Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wikipedia excommunicates Church of Scientology (Contribution)

They've been told off countless times, and now Wikipedia has finally popped its foot down and banned those at Church of Scientology HQ from adding or editing entries.

The Register reports that all IP addresses owned or operated by the Church and its associates have been blocked from contributing to the site (unless they apply for special dispensation).

Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee voted 10 to 0 (and one voter abstained) to place an immediate ban on the Church.

The ban is an attempt to prevent the self-serving edits that Wikipedia alleges the Church uses to push its own agenda.

The online encyclopedia makes it clear that contributers should not work for or be affiliated with any company or organisation that they write about, and has always tried to maintain what it calls a "neutral point of view".

Individuals are often banned, but this apparently unprecented step has meant that a blanket ban Scientology IPs has been put in place.

Wikipedia has found it hard to police edits to Scientology-related entries because multiple editors have been working from various IPs with ever-changing addresses.

It's unclear if there are lots of different editors, or if a few editors are using multiple accounts in a system known as "sock puppeting".

One Arbitration Committee member wrote:

"Our alternatives are to block them entirely, or checkuser every 'pro-Scientology' editor on this topic. I find the latter unacceptable. It is quite broad, but it seems that they're funneling a lot of editing traffic through a few IPs, which make socks impossible to track."

Scientology-related posts have long been troubling to Wikipedia, since many anti-Scientology editors have also been banned over the years. But Wikipedia has come under criticism for the rulings of its committee, which was once known for allowing full freedom of speech.

It's hard not to feel that banning IPs in this way is a rather drastic approach, which certainly doesn't sit well with a company that has always been associated with self-moderation, free-speech and a general air of goodwill.

But with so much time and effort spent on dealing with what is just a tiny part of this enormous resource, I can't bring myself to condemn them entirely.

What do you think?

Is this the thin end of the wedge. or does this action only go to strengthen Wikipedia's position as the web's greatest collaborative project?

No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to us or to the blogspot ‘Clerical Whispers’ for any or all of the articles placed here.

The placing of an article hereupon does not necessarily imply that we agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Source (TTUK)


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