Internal battle at Wikimedia over 'pornographic images'

A row over pornographic images on Wikipedia has sparked a war amongst the site’s founders.

Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger threw the first blow in April by complaining to the FBI that the free encyclopedia and its Wikimedia Commons counterpart was “knowingly distributing child pornography.”

This led to the other co-founder Jimmy Wales deleting images without consultation, angering many of the site’s contributors.

Last week, administrators of Wikimedia Commons also deleted hundreds of images after Mr Wales posted his support for the removal of “images that are of little or no educational value but which appeal solely to prurient interests”.  

Volunteers who help maintain the site and donors were quick to lambast the action claiming Mr Wale’s decision was undemocratic and taken too quickly.

Michael Peel, Chair of Wikimedia UK, confirmed the disagreement. He told the BBC an ongoing debate over explicit content had recently “come to a head”.

“The main issue is whether the content is educational,” he added.

Some images deemed by the Wikipedia community to have educational merit have since been reinstated but the row has led Mr Wales to give up some of his rights including the ability to delete and edit “protected” content

In response to the controversy, Wales has voluntarily revoked many “permissions” given him as Wikipedia’s founder to delete and edit “protected” content, the BBC reported.

He told the BBC that the voluntary revocation was “in the interest of encouraging this discussion to be about real philosophical/content issues, rather than be about me and how quickly I acted.”

Right wing Murdoch vehicle Fox News is happy, claiming a moral victory for the web.