of sexual behavior between two consenting adults of whatever gender nope.

Counterpoints:

A normal description of sexual behavior between two consenting adults.

Another normal description of sexual behavior.

Another example.

Another.

If my links were not obvious enough, I mean to say that your "normal sexual behavior" is not everyone's "normal sexual behavior."
posted by mrgrimm at 12:22 PM on June 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


Is the Encyclopedia Dramatica summary of the Jimbo Porn Drama at all correct? If so, LOL !!
posted by jeffburdges at 12:27 PM on June 26, 2013


Dr Dracator: "The penis-artist is called Pricasso. Just for that, I fully endorse his artistic vision."

He uses his hands. That was a major letdown.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 12:51 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems like allowing voluntary NSFW tagging of images and allow filtering based on that tagging would fix all of the problems, without being considered censorship. I honestly do not understand why the Commons keeps refusing to do this.

If you're not going to moderate the content on your system, then at least allow your users to choose to self-moderate what they see.
posted by ErikaB at 12:54 PM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean to say that your "normal sexual behavior" is not everyone's "normal sexual behavior."

You have been on the web for too long, if you think that BDSM is a normative sexual relationship. Most households do not require bondage ropes, suspension harnesses, gimp masks, canes and tawses, or any paraphernalia, other than the wetsuit and fireman's helmet.
posted by lilburne at 1:48 PM on June 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah, count me among the not-at-all-prudish, but there's a time and a place to be exposed to BDSM. Relatively early childhood isn't it.
posted by downing street memo at 2:07 PM on June 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Don't let your young kids use the internet unsupervised, parents.

Don't moan they see the wrong things if you let them.

Wikipedia and the Wiki commons are not the first places to look for porn and really, if you don't go looking for it there, the chances of encountering naughty bits on it are small.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:11 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


late afternoon dreaming hotel, your kids are probably older than mine, I'm guessing, and I agree with you on explaining things to children who ask, but I would like to allow my seven year old daughter to do her own research and feel that sense of achievement of having done it all herself, without worrying that she'll stumble onto a picture of fisting.

When she asked how the kids next door could have two mommies, I explained how insemination works and we researched that. I did not, however, introduce her to the vocabulary and possible positions of lesbian sex. Time and place mate.

I am also not so naive to believe that a simple block on commons removes all of the intarwebs. Safe search and various other filters are also on, of course. It's just a shame that I can't choose a safe search filter on what people mostly use as an educational tool.
posted by dabitch at 2:22 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


You have been on the web for too long, if you think that BDSM is a normative sexual relationship.

Funny, I thought BDSM was a normative sexual relationship before I ever knew what the Internet was.

Most households do not require bondage ropes, suspension harnesses, gimp masks, canes and tawses, or any paraphernalia, other than the wetsuit and fireman's helmet.

BDSM doesn't require any odd paraphernalia either (imo). And if those items are your idea of how BDSM relationships really work, I think you are the one who is out of touch with reality.

Show me a sexual relationship that doesn't have some sort of power exchange.

Regardless, we're obviously coming from two very different perspectives here. I am discounting completely the notion of normal sex. (The U.S. DOD agrees.)
posted by mrgrimm at 2:33 PM on June 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Troll.

I'm pretty sure that I'd have run across a porn stash on WC over the years I've used it. Penises, masturbation, vulvas, ejaculation, Bukkake are not "porn" illustrations in the context of an encyclopedia in which those terms (properly) appear. Those are examples of human and animal behavior that only the bizarrely squeamish would avoid knowledge of. For them, I'm sure the free 1911 Webster's online is more than enough knowledge.
posted by Twang at 2:43 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am also not so naive to believe that a simple block on commons removes all of the intarwebs. Safe search and various other filters are also on, of course. It's just a shame that I can't choose a safe search filter on what people mostly use as an educational tool.

Commons isn't an educational tool, Wikipedia (arguably) is. I would think that any number of word sensitive filters would deal with this. Dan's Guardian would be one option.

You might also wish to examine Wikipedia Schools, which is a selection of child-friendly articles designed for use with the UK national curriculum. Wikipedia itself makes no claim to only have articles generally accepted as child-friendly.
posted by jaduncan at 3:21 PM on June 26, 2013


The penis-artist is called Pricasso. Just for that, I fully endorse his artistic vision.

Vision? I heard it made you go blind.

Also, obligatory xkcd.
posted by Ned G at 4:58 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The other day, Australian artist Tim Patch slipped out of his hot pink Speedo and slathered his flaccid penis in paint.

It was a pretty normal day in the studio for Patch, who goes by the stage name Pricasso. (Yes, that's Pricasso.) The sandy-haired Aussie has carved out a successful niche in the art world thanks to the versatility of his genitalia, which he uses to paint vivid portraits of celebrities, or anyone with the inclination and $200 Australian.


Australian art in a nutshell.

I don't think its prudish to not want an encylopedic resource to be an 'ameteur porn hub'. Maybe limiting it to one image per topic per user might work? Or replacing explicit images with illustrations?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:27 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've used Wikipedia and the Commons for as long as I can recall. At best a Wikipedia article provides an excellent entree into a subject and a road-map for more research and at best the Commons provides beautiful hi-res images to support the subject. It does all this *despite* the inmates-running-the asylum-disfunction of its admins and contributors.

Now I have a 14-yo daughter and she uses Wikipedia the same way I used Britannica (or, honestly, more likely World Book) back when I was her age. I don't censor or block her Wikipedia access (or internet access in general) because I'm quite sure she and her friends know where to find porn if they want it. Rather I've tried to teach to her how to use the internet; what's appropriate and inappropriate, etc, etc. Then of course occasionally I'll monitor her history (trust but verify, right). Turns out my daughter is a pretty sharp, technology-savvy, girl who is pretty good and responsible about using the Internet.

If she were researching sex on Wikipedia I would expect images of a sexual nature but why is it that when she was searching Commons for images of the American Revolution for a school report last May she came across some terrible amateur porn? (I forgot the exact search - but it was a pretty typical 8th-grade Revolutionary War topic).

Why do the Commons admins resist any form of tagging? Isn't there some way that contributors can still use Commons as their personal, sad version of 4chan w/o subjecting everyone else to it?
posted by codex99 at 7:14 PM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm going to preface this by saying that I'm a feminist and a survivor of sexual assault, and I don't think anyone should ever have to put up with sexual harassment for any reason.

But I have to say, commissioning a portrait of some actual person that you know painted with the artist's penis sounds like the most awesome prank ever.

"Hey, I got you this piece of art!"

"Cool, it's me! What a great likeness! You picked a good reference photo, too! Thanks so much!"

"By the way, this picture of you? ITS MADE OF PENIS bahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!"

If I had unlimited money, I would totally commission a guy named Pricasso to paint a picture of me with his penis.
posted by Sara C. at 7:47 PM on June 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


The most fun part of the Commons is that some poor moderator or administrator apparently has to track all of this stuff, to keep the Bad Image List up to date. You know, to make sure that the explicit images aren't linked to just any old Wiki page.

I'm somehow certain that the number of "bad images" is a lot higher than the number of images on the Bad Image list.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:10 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


the whole 'sexual harrassment' part is bothering me. I get that we need to apply the term fairly, and I am totally on board with it being a hostile act, but does anyone here really believe that Jimmy Wales was any more damaged by the fact that it was done with a penis than he would be if it had been him with a hitler mustache, NOT done by a penis?
posted by lodurr at 3:26 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


the whole 'sexual harrassment' part is bothering me. I get that we need to apply the term fairly, and I am totally on board with it being a hostile act, but does anyone here really believe that Jimmy Wales was any more damaged by the fact that it was done with a penis than he would be if it had been him with a hitler mustache, NOT done by a penis?

The entire point is to sexualise it, which is why this is open and shut sexual harassment.
posted by jaduncan at 3:53 AM on June 27, 2013


I'm not trying to start a fight over the definition, but it seems to me the original point of sexual harassment as a claim was that it was aggression -- that the aggression part was getting lost in the sexualization. The aggression part is totally not lost here. It just strikes me that the term is degraded a little if the sexualization aspect isn't relevant to the harm and doesn't do anything to mask the aggression. (Though I suppose the fact that some of us are laughing about it could argue that the sexualization does mask the aggression. But then that's more "mockery harassment" -- which, mind you, I think is often just as bad and just as inexcusable as sexual harassment.)

Anyway, not to derail anymore...I do get as I said that given current usages 'sexual harrassment' is an appropriate term.
posted by lodurr at 4:50 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, yeah. that's the difference between harassment and sexual harassment. I agree with you that if this had been done with a Hitler moustache it would still look like harassment because it's designed as a personal attack. Do I think it's coincidental that it was done with a penis? Not at all, and that's where the sexualisation comes in.
posted by jaduncan at 6:02 AM on June 27, 2013


Is it all that different from badly photoshopping someone's head onto a naked body and/or compromising position? It is not, I think.

(I was all about making a quip about throwing in a kickstarter for Sara C to get a portrait done... and that I realised that was making me feel all kinds of icky.)
posted by Mezentian at 6:06 AM on June 27, 2013


I keep coming back to who the target is, which is why I'm uncomfortable bringing it up. It shouldn't matter that the target is jimmy wales, but somehow I find that it does, to me.
posted by lodurr at 7:59 AM on June 27, 2013


Lodurr, if you can figure out why the target being Jimmy Wales seems material to you, I'd be interested to hear why. I agree with you that it doesn't matter who the target is, but understanding why gets at a lot of the dilemma.

The parallel to photoshopping Wales' face onto a pornographic picture is apt, I think.
posted by fatbird at 8:49 AM on June 27, 2013


the whole 'sexual harrassment' part is bothering me.

It's still bothering me. If the painting was done by a foot fetishist with her toes, would it still be sexual harassment?

Do I think it's coincidental that it was done with a penis?

It was done with a penis b/c Wales had been haphazardly deleting any content that met his "I know it when I see it" definition of porn.

And the problem is still that same problem: is that "PG" video of Pricasso pornographic? (and more importantly, where are the R and X versions?) I would say no, but I'm sure it would function as porn for some consumers. If it is pornographic, is it sexual harassment to include a famous person's name or likeness in a pornographic production? If so, is Who's Nailin Paylin? sexual harassment as well?

I don't contend the "harassment" claim (I don't know enough about it), but is it really "sexual" harassment? These folks are arguing about an evolving policy regarding explicit, sexually related media. The topics and arguments are going to be sexually related.

I just don't see how it is much like bullying or coercing sexually. It might be bullying related to the topic of online sexual content, but that doesn't make it sexual harassment by default, I don't think. (If he/she were making fraudulent claims about Wales' sexuality, etc., it would be different.)

The parallel to photoshopping Wales' face onto a pornographic picture is apt, I think.

I don't think that's true at all. P'shopping involves a level of fraud, i.e. that celebrity really did pose for that picture, etc. That's a much more damaging claim that having your picture painted with a penis. Both are power grabs, but I think your example is much worse--ha, I can paint your picture with a penis vs. ha, I can make you naked like a porn star whenever I want.

Again, I fail to see (serious) harm with the penis painting. I did watch the 1 video, but that's about it.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:58 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think probably not very good reasons when it comes down to it.

I'm not sure if teh analogy is apt or not; i think the semiotics are different. shopping him onto hardcore versus having someone use their penis to paint him and then publishing a video of the effort actually seems a lot worse to me. A different level of aggression and agency.
posted by lodurr at 8:59 AM on June 27, 2013


to clarify, it seems to me that actively soliciting someone to create an expression of contempt and then publishing a video of the act seems more harassing or assaultive to me than just shopping someone's face onto porn. but i wasn't actually thinking of fraudulent porn, i was thinking of mockery.
posted by lodurr at 9:02 AM on June 27, 2013


The harasser does not have to want to fuck their victim, nor does the victim have to curl up in a ball and cry about it for the rest of their lives for something to count as sexual harassment. Getting the picture done was intended to bully and publicly humiliate Wales and assert dominance over him by making him an unwilling participant in someone else's intimate act. Of course it was sexual harassment.
posted by Diablevert at 9:44 AM on June 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


We're against sexual harassment whenever a meat space power imbalance is exploited. If an internet commenter threatens to rape someone, their comment claims physical power through the threat of violence.

There was no significant power imbalance exploited in Pricasso painting Jimbo using his penis, just a willingness to go a little weirder. It's fine if doing so annoyed or embarrassed Jimbo, still ain't harassment as one usually conceptualizes it.

Imagine if the roles were reversed with Jimbo abusing his clout to post an offensive image. Is that harassment? No, his power does not extend into meat space. If otoh Russavia kept obsessively painting offensive photos of Jimbo, that obsession itself indicates a mental state that creates an indirect meat space threat.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:11 AM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


actively soliciting someone to create an expression of contempt

I suppose that's where I disagree. I don't see the painting as an expression of contempt. I see it as art with a point: Pricasso is a (perhaps mildly) famous artist whose method bears documentation on a media site, per the site's policies.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:39 AM on June 27, 2013


If it was a picture of a woman executive I would sure see it as sexual harassment.
posted by bq at 10:51 AM on June 27, 2013


an expression of contempt

Is it an expression of contempt, though?

I mean, I think you have to see sex as an innately dirty thing, and the penis as some kind of weapon of horror and disgust, to go from "I used my penis to paint a picture of you" to "expression of contempt".

A penis is just a body part. And as far as I could tell, it's not even a sexualized use of the penis -- it would be much more potentially harassing if it was done in the style of Andy Warhol's oxidation paintings. Like, commissioning a portrait of Jimmy Wales and then the painter pisses or ejaculates on Jimmy Wales' face is pretty harassing. Commissioning a portrait of Jimmy Wales painted with a body part is... silly? Weird? Ridiculous? But not innately harassing.

That said, if Jimmy Wales genuinely felt sexually harassed by this, OK then. This is just, like, three dimensional chess levels of posturing, so it's hard to tell whether that's actually the case or whether it's just another bit of ammo in yet another Wikipedia flame war.
posted by Sara C. at 10:56 AM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


mrgrimm: i'll agree with you from Pricasso's perspective. But it wouldn't have existed without having been first solicited by someone who has a bone to pick with Wales.

Sara C., I don't think whether I think it constitutes an expression of contempt (or any other form of hostility) has really anything at all to do with whether I think of sex as dirty. I know we're not supposed to read intent in the actions of others, but, well, humans not only do that, but they need to. So I'm kind of comfortable reading the solicitation of teh work and the video as a hostile act.
posted by lodurr at 11:16 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


But it sounds like everyone in this situation is being hostile. It's internet drama. And Wales is participating in it as much as anyone.

And, again, I don't know Jimmy Wales, and maybe he has something in his past that makes this triggering for him, or is just a sensitive dude. Maybe there is a history of sexually harassing stuff from the guy who commissioned the piece, and it's all part of an ongoing aggression that has created a hostile environment. Maybe he genuinely felt sexually harassed. And in all of those "maybes", then, yeah, sure Jimmy Wales is being sexually harassed by this guy, and that's wrong, and this dude needs to stop commissioning penis paintings of people as a means of sexually harassing them.

But is it inherently sexual harassment to paint a picture of someone with your penis?

No.

I maintain that it is actually sort of hilarious. Because penises. Lol.
posted by Sara C. at 11:24 AM on June 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don’t really get how the penis part is so terrible either. Silly and weird, but offensive and sexual harassment? What if it was a finger painting? Fingers are used for sex A LOT.
posted by bongo_x at 11:41 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The penis part is "terrible", as in obviously sexualized participation by a body part, insofar as Pricasso is fairly obviously using his penis as a gimmick. Sara C. even identified it above:
By the way, this picture of you? ITS MADE OF PENIS bahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
That's his schtick, he's welcome to it, but let's not pretend that the use of his penis isn't intended to summon every association we have with penises, especially sexual ones.

As far as power imbalances go, an imbalance can contribute to harassment, but is not a requirement to be harassment.
posted by fatbird at 4:35 PM on June 27, 2013


Leapin' lizards, y'all. The conflict between the two started when Wales suggested certain sexually explicit photos should be removed from the site because it wasn't clear that they had been posted with the subject's consent. Wales lost that battle, a the other user's response was to commission a dick painting of him and posting it and a making-of flick without his consent.

Look, penises are funny. I can easily conceive of a situation in which I might give or receive one of Pricasso's masterpieces and be nothing but amused. But in this context, the message Russavia wanted to send seems perfectly clear: "Fuck you, Jimmy Wales, you may be the king of Wikipedia but you cannot stop me from posting whatever I want and I'm going to rub your face in that as humiliatingly as possible, by making you the object of an explicit work posted without your consent, and you're going to be powerless to remove it. Just like all the chicks I post titty pictures of."

The meaning and symbolism of words and actions are highly contextual, but we're all adults so we know that, yeah? Sometimes when someone spits it's because they've been running and they're rinsing out their mouths. Sometimes it's because they're trying to tell you that you are an utterly worthless human being and they hate you to the core of their being and they always will. Let's not be willfully obtuse because for some reason we don't like Jimmy Wales.
posted by Diablevert at 4:35 PM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


To perhaps draw the distinction a bit more finely, I doubt that a similar gimmick involving toes or ears or other, non-sexual body parts, would give Pricasso as much benefit as using his penis has.
posted by fatbird at 4:36 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]



But is it inherently sexual harassment to paint a picture of someone with your penis?


Yes, because the penis is mostly a sexual organ. Its okay to be open-minded, but that is a form of violation.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:54 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Look, penises are funny.
posted by lodurr at 5:09 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


So just to be clear, here, are we saying that Pricasso is the harasser?
posted by lodurr at 5:10 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, Russavia is the harasser for commissioning a penis portrait of Wales and attaching it to him within the context of Wikipedia, without Wales' consent, in response to the dispute about lack of consent among the subjects of sexualized images in Commons. Pricasso was simply doing his thing.
posted by fatbird at 5:59 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The meaning and symbolism of words and actions are highly contextual, but we're all adults so we know that, yeah?

If you take it that way I guess it must seem obvious. People take things very differently all the time. I would just think it was weird and immature, but I wouldn’t be upset about it. It’s so many steps completely disconnected from real life. There’s a video on the internet, of a painting that sort of looks like some guy, painted by another guy with his penis, who was hired by a third guy who didn’t even want to take credit for it, and it’s supposed to refer to some disagreement between guy 1 and guy 3 in some way.

This is the most oblique way to insult someone ever. You’d need a flow chart to be insulted.
posted by bongo_x at 7:07 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think that, within the community of Wikipedia editors and admins, it would have a lot more immediacy than you're perceiving, Bongo. The audience for this is in the in-group.
posted by fatbird at 7:50 PM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh my, yes. In the Wikipedia context, this would have been pretty crystal clear and only slightly indirect. It's basically Russavia acting like a bully to demonstrate that Jimmy Wales is a bully. It's oblique, I'll grant you, but it seems to be how things are done in that community.
posted by lodurr at 7:36 AM on June 28, 2013


Sure, but does that mean anything to us?
posted by bongo_x at 11:37 AM on June 28, 2013


ummmm....well, not a bad question, actually, but I do think it matters at least a little in that there are lots of social grousp that function in similar ways. maybe they're not as petty or baroque about it (though often they are), but we can learn something from looking at this and talking about it. But nevertheless, I do think I see your point.
posted by lodurr at 11:50 AM on June 28, 2013


It's a story about what's happening in a particular community. It needn't have an "act on this" meaning for us for it to be interesting.
posted by fatbird at 12:03 PM on June 28, 2013


Google Pricasso! You'll find gems like Pricasso paints a portrait of George Bush, taking it like a man, from the Bull Market.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:03 PM on June 30, 2013


In other news: Adult Tumblr blogs now removed from every form of search possible. Rather than leave adult content alone Yahoo's Tumblr has eliminated its Erotica category, disabled search engine indexing for adult blogs, and removed adult Tumblrs from all internal search. Users are furious.
posted by homunculus at 5:18 PM on July 19, 2013


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