Wikipedia Bans Scientologists

By Casey Lynn
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

Wikipedia LogoThe longest-running arbitration in Wikpedia history has come to a close, and it’s bad news for the Church of Scientology. Based on a 10-0 vote (with one abstaining) from the Arbitration committee, there is now a ban on Wikipedia contributions from all IP addresses owned or operated by the Church of Scientology. Though Wikipedia frequently bans individual users, this is the first time that such a high-profile organization has gotten the boot for trying to use the site to push its own agenda. Apparently the committee was especially concerned that the press coverage of the pro-Scientology editing of related articles would damage Wikipedia’s reputation for neutrality.

A former member of the Church of Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs (responsible “for directing and coordinating all legal matters affecting the Church”) told the Register about the organized efforts to remove criticism of Scientology from the Internet: “The guys I worked with posted every day all day. It was like a machine. I worked with someone who used five separate computers, five separate anonymous identities… to refute any facts from the internet about the Church of Scientology.”

Wikipedia has also previously barred those pushing anti-Scientology propoganda from editing Scientology-specific pages.

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14 Responses to Wikipedia Bans Scientologists

  1. It's been a hot topic on Twitter all day (my link to The Register's story this morning got about 500 clicks), and while I have no time at all for Scientologists, I think this is a very dubious decision from Wikipedia, supposedly an advocate of net neutrality, and I think they're going to get a lot of criticism over this. The reaction might work in the favour of the Church of Scientology, unfortunately.

    This might sound like a smart move on Wiki's part, and one can understand the frustration with controlling these kinds of zealots, but think about it. Is it really the way forward? Censorship is censorship, whether we agree with what is being blocked, or not.

    When you get down to it, religions are religions. Be interesting to see the response to Wiki banning Catholic or Muslim groups. Scientology is, of course, total nonsense, but it's one thing to ban troublesome individuals; quite another to mass-block all. And don't tell me other extreme religious groups aren't attempting to edit Wikipedia for their own ends – of course they are.

    Loads of sites have to deal with users hiding behind proxies and posting via sockpuppets. Wiki is, IMO, making a bit of an excuse there. And as that article shows, Walmart, ExxonMobil and the frickin' CIA all edited their own Wikis. Were they banned? No. Link: http://bit.ly/10kRwN

    There will be enormous pressure to reverse this Wiki move from all supporters of net neutrality, and the irony is it will give Scientology a more even-footing. Major fail for Wiki, IMO. Huge.

    • @sheamus – I agree, I think Wiki is going to have their hand's full.

      Censorship is censorship, whether we agree with what is being blocked, or not

      I totally agree on this one as well. Why should someone need 5 accounts though? That is the problem on the net. It's like Investment Bankers blowing up their numbers to get the money and get out, you can hire Minions to look like real clients/subscribers whatever..

      And, because companies run NAT in the offices it is hard to determine if the 5 accounts from that IP address are all the same person or 5 people from the 60,000 at MS…

  2. It's been a hot topic on Twitter all day (my link to The Register's story this morning got about 500 clicks), and while I have no time at all for Scientologists, I think this is a very dubious decision from Wikipedia, supposedly an advocate of net neutrality, and I think they're going to get a lot of criticism over this. The reaction might work in the favour of the Church of Scientology, unfortunately.

    This might sound like a smart move on Wiki's part, and one can understand the frustration with controlling these kinds of zealots, but think about it. Is it really the way forward? Censorship is censorship, whether we agree with what is being blocked, or not.

    When you get down to it, religions are religions. Be interesting to see the response to Wiki banning Catholic or Muslim groups. Scientology is, of course, total nonsense, but it's one thing to ban troublesome individuals; quite another to mass-block all. And don't tell me other extreme religious groups aren't attempting to edit Wikipedia for their own ends – of course they are.

    Loads of sites have to deal with users hiding behind proxies and posting via sockpuppets. Wiki is, IMO, making a bit of an excuse there. And as that article shows, Walmart, ExxonMobil and the frickin' CIA all edited their own Wikis. Were they banned? No. Link: http://bit.ly/10kRwN

    There will be enormous pressure to reverse this Wiki move from all supporters of net neutrality, and the irony is it will give Scientology a more even-footing. Major fail for Wiki, IMO. Huge.

    • @sheamus – I agree, I think Wiki is going to have their hand’s full.

      Censorship is censorship, whether we agree with what is being blocked, or not

      I totally agree on this one as well. Why should someone need 5 accounts though? That is the problem on the net. It’s like Investment Bankers blowing up their numbers to get the money and get out, you can hire Minions to look like real clients/subscribers whatever..

      And, because companies run NAT in the offices it is hard to determine if the 5 accounts from that IP address are all the same person or 5 people from the 60,000 at MS…

  3. I say it should not be a big deal, wiki has the right to say no to any topic its their site. I like the chick in the chair BTW.

    • It is there site for sure, but the problem is that they allow users to add content with their moderation. Ooh, right now I am typing over the girl in the chair's ACE, haha..

  4. I say it should not be a big deal, wiki has the right to say no to any topic its their site. I like the chick in the chair BTW.

    • It is there site for sure, but the problem is that they allow users to add content with their moderation. Ooh, right now I am typing over the girl in the chair’s ACE, haha..

  5. I agree with a lot that has been said but I also disagree on certain things.

    I agree that censorship is censorship but what you don't understand is that this isn't censorship. Wikipedia doesn't allow anyone to put in any article anything they want (despite what most believe); in theory they do because it is a Wiki but they are also an encyclopedia. The edits go through a certain process to account for they verifiability. An editor that constantly and blatantly (without referencing verifiable secondary sources) pushes a certain point of view is banned and his edits are not welcome.

    Censorhsip means that Scientologists can't make a blog, can't write an article in their own magazine, etc. Ironically, if you look at Wikipedias entry for Censorship you might learn that:

    "Censorship is the suppression of speech or deletion of communicative material which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the government or media organizations as determined by a censor.

    Also the Wikimedia Foundation didnt "ban" anything, the Spanish, Turkish, Chinese and other Wikipedias didn't ban Scientology IP addresses. A behavior was spotted where a number of IP addresses belonging to a certain group were all coordinating a blatant edit attack to push a point of view.

    I don't care if all IP addresses in Turkmenistan start pushing a point of view and you have to ban a whole country, Encyclopedias need to be neutral.

    Censoring is what China does, Wikipedia followed policy.

    Now, you might find interesting that Scientology is censored in Greece. You can debate about that if you want.

  6. I agree with a lot that has been said but I also disagree on certain things.
    I agree that censorship is censorship but what you don’t understand is that this isn’t censorship. Wikipedia doesn’t allow anyone to put in any article anything they want (despite what most believe); in theory they do because it is a Wiki but they are also an encyclopedia. The edits go through a certain process to account for they verifiability. An editor that constantly and blatantly (without referencing verifiable secondary sources) pushes a certain point of view is banned and his edits are not welcome.
    Censorhsip means that Scientologists can’t make a blog, can’t write an article in their own magazine, etc. Ironically, if you look at Wikipedias entry for Censorship you might learn that:
    “Censorship is the suppression of speech or deletion of communicative material which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the government or media organizations as determined by a censor.

    Also the Wikimedia Foundation didnt “ban” anything, the Spanish, Turkish, Chinese and other Wikipedias didn’t ban Scientology IP addresses. A behavior was spotted where a number of IP addresses belonging to a certain group were all coordinating a blatant edit attack to push a point of view.
    I don’t care if all IP addresses in Turkmenistan start pushing a point of view and you have to ban a whole country, Encyclopedias need to be neutral.

    Censoring is what China does, Wikipedia followed policy.

    Now, you might find interesting that Scientology is censored in Greece. You can debate about that if you want.

  7. I think this is really interesting… I agree with Sampi that I'm not entirely sure this is "censorship" in the most common sense of the word, but I can understand why people are uneasy about it.

    I think the key is really how severe the problem was – because it's true that Wikipedia is supposed to be a neutral encylopedia, and one of the ways that they ensure that is by stopping people from putting false information on it (for which I'm sure students writing term papers all over the world are very grateful). I agree with Sheamus that it shouldn't matter for censorship if we agree with what's being blocked, but I'd like to think that's not what's happening here. I would be more skeptical if it weren't for the fact that they've also been on the lookout for anti-scieontology edits. But I really don't know enough about the arbitration to say whether the problem was severe enough to warrant the mass banning.

  8. I think this is really interesting… I agree with Sampi that I’m not entirely sure this is “censorship” in the most common sense of the word, but I can understand why people are uneasy about it.

    I think the key is really how severe the problem was – because it’s true that Wikipedia is supposed to be a neutral encylopedia, and one of the ways that they ensure that is by stopping people from putting false information on it (for which I’m sure students writing term papers all over the world are very grateful). I agree with Sheamus that it shouldn’t matter for censorship if we agree with what’s being blocked, but I’d like to think that’s not what’s happening here. I would be more skeptical if it weren’t for the fact that they’ve also been on the lookout for anti-scieontology edits. But I really don’t know enough about the arbitration to say whether the problem was severe enough to warrant the mass banning.

  9. I just pressed "report profile violation" on the youtube channel of scientology… you think they'll kick me off youtube? It was their fault, really, i got so bored watching the biography of LRH i just starter pressing random buttons on the page :D

  10. I just pressed “report profile violation” on the youtube channel of scientology… you think they’ll kick me off youtube? It was their fault, really, i got so bored watching the biography of LRH i just starter pressing random buttons on the page :D

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