Tuesday 02 June 2009 | Wikipedia feed | All feeds


Church of Scientology members banned from editing Wikipedia

Church of Scientology members have been banned from editing Wikipedia articles about their church, after a long-running dispute about biased articles.

Church of Scientology members banned from editing Wikipedia
Wikipedia have banned Church of Scientology members banned from editing their entry

The online encyclopedia's arbitration committee has voted to block contributions from computers owned by Scientologists, following complaints that many were using the website to push propaganda.

Feuds between pro- and anti-Scientology users had already forced the site, written entirely by members of the public, to lock entries about the church, which counts Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its celebrity members.

"Newcomers are treated rudely. Bad faith assumptions, personal attacks, edit wars, soapboxing, and other disruptions are common occurrences," the arbitration committee said.

Now the administrators have acted to rebuild the encyclopedia's reputation for neutrality by taking the unprecedented step of banning anyone they consider to be connected to the church from altering articles.

"All IP addresses owned or operated by the Church of Scientology and its associates, broadly interpreted, are to be blocked as if they were open proxies," it said.

Anyone who logs on with these IP addresses will be "prohibited from editing articles related to Scientology or Scientologists, broadly defined."

The arbitration committee, which is composed of experienced volunteer editors, said church followers had set up Wikipedia accounts with the sole purpose of making articles more favourable to Scientology.

These contributors had an inherent "conflict of interest" which undermined the site's impartial ethos, it said, justifying the blanket ban by saying that the church had a responsibility to "ensure appropriate use of its servers and equipment".

It continued: "The purpose of Wikipedia is to create a high-quality, free-content encyclopedia in an atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual respect among contributors.

"Use of the encyclopedia to advance personal agendas – such as advocacy or propaganda and philosophical, ideological or religious dispute – or to publish or promote original research is prohibited."

Wikipedia is the most read reference website on the internet, and the seventh most popular site overall, but critics claim it has failed to weed out hoaxes, libels and unreliable content.

The Church of Scientology has fallen victim to a concerted offensive from a group of hackers and internet users called "Anonymous" in recent years. The group accuses the church, established by the former science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s, of trying to muffle criticism and stifle free speech.

The Church of Scientology in Britain did not respond to requests for comment.


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