Offensive content

Background edit

Note: This feature request follows a heated discussion on #wikipedia today about what content should be displayed inline in articles.

Since people on this planet can generally never sit down and agree about anything we have quite a large number of people who disagree about such things like whether the Bikini article should feature a woman showing some flesh and whether the Clitoris should actually show a picture of the body part, and more controversial whether the image of Nick Berg should show his severed head.

Now, since wikipedia is a multilingual, multinational project with everybody having their own opinion on what is offensive and what should be shown inline in articles people tend to disagree a lot, this problem can only get bigger as more nations with more diverse rules about censorship of the various material start contributing more, for example someone from a middle eastern country might think the bikini article is highly offensive while someone from spain might not, leading to a potentially very nasty edit war between these two nationalities.

Instead of doing nothing about this other than removing content "everybody agrees on" from articles ( which I think is highly against our NPOV policy but thats another issue ) I propose a more technical solution to the problem, keep all controversial content in the article but apply special metadata to it so that people wishing not to see for example moderate nudity could either hide it completely or have images render as external links instead of inline, in that way people who do not favor any kind of censorship or re-arranging of content due to a subject being taboo would not suffer due to popular opinion of what is inappropriate material and people wishing to filter out such undersired content could do so at will.

I have no proposal on how this should be carried out, such as what rating system should be used or if we should create our own, I think it's more important to consider if we want do do this in the first place, then we can implement the technical specifics of it. --[[User:Ævar Arnfjör<eth> Bjarmason|Ævar Arnfjör<eth> Bjarmason]] 19:18, 12 May 2004 (UTC)

This makes a lot of sense as a longer-term solution to the problem. I might suggest that, as a default for non-logged in users, offensive images be only links, and if someone wants to sign in and have them inline, they have to choose to do so (with their Preferences). I shudder at the thought of a third grader in her school computer lab stumbling onto the decapitated head of Nick Berg (which is currently linked to from the en Main Page). -- Seth Ilys 20:52, 12 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]
agree with you on that one, it should probably not be default for some content, we could have catagories for mild semi-nudity like the bikini article which could be shown by default. However the encyclopedia should not be turned into some shock site --[[User:Ævar Arnfjör<eth> Bjarmason|Ævar Arnfjör<eth> Bjarmason]] 21:15, 12 May 2004 (UTC)
Excellent. I agree that it is a long-term solution, but having content options for users is a great idea. Of course we'll need a default for unregistered users. -- 21:19, 12 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]
I agree we pretty much all of the above, and doubt there are any substantial objections other than implementation. Philip Marlowe 23:19, 12 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]
What they said, but as with most things the devil is in the details. (how do we determine what is and is not offensive, how do we flag potentially offensive images so that the filter can identify them, how do we handle those images already uploaded, how would the filter-on version of an article differ visually from its filter-off version, etc.) But then, that's why we have this page, right? :) - jredmond 23:31, 12 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]
I think it's quite obvious that any system we come up with will not be perfect since what is offensive is always someones point of views, and people have different points of view, however I think it would be far better then what we currently have which is flat out removal or external linking of some material which not everybody agrees on, for example in the Clitoris article I would like to have a picture of a clitoris for the simple reason that I like to always have pictures of what i'm reading about, I think it adds to an article of any subject to have good pictures of it regardless of how taboo it might be, however I wont be happy knowing that I am imposing my views on anyone and neither will I be knowing that someone else is imposing their views on me, therefore I think such a system is the golden middle ground; if people want to view such content fine, but if they dont thats fine also, and no stepping on anyones toes.
However since you asked about the specifics of the implementation I think that rather than start tagging each and every image which would be a very large task and totally not worth the effort since 90% ( made up percentage ) of our pictures and media are things like flowers and mountains, nothing anyone is likely to make a fuss about. Rather I think that if such a issue comes up for example in the case of Nick Berg a vote be held on wheter the content should be market as explict, there would of course be different catagories for this, perhaps a positive integer from 1-5 with 1 being mild nudity, 2 being something like full frontal, 3 none-erotic nakedness 4 erotic material or closeup pictures of genitalia and 5 something like killing of people, genocide or a sewered head. Those catagories are of course subject to change if anyone has a better suggestion but I think it's important to keep it simple.
This would then be implemented by placing a special tag on media like we place align tags now for example [Image:sewered_head.jpeg|thumb|200px|right|rating5|Alt text]. Users would then set options in their user preferences for material such as this, they could choose to view all media of rating5 inline, as an external link which would then be made up of the alt text with the caption below if the image has a caption or choose not to view the image at all in which case it would either not be rendered in the html or hidden in css with display: none; --[[User:Ævar Arnfjör<eth> Bjarmason|Ævar Arnfjör<eth> Bjarmason]] 12:17, 13 May 2004 (UTC)

This is not a new proposal. People have suggested using the ICRA schema. Personally, I think that all these categorizations are inherently subjective and arbitrary, involve unacceptable editorial decisionmaking, will lead to edit wars, and will ultimately solve nothing, not to mention the tacit approval of the POV that information in and of itself can be "bad" or "harmful". Nevertheless, I can see the handwriting on the wall, and it's clear to me that these sort of categorizations are coming, so what the hell can I do about it. --Dante Alighieri 16:45, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

I am aware of the ICRA schema, it but as can be seen on here it's very subjective, making a difference between female genitalia and male genitalia. Regardless, the ICRA schema is way too complex for what most people want which is simply to be able to set in a simple way in Special:Preferences the ability to filted based on some simple standards, i don't think we should loose ourselves in complexity here [[User:Ævar Arnfjör<eth> Bjarmason|Ævar Arnfjör<eth> Bjarmason]] 17:00, 13 May 2004 (UTC)

I think we should keep it simple as possible so long as possible. We cannot compare beheading for wartime propaganda, rapeing picture and children in pornographic context with picture over male and females genitalium. Wikipedia can't be a site where material of the former sexual violence and coercion are distributed, since it will become unlawful. The pictures of Nick Berg is not unique, but note that those are not GFDL and we haven't got permission from Mundat al-Aseras to use them.

My idea is to introduce three levels that are based on age. Respective nations might have its own classification, but the general line should be closest as possible to the United Nations declaration, where children have the right to sexual education.

Perhaps we shall ask ourself when doubt occure in those educational cases, if "someone gets sexual excited from the pictures" instead of "do think we shall have this image"? If people get sexual excited I can't see it as sexual education. Just my cents... :-)

// Rogper 12:32, 21 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

Proposals edit

Sj's proposal edit

See Offensive_content/sj-proposal for a three-pronged proposal including some of the ideas below +sj+ 21:04, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Technical implementation edit

Here is a gathering of proposals for the solution of this problem, please not that the Support/Objections are not votes on implementation, simply a place to state what is well done in each proposal or could be done better. If consensus is reached a vote will hopefully be held later. Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 17:12, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

CSS classes edit

CSS Overview edit

An idea is to use css classes to mark certain elements:

<div class="nudism spoiler">Some content</div>

These classes can be assigned to arbitrary content elements, any number of classes can be assigned separated by spaces.

Simply adding

.nudism { display: none }

to your user stylesheet wold hide the content above.

This works as-is in 1.3, it could benefit from some simplification/ preset stylesheet options though. A small javascript function could also offer to un-hide things with one click if desired.

I intend to move as many prefs as possible to generated css/js for 1.4 to improve performance, this is kind of a schoolbook example where this is particulary easy. -- Gwicke 16:54, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

CSS Support edit

Thank you for your imput Gwicke, i think thats much better than my proposal since it does not involve any changed to the Image code and can be used for arbitery things like certain text such as spoilers or just about anything. Also in 1.3 as you said it is trivial to remove or add things you do not want to see simply based on your user stylesheet or a commonly maintained stylesheet such as kid-safe stylesheet or uncensored stylesheet. Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 17:05, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

Excellent! Finally a way to avoid making one set of well-meaning Wikipedians losers! Now each side of the content disputes about "offensive" or "can't have fair use because only US people can use it" or "must be fair use and licensed so both US and non-US can use it as well" or "must be GFDL" can all be winners instead of all losers. This or some expanded version looks to be the way to avoid some of the most divisive conflicts between groups of well-meaning Wikipedians all trying to to their best but disagreeing about what is best. Jamesday 17:36, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

CSS Objections edit

I object. Part of the elegance of the ICRA scheme (which I object to as well, but it seems to be the least of all evils) is that it provides for a context for the information. Just having a tag for "nudity" is bad hoodod. There is no way to distinguish between an image like that on clitoris and a picture of Michelangelo's David. This is too important an issue to hide behind "keep it simple". If it must be done, "do it well", and that requires complexity. --Dante Alighieri 17:35, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

CSS Comments edit

Keywords edit

Keywords Overview edit

Note: the idea is not mine and i do not know who came up with it originally, if you feel confident it's yours please put s <s> around this text and add your name here. Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 17:29, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

Keyword tagging is a slightly more complex idea than the one descibed before but it does not replace CSS tagging, in fact the CSS .violance display {none;} or other CSS tags could be generated from the keywords.

Wikipedia already has keyword support, what is lacking is the ability to generate the html output based on them. Lets take an example, John Doe lives in a country we'll call X which does not allow fair-use, he could then decide to block all images which do not have {{msg:GFDL}} or {{msg:PD}} on their respective media pages. Instead of manually inserting things like <div class="violance">[[Image:violance.jpeg]] they keyword mechanism could instead generate that HTML around all media that has {{msg:violance}} on it's Image: page.

The good thing about this is that it would have no arbitery limits, people could block content under certain licences, with any keywords they could think of or just about anything. Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 17:31, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

Keywords Support edit

This is also useful - for there are many categories... but for now since Gwicke has something ready to demonstrate today, perhaps we should watch and see how far that evolves before looking to see whether we need to enhance it with features in other ways? Jamesday 17:36, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

Keywords Objections edit

I object. Part of the elegance of the ICRA scheme (which I object to as well, but it seems to be the least of all evils) is that it provides for a context for the information. Just having a tag for "nudity" is bad hoodod. There is no way to distinguish between an image like that on clitoris and a picture of Michelangelo's David. This is too important an issue to hide behind "keep it simple". If it must be done, "do it well", and that requires complexity. --Dante Alighieri 17:33, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

Why couldn't there be tags for "human genitalia", "artistic nudity" and any other categories we need to help to address the differeing needs and preferences of those using the work? I don't see a problem with doing that. I do agree with doing it right... and that may include "simple" and "exhaustive" tagging schemes in use simultaneously. Jamesday 17:40, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]
There can be. An objection above to ICRA was that it was "too complicated" therefore I assumed that these alternatives were "less complicated". --Dante Alighieri 17:50, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]
My main objection with ICRA is that it is unfair in the way that it has a seperate categories for 'Male genitals' and 'Female genitals', that is however a nitpick argument against it but my main objection against it is that it could eventually lead to the desire to somehow make Wikipedia ICRA Certified which would mean we'd have to label alot more than that which is now causing problems, furthermore ICRA limits itself to offensive material while our needs might also involve the filtering of none-offensive and explict material such as spoilers and material which is under a specific licence which might not be leagal in some countries to view (fair-use).
This page was made to address a specific problem which is that of removal of content from article or it's external linking, as Jamesday put it "[...] I just want a solution so we dont' have to fight when everyone is right to some degree.". It should be our main concern to solve the problem we currently have, but if it has the prospect of solving future problems via a expandable system such as the keywords system that's great, but lets not get too abstract and forget why we're having this discussion to begin with, no because we need super-complex rating system but because we need to solve some simple problems. People generally seem to be split into two groups in all the troubles we've had with image inclusion, those who want the image inline and those who want it linked. Making a solution which would allow both parties to get what they want there should be our main goal.
I'm not saying that we shouldnt device the most expandable and best system for this, just that we shouldnt loose sight of our goal Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 18:12, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]
This discussion is not about filtering non-offensive material such as spoilers. Look at the page title. Furthermore, I don't see what is unfair about distinguishing between male and female genitalia. Last time I checked, there was a rather important distinction to be made. --Dante Alighieri 22:51, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]
Why would we not want to have male genitals and female genitals split so people can make an individual choice about which they find offensive or which they may not desire to have their children see by default? We're describing. It's up to the individuals to choose what they do or don't find objectionable. Jamesday 00:55, 14 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]
Keywords Comments edit

A basic ICRA implementation at article level is now available as a mediawiki extension using <icra> tags. See bugzilla:982. --Zigger 05:12, 2004 Dec 6 (UTC)

Categories Schemes edit

Scheme 1 edit

( Note: is largely based on ICRA - Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 22:49, 13 May 2004 (UTC) )[reply]

Scheme 1 Overview edit

By default, a picture should not belong to any category.

Once a user finds himself troubled by a picture, he may starts a poll to define whether this picture should be labelled problematic (put in a category), and if so which rate of problem.

A picture slightly problematic will be R1. A strongly problematic will be R2. Below, one may find suggestions for guidelines for ratings.

Only problematic pictures are listed in a category, after people discussed over it and collectively decided to put it in a "rated" category. We may decide, that a picture should be put in a category only if there is for exemple, 80% agreement to put it there.

Depending on the system for problematic images management, it might be for example possible

  • that R2 pictures are per default linked images, while R1 pictures are per default inline images (in this case, we might say that R2 pictures are those "universally" problematic)
  • that both are always visible, but that a user may choose in his prefs to have them displayed with links, or even may not have them displayed at all.
  • ...

These are only guidelines.


  • R1 :
    • Male genitals
    • Female genitals
    • Female breasts
    • Bare buttocks

Sexual material

  • R1 :
    • Passionate kissing
  • R2 :
    • Explicit sexual acts
    • Obscured or implied sexual acts
    • Visible sexual touching.


  • R1 :
    • Blood and gore, animals and fantasy characters
    • Deliberate injury to animals or fantasy characters
    • Killing of animals or fantasy characters
  • R2 :
    • Sexual violence / rape
    • Blood and gore, human beings
    • Deliberate injury to human beings
    • Killing of human beings

Blood and gore definition : The portrayal of blood splashing, pools of blood on the ground, objects or persons smeared or stained with blood.
Scheme 1 Support edit

I agree with you ( and i have stated this above ) that no picture should have ratings by default, i also agree with you on the 80% number. And i agree with you that R2 should be linked as opposed to inline by default, and R2 should display some standard boilerplate warning that each catagory has by default below that link This picture contains extreme violance... something like that for example, however i do not agree 100% on what you put as R1 and R2 ( see below ) --Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 22:58, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

Scheme 1 Objections edit

Should maybe be a comment but since i really dont see myself agreeing with this, why do you propose a 'Male genitals' as well as 'Female genitals' instead of just 'Genitals' i really dont see a basic difference here and why these should be marked differently. Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 22:48, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

I don't understand why its hard for you to understand how SOME users could want to distinguish between male and female genitalia. There IS a distinction, and we would be merely acknowledging the distinction. Because YOU think people shouldn't treat them differently is no reason that Wikipedia needs to be blind to the obvious fact that they ARE different. Let the users make up their own minds, isn't that the whole point of this nonsense? --Dante Alighieri 22:58, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]
Noted, after all that is the kind of response i was looking for thank you for your input --Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 23:01, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, imho, there is no difference; But some people mention there could be a difference depending on culture, and that indeed female genitals might be more problematic than male ones. That is why I kept the distinction. Similarly, passionate kissing is a non-issue to me, but if it was listed, I guess it may matter to some people. Anthere

I have some questions: Why do you put Obscured or implied sexual acts in R2? i think that implied or obscured would be something that would belong in R2 ( made an error meant R1) , also i think 'Visible sexual touching.' should have an entry in R1 as well as R2, like erotic scenes for example would fall under that. --Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 23:07, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

I would not object to that in the least :-) ant
Scheme 1 Comments edit

Context is vital.

I think that there needs to be a way to distinguish between Janet Jackson's breast at the Super Bowl and a picture of a breast on w:mastectomy. --Dante Alighieri 22:53, 13 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

I think Anthere's suggestion takes care of that by holding a vote each time, no picture would be just outright marked unless there was a good reason to. --[[User:Ævar Arnfjör<eth> Bjarmason|Ævar Arnfjör<eth> Bjarmason]] 23:02, 13 May 2004 (UTC)
You may be right. There is a difference between a breast in sport, or a breast in art, a breastfeeding, a breast in surgery, and a breast in love... So many breasts... is not that wonderful ? :-)

Some more imaginable cases that may deserve some consideration.

  • beheading can occur in a context of cartoon, meant to be funny than graphic. This is something which many agree is overtly unrealistic.
  • bare breast could be found, say, on an ancient cray doll, symbolizing motherhood and fertility.
  • images of animal sexual organs or behaviors.

It may be good to have an "other" category.

I think the real difficulty is the procedure of rating. Tomos 10:29, 14 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

You're really not understanding the point, it said that ONLY pictures which there is a community consensus on that they are offensive will be market, so all your little softcore examples will never even reach a vote in the firs place, the goal is NOT to to mark everything but rather mark everything that reaches the boiling point so to speak. So IMO all your comments about cartoons and such are completely irrelivant, Breastfeeding is not externally linked now and thus will not reach a vote since the only reason this proposal exists is to deal with things that are currently externally linked. --[[User:Ævar Arnfjör<eth> Bjarmason|Ævar Arnfjör<eth> Bjarmason]] 12:25, 15 May 2004 (UTC)

Binary Flags Proposal edit

Media content (film, photo, art, etc.) relating sexual violence or coercion, or closely or lengthly portrating of serious violence against humans or animals, or material relating children in pornographic context, should not be publicated on Wikipedia. I think that distribution of it is unlawful in most countries, at least in Nordic.

Things that is not classified under this but contains sexual or violence context, might perhaps be classified and censured after age. There can be tree categories: limitations for children under 7 years, under 11 years and over 15 years, but the intervall and number of groups might vary between cultures.

Binary Flags Overview edit

This is draft

A simple field in the database that extends the authorisation level beyond administrator, bureaucrate, bot and developer to include new level that prevents user from gaining access to offensive material, and an extended adminship that allow them to classify content.

The offensive text and media will not physically be rendered or shown unless the account have the necessary privileges.

There is three classifications:

  • Level A (< 7 years)
  • Level B (< 11 years)
  • Level C (> 15 years)

There are eigth account forms:

  • Anynomous user
  • Bot
  • Registered user
    1. Registered user group A
    2. Registered user group B
    3. Registered user group C
  • Administrator
  • Bureaucrate
  • Developer

The age determination authorisation process could be implemented by checking the personal identification number (PIDN) one time only. See Talk:Offensive content. This is not main part of the proposion.

Binary Flags Support edit

Binary Flags Objections edit

  • I have the following objections:
    • Collection of the PIDN is illegal without parental consent in the US (En:COPPA) and requires data protection disclosure in the UK because it includes personal information (date and place of birth, gender). It's probably regulated in all of the European Union.
    • The proposed PIDN presents a serious security concern in the area of identity theft because the date and place of birth is in some places sufficient to obtain a copy of a birth certificate as part of the process of obtaining a false identity for fraud. This significantly raises the risk if a security vulnerability allows access to the databases.
    • The proposed PIDN requires my date and place of birth. That is personal, private information and not the business of the Wikimedia Foundation or its developers.
    • The anonymous category would have to be presumed to be the most restricted age group and that would prohibit unknown search engines from directing people to content not suitable for young children, een where the search engine user has chosen not to restrict results to only non-adult content.
    • The suggestion that the portrayal of sexual violence or coercion, close portrayal of serious violence against humans or animals is unlawful in most countries is inaccurate. Cinematic portrayal of rape of various sorts and boxing, murder and torture is common, as is portrayal of fatal violence in many games.
    • The tolerance for violence and sexual content varies with the culture of the viewer - for example, in the US, sex-related material which has traditionally been unlawful in the UK is routinely and easily available in most places.
  • I believe that there is merit in a system of tagging articles with arbitrary tags and allowing people to indicate whether they believe the article fits within the category. A viewer might choose to conceal all items with a NotGFDL tag, for example, or all with a USNotForUnder12 tag. A religious group could tag NotForRestrictionsOfXReligion tag. A school district could tag as NotForXSchoolDistrict. Such a system could be used for many tasks, from support for license preferences to selecting material for print editions of various sizes and editions. Jamesday 13:46, 21 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

Yeah, that was little bit foolish to mention it, althought there is no such general law in EU. I think many countries will follow the 13-year rule soon, but currently there are only sections for underaged peoples (< 18) for most of them ("Anglosaxian culture"). I guess some countries are to open with ther PIDN/COPPA. Females get often beaten (sometimes to death) in Europe because it is so easy for their ex-husbands to overcomming their "secret" PIDN from tax authorities! However, I was in fact meaning distribution (mainly for earning) of "very offensive" content. I guess that in US it is probably worser and more unlawful to distribute digital music than serious violence or sexual acts? I wonder if there are any free authorisation service for signatures available? // Rogper 15:05, 21 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

The NotForRestrictionsOfXReligion tags would be too arbitrary. Right-wing religious groups could try to put the tags on any articles describing anything they consider sinful, forgetting that Wikipedia is just informational and does not try to promote anything it describes. People should not see a religion option in their preferences. If you allow this, Catholics may see a message that w:Abortion is blocked, and Jews may see that w:Pork is blocked. Guanaco 21:55, 28 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

Binary Flags Comments edit

Link to unhide non-default content edit

Overview edit

What about ability for editors to mark some section as hidden-by-default, which is rendered as a link for viewer to unhiding that section in the content page, hence displaying same page with the selected section unhidden?

This ability should be supported by flags in URL to refer to a page with specific sections displayed / hidden.

--DenisYurkin 20:25, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Related applications edit

This is an attempt to summarize other needs that can be solved with a similar (set of) feature(s).

-- DenisYurkin 20:17, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)