A couple of years ago a bored teenager took a couple of photos of himself and posted them to Wikimedia Commons. The first photo was of his bare legs, the second photo was of his nipple. Then for some reason, probably because he’d grown up a bit, he wished that those images weren’t on online any more. At the beginning of January 2012 he made a formal request asking Wikipedia commons remove the photos for him. Simply enough, you may think, but this is Wikimedia Commons, and things are never simple there.
Within a twinkling of an eye it was declared that photos of teen boy nipples are highly educational – request denied. But not before another user “VolodyA! V Anarhist”, who in 2000 was convicted of child pornography offences, had told him that:
Without any other information apart from “please delete” i hope that admins will have common sense to close the request and keep the image.
The kid tried to make the same request twice more, until some nasty mean old administrator James L. Woodward came by to threaten him:
You have nominated File:Teen_boy’s_Nipple.jpg for deletion three times without a reason acceptable to Commons. If you nominate it again, or take any similar action, you will be blocked from editing on Commons.
James L. Woodward has “more than 30 years of high technology management experience. Jim has raised over $15 million in venture capital and has been CFO of several public companies. He has been the founding CFO of a variety of successful companies” but apparently is unable to pass up an opportunity to post a threat.
Meanwhile the requests to have the photo deleted were denied, denied, and denied, “VolodyA! V Anarhist” being most insistent that they were to be kept. And the Administrators’ reasons for deciding to keep the image were:
- You uploaded it several years ago, you can’t come along now and tell us it was done without your permission. Free licences cannot be revoked. –mattbuck
- This isn’t a photosharing service, once you release images here you cannot say “oh no I didn’t mean that”, especially not three years after the fact. –mattbuck
- kept – per comments above. —Denniss
So Wikimedia kept the photo of the kid’s tit, despite the kid begging for them to delete it, and despite the fact that after 42 months the image remained unused on Wikipedia. Kept it because they could, and kept it just for spite.
This contrasts with the experience of a then prominent Wikipedia administrator (and director of the WMF-UK charity). This individual had uploaded a bondage photo of himself naked from the waist down. After he became a director of the charity and was part of a delegation to speak to a British Parliamentary Committee on privacy, he, like the kid earlier, decided that his bare arse photo was a bit of an embarrassment and a quiet word with one of his administrator friends resulted in the the photo being deleted, no fuss, no claims of educational value, just gone.
Two months later, Commons Administrator Alison deleted the image at 18:03, 5 April 2012 with the comment: Author requested deletion of page: Please show a little kindness here. A teenager uploaded it, then came to regret it. It’s unused and has remained so. Please let’s just do the right thing here.
Image credit: politicomafioso.blogspot.com, labeled for commercial use with modification