Since a controversial record cover led to charges of Wikipedia hosting child porn, Jimmy Wales, the creator of the world's most democratically assembled list of anarcho-punk bands, has kept his silence. Until Sunday, that is, when Wales logged onto an IRC channel to discuss the issue. Wikipedia Review posted a transcript of the chat. The essential points: Wales denied that there was an FBI investigation, "as far as I am aware." (Note the hedge: As a board member of Wikipedia's nonprofit parent, the Wikimedia Foundation, Wales has no day-to-day role in the site's operations.) On the image in question, a cover of the 1976 Scorpions album Virgin Killer, Wales equivocated. "I think people should be able to debate it with mutual respect," said Wales. There you have Wales's position on child pornography, in a nutshell: Let's talk about it! Excerpts from the transcript below:
[May 11 2008 00:18:32] <jwales> [00:15] <jwales> Well one piece of useful information is that as far as I am aware, there is absolutely no truth to there being an FBI investigation.
[May 11 2008 00:18:46] <jwales> [00:16] <jwales> I do not think images should be removed just because of a moral panic... but perhaps just as importantly, I do not think images should be kept just to defy a moral panic.
[May 11 2008 00:18:52] <jwales> that is not exactly a lecture
[May 11 2008 00:19:05] <jwales> I was talking about the story in worldnetdaily
[May 11 2008 00:35:33] <jwales> "I seem to recall a Wikipedian policy that says just because an image is schocking doesn't mean it should be excluded" - but just as importantly... just because it is shocking is certainly not an argument for *inclusion*
[May 11 2008 00:44:31] <jwales> so on this VK image
[May 11 2008 00:45:04] <jwales> I think it is a really difficult borderline case and I think people should be able to debate it with mutual respect.
[May 11 2008 00:45:55] <jwales> I wonder: was the album cover *legally* banned in the US?
[May 11 2008 00:45:59] <jwales> as in, a court case?
[May 11 2008 00:46:05] <jwales> that would have to be in federal court I suppose
[May 11 2008 00:46:10] <jwales> and there would have been an appeal, I suppose
[May 11 2008 00:46:11] <jwales> and so on
[May 11 2008 00:46:24] <jwales> as opposed to merely being "banned by the record company" for sales reasons or whatever
Update: Wales claims, in an email, that the transcript is "inaccurate" without offering other specifics. (I subsequently reviewed the transcript and found that I had included one statement by user "LJlego," who wrote: "<Ljlego> jwales: that's to be decided by community consensus, I believe.") Wales also made this statement: "I take a very strong stand against having sexually explicit images of any kind on Wikipedia." Wikipedia's official rule on images: "Do not place shocking or explicit pictures into an article unless they have been approved by a consensus of editors for that article."