Spanking Art:Boy scout controversy
The boy scout controversy was a controversy about:
- the use of photos of minors in our wiki
- our wiki in general, which led to the shutdown of our wiki at Wikia on 26 January 2008.
This page details the history of events for those who only saw parts of it.
From 2005 to January 2008 our Image use policy permitted the reuse of all images provided that the terms of the license are fulfilled, that the image is not pornographic and not under fair use claim, with no further restrictions. This meant that nonpornographic images of both adults and minors, clothed or nude, were permitted. Most of these images were imported from other GFDL-licensed wikis such as Wikimedia Commons.
The controversy was started by John R. Finley, who brought the topic up on Jimbo's talk page. User:Privatemusings visited our wiki, feeling that a) certain text and images relating to boy scouts and spanking should be removed from our wiki because he, according to his own words, "found the material very unsettling, and deeply disturbing", and b) he particularly opposed to the reuse of photos of minors from sites such as Wikipedia in our wiki. He used a recently created article, boy scout, to demonstrate his points, which at that time had two mainstream, non-spanking photos of boy scouts and one boy scout spanking cartoon on it.
The controversy quickly led to heated discussions, mostly against our wiki, on various places such as:
- Jimbo's Talk Page on Wikipedia
- Discussion at Wikipedia Review (a forum of Wikipedia and Wikia critics, where Privatemusings is an occasional contributor)
- Discussion at Wikback.com
Wikipedia Review is operated by vociferous critics of the Wikipedia GFDL collaborative editing project and its co-founder Jimmy Wales, who also is a founder of Wikia. Many are individuals who have been banned from editing Wikipedia at some point. Routinely, they criticise Wikipedia for things such as defamation, privacy violations, copyright violations, lack of accountability and lack of accuracy. As the Spanking Art wiki represented an estimated 1/25th (4%) of all US-originated *.wikia.com traffic at the time, it represented a tempting target for the most outspoken critics of Jimbo Wales and of Wikia.
Several people there made accusations against our wiki in general: some called it "pro-pedophilia" and others claimed it "avocated and condoned violence and child abuse". At least one person contacted Jimbo (the founder of Wikipedia and Wikia) and Wikia staff, as recommended by Roguebfl, the creator of the Boy scout article, pressuring them to shut down our wiki on the pretext of these claims, all of which we believe to be untrue.
Some went as far as to attempt to pressure Wikia to delete the entire database, representing thousands of hours of work built over a span of two years which is the property of the hundreds of individual contributors.
Jimbo deleted the boy scout photo and made no further comment as far as we know. Wikia staff protected the boy scout article from edits for three days and asked User:Spankart (this wiki's founder and admin) on 24 January 2008 to delete all contemporary photos of minors from our wiki. Spankart complied to this request and defined a new rule in our Image use policy. 74 images were deleted (out of about 1,200). Wikia staff also asked us to remove all links to any official scouting websites, which we also did. It seemed that the controversy was settled with this action.
However the people who felt offended by our wiki in general (and not just by the use of photos of minors) kept pressuring Wikia to shut it down. They found new points of critique such as boy scout spanking cartoon by Comixpank (see here), which had also been used in the boy scout article. On 26 January 2008, Wikia suddenly removed our entire wiki from the Web. They did not contact Spankart or any other members of our community to send any warning, to discuss the issue, or to give any specific reasons for their action. Spankart was informed by one member of Wikia's staff that the shutdown was "temporarily" until Wikia has come to a decision. Wikia did not discuss any issues with Spankart, but informed him on 28 January by e-mail that the closure will be permanent (still without giving any specific reasons).
As a result of this shutdown, many users spoke up at a Wikia page, demanded that Wikia explain their behavior, and criticised Wikia for their action. Wikia's CEO Gil Penchina apologized and explained that the shutdown was mainly because Wikia's advertizers did not like to see their ads on our wiki. He stated that "at no time do we believe the community violated any laws. However it became clear to us that it wouldn't be possible to clear all the content that was causing disquiet, while still keeping to the topic and goals of the wiki. There would always be the potential for controversial content, especially on a topic where eroticism and childhood experience are so inextricably tied."
Wikia offered their technical support in transferring the contents of the wiki to our new host.
New host, new policies
On 27 January 2008, Anime OTK made an offer to host our wiki. During the next two days, after it was clear that Wikia will no longer host it, Spankart discussed the technical and legal details with Stoner, and accepted the offer. The transfer of the wiki data, and the setup and configuration of the wiki took about one week. Wikia kept their promise and gave technical support, including a transfer of the user database.
Our new hosts Stoner and Ai required an extension of the wiki's image use policies to be more or less the same as the current image use policies on Anime OTK: strictly no photos of any minors at all, and no nonphotographic images which are anywhere near to being considered indecent pseudo-photographs of a child. The exact wording of these policies was negotiated between Spankart and Ai, and about 100 more images were deleted before the official relaunch of the wiki. It was hoped that this action will be beneficial for the wiki in the long run, by deescalating the controversy and by demonstrating to everyone that this wiki is not only perfectly legal and law-abiding, but also willing to exercise a degree of self-censorship when such is deemed right.
While the transfer and setup of the wiki at Anime OTK was still in progress, on 4 February, a copy of our wiki was launched at the domain http://www.spankingart.org by an unknown person. This launch had not in any way been communicated to Spankart or anyone else of the wiki's community. The cloned wiki contained all pages and images from the 24 January 2008 version of the database, but no user accounts at all, not even an admin. The fact that the user accounts were gone meant that anyone could register a username that had already been used before in the wiki.
Within hours, the news of the relaunch spread over the Internet and made it to sites such as Wikipedia. Spankart inquired about this clone; public whois servers list Carl Austin Bennett, who is affiliated with Uncyclopedia's Babel Project. On Spankart's request to remove the clone from the Web, Carl locked it so that the contents could be viewed but no longer edited, turning it into an archive. Carl also offered to transfer the domain to one of the wiki's community, or to redirect to our new URL.
On 6 February 2008, the wiki was officially relaunched at Anime OTK and the new URL was made public. Within an hour, Carl redirected all inbound requests to http://spankingart.org and related domains to the new site, as requested, removing the previous archive from public view. Soon after, Wikia posted this wiki has been moved, replacing the former wiki with "This wiki has moved to http://spankingartwiki.animeotk.com" as of 09:22, 7 February 2008. This page was in place for a while, so visitors found the new location, and site owners who had links to the wiki could change the target of their links to the new URL.