Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

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Izawwlgood
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Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:41 am UTC

Article I found here, I'm sure there are others.

I'm not sure how I feel about this; on the one hand, editing your own Wikipedia entries to downplay your organizations 'missteps' isn't in the spirit of Wikipedia, on the other, preventing Wikipedia from being a truly open sourced information repository is a potentially dangerous step. One one hand, Scientology has evidently persistently edited entries on the various antics that we all know and love, on the other, information bias and libel are pretty serious.

So, thoughts?
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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby lutzj » Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:45 am UTC

Nothing wrong with banning IP addresses that have repeatedly posted mendacious information, from a Wikimorality perspective. It does seem rather futile given the resources the church has access to.
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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby yurell » Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:01 am UTC

I seem to recall them blocking US Congress too. It's no different to when they block anyone else, or even entire schools — they want the information to be freely editable, but won't accept vandalisation (either with gibberish or deliberately false information), which is a fair enough restriction.
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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:08 am UTC

While it may say "anyone can edit" on the front page, the main point of Wikipedia is that it's "the free encyclopedia." It's not meant to be open-source in the sense that it accepts any and all content from people with any and all motivations, any more than Linux's "open-source" development model exempts you from the wrath of Linus Torvalds when you make shitty pull requests.
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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby Kaiyas » Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:00 am UTC

yurell wrote:I seem to recall them blocking US Congress too. It's no different to when they block anyone else, or even entire schools — they want the information to be freely editable, but won't accept vandalisation (either with gibberish or deliberately false information), which is a fair enough restriction.


A little bit of a tangent, but I think that banning Congress was absolutely brilliant. Removing itself from political gamesmanship is absolutely a good thing for Wiki (assuming that campaigns don't find ways around the ban...yeah okay nvm :( )
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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby ConMan » Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:22 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Article I found here, I'm sure there are others.

I'm not sure how I feel about this; on the one hand, editing your own Wikipedia entries to downplay your organizations 'missteps' isn't in the spirit of Wikipedia, on the other, preventing Wikipedia from being a truly open sourced information repository is a potentially dangerous step. One one hand, Scientology has evidently persistently edited entries on the various antics that we all know and love, on the other, information bias and libel are pretty serious.

So, thoughts?

Well, first thought is that the title of this thread is a bit misleading, because it's actually "Several years ago, Wikipedia banned anyone editing from a Church of Scientology IP". And having been aware of the arbitration discussion at the time, along with how the particular CoS editor was behaving, and what happened between Anonymous, CoS and Wikinews, it's very hard to argue in Scientology's favour.
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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby Arariel » Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:31 am UTC

Even though all GPL'd software is free, attempting to violate the terms of the license agreement will terminate your rights under the license (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html). It's still free software, just not for you. Which is pretty much how I feel about this. If you're going to be assholeish and ignore the extremely liberal terms of the use set forth, you really don't have a right to complain about not being able to use it any more.

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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby yurell » Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:00 am UTC

The thing is, they can use it. Just not edit it.
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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby Arariel » Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:35 am UTC

Well, yeah, that. Similarly, I think you can still use GPL software even if you've violated the terms of redistribution, you just can redistribute or modify it any more.

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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:02 pm UTC

What's to stop Scientology members from just editing Wikipedia from their home computers instead of at CoS facilities?

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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby iamspen » Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:04 pm UTC

The CoS forced them to donate their computers, that's what! ;)

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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby Xeio » Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:48 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:What's to stop Scientology members from just editing Wikipedia from their home computers instead of at CoS facilities?
Nothing, but if a majority of bad edits are coming from the Scientology IPs then the home IPs aren't really an issue.

It's the same thing when they block school IPs from editing, sure, those students can go home and still vandalize, but the majority don't end up doing that.

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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby The EGE » Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:00 am UTC

Unfortunately, there's no way to enforce topic bans for more than individual editors. Topic bans can be really useful because they allow an editor with otherwise constructive editing behavior to be kept away from articles they may be unconstructive with. It's just like the fora - there are some very intelligent longtime members who are very stupid about a small selection of subjects.

Topic bans have to be policed though - usually by admins and/or other users keeping an eye on the user's contributions. Topic bans, as a ban from a wide range of articles (and even sections of articles) but not the whole site, can't be enforced by a software-setting block like a whole site or IP ban is. So they couldn't be used to corrall CoS. The next-best solution is, unfortunately, full IP bans.
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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby Adacore » Tue Jun 26, 2012 8:17 am UTC

It's kinda been coming for a long time though, I think. I mean, I've not been active on Wikipedia for 3-4 years, but back when I was scientologists (from CoS IPs) were constantly pushing the rules and getting into edit/revert wars, and I doubt they stopped.

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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby The EGE » Tue Jun 26, 2012 5:13 pm UTC

People with any point of view will abusively push the envelope. I have the 'fixed-gear bicycle' page watchlisted for some reason, and I revert vandalism about once a week. Every single time, it's someone who thinks it's funny to make fun of hipsters who ride these bicycles. Granted, it probably is, but not on an encyclopedia.

Scientology, though, has a nasty combination of factors that make their efforts worse than other bad-faith editing. They've got money, persistence, ideology, and lots of people and IPs. Even the most persistent single-person vandals on Wikipedia have been nullified pretty well - admins and when needed Wikimedia Foundation employees are fast and have the technical advantages. Some vandals have used hundreds of alts, and it's taken the work of literally dozens of editors to stop them. But ultimately, they're rendered impotent - at most, a new sockpuppet will be found and immediately blocked every few days.

Vandals, too, just grow up. When you're no longer 13, calling someone gay or talking about dicks isn't really that funny anymore. ClueBotNG reverts half of all vandalism without human intervention anyway. Willy on Wheels, probably the most famous vandal, stopped after a few years. The main person behind the accounts went to a Wikipedia discussion board, owned up, and apologized. There's suspicion that they're now a productive editor.

Even deliberate misinformation is limited. Real estate agents, small businesspeople, porn purveyors, and other corporate shills tend to make articles and add images for their products and then disappear. It's pretty easy to clean up - just tag it as a speedy delete and an admin will be along quickly. Political shills are more difficult to deal with, but there's a lot of IP watching for anything about politics and candidates. Both political aides and advertisers are also often stupid enough to use their real names for their account names - so oftentimes a google search will reveal their true motivations.

Scientology is different. They're the worst combination of vandalism, advertising, and political shilling. They've got thousands of IP addresses and they've got tricks to get around blocks. They've got thousands on thousands of dollars to pour into skilled paid editors - some of which have even attempted to gain adminship. They actually believe what they're saying, and they have no respect for the idea of a neutral encyclopedia. And they don't grow out of it, because the cult is their life.

So they only way you can deal with them is the nuclear option. Anyone who you think is associated with the CoS - instaban. Yes, there's collateral damage. But as TGB explained, it's free in the same way that Linux is. If you don't play by even the most basic rules, you get kicked out of the sandbox.
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Re: Wikipedia bans Scientology from editing

Postby PeterCai » Tue Jun 26, 2012 6:13 pm UTC

So that you don't have to guess what happened, here's the Requests for arbitration that resulted in the ban. Google, it works!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia ... cientology
edit: apparently clicking on the link provided by the article also works.


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