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Author Topic: Should archivists get rid of 'unsavory' content?  (Read 632 times)
Necrosia
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« on: July 07, 2023 @927.25 »

Recently I have been archiving dollmakers from defunct sites and I have encountered a few of them that are unsavory, more specifically they are racist.

Racism is a spectrum, not something binary, so we are not talking about anti-Semitic content, hate speech or anything of the sort, more like untasteful representations of some cultures. For example, there's a "geisha girl" doll maker that is a bunch of random clothes from different asian cultures stapled together. There's also a 'cultural' dressup that has a bunch of stereotyped indigenous American itens.

The people who did this dollmakers of course meant no harm but as said before, racism is a spectrum and can be presented in various ways.

As an archivist who later plans to put all of this online I can't help but wonder if I should be putting this unsavory content online as well (maybe with some disclaimer?) or just get rid of it altogether. Does it still hold value?
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« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2023 @933.40 »



As someone who loves animation and is acquainted with... cartoons themed around less savory depictions of other cultures, I know there's an effort to not show those specific cartoons anymore (as in, broadcasting them on TV and whatnot). However, sometimes they do get included in cartoon compilations (more geared towards collectors) with statements like the one I posted in the image, and I agree with it. Denying something existed does not actually address the issues present in our day, maybe if anything makes them worse. In a similar way, things we find acceptable nowadays might be reprehensible in the future.

However, I do understand the need to use disclaimers when handling content like this. I'm kinda desensitized to this due to my culture (we make fun of everybody and everything), but I do get people directly affected by these things do not want to experience them while they just want to have a good time watching cartoons or playing virtual dressup games. So I think content warnings are a happy middlepoint between preservation and helping people manage their own experiences.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2023 @935.47 by Corrupted Unicorn » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2023 @969.07 »

you should keep them, since they're a part of the history even if not a pleasant one. however, i would say to maybe keep them in a seperate section with a warning since it's something many people wouldn't want to see and that could possibly be triggering.
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2023 @989.33 »

you should keep them, since they're a part of the history even if not a pleasant one
Yep! it's important to remember that all morals are invented, and no matter how much you believe something today, people will have different ideas in the future just as much as we have different ideas from the past. It's not our job or right to decide what the future should have and believe, so keep a copy and let tomorrow have the same choice :smile:

However; it's totally fine (and necessary) to filter the archive when you are presenting it to people today. I had a similar dilemma when I was putting MoMG together. As deleb suggested; I have an offline archive of all the gifs I gathered, but I filtered out some things from the actual website.

If you're curious; I took out a lot of military glorification gifs, and a shocking number of depictions of "Irish-ness" that I felt were insulting (lots of drunk leprechauns); BUT I did leave in a handful of each because it seemed necessary to the context of gif culture. I think the balance ended up being correct :eyes:

It really comes down to what mood and info you are trying to convey when presenting archived media!
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« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2023 @17.69 »

I think they should be left in but perhaps with a warning? Maybe one stating that you don't agree with the content of the dollmakers but you're including them for the purpose of archiving.
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2023 @53.75 »

Definitely keep it. While it’s unsavoury and needs a warning, sadly that kind of stuff is part of human history. It’s important we keep it around so we don’t repeat ourselves, yk?
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« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2023 @100.79 »

Agree with everyone, definitely keep it and see where you can visibly put a warning for them. I've been reading through some old school encyclopedias lately and it's so interesting to see how much things have changed! One example that may be similar to yours (though not in tone at all) is that the page on marsupials had a picture of the Tasmanian tiger, a since-exting animal, and a little paragraph talking about it. And I was thinking that if they had to do a reprint of that page now, there's no need to take the Tasmanian tiger out, even more so because it's hand-painted art and the animals look SO pretty. But there definitely should be an extra sentence of like "this thing doesn't exist anymore". No need to make it seem like the animal wasn't ever there or to lie and say it never went extinct, it just was a different time when (luckily) it was still alive, and it's nice to keep that as a time capsule, as sad as it is. I think archives' function should be to keep the archived material as intact as possible, but having the decency to know when something should be clarified, and altering the material accordingly.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2023 @110.25 by grovyle » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2023 @124.73 »

To me what should and shouldn't be archived is on a case by case basis. Some can be justified, others not. For example:



Adding an extra opening to explain why such content existed and explaining why it won't be removed is justifiable. It gives insight into American society at a point in time, and points out that by hiding the unsavory parts would be denying history. Something not mentioned in it but I think should be said, is that it also erased some of the things groups in the past fought against. It has several valid reasons to be archived as it was.

Some media like The Birth of a Nation should be archived, but for reasons of historical analysis and nothing else. It's a blatantly racist film that caused real world harm and should not be shown to the public, but in historical analysis its study can be used to understand how various racist ideas came to be and how media can push them in the general public.

But when it comes to things made specifically made to harass or act to serve as a tool to fuel hate and real world harm such as hate and harassment sites, then it should be lost to time.
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« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2023 @157.66 »

i think including some kind of disclaimer for these games would be a good idea. you might not be able to implement the warning into the game itself, but some kind of pop-up or page warning the user of its content, akin to what Corrupted Unicorn posted, would suffice. you could also look into what real-life archives have done in regards to the racist or otherwise bigoted content they have.
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Necrosia
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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2023 @98.41 »

Thanks everybody for the replies, as per suggested I will add these dollmakers on a separated page with a warning :ozwomp:
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« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2023 @869.49 »

I agree, removing history is a dangerous path to go down. It's much better to put a disclaimer on it and explain why it is bad.
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devils
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« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2023 @676.17 »

I find myself wondering this about old sites like rotten, how much of it should be archived? I usually arrive at the conclusion that, unless the offensive content has a victim who is/was directly affected by it (such as illegal videos/photos or doxxing), it should be archived.

The problem is, how much do racist caricatures directly affect people? They definitely have caused harm after all. As others have stated, the best thing to do is to include a disclaimer. Erasing bigoted history can actually cause the same things to happen over and over again, «those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it» and so on...
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