Please Help to Clean Up the Wikipedia Porn Problem

I want to talk about a problem I recently became aware of – the porn problem on wikipedia which I first read about from Larry Sanger’s blog. First up, let me make myself clear – I’m not anti-porn. I’m comfortable with images of nudity on the Internet and I’m not even upset if my 2 and 5 year olds see them. I have taught Aristotle about the anatomy of the human body with pictures of cadavers and even told him (not explicitly) how babies are made. The boys have flash cards of paintings by famous artists like Henri Matisse who painted nudes and I haven’t sensored them.

So why am I getting upset? Because the images and videos that are freely available on wikipedia have crossed the line. There are no filters to prevent children from finding images and videos of subjects like beastiality, extreme fetishes, and child sexual abuse just to name a few (the rest of the topics and links may be found from Larry’s blog). Even some innocent search terms also yield inappropriate content so there is a likelihood that your child stumbles upon inappropriate content while searching for other unrelated information.

Many parents and teachers are neither aware of the adult content on Wikipedia sites, nor that it is accessible to school-age students, nor that this content is in fact quite popular.

With so much adult content, so often accessed, you might think that Wikipedia is adults-only, and that children don’t use it. But of course, they do. We are told that today’s children are “Generation Z” who get much of their information online. Even pre-teen children are heavy users of Wikipedia, which is often ranked in the top five of all websites in terms of traffic. In fact, 25% of the contributors to Wikipedia are under the age of 18, according to a 2010 survey, and about 12% of both readers and contributors said they had only a primary education. – Larry Sanger.

Probably the worst of it is that Wikimedia Foundation has no intention of doing anything about it so this problem is here to stay unless we (the parents and the community at large) do something about it.

What Can We Do About It?

I don’t know about you but it worries me. My boys may not be of age to access this content now but they will be in years to come, especially if nothing is done about it. Banning them from the Internet isn’t really a solution. They will eventually need to search for information for school projects and the like and I can’t be watching over their shoulder to make sure that every search is “safe”.

If you are alarmed by this and want to do something about it, please read the full story at Larry Sanger and spread the word so other parents know about it. If you are from the media, please write about this story. If you have contacts in the media, please alert them about this problem.

You can also write to the leading Wikipedians and leading members of the Wikipedia project to voice your concerns:

Perhaps if there is enough “noise” about the problem, the Wikimedia Foundation might be moved to do something to resolve the problem.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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