I have some interesting news to report concerning Riffipedia today. We have been granted permission to post images containing nudity in certain contexts; those contexts being when it appears on album covers or concert posters and has artistic intent. As far as I know, we are one of only two Wikia sites that have the exception regarding album artwork (the other being LyricsWikia) and we are the only Wikia with permission to show nudity in concert artwork.

Roadburn 2015 - Bongripper - Censored

A censored version of the image which led to this situation. I have chosen to censor it in this context purely because it is not essential to the article. In cases where an image is essential to the article (as the uncensored version of this image is to the Roadburn article), it will remain uncensored.

First, I need to explain the background of this. Wikia (the organation behind the platform which hosts Riffipedia and thousands of other wikis), has a blanket policy on nudity, though a rather vague one. From the best of my understanding, nudity is disallowed, with the exception of nudity in classical artwork and nudity in educational wikis. There may be other exceptions too, but I am not aware of them. I first encountered these rules after uploading images for use on the Roadburn Festival article which is currently being worked upon. As part of that article, I am including the posters for each individual band/set as I feel they are important to document given that this is an unusual, but exciting quirk of the festival. Those images were uploaded in bulk - admittedly without me double checking the content of the images - to save time. A few days after uploading the uncensored image featured to the left, I noticed that the file had been deleted and first messaged Bongripper themselves on Facebook, believing the issue to be copyright, which they confirmed was not the case. I then realised the issue was nudity and looked into the nudity policy, explained above.

The realisation that nudity is censored on Wikia presented me, and Riffipedia in general, with a few problems. Firstly, on a personal level, I am anti-censorship. I understand completely the rational behind a website, which has no age restrictions, wishing to protect their younger audience, but feel that preventing complete documentation of something for the sake of that is absurd. That, however, is a personal gripe and thus is by-the-by.

The second problem, however, would have been major to Riffipedia as a whole. A music scene, especially the stoner rock and doom scenes perhaps, is not only beholden to the music but to all the varous artistic expressions surrounding said music. For instance, outside of our scene, would David Bowie be the legendary figure he is seen as today purely on the music he produced? Or does a lot of his legend rest upon the visual styles he revelled in and intertwined with that music? I would argue the latter. Equally so, the artwork for vinyls and CDs, is often as iconic and integral to the experience as the music contained within said packaging (from Dark Side of the Moon to Dopesmoker).

That is why, in my opinion, it was important to get this judgement. Without the allowance of the artwork that complements the music within this wide and diverse scene, uncensored in the appropriate contexts, this wiki would be useless. If the goal of a wiki is to keep people clicking within the site to find more and more from your site, then forcing people to look elsewhere for album or concert artwork is counterproductive. It could also be argued that if omitted, a piece of artwork becomes more conspicuous in its omission than in its presence. Pointing out that an image is too taboo to be featured will only draw attention to the image in question, causing people to become more obsessed with said image.


Unquestionably, Arik Roper's artwork for Dopesmoker is culturally valuable. Would it be less so if a nipple were on show?

It would have also caused me great consternation on a cultural level if the ban had been upheld. To say that nudity is fine in classical artwork but not in contemparary artwork draws a distinction between 'high' and 'low' culture. For a platform which currently displays the words "The home of fandom" at the top left of every one of their pages, it would be unwise, and insulting, to suggest that some fandoms - or cultures - hold more value than others. Not only would it be insulting to the stoner rock scene, but it would be insulting to the artists who are every bit as talented as those who came centuries before, despite their stylistic differences. It certainly cannot be argued that classical artwork is tamer than artwork today either. One search for the 19th cenury Japanese artwork "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife" (which is, available to view on the Psychology Wikia site here) will confirm this.

So it is for those reasons that I am glad that the Wikia staff member Ducksoup, after consultation with other staff members at Wikia, has decided that we are exempt from the rulings when it comes to album and concert artwork. Now, obviously, there are terms to this. Firstly, the images need to be important to the context of the article and irreplaceable by other images. Secondly, there has to be artistic intent. Album artwork and concert artwork fulfills both these conditions, but a shot of a topless woman in the crowd at a gig fulfills neither. Thirdly, if an image is graphic beyond the realms of the human form being on display (we're essentually talking clear sexual acts) it will be at the discretion of Wikia as to whether these images are allowed. So if you contribute to the wiki and want to know if an image that might fall foul of that final ruling is allowed or not, pass it on to me, and I will argue the case with Ducksoup; given my prior stated position on censorship, I can assure you I will defend its allowance with all my might if it is essential for an article.

So, there it is. We have a unique priviledge on this Wikia, which means that we must use it wisely and fairly. I am sure those of you who decide to contribute will try your best to give Wikia the respect and understanding which they have given us.


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