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Wikipedia Changes a Policy  (View post)

GamingFox [PersonRank 2]

Wednesday, December 7, 2005
17 years ago

Before anyone starting suing Wikipedia or the authors...

Check the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (Specificly in Section 230 part C paragraph 1):

"TREATMENT OF PUBLISHER OR SPEAKER. No provider or user of an
   interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or
   speaker of any information provided by another information content
   provider. "

It mean the authors or the ISP (Wikipedia or Wikipedia's ISP) are not liable for any libel information which may be posted since they are not actual publishers or speakers in per se.

It would be very tough case for lawsuit.

GamingFox [PersonRank 2]

17 years ago #

Opps, forgot the link to copy of CDA...

bravo Philipp ! [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

bravo philipp!

I think you play some role (with others) in what is happening now. Daniel Brandt is an activist, he is not alone nor a noob, from all this years he must know some journalists etc. and i'm curious to know how Mr Seigenetc. learn about his page on wiki-not-so-pedia

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

> i’m curious to know how Mr Seigenetc.
> learn about his page on wiki-not-so-pedia

Seigenthaler learned about it from his friend Victor Johnsonheir (sp?), who's in his nineties.

Justin Pfister [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

Philipp, Daniel Brandts website is ... You have (which is a parked domain).

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

Thanks Justin, it's corrected.

Daniel Brandt [PersonRank 3]

17 years ago #

I wasn't aware of Mr. Seigenthaler before this story broke, but just in the last couple of days we've talked on the telephone. I'm helping him trace the IP address. Thanks to a very lucky break, it's been traced to a business in Nashville. Details are at the bottom of

That business has not yet responded. As more information becomes available, I will be updating that chronology. I know that Mr. Seigenthaler wants to identify the person who did it, but whether he intends to sue or not is none of my business. I think he might settle for a public apology, or some other token, like a settlement for $1 or something. I support him whatever he wants to do.

What I want is to make it clear that my support for privacy on the Internet does not mean that I support privacy for libelers. Mr. Seigenthaler is trying to get hearings on Section 230 in Congress. I hope he succeeds. Already some trolls are attacking me for tracing that IP address.

Without this lucky break on the IP address, Mr. Seigenthaler would have had to go to court and get a John Doe subpoena served on BellSouth.

My problem with the recent change at Wilipedia is that it will actually make the situation worse. If the perpetrator who posted the bogus bio on May 26 had bothered to make up a username and start a new account, the IP address would not be available, even assuming that Jimmy Wales was inclined to cough it up without a fight. That's because once you use a login name, your IP address is hidden. They keep their logs for anywhere from a week to a month, but Mr. Seigenthaler didn't discover the foul deed for about four months. Meanwhile, that bogus bio was getting scraped by mirrors and made-for-AdSense pages.

Even if they have the log data because the information you need is very recent, you will still have a tough time getting it unless you have a very strong case. Only about six top bosses at Wikipedia have permission to use the "CheckUser" tool, which matches username to IP address. That's not good enough in my book.

Read Wikipedia's privacy policy, and you will see that this situation is no accident. They spend two fat paragraphs in this policy describing the benefits of editing with a login name.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

> Seigenthaler wants to identify the person
> who did it, but whether he intends to sue
> or not is none of my business.

Seigenthaler in the NPR interview said he does not want to sue. He said he believes there's is freedom of speech, even freedom of *outrageous* speech as he put it.

Interesting, about that loss of IP/edit connection once you're logged in. That does indeed sound as if it could make the situation worse, not better, per the defined goals (which one may or may not disagree with).

Martin Terre Blanche [PersonRank 1]

17 years ago #

Philipp's point about the importance of quick edits by anyone is crucial – that is what has made Wikipedia get to a reasonable level of credibility and what could make it even better in the long run. Making participation more difficult in small ways might reduce some forms of vandalism in the short term, but runs the risk of starting a downward spiral of less participation and lower quality.

James [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

Quick edits can still be done by anonymous users, it's only the act of page creation that is restricted.

Brian M. [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

You can read my take on this issue on the wikiEN-l mailing list


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