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Latest comment: 9 months ago by FeralOink in topic Yet more notes and questions

This is my user talk page.

Wikimedia Image Deletion 2010

This Q&A regarding several dozen images deleted from Wikimedia Commons should be migrated to Meta.

The Signpost 20 Feb 2023 Editorial

My larger concern is how the events of May 2010 were represented in The Signpost of 20 February 2023, in the section, Editorial: The loss of the moral high ground. It is kind of confusing. The Feb 2023 Signpost post quotes Jimmy Wales, commenting in 2006 about Wikimedia's stance against censorship:

"... our image host, Wikimedia Commons, is not censored. That it could cause offense was not sufficient to remove an image. Amongst those advocating for this view was Jimbo Wales. He cited his free speech advocacy, and stated that "we can not deviate from our goals in order to accommodate governments who would force censorship of Wikipedia.""

Lookback to May 2010 by The Signpost

The 2023 post continues with this excerpt from a never-published Signpost entry of May 2010:

"However, the current petition comes after we have lost some of the moral authority we once had. Jimbo Wales, out of fear of a media attack, led by Fox News, about allegations of pornography on Wikipedia, instituted a massive deletion of content from Commons, including many examples of artwork by notable artists. On being challenged about this deletion. Wales wrote:

" ...I think a perfectly legitimate position for us to take is that we don't have visual depictions of explicit sexual activity here. I think it's a perfectly fine thing to have people collecting classic pornography – on their own servers, separate from Wikimedia completely. "

He also deleted several works by major artists... and numerous line art illustrations used to illustrate articles on sexual content. Only long after these deletions were done did he state his reasons:

" We were about to be smeared in all media as hosting hardcore pornography and doing nothing about it. Now, the correct storyline is that we are cleaning up. I'm proud to have made sure that storyline broke the way it did, and I'm sorry I had to step on some toes to make it happen. "

It wasn't even effective: Fox News shortly thereafter posted an article attacking Wikipedia. If Wikipedia is going to sacrifice its moral high ground and neutrality – for saying that things offensive to Fox News are worth mass deletion sprees including historic artwork, but that the complaints of Muslims are not, is highly non-neutral – we should not sell ourselves cheap. We recently did, and only the effective loss of all Jimbo Wales' powers over his actions leaves us any moral high ground at all. This petition is much harder to deal with, as we have shown that, yes, we will give into pressure – but only if it comes from our mainstream Western culture."

This is FeralOink again. Stay with me please. The current, 20 Feb 2023 Signpost then assesses Jimbo's actions and the events of May 2010:

"Looking back at this from 2023, it's hard to say what was learned: after Jimbo gave up most of his founder privileges, the matter kind of just... died out. Most of the images deleted were restored, though, unfortunately, deleting images means they get removed from articles, so whether all the article usages ever got dealt with is very unclear.

I guess everyone just decided we should pretend all of this never happened?
I honestly think these events were important to Wikipedia's history, though: This was when WP:NOTCENSORED got tested. He even edit-warred to try and keep images deleted. Had Jimbo won out, years of saying that images of Muhammad shouldn't be censored would have blown up in our faces. Because Jimbo made us lose the high ground, but the hundreds of people who fought against him regained it."

The truth about Larry Sanger, Jimbo, and Fox News in 2010

I reviewed the content and the 2006 and 2010 era links in Feb 2023 article in The Signpost as excerpted above. I then commented myself, as follows:

"This account of Jimmy Wales so called mass deletion of legitimate art works (due to his supposed fear of potential Fox News criticism) lacks important details. Why was Jimbo concerned? Well, he had good reason to be concerned! On 27April2010, Fox reported that Larry Sanger told the FBI that Wikipedia was distributing porn via WMF servers. Fox next reported on 7May2010 that WMF had initiated mass deletions of pornographic materials of children on its sites, Commons and otherwise. Yet in the February 2023 Signpost article, only this Fox News report of 10May2010 is mentioned and linked, Larry Sanger said he reported a Category “Nude Children” and PHOTOS of naked children to the FBI."

Despite the popular representation of Fox News by Wikipedians as FAUX News, Fox reported that there were NOT graphic photos of children, only drawings. The drawings included, via Fox 10May2010:

"...original illustrations of children engaged in sexual acts... Sanger referred to an early 20th century colored illustration of a young girl performing oral sex on a much older man. Its caption reads: “If Mom returns? She'll tell you that it's very rude to talk with your mouth full." The image is accessible via Wikipedia's article on "Pedophilia," at the bottom of which is an image with a link directing readers: "Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pedophilia.” The link takes you to a page that contains 25 to 30 explicit and detailed drawings of children performing sexual acts. In a May 6, 2010 discussion, Wales spoke specifically about the above image and others in the “pedophilia” and “zoophilia” categories (the latter includes illustrations of children engaged in sex acts with animals)."

Jimmy waffled a bit which, given circumstances and short time frame, doesn't seem to detract from him GENUINELY taking the moral high ground. First, Jimmy said he would delete the Nude Children Commons category, then he reversed his opinion to keep, after extensive discussions with the community. 4 hours later, after pleas from German Wikipedia editors stating that it was NOT legal in Germany to depict 14 year old girls having intercourse (English Wikipedians had claimed that it was, and that Americans were prudish provincial fools) Jimmy decided to delete about 100 images "for lack of educational value". Amongst them were several versions of the same two artworks, both in the medium of line drawings, not photos or color paintings, with provenances in the late 1800s. They were not the work of "major artists". One seemed pleasant and totally innocuous to me. Another depicted what appeared to be an intentionally caricaturized depiction of a middle-aged working-class woman, sitting on the ground, inebriated and disheveled, with her mouth opened wide around a large dildo. I do not know why Jimmy wanted to delete these artworks. I do know that he was questioned by the editor community just as stridently or more so for his deletions of Commons images titled as for those 2 artworks.

Expunging porn and the moral high ground

I don't understand the reason for the vitriol toward Jimmy over this particular matter, NOR do I understand the omissions of fact. Jimmy Wales did not "surrender the moral high ground" to the imagined, or rumored, wrath of Fox News regarding adult sexual content for education encyclopedia-relevant purposes! Rather, this is what happened:

  1. Sometime in March or April 2010, Larry Sanger made a formal complaint to the FBI, about child porn on Wikimedia servers that was then included in Wikipedia articles.
  2. On 27 April 2010, Fox News published a news report about it.
  3. On 7 May 2010, Fox reported that Jimmy Wales and Wikimedia officials were assessing and deleting pornographic images of children from WMF servers. I found evidence of Jimmy Wales deleting lots of porn photos, brief videos, and a few drawings of adolescent males masturbating, as well as some photos of adult females being physically beaten that were Wikipedia-editor contributed, and a few naked images of possibly 14 year old to 21 year old women posing on beaches etc. Fox didn't report at that level of detail.
  4. On 10 May 2010, Fox wrote the last of its three part series on the subject. A law professor consulted by Fox said, "With respect to child pornography, the real harm is in the production of it -- not the fact that it's also socially irredeemable." A lawyer who prosecutes child abuse cases disagreed. That is not consistent with The Signpost's description of a single Fox News article on 10 May 2010, "attacking Wikimedia".

Unanswered questions

I am not being an OCD autiste! The Signpost chose to unearth this episode of nearly 13 years ago, and used it denigrate Jimbo's anti-censorship aspirations of even longer ago, in 2006. Given the choice to do that, which was entirely the decision of the author (I presume?) it is necessary to include all the relevant details, e.g. Larry Sanger's complaint to the FBI, links to all three of the Fox News reports, the motivation for Jimmy's deletions, an accurate depiction of what content was deleted.

To me, the more interesting and legally relevant matters that remain unanswered by The Signpost Feb 2023 article, which are:

  • Did the FBI pursue a case against WMF?
  • Were the child bestiality and pederasty drawings deleted from Commons or just from Wiki articles? Were they deleted at all? From the link provided by The Signpost author, it seems that a fair number of the images that Jimmy Wales deleted were restored, so I don't feel confident of anything related to this matter now!
  • Why did The Signpost omit Jimbo's focus on the removal of child porn and child bestiality content from WMF servers? He wasn't merely expunging artworks depicting nude adults or naked youth in non-sexual contexts.

Editors fought Jimmy tooth and nail about deleting all that porn from Commons. There is still a huge trove of porn on Commons, e.g. multiple photos and videos of young adult males performing auto-fellatio. Almost none of it is included in any article. When I am not editing Wikipedia, I view Internet porn sometimes. I have never seen so much auto-fellatio on any free or pay-to-view dedicated porn website as on Commons! The Signpost also states that Jimmy Wales' actions over those 3 days directly resulted in his loss of "founder privileges", and portrays editors who wanted to keep the auto-fellatio et al. as brave restorers of moral high ground!?

What's up with The Signpost editorial author?

This was the response to my comment by the 20 Feb 2023 Signpost author:

":There is a very good reason: As far as I can tell None of the works Jimbo deleted in 2010 had anything to do with children or animals.. Here is a list of every file Jimbo deleted. If you can spot a single child or bestiality image in there...

FeralOink, Basically, there's literally zero evidence he deleted a single image on grounds that it was illegal. I don't think we have the works Sanger commented on anymore - but that has nothing to do with Wales' deletion spree. It's hard to check now - and I'm not sure I'd want to - but I believe all such images were deleted long before Wales began his attack on adult sexuality."

I'm confused. There was vigorous discussion about whether some images Jimbo wanted to delete were of children.

I acknowledge that The Signpost author is totally correct about this: I found no child bestiality images among those deleted by Jimmy in 2010. I didn't look beyond what The Signpost provided though. Given that the Signpost author brought up this whole historical mess, it now leads me to question whether

  1. Larry Sanger was lying to the FBI, or
  2. someone other than Jimmy deleted the child bestiality and child-adult porn images sometime between 2010 and now (I hope!) or
  3. the images are STILL hosted somewhere on Commons now!

No Fear of Fox

It is NOT true that "Jimmy Wales began his attack on adult sexuality" out of fear of Fox News! The catalysts were clearly Larry Sanger and possibly the FBI, a few days earlier! The 50 or so images and two artworks that the Signposts links and suggests is evidentiary were in fact deleted by Jimmy Wales from Commons on 10 May 2010, based on valid concerns and accompanied by extensive discussions with the community. Logs of those discussions remain extant. Fox News did not "attack Wikipedia", nor is it fair to suggest that Jimmy was in cowardly fear of Fox.

Why bother dredging this up from the past, yet not omitting so much relevant detail? --FeralOink (talk) 13:37, 23 February 2023 (UTC)Reply

Addendum 1

I just recalled, primarily thanks to nice editor Risker, that totally vile images such as child pornography would be completely deleted from Wikimedia servers and even admins or other powers that be would not be able to verify whether Jimmy Wales's deletion "spree" included any or not.

Secondly, it might be misleading to suggest that Jimmy Wales "gave up most of his founder privileges". It is possible that The Signpost only meant that Jimmy Wales could no longer delete content or make other changes as though Wikipedia were his personal Wordpress blog, whereas he had those super-super-user privileges prior to May 2010. I say this because there is an example of Jimmy Wales having what I can only describe as "founder privileges" regarding Wikimedia Foundation grantmaking that circumvents all extant procedures for disbursing millions of dollars of WMF funds to non-Wikimedia related organizations, specifically, the fact that Jimmy Wales is designated as the sole "Founder Community Director of the Wikimedia Endowment Board", see here for the official Wikimedia Endowment website from which the prior link is provided.

Again, I believe that it is better not to include content in The Signpost that would be considered WP:UNDUE in mainspace because of omitting context and specificity. I have provided examples of context that was omitted (e.g. the surrounding motivation for Jimmy's actions given the Larry Sanger report to the FBI, the 3 Fox News articles that were reactions rather than attacks on Wikipedia, and the depiction of the artistic content that was removed) and of the lack of specificity (i.e. the extent to which Jimmy Wales's founder privileges have been curtailed).--FeralOink (talk) 06:49, 26 February 2023 (UTC)Reply

Draft response to August Signpost re Endowment

Equity Fund and WMF Endowment

Sorry for my late arrival. Along with Chris troutman and Piotr, I am concerned about WMF monetization of the editing community. Let's start with the Knowledge Equity Fund (Equity Fund) grants. The issues broached by llywrch and Edward-Woodrow are echoed on by other Wikipedians on the metawiki talk page for the Equity Fund. Specifically, we are indignant that the WMF and/or Endowment gives money to organizations that have little or no benefit to any Wikimedia project, when there is great need by bona fide Wikimedia projects.

SJ said {{tqq|It's a reasonable conceit and [[Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias/Collaboration of the Week]] is a long-standing and important WP idea. one can propose better ways to do it or better ratios of investment, but a 20:1 ratio of community grants to this sort of (out-of-community / potential-future-community) grant is a plausible start. Cool concept, deserves more integration and more & better proposals.}}

SJ, most of the Wikipedians who are aware of these "out-of-community" grants (and have shared their thoughts on talk pages) do NOT view them as a reasonable conceit [sic]. The decision to spend a full 5% of the WMF Endowment on what you breezily describe as a "cool concept, deserves more integration and more & better proposals" is, well, distressing. You said 20:1 is the "ratio of investment" and that such a ratio is "plausible". Ratio of investment isn't a term with which I am familiar. Also, grants aren't investments. They are expenses. The Equity Fund was the VERY FIRST disbursal of Wikimedia Endowment money (correct me if I am wrong). It is regrettable that the initial use of donor money for Wikipedia community grants was used for Wikipedia out-of-community grants.

SJ, I also question whether the Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias/Collaboration of the Week (or to be more faithful in quoting you, piped with "countering systemic bias") is truly {{tqq|an important WP idea}} to Wikipedians at large. I have no doubt that countering systemic bias is important to you and the WMF and to some Wikipedians, however, I followed the wikilinks associated with "countering systemic bias" starting with the one you provided. At the top of the page, it read, "This Wikiproject is defunct" last edited March 2022. It does say this:

"NOTE: In line with a discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Countering systemic bias, the CSB collaboration of the week has been discontinued. CSB will instead focus on the Open Tasks page, which better reflects the diversity of interests among CSB members. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the CSB CotW over the past several months!

The discussion talk page mentioned was last updated in 2014. I visited the Open Tasks page. It says,

"This page is currently inactive and is retained for historical reference. Either the page is no longer relevant or consensus on its purpose has become unclear. To revive discussion, seek broader input via a forum such as the village pump."

It hasn't had any real activity since 2020.

Next, I navigated to WikiProject Countering systemic bias. There is some activity, but not a lot. Most of it seems to be vandalism recently e.g. the most recent edit comment summary is 9 September 2023 (←Replaced content with 'your mom'). Yes, it was reverted, but still not a good sign.

Might anyone have answers to these questions?

  • Has the entire $4.5 million of the Equity Fund been disbursed to grantees as of, say, today, 12 October 2023?
  • Were the grantees evaluated for performance (e.g. meeting stated goals in the grant applications) before renewal for the second year/round of funding? If so, what metrics were used? What were the results? Establishing performance criteria for grant awardees then using them for evaluation purposes is an important part of foundation and endowment management.
  • If the entire $4.5 million has not been disbursed to the 2020-2021 Equity Fund grantees, what will happen to that money? Will it remain in the WMF Endowment account? (Does a WMF Endowment account--for which the WMF or Endowment has custody--even exist yet? I'll get to that part in a moment.)

Next, there are some conflicts in the WMF replies we received above.

  • In response to what Andreas described as {{tqq|"expressions of profound unhappiness with how Wikipedia donations are managed"}}, Victoria said {{tqq|"Equity Grants were an idea of the previous CEO who is no longer with the Foundation so there isn't a chance of them recurring. The Board has done its main job - changed the CEO."}} That isn't a great example of good governance, but mistakes happen. That's what I inferred although it isn't stated explicitly. Victoria's remark was dated 23 November 2022.
  • On 1 September 2023, SJ also said that the Equity Fund program was "one-time" only.
  • Why does KEchavarriqueen (WMF) continue to use the present tense regarding the Knowledge Equity Fund, if it was a one-time only grant program as Victoria and SJ said?
  • On 22 August 2023, KEchavarriqueen (WMF) said that she {{tqq|"can share that we do not see these grants (the Knowledge Equity Fund grants) as tangential to the Wikimedia movement; they are intended to find new ways of supporting knowledge creation on underrepresented topics, so that newly available knowledge resources can be used to strengthen content on the projects themselves."}} I DO see a grant to an {{tqq|"Indonesia non-profit organization that works on human rights and advocacy issues for indigenous people"}} as tangential to the Wikimedia movement. It could be years or decades until Indonesian indigenous people who are denied human rights by their government can create or edit Wikipedia articles. Use of WMF funds for such advocacy work seems grossly mismatched with the WMF purpose and funding size. Human rights advocacy for indigenous people of developing world countries is better suited to national development agencies or supra-national organizations, e.g. USAID or UNESCO not WMF. I have read through all the Equity Fund grant applications of awardees. Most are peripherally or not at all relevant to the Wikipedia community. I can give examples if requested. I did already on the WMF Equity Fund talk page.

The Blade of the Northern Lights, we are not making {{tqq|wild-ass conspiracy}} allegations. Rather, we are providing helpful independent challenge, also known as due diligence. There are standards for responsible management of a 501(3)(c) charitable organization. (Please note that mismanagement is rarely fraud and I am not suggesting it is!) Given that the WMF Endowment funds are for Wikipedia, and that the charter of the Wikimedia movement is primarily the open sharing of knowledge, the WMF seems off-track.

I'll finish by reiterating my persistent concerns. which were broached by Andreas in the Signpost and his comments.

  • WHO is managing the Endowment investments?
  • WHAT are the investment criteria?
  • HOW and by WHOM was the market risk appetite determined?
  • Do all Endowment funds now reside with the Wikimedia Foundation, i.e. has Tides transferred all of the WMF Endowment money to a WMF Endowment account or does Tides still have control?

Thank you, Andreas for this helpful though sad update.--FeralOink (talk) 16:36, 14 October 2023 (UTC)Reply

More Endowment notes and questions

I stumbled upon some other information while writing this, which led to yet other questions and ... revelations although not in a positive sense.

I perused this abbreviated financial statement for the WMF Endowment for the interval 30 June 2016 to 30 June 2023, see here for the wikipage and here for the document, as provided by Tides and prepared by Deloitte.

  • Original source (canonical URL) of financial statement document is on Commons.

I scanned very quickly but have some questions.

  • The Endowment received donations of about $11 million in 2018 as well as its first full year, in 2017. Why were there unrealized gains of $500,000 in 2017 followed by unrealized losses of $3 million in 2018? From 2017 to 2018, dividends & interest increased by $160,000 and realized gains increased by nearly $1 million. Expenses increased proportionally, from $83,000 (2017) to $157,000 (2018) but that didn't have much impact. Seems like a lot of volatility. What are you investing in?
  • Why are the amounts earned in interest and dividends nearly the same for three years (2019, 2020, 2021) of $1 million per year, despite the endowment's growth from approximately $47 million in 2019 to $110 million in 2021?
  • What happened in 2022?! Despite contributions of $11 million in 2022, and identical expenses in 2022 and 2021, the Endowment decreased by over $9 million in one year, from 2021 to 2022. This was partly due to combined realized and unrealized investment losses of $22 million'. That's a lot. What are you investing in? As of 2022, there were no debits for grants
  • Also concerning in 2022: Donations were $21 million in 2020 and $24 million in 2021. In 2022, they more than halved, to only $11 million.
  • As of 30 June 2023, the Endowment seems to be on track for another bad year like 2022, i.e. donations are only $6.5 million at mid-year. Maybe not, as unrealized gains at mid-year are $9 million.

I am assuming that line item "Contributions" = donations.

There are some footnotes.

  1. "As of June 30, 2023, Wikimedia Foundation was holding $5,274,448 in cash for contributions it received on behalf of the Wikimedia Endowment that was transferred to the new charity in August 2023." Unclear if this was for one month or two, or possibly a one-time situation because the the Endowment money had just been transferred back from Tides Advocacy in June 2023.
  2. "On June 27, 2023, Wikimedia Foundation was granted $1,297,620 for general support grant to cover endowment costs incurred by Wikimedia Foundation in FY2022-23." I don't know what this is for. Tides charged us $350,000 for investment management fees and $34,000 for bank fees, transaction fees, and donation processing fees for fiscal year 2021-2022, and nearly the same for 2020-2021. Why would it increase to $1.3 million once we had the money, for 2022-2023?

Where is the $4.5 million of funds disbursed for the Knowledge Equity Grants accounted for? The only withdrawal from the Endowment is in 2023. According to this post by Phoebe Ayers dated 13 April 2023 and titled, "Launching the first grants from the Wikimedia Endowment to support technical innovation in Wikimedia Projects":

"When the Wikimedia Endowment was first launched in 2016, its aim was to create a permanent fund to support Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects, sustaining the mission of our movement— to ensure that people can freely share and access knowledge into the future. Now in 2023, the Endowment has reached an important, initial stage of development: a portion of its investment income will be used to support technical innovation of Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects. The Wikimedia Endowment Board is pleased to announce the projects that will receive grant funding from the Wikimedia Endowment in fiscal year 2022-2023."

Why are grants for the fiscal year 30 June 2022 to 30 June 2023 announced in April 2023?

"The Wikimedia Endowment is first and foremost, an investment fund. That means that donations to the Endowment are invested in financial markets. A portion of the gains from those investments is reinvested to grow the Endowment over time, and a portion of the fund can be used as funding for Wikimedia projects and the free knowledge movement. The Endowment Board supported funding technical projects this year to help advance the infrastructure of Wikimedia projects."

The Endowment is first and foremost an investment fund?!

"In a series of interviews with Endowment donors, the Endowment Board and Advancement staff at the Wikimedia Foundation heard repeatedly about the desire to use their donations to support technical innovation to keep the Wikimedia projects relevant in a rapidly-evolving world."

Endowment donor interviews? I thought donors were people who make contributions to Wikipedia online etc. The readers and editors, that is. Are these corporate donors only who are interviewed about grant choices?

"For these initial Endowment grants, projects that are current priorities for the Wikimedia Foundation and community were chosen for support, in alignment with the existing Foundation annual plan and technical roadmap."

This contradicts what Echevarria said about the Knowledge Equity Fund. (I thought that was the first use of funds from the Endowment.) Also, the financial statements only show one withdrawal of $4.5 million. Is that for the Knowledge Equity Fund or for the technical projects funding that Phoebe described?

Yet more notes and questions

Why are there off-site (i.e. off-Wiki) forums for discussion of Wikimedia-related matters? The one that I found uses the forum software developed by Coding Horror aka Jeff Atwood, formerly of Stack Overflow. I think it is called Discourse not to be confused with Disqus. It hasn't gotten much traction since Jeff left Stack Exchange to develop it in 2013 or so. I've only seen Corey Doctorow's BoingBoing and a blockchain-related non-profit, Etherum Foundation (maybe?) using it.

The site name is forum.movement-strategy.org; here is a topic: Ensure Equity in Decision Making; see too this, about "degrowth" (which is flagged as kind of specious on its Wikipedia article!) Int. + cross-project coordination on Degrowth / Post-growth along with a Wikipedia degrowth conference in Zagreb... who pays for THAT?! Here's the agenda. What does this have to do with sustainability of the Wiki movement?!

Why is there a second round of Knowledge Fund grantees? I thought we were done doing that anymore. These aren't the second year of the first round of grantees. FeralOink (talk) 16:36, 14 October 2023 (UTC)Reply

Also, this, "What we’ve learned from the Equity Fund’s first round" says

"knowledge equity is a radical concept. It asks us to reconsider what we think of as “knowledge" ... The Wikimedia Foundation launched the Equity Fund in late 2021, following the Black Lives Matter protests in the US and around the world."

Why is Wikipedia doing social justice and reconsidering what we think of as knowledge?!

I see that $250,000 of the technical grant has been given to KIWIX. What is KIWIX?

"Kiwix is a non-profit organization and a free and open-source software project dedicated to providing offline access to educational content, primarily focused on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects."

It lists Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Switzerland as partners. I thought that we agreed not to do partnerships anymore, after the disasters of Wikipedia Zero and PediaPress. Or does that only pertain to exclusive partnerships? I don't know.

Do we really need so many WMF websites?!

That's all for now. I apologize if I accidentally pinged anyone.--FeralOink (talk) 04:29, 15 October 2023 (UTC)Reply