Saturday, December 05, 2009

My Problem with Wikipedia

I'm sure all 3 readers of this blog are familiar with the on-line encyclopedia site known as Wikipedia. In case you aren't, the site is a totally free, user-created on-line encyclopedia with fourteen million plus entirely user-created articles in ten different languages, on every subject from Aardvark to zygote and all points in between.

It is an incredible achievement. The bulk of the articles are thoroughly researched, cross-indexed, footnoted, and well-written with few if any grammatical or spelling errors. There are no ads on the site (other than what might appear as a by-product of certain article topics), not only a rarity in this day and age of internet commerce, but almost unheard of. The site operates entirely off revenue donated by its on-line users. It's truly a remarkable feat.

But I do have one problem with it: Links like this one (WARNING: Link leads to female nudity!!!!)

Now, I realize the old adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" has never been more appropriate when trying to describe an article of clothing. And I am a healthy, heterosexual human male, so I enjoy looking at pictures of young, gorgeous, topless women (I'd be VERY surprised if that surprised anyone). That's not my problem.

My problem is, anyone, and I do mean ANYONE, can access this page. And hundreds, if not thousands, of other pages that are even more explicit. There is no filtering of the pages, no "adult" content warnings, no ANYTHING.

And believe me when I say that the page I linked to above is far, far, FAR from being the most explicit page available. If you doubt me, then go to Wikipedia and search for the most sexually explicit thing you can think of. Odds are pretty good that you'll be able to find it.

I'm not disparaging Wikipedia at all. Far from it. I sing its praises regularly, to anyone who will listen. I'm just saying that maybe a few adult content warnings and/or a little bit of control might be in order.

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