Let’s try out “Golden Filter Premium” on Wikipedia, shall we?

I encountered a journalist-activist on Twitter, a writer for (among others) Al Jazeera in English, who is nevertheless a free speech activist. We discussed the recent FoxNews.com article that reported, among other things, that the Wikimedia Foundation entirely failed to respond to a “more or less free” offer of filtering software. They need such software, of course, because they are heavily used by school children, and widely available in schools, and yet they host enormous amounts of porn. Anyway, the journalist-activist and I had a charming exchange, the end of which went like this:

Journalist-activist: “Why don’t you simply push for people to purchase NetSpark or similar for home use?”

Me: “…a lot of people don’t have money or expertise to install such a solution.”

JA: “I don’t buy that – free, good filters are widely available.”

Me: “If you find me a ‘free, good filter’ that is ‘widely available,’ I will install and test, and blog about the results.”

JA: “http://t.co/4CHL54yc”

Me: “All righty then! This should be fun!”

First, the Egyptian-made Golden Filter Premium is quite easy to install. However, though I am a certified “power user” of computers (Jimmy Wales called me that back in 2000), I couldn’t immediately find where the software resides. As soon as it installed, the installation window closed, zoop!, and when I searched “porn” in Chrome (my currently favored browser), the window magically closed. So it was working, I just couldn’t figure out where to fiddle with the options. Finally I opened the Task Manager, found the original file location of the exe, read the ReadMe, and discovered that the app is shown via F9 and F10. I would have known the F9/F10 trick if I had read the installation notes, apparently, but who does that?

So once it’s installed, what is the first thing I do? I follow the script I followed when I made this fun video. Results?

It doesn’t filter Wikipedia.org, which is fine. You can use it to block the whole site, if you want. But of course the WMF should offer a more fine-grained filter than that.

The software instantly closes a window as soon as it sees one of the verboten words on it. You may edit the list of verboten words.

I don’t think they know about “fisting” in Egypt. It isn’t in the list of verboten words, so when I type it into Wikipedia, of course I get the article, complete with illustrations. (I won’t supply links here. You can go ahead and search if you dare, but bear in mind that this and the following examples are highly NSFW.)

Next, I go to multimedia search on Simple English Wikipedia, as I did in the above video. Let me try my test searches: “Poseidon.” Yep, there’s the old “Kiss of Poseidon.jpg” which does not actually feature the Greek God.

“Cucumber”? Page 2 of the results (used to be page 1) features some female exhibitionists who are altogether too fond of this vegetable.

“Toothbrush”? Again, page 2 has someone using a toothbrush in a way not approved by the ADA (used to be the top of page 1; Wikipedians obviously were uncomfortable with the bad publicity).

So…this free version doesn’t work. By the way, for what it’s worth, a non-free filter, NetSpark’s, not only caught these examples, it deleted them inline instead of simply blocking the whole page. I’m not saying NetSpark is the only or the best solution, just that it’s the one I’m familiar with and that it seemed to work rather well.

Wikipedia could pay a modest amount of money (I’m not sure what the bottom line bill would be, if over $0, from Netspark) and obtain a solution on behalf of the school children who use their smut-ridden resource. But they refuse. Few parents will want to use “Golden Filter Premium,” in any case. It’s just too clunky, and it doesn’t work the way it should on Wikipedia anyway.

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About the author

Larry Sanger had written 163 articles for Larry Sanger Blog

I call myself an "Internet Knowledge Organizer." I started Wikipedia.org, Citizendium.org, WatchKnowLearn.org, ReadingBear.org, and Infobitt. I write about education and the Internet from a broadly philosophical point of view.

5 Responses to "Let’s try out “Golden Filter Premium” on Wikipedia, shall we?"
  1. Reply Tim Davenport September 12, 2012 23:26 pm

    >>I encountered a journalist-activist on Twitter, a writer for (among others) Al Jazeera in English, who is nevertheless a free speech activist.

    Why is this so shocking?

    Al Jazeera-English is actually a pretty good news source.

    • Reply Larry Sanger September 12, 2012 23:51 pm

      It’s not shocking; it’s funny and ironic. Al Jazeera English is owned by the government of Qatar and hence it is Muslim and essentially the mouthpiece of Middle Eastern Islam in the Western world. There is no major religion more oppressive of freedom of speech than Islam, as various Islamist regimes amply demonstrate. If she really cared about freedom of speech, why would she ally herself with a network founded by people whose core beliefs are hostile to freedom of speech?

      • Reply Eric Barbour September 13, 2012 04:26 am

        You’re both right. Al Jazeera English is a good news operation–except when it comes to news pertaining to certain Sunni Gulf states. Then it becomes very, very solicitous towards those governments. Especially Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

        When the Bahrain protests were being ruthlessly put down, Al Jazeera did a good job of covering it. Yet they avoided the Lara Logan assault in Egypt. Their coverage of Assad’s brutal repression in Syria is pathetic and cowardly. And stories about the Qatar or Saudi governments are always heavily whitewashed. Apparently Bahrain isn’t “important” enough to fear, while the company itself is owned by the Qatari royal family, and they have long been very friendly to the House of Saud.

        FYI, being the home of Mecca’s Grand Mosque, the most important holy site in all of Islam, Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive, backward, paranoid cultures in the world. Women are still not allowed to own property or drive cars, slavery is still legal, they still burn “witches”, etc. etc. Not to mention the continued use of Sharia law, with chopping off the hands of thieves and other charming medieval practices. Even Muslims from other countries are shocked at how backwards the place is. Also, the Saudi royals fight like crazed animals all the time, but you’ll never see that on Al-Jazeera.

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/05/wikileaks-cables-al-jazeera-qatari-foreign-policy

        There have been studies about this….

        http://gaz.sagepub.com/content/73/3/216.abstract

        And people have quit over it.

        http://rt.com/news/al-jazeera-loses-staff-335/

        Would you believe, the most hostile treatment of Al Jazeera comes from the Jewish ultra-right?

        http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/international/concern_over_al_jazeera_english_network_here

        http://globalnewsroom.org/al-jazeera-one-name-two-channels/

  2. Reply TungstenCarbide September 13, 2012 00:08 am

    Wikipedia doesn’t need any software to deal with objectionable images, of course. The site is littered with techi types who write endless bots and java scripts that they embed in their own user space. It would be trivial to make a show/no-show java button for objectionable images. Hell, there’s even a blacklist that prevents specific images from being used outside of specific pages. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MediaWiki:Bad_image_list. A show/no-show button is trivial by comparison, and it’s only on of many simple ways to deal with the problem.

    The truth is that Wikipedia’s culture is deviant in comparison to the entire civilized world, and they won’t give an inch. They expect the rest of the world to conform to their values, and don’t see a problem with promoting their site to school children while displaying hard-core porn. The radicals at Wikipedia celebrate porn under the banner of anti-censorship while attacking, ridiculing and belittling and CENSORING those who support even modest editorial judgement. After all, how dare any one question the educational value of an image of a man sucking his own wiener! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autofellatio (NSFW!)

  3. Reply Gregory Kohs September 13, 2012 08:36 am

    I notice that activists like Jillian York often lack a sense of practicality in their ambition to uphold their cause. I wonder what York would say about this censorship of free speech: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Jimbo_Wales&diff=next&oldid=411584809

    Why is Wikipedia’s “response system” to such “trolling and attacks” set at a 9-minute hair-trigger, but its response to a bestiality video only kicks in after 120,000 views?

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