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Published:September 13th, 2008 21:56 EST


By Krzys Wasilewski

Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, is one of the largest sources of information on the Internet. Just in the English language it contains over 2.5 million articles, with tens of new links added on a daily basis. But apart from important facts, the encyclopedia often provides explicit pictures that are widely regarded as inappropriate for people under 18.


Wikipedia advertises itself as a "free encyclopedia that anyone can edit." As the articles are constantly written and rewritten, it ensures that the information people receive is up-to-date. But Wikipedia`s unrestricted policy is also a serious drawback. Articles on sex-related issues, such as masturbation or blue movies contain pornographic pictures that under the law should not be exposed to underage viewers.


Unlike porn websites, which are obliged by law to warn about their contents, Wikipedia does not restrict the access to any of its articles. For example, the entry titled "Pornographic film" explains the techniques of making an adult movie by a snapshot of gay porn directed by Michael Lucas. It takes only one click to enlarge the picture in which two men have oral sex. In addition, people - including children - can see a number of porn images from the beginning of the 20th century.


Explicit examples can also be viewed in the "Masturbation" section. A series of pictures present a man and a woman masturbating, with a zoom on their genitals. Even more appalling is the fact that the article on "Religious views on masturbation" shows a watercolor of a monk and a woman stimulating each other sexually. Moreover, the entry falsely claims that the Bible encourages "a man to please his female partner by masturbating her before intercourse."


In most countries, adult content is restricted to people over 18 years old. Wikipedia quotes the Merriam-Webster Dictionary`s definition of pornography as "a portrayal of erotic behavior designed to cause sexual excitement." The encyclopedia cleverly absolves itself by stating that explicit images belong to the forbidden category only if their "sole intention is sexually exciting the viewer. ""It is not hard to guess that Wikipedia`s pictures, apart from their obscenity, can also be regarded as `educational.`


Many parents find it unacceptable that the website, which claims to be the largest source of knowledge, promotes pornography. "Providing clinical images that may assist people in research is one thing, but many of the images and videos featured by Wikipedia are gratuitous and obscene," Matt Barber of Concerned Women for America said in May. But despite this and other organization`s efforts, Wikipedia has refused to change its liberal policy.


Parents expect that Wikipedia will provide their children with first-rate information. In many cases the encyclopedia does just that. But it would be naive to think that sex-related articles are visited only by adult online users, especially that not a single word warns about their contents. "Perhaps Wikipedia should change its name to Pornopedia," suggests Matt Barber.



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