Wikipedia’s ban against the Scientologists

June 1, 2009

Recently I came across an opinion piece which, at first glance, scared me a bit: Why Wikipedia was wrong to ban Scientology, Foreign Policy, May 29, 2009:

Wikipedia’s Arbitration Committee has taken probably the worst decision in its existence: they banned the IP addresses associated with the Church of Scientology from editing any scientology-related articles. To my knowledge, this is the first time that Wikipedia higher-ups have decided to exclude a particular social group from contributing to the “encyclopedia that anyone can edit” (that slogan should now probably carry an asterisk, stating “anyone but scientologists”).

… . Bowing down to Scientology-bashers is almost guaranteed to trigger similar requests from people who hate satanism, fascism, or even pokemons.

However, according to other news stories, it appears that (1) the Scientology folks were banned for bad behavior against Wikipedia’s rules, not merely because critics complained about them; (2) some critics of Scientology have been banned too; and (3) the ban against the Scientologists is not absolute, but can be lifted under certain stated conditions.

Some relevant news stories are these:

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One Response to “Wikipedia’s ban against the Scientologists”

  1. angelabocage Says:

    While it is troubling to see Wikipedia ban Scientologists, I have some sympathy for their position because, as a defender of abortion clinics, I often encountered, especially from the media, a sort of assumption of symmetry. Sometimes we want to take it as given that the playing field is level. It isn’t, either in front of the clinics (see “Abortion Rights Rant,” SF activism archive)or when large corporations mount well-funded public relations blitzes. Additionally, citing a danger of “similar requests from people who hate satanism, fascism, or pokemons” is arguing from the assumption of an easily avoidable “slippery slope.”


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