vendredi 30 septembre 2011

Out of the blue…

The debates on the francophone wikpedian community tend to be a bit autarcic. For the past two weeks a lot of energy was spent on heating arguments about the local arbitration committee elections. Because of this particuliar agenda the trans-wikipedian issue on the Image Filter was largely overlooked. It's only thanks to a brief remark of Anthere and a recent post of Darkoneko that I get acquainted with its later ramifications.

An idiomatic French expression well renders what I felt when I discovered the Image Filter Referendum : comme un cheveu sur la soupe. It means litterally like a hair in the soup, the nearer english equivalent being out of the blue. So far, I have hardly seen much complains about the use of so-called controversial material. There has been in march an attempt of controversy concerning the inclusion of a work by Pierre Louÿs with some pedophile innuendos (in fact more than innuendos) in Wikisource. But, it has been quickly dismissed — the case for inclusion being clearly supported by most contributors.

All in all, I did not really see the need to put up a referendum about such a tiny issue.

I began voting, and the more I read the questions, the less I understood the purpose of this poll. As I pointed it out in a sooner French post, it was not a real referendum, merely a consultation. The decision was taken a priori. The wikipedian communities' advice concerned solely the concrete realisation of the Image Filter, not his preconditional acceptation.

After the publications of the tied-up results (a shy 5.8 out of 10 finding the Image filter to be an important matter). I quickly withdraw the whole business — my thoughts were elsewhere. It came back unexpectedly, comme un cheveu sur la soupe a few days ago. Last Wednesday, a section on the French Village Pump mentioned a strange conservative-bias post by The Examiner (according to the acute remark of one of my commentators, its author appears to be a kind of anglo-saxon Alithia). This mention was received with a great deal of mockery : « I'm so glad to annoy the American Puritan Right with my little contributions » (bzh) / « What a fun » (Joe la truite). Gradually, the discussion drifted on the Image Filter thing. A very well-esteemed editor, Alchemica, threatened : « If this function is applied, it will end my association with the project ».

What could account for the distinctive francophone wikipédia approach (or rather non-approach) on this matter ? It is not so easy to answer. We may of course adress the general feeling that francophone cultures are more permissive on sexual matters. It is not a mere cliché. It has some objective ground. For instance there have never been any « moral code » on French cinema. French counterparts of Fuck, Ass, and Shit flourished as soon as the thirties. Thanks to the decentralized structure of francophone cinematographic production a « Textual filter » similar to Hays Code, never occurred. Nowadays the French equivalent of MPAA stands much more laxist : nudity in picture is not a problem per se as long as it is not sexualized. By this standard a significant part of -12 American films are U-graded in France. For the little I know, the same phenomena seems to apply to Québec and the Suisse romande.

Besides, the political debates over the Internet in France focuses much more on economical than moral issues. There is some legislation about pornographic content, but nothing that can be compared to the aborted Zugangserschwerungsgesetz. On the other hand, the Hadopi laws and organisation creates an unprecedented control on artistic diffusion. The recent WikiLovesMonument operation sheds a new light on the offensive French copyright policy : there is no Freedom of panorama. Therefore, every photo that features the work of an alived or dead-less-than-70-years-ago architect has to be supressed or subsequently modified. Consequently, the president of Wikimedia France, Remi Mathis, launched lately in Le Monde a vibrant call in favor of the establishment of a Freedom of panorama.

In brief, I would sum up my position in one bullet phrase : the Image Filter controverse is very, very, VERY secondary. We are losing our time whenever real important things might go off our trail : the liberalisation/reinforcement of the copyright laws, the popularisation of encyclopedical writing, the emergence of Wikipedia in emergent countries… It sounds truly out of the blue.

11 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit…

Just so you know: the Examiner isn't a real newspaper or whatever. It's just a blog where Gregory Kohs, a bitter banned English Wikipedia editor turned whiny troll (sorry, "critic") posts his tirades. Nobody gives a crap what Kohs thinks.

Alexander Doria a dit…

@Anonyme : Thanks for the information. When I first read this I thought it was a king of sub-subsidiaries of Fox News.

We had also our own whiny troll blogger in here. I'm well acquainted with this kind of specimen…

Gregory Kohs a dit…

Funny how the "whiny troll" has received over 42,000 page views of his approximately 40 stories published on Examiner. You free culture kids really can't seem to get your heads around the very real problem of a tax-exempt charity that facilitates children managing pornography. Funny how 42,000 page views equals "nobody" in the mind of an anonymous coward.

Alexander Doria a dit…

@Kohls : Glad to meet you sir.

42 000 pageviews ? It is not that much. One of your French counterpart Althia adds up to several millions pageviews. For several years, her website had appear on the front page every time you taped Wikipedia. Yet, we have never cared much of what Alithia has been saying (from your own point of view, it might not have been a bad thing as long as Alithia is a deep leftist).

"free culture kids" : yeah, the expression qualifies me well. I personnally wrote my first erotic short story when I was 14-year's old. According to our own critierion I should not have read my own writing ?

Anonyme a dit…

We are not the employers of the foundation. I don't want to feel dependent on opinions of undemocratic or less democratic regimes. Wikipedia is a free project. Our aim ist to share free knowledges. The communities of other countries may find their own rules, its ok, but their rules cannot become the ours. I see also the danger, that the picture - filter is the beginning of a process, which will flash over contents. Also it`s not a good discussion style to make facts before trying to find a consens with the communities. And the last argument. In my way this affair cannot be debated without including the new rules for users by the foundation., for example that the Foundation can locking users, and so on.

Sorry for mistakes, English is not my first language.


Alexander Doria a dit…

@Macerise : I was saying the same thing to Russ Nelson on Sue Gardner's blog : the foundation should not interefere with editors' matters and settings. Its function lies mainly in the promotion of the wikimedian projects. Defining the nature of theses projects goes beyond that aim.

After consulting several of my fellow-contributors, I'm considering launching a local French poll in the next few days. If it turns out to be overly negative (which I suspect), it will give all the more weight to the German position.

(Don't be sorry for your mistakes. I'm not myself a first-grade english speaker. As long as we're able to understand each other…)

Kellerkind a dit…

Hello Alexander,

I mentioned your blogpost in the
Kurier (German Signpost)

I hope this will be Ok.

Kind regards

Anonyme a dit…

Hello Alexander

I also wrote my opinion on Susans blog. I used one formulation from you. i hope its ok.


Alexander Doria a dit…

@Kellerkind : Viele Danke… I'm very glad to have this opportunity of a trans-wikipedian dialog. Besides, I'm currently trying to put up a French poll on this Image Filter. I will soon issue a new post about it.

@Macerise : take everything you want. I'm a free-culture man.

Anonyme a dit…

La communauté francaise a-t-elle un point-de-vue net sur le filtre?

Cordialement macérise

Alexander Doria a dit…

@Macerise : I have just published a translation of the final report of the poll on my « international » blog :

Sorry for the extensive delay. My time have been monopolized by several unexpected features…