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May 29, 2009

Wikipedia bans Church of Scientology

Posted: 03:47 PM ET

The collaborative online encyclopedia Wikipedia has banned the Church of Scientology from editing the site. The Register reports Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee, or ArbCom, voted 10 to 0 in favor of the ban, which takes effect immediately.

Wikipedia's innovative free-encyclopedia draws upon the knowledge of millions of users to create and edit articles on every conceivable topic. Edits appear immediately and do not undergo any formal peer-review process.

Wikipedia officially prohibits use of the encyclopedia to advance personal agendas – such as advocacy or propaganda and philosophical, ideological or religious dispute – but the open format makes enforcing such policies difficult.

According to Wikipedia administrators speaking to The Register:

Multiple editors have been "openly editing [Scientology-related articles] from Church of Scientology equipment and apparently coordinating their activities."

However, Karin Pouw, with the Church of Scientology's public affairs office, told me she is unaware of any coordinated effort to alter Wikipedia. Instead, she described the edits as individual attempts to correct inaccurate information by impassioned Scientologists and interpreted the ban as a typical Wikipedia response to arguments over content. She noted that even the U.S. Department of Justice received a temporary ban after someone  erased references to a controversial scandal from inside the government agency.

One Wikipedia contributor I spoke with that was involved in the Scientology arbitration agreed that some of the edits coming from the church were justifiable, but insisted the ban was necessary after the church refused to follow Wikipedia's policies:

"The edits coming out of Church of Scientology servers were of the sort that made their organization look better.  Up to a point that's justifiable, when it comes to correcting inaccuracies or removing poorly sourced negative information. There were times when they went beyond that and deleted well sourced information that was unflattering, and there were times when they insulted other editors in a manner that would reflect poorly upon any religion."

Some see Wikipedia's decision as a setback to the Utopian goal of Web 2.0 in which every user is allowed to freely contribute.

How do you feel about the ban? Should Wikipedia actively suppress self-serving, misleading or inaccurate information? Or does every voice deserve to be heard?

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Sully   May 29th, 2009 3:59 pm ET

Tom Cruise must have a lot of free time to be editing all those sites...

Brandon   May 29th, 2009 4:06 pm ET

Good on Wikipedia. Scientology is a psycho-religious cult that needs to be shut down. 12 Scientology members, including the founders wife, were convicted of crimes involving the largest infiltration ever of the US government.

Unlike Scientology, I encourage you to look for third-party sources to my claims. They'll stand up.

Johnny Marx   May 29th, 2009 4:09 pm ET

Way to go, Wikipedia!!

Don't be coerced by the wacko cultists who use our freedom of religion laws to advance their cash-grubbing pyramid scheme.

DWD   May 29th, 2009 4:14 pm ET

First, your final questions strike me as pretty illogical. Wikipedia is supposed to be an encyclopedia of knowledge, not a compendium of opinions. There's a difference between restrcting freedom of speech and insisting that contributions are factual. If the Church of Scientology is attempting to shape public opinion using a platform intended for the sharing of knowledge, then their attempts to do so should be blocked. They are free to continue to shape the truth to suit themselves using more malleable channels.

Second, the suggestion that this decision does damage to the Web 2.0 vision is equally absurd. Users ARE allowed to freely contribute, but human beings aren't always (often?) so altruistic as to have the dissemination of knowledge as their goal for contributing, so rules must be inplace to govern the quality of information supplied. I applaud Wikipedia's decision. I would also expect to be banned if I intentionally and persistently contributed misleading, uncited, unverifiable claims as though they were facts. The problem is not policy here, it's the human predilection for dishonesty and distortion of objective facts in order to promote a specific agenda.

All that said, the Wikipedia folks are going to have a tough time ensuring that this kind of thing doesn't keep having, and that's the real shame.

BJ   May 29th, 2009 4:19 pm ET

The only problem is that now they've set a precedent... so when some other group starts editing pages referring to themselves (Insert Political Party Here), are we going to shut out that group?

Couldn't someone just start editing pages in a (for example only) Pro-Catholic way... and thereby get the Catholic Church banned? What if their goal was to get the Church banned all along?

Good   May 29th, 2009 4:19 pm ET

This is not censorship. This is leveling the playing field. Wikipedia has balls for banning Scientology and a lot bigger balls for banning the DOJ.

Logical Thinker   May 29th, 2009 4:20 pm ET

Good for Wikipedia. A plus for Wikwpedia is that it *does* encourage individuals to post "knowledge" and facts, and it calls for the source which then can be verified.

But it goes against freely sharing *information* when, let's say, a losing political campaign, or a soon to be convicted Ponzi Scheme criminal like Bernard Madoff, to change the content of others about themselves, to make themselves look "better" - or delete content surreptitiously that shows their political loss, their criminal actions, or other *verifiable* facts.

Nobody should use a resource like Wikipedia in a way that challenges its veracity and makes it into just another, albeit unpaid, slanted commercial for themselves.

Vicious   May 29th, 2009 4:29 pm ET

Scientologists just do what other religions have been doing for thousands of years, they just caught on a little late. They create a "book" that was supposedly handed down by a prophet or higher power. When in fact all the books were written by PEOPLE. It is, in itself, blasphemous to even pretend to assume we can under stand the Creator of our universe.

I agree with the decision, but I also frown upon organized religion.

"I think it's better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should be malleable and progressive; working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth; new ideas can't generate. Life becomes stagnant."

Paula   May 29th, 2009 4:32 pm ET

Allow all users to post the info – but they must state who and where info is from – so those reading can judge the accuracy of the content

bob   May 29th, 2009 4:32 pm ET

Thanks for standing up to the space cult.

Danielle   May 29th, 2009 4:33 pm ET

Good call Wikipedia!

Voice of Authority   May 29th, 2009 4:33 pm ET

Good call by Wikipedia. Scientology is a brainwashing cult that should be banned. Congratulations also to Germany for banning it.

Steve McNeill   May 29th, 2009 4:34 pm ET

I totally support Wikipedia's stance with The NonChurch of Scientology

me   May 29th, 2009 4:35 pm ET

Great! So now when do we ban the Christian and Muslim cults?

lindsey   May 29th, 2009 4:37 pm ET

i think that wikipedia is right to ban self-serving and misleading information, regardless of where it comes from. unfortunately, scientology teaches many misleading beliefs, and i am proud that wikipedia stood their ground. someone needs to take a stand against scientology.

Karen Dunn   May 29th, 2009 4:37 pm ET

Why anyone in their right mind would be looking to Wikipedia as a reliable source for anything is beyond me. Even James Whale, the Wikipedia creator, has in the past been found to take payment in exchange for "positively amending" certain articles in favor of the donor.

Wikipedia is about as reliable as a bent and rusty nail.

lindsey   May 29th, 2009 4:37 pm ET

*not ONLY scientology, but in this case i think it is appropriate

Jacques Dugger   May 29th, 2009 4:39 pm ET

Bravo Vicious, Bravo! Couldn't have said it better myself! JD.

Unshaven   May 29th, 2009 4:41 pm ET

Good for Wikipedia. The cult of Scientology should NEVER be allowed to push it's own agenda through the editing of anything. Matter of fact the "church" yeah right, of scientology should be banned and disbanded. Period.

Dave   May 29th, 2009 4:45 pm ET

When you're treating a work of science fiction as truth, then you gotta expect the rest of the world isn't going to take you seriously.

Derek P.   May 29th, 2009 4:45 pm ET

Obama supporters have also manipulated Wikipedia. However, unlike Scientology, they are evenly distributed throughout the US. Anyone they don't like, they ban. They are able to do this because there is a sadistic subculture in Wikipedia. Kids vote for each other to become "administrators" who can ban anyone and unbanning often only occurs if the original administrator agrees (Wikipedia policy). Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia. It is worse than twitter

Pete   May 29th, 2009 4:45 pm ET

As a private organization, Wikipedia is free to restrict content however it likes. The Wikipeidian community and its viewers will judge its actions and vote with their clicks. The problems with a ban is that the baby can get thrown out with the bathwater. But a ban is appropriate when there is so much bathwater and such a tiny baby (I don't know what the case is here–just noting principles).

My experience with W in the past is that the users hold each others' feet to the fire, but if there is a wholesale effort by a party to shape opinion, I can certainly see the need to restrict that party's contributions.

I think the best solution, however, is debate of the ideas and "facts." But I'm not sure W is the forum for that.

jon   May 29th, 2009 4:45 pm ET

Dont get me wrong i think Scientology is pretty crazy, but its not much crazier than walking around with a necklace of a dead guy nailed to a cross around your neck. Maybe Wikipedia should think about banning all churches from updating.

Doug   May 29th, 2009 4:46 pm ET

Now if we can just get the real facts about Islam ( I wonder if Wikipedia has the balls to allow that information to be published world wide???)

All organized religion exists for one reason: control and profit (NOT prophet!).

Mike   May 29th, 2009 4:47 pm ET

The only issue proven here is that Wikipedia has a difficult position policing an open-edit format. Nevertheless, they do it. That proves that highly political or debated topics can't be trusted on Wikipedia, because they may stop anyone from making changes for whatever reasons their counsels agree.

JM   May 29th, 2009 4:47 pm ET

Good for wikipedia having & upholding reasonable standards of accuracy.

Larry McClellan   May 29th, 2009 4:47 pm ET

Good for Wikipedia. Especially in open systems, it is really crucial that some have the courage to draw lines. And, yes, I think courage is the right word. Everyone is trying so hard to be flexible and receptive, but when a diverse good of senior "editors" arrive at this kind of judgment, it is helpful to all of us.

Mitch   May 29th, 2009 4:48 pm ET

Can't demonize Scientology without demonizing all religions. Wikipedia needs a more governing body or some kind of system for sorting out truth. No one will ever be completely honest but there should be a happy medium. Now Scientology can't rebuke wrongful claims posted on Wikis site. I am not a fan but I feel that other religious institutions probably get away with a lot of other things but because they are part of the "Big 3" or have gained social acceptance they can post whatever they want. I feel bad for the individuals who feel censored by this descision, however I could care less about how the church itself feels.

Richard L   May 29th, 2009 4:48 pm ET

We already have TOO MUCH "self-serving, misleading or inaccurate information" on the Internet (just look at some of the IReports comments).

We do not need another site without integrity.

hskill   May 29th, 2009 4:48 pm ET

Ban all the religious organizations from wikipedia that you can. If you let one group change facts to fit their beliefs, then you'll have to let them all do it. I don't want my kids to learn that america was discovered in the 1800's by Jesus, who roomed with Adam and Eve in a small apartment in Missouri and Dinosaurs lived outside, until the evil Xenu came and abducted them. Meanwhile Vishnu was starting a war with the Jews over whether Thor should be allowed to have his own cable news show.

Charlie   May 29th, 2009 4:48 pm ET

I give enormous credit to the Wikipedia ArbCom. This case shows just how difficult their task really is. On the one hand, this could be viewed as a form of censorship (sure, everyone seems to love it in this instance, but let's see what happens if it's a Christian or Muslim organization that gets barred from editing). On the other hand, this sort of action is really necessary if Wikipedia is to remain a valuable tool, because knowledge isn't determined by plebiscite.

Kit   May 29th, 2009 4:48 pm ET

If you want Scientology propaganda, go to the Scientology website.

John   May 29th, 2009 4:48 pm ET

A Utopian (web 2.0) society doesn't mean a lawless society.

Scientology lean the rules - Wikipedia wants facts!

Francois   May 29th, 2009 4:48 pm ET

The word "hubris" was created to describe Scientologists. Money can buy a lot but apparently one organization has the huevos to stand up to then. I totally commend, applaud Wikopedia!!!

Brad   May 29th, 2009 4:49 pm ET


(but not you scientologists.... and you Mormons better watch your step too.... we all know the catholics should stay out... and anyone else who may not see the world the way we do...)

David   May 29th, 2009 4:49 pm ET

This is understandable. Scientology and the LDS Church have both been rather active in a PR Campaign on wikipedia. It took a while to get verifiable information about LDS and their belief of black skin being a curse/mark to be left on the site. Scientology is constantly making attempts to neutralize the validity of information. It seems to be all about promoting the image.

hmmm   May 29th, 2009 4:50 pm ET

I wonder what the aliens will think? j/k, sorta... Banning is always a mixed bag but in this case I'm biased against scientology and their super creepy science fiction view of creation.

Mike   May 29th, 2009 4:50 pm ET

BJ, there is a SERIOUS hole in your totally ignored the part about edits coming from Scientology's OWN SERVERS.

You ask:

"Couldn’t someone just start editing pages in a (for example only) Pro-Catholic way… and thereby get the Catholic Church banned? What if their goal was to get the Church banned all along?"

If edits from the Catholic Church servers are deleting ACCURATE info, yes, ban the Church from editing. PERIOD.

No organization should be allowed to delete real information derogatory to itself.

I would fight a ban if it was just a few overzealous people, in that case just ban the individuals. But when an organization does it, ban the organization.

Sorry, if it is coming from the organization's computers, it is their problem to resolve, not Wiki's.

Mark   May 29th, 2009 4:51 pm ET

Johnny Marx: Are you refering to the crazy Christian cults nowdays or Scientology?

Dan   May 29th, 2009 4:51 pm ET

While I don't have high opinions of Scientology I think Wikipedia has made a joke of itself with this decision. If you selectley decide who can post then you are essentially censoring an opinion and it defeats the whole purpose. this is not the first time they have done this, Obamas wiki was on lockdown as well. Personally I am not going to use the site anymore since they have shown their own agenda and bias in this case and the site in my mind is a fraud.

Turveyd   May 29th, 2009 4:51 pm ET

Way to go Wiki, and the French for taking them to court for fraud to :)

Lets hope all " Organised " religion goes the same way, okay Scientology sounds really dumb and stupid and well is, but it's no different to any other religion and they all practice brainwashing to make you as happy as them, normally to 5year olds in school.

Germany actually banned it to YES, so few battles are being won against this crap sadly, reiki for instance is sweeping the UK's female population by storm :(

Back to the dark ages :(

Marco   May 29th, 2009 4:52 pm ET

Thumbs up Wikipedia...while I tend to think all major religions are more or less a joke (what with the fact that they are by and large ripped off from predecessors and all word of mouth prior to ever being written down), I find that Scientology is the most obvious fraud. Xenu? Thaetons? REALLY?!?!?! You have to pay increasingly larger sums of money to "advance" within the "Church"? REALLY? Anti-dpressants aren't really necessary? REALLLLLLLY?!?!?!

Scientology is a joke, and deserves to be treated as such.

Erin   May 29th, 2009 4:52 pm ET

Good job Wikipedia! I appreciate the excellent oversight on revisions. This helps to ensure people with ulterior motives don't take advantage of a great resource for us all.

steve in florida   May 29th, 2009 4:52 pm ET

So enemies of Scientology can edit to their hearts content without correction. And eveybody's ok with that? Even Bradbury didn't consider that scenario. Pretty scary stuff............

rm   May 29th, 2009 4:52 pm ET

I get the point Wiki is making. But I doubt it would take the same stance with other communities that are more pc now. However, it is now completely pc acceptable to censure religious thought, ideas and organizations while allowing the most bizarre and secular, violent and appalling content to be posted and promoted. DI guess it just depends if you are Craigslist or a non pc group?

Ryan   May 29th, 2009 4:53 pm ET

Next we need to ban the Mormons. Then the Jews. Then the Catholics. Then religious people. Then non-religious people. Sheesh.

I understand that Wikipedia is privately owned, and I would fight for their right to control their site.... however, I'm disappointed that this is an obvious step away from their goal of freely disseminating information.

Raggi   May 29th, 2009 4:53 pm ET

two thumbs up

John S.   May 29th, 2009 4:54 pm ET

Next stop all the other religions – remember child molestation, wars, forced conversions, suicide bombing......

Jerry   May 29th, 2009 4:55 pm ET

While I am no fan of Scientology, Wikipedia is equally guilty of brainwashing. Anyone who relies on Wikipedia for accurate, objective research is a fool.

johnrj08   May 29th, 2009 4:55 pm ET

I am of two minds on this issue. First of all, Scientology has helped a lot people lead productive lives, and it has proven to be a very effective networking system for its members. What I object to is its "religious" status. Clearly, it is NOT a religion, therefore it should not enjoy any of the protections or tax benefits that legitimate religions claim. The members of CoS are fully aware of how tenuous that claim is because they are intimately familiar with what L. Ron Hubbard's motives were when he manufactured the so-called church. They also know the utterly preposterous mythology that Hubbard built around the church.

MichaelB   May 29th, 2009 4:56 pm ET

Banning from Wiki is the first step. Now if we could only ban them from Earth. Then we'd be going in the right direction.

Guest   May 29th, 2009 4:56 pm ET

Wikipedia is not a blog, nor is it an advertising service. It is an encyclopedia, and as a result its job is to present information that is both accurate and unbiased. If the Church of Scientology wants to publish information that may be inaccurate or biased, they should put it on their own website.

Mark   May 29th, 2009 4:56 pm ET

I'm not in favor of censorship, but the Church of Scientology has shown efforts to surreptitiously control the propaganda before.

Back in the day, there was an online project called DMOZ. It was hoping to be the open-source answer to Yahoo's style of phonebook-like classification of websites. I heard that some Scientology propagandists managed to be made editors of the Religion branch and wielded a very biased stick to only include pro-Scientology websites.

Tom Cruise   May 29th, 2009 4:57 pm ET

Im SSOOOO mad at Wikipedia! I need a hug from John Travolta.

Mark   May 29th, 2009 4:57 pm ET

Only a person or group with something to hide would work as tirelessly and aggressively as Scientology does to surpress negative information about it.

oj   May 29th, 2009 4:57 pm ET

Operation Snow White and Operation Freakout are just two prime examples of the lengths they will go....

W Parker   May 29th, 2009 4:58 pm ET

Good for Wikipedia.

Interesting comment stream. Why all the talk about banning Scientology? I think most religion is hogwash, myself, but I can't justify telling anyone not to follow their own path.

People will pay out the nose for the illusion of a better life or immortality. If Scientology evaporated tomorrow, its members would flock to the next-most-appealing promise.

The cause is human nature. The effect is religion.

You can't ban the former, so we're stuck with the latter, in all its various permutations. The best thing for everyone is to figure out what they believe, then be SECURE in that so they can stop being threatened by differing faiths.

Starting. . . NOW. :-)

Jiva Soul   May 29th, 2009 4:58 pm ET

@vicious – 2 + 2 = 4. Always has, always will. Some knowledge is absolute, not made up. I may "think" 2+2 =5, but it's simply not. I believe 2 + 2 =4, and it doesn't limit my growth, it's just the beginning of a more complex calculation.

Dave Park   May 29th, 2009 4:59 pm ET

It's a good call, though I think people praising the move because they think Scientology is out-of-bounds are really ignoring the real issue. If the Catholic Church, Baptists, or organized Muslim or Jewish groups had done similar actions, they also should be restricted from making changes.

Wikipedia's affirming itself as an encyclopedia of knowledge, not as a forum for people's opinions. Being more strict on how that information is presented and filtered strengthens the site and knowledgebase.

Ben   May 29th, 2009 5:00 pm ET

Karin Pouw was unaware of any coordinated effort... That doesn't mean there wasn't one. Just prspeak on her part.

Jerry   May 29th, 2009 5:00 pm ET

It appears that Wikipedia has handled this issue well. Without some sort of control, Wikipedia would simply be a blog with comments.

I would hope the same good judgement will soon be applied to global warming (sorry, I meant "climate change") issues. Alarmist views dominate, with balanced presentations few and far between. As a result, I find myself consistently taking Wikipedia with a grain of salt.

Black Condor   May 29th, 2009 5:01 pm ET

To be clear, the Church of Scientology "was not banned". The article points out that the Church was banned from "editing" of their still existing presence in Wikipedia.

Correct me if I'm wrong here but the same was true for the DOJ.

cheers to the wikipedia staff for standing up to these posers pretending to be authors of truth with in fact it is the truth that is their enemy. They hate and despise the truth because it exposes them for what they really are.

viscor   May 29th, 2009 10:04 pm ET

I agree with the ban on the grounds that no one group should be allowed to push their agenda regardless of whether they are N.R.A., Scientology, Catholics, Baptists, Republicans, Democrats or anything else.

Note, however, that I disagree with those people who say they should be banned because they don't like that particular religion.

Chad   May 29th, 2009 10:26 pm ET

The only way they could be banning them is from the ip range the church holds. Whats stopping individual's from editing whatever they want from home? This is a whole lot of hot air for nothing. They will still edit as they want.

Kamicolo   May 29th, 2009 10:28 pm ET

who cares?
It's NOT really an encyclopedia anyway.....more like a geek consensus.
If you want to know what the majority of geeks think about things...check wikipedia.

Brent   May 29th, 2009 10:31 pm ET

I HATE to be the guy who says most of you don't get it...but most you don't get it.
Wikipedia, as much as I think its an amateurish place to get info, did not "take a stand against Scientology" at all.

They took a stand against probably hundrend of attempted edits coming from the same IP address (Church of Scientology) about articles on the Church of Scientology.

They did that so nobody can stack the deck unfairly as far as public into. For Wikipedia this was a surprisingly honest move.
. Do you want to read an article all about whales authored, edited, scripted, and molded by a whale harvesting company?

Eliopolis   May 29th, 2009 11:36 pm ET

While all users on Wikipedia can change information that they perceive as inaccurate or wrong, Wikipedia also has to be able to make sure that the articles on their website aren't displaying inaccurate information as well.

bruce k   May 29th, 2009 11:38 pm ET

Much as people might dislike scientology, to me this bodes very bad for Wikipedia. First, it shows that there are forces out there that want to manipulate the information on Wikipedia for their own ends. So, how hard is it going to be for Wikipedia to control this with all groups, let alone detect it? if it is so bad with Scientology, what other groups that cannot be detected will be out there. Sooner or later Wikipedia will have to allow it – or be biased.

This simple little story might be the sound of Wikipedia proving that it cannot work. I hope not.

Efrain   May 29th, 2009 11:46 pm ET

Wikipedia is not a propaganda site.

Sergio   May 29th, 2009 11:47 pm ET

There's already a reason why college and some high school teachers don't accept Wikipedia as a source of information... ANYONE can edit it! Any source of information that doesn't even mention an author is dubious. I find it silly that so many people take Wikipedia so seriously.

Andrew   May 29th, 2009 11:53 pm ET

Good on wiki, but NOT because it's the Church of Scientology. While I don't agree with their practice, they have the right. However, good job by Wiki for taking a stringent approach on info manipulation. And the idea of Web 2.0 being affected by this is ridiculous; Wiki has the right to make sure THEIR website is up to their own standards.

smi2le   May 30th, 2009 12:09 am ET

A few years ago the Vatican was caught editing Wiki sites. Have they been banned also?

Dwight L. Stegall   May 30th, 2009 12:49 am ET

I am all for freedom of speech and freedom of expression like everyone here in the USA.

But you also have to look at Wikipedias side. It's their server and they can do whatever they want with it.

I suggest that the Church Of Scientology follow Wikipedia's rules or start their own version of Wikipedia where they can make up the rules.

Dwight Stegall
East Moline, Illinois USA

darko714   May 30th, 2009 12:52 am ET

This will enhance Wikipedia's credibility.

ocacia   May 30th, 2009 6:09 am ET

They need to monitor this across the board because as an editor of wikipedia I notice the same "gang edits" with hot topics like Israel and Palestine. How do you control it? It only takes less than 30 people to gang edit and force they POV, and many of the so-called admins are part of that group.

Joey Smythe   May 30th, 2009 6:29 am ET

Free speech for me but not for thee!

Segregating who and who cannot edit entries on the basis of popular opinion and/or pressure by groups is a destructive road to walk on.

At its core, Wikipedia is a compendium of opinions, NOT a collection of facts. In other words, IT IS an encyclopedia! Some posters here expressed views on the basis that an encyclopedia is a collection of cold, hard facts. They don't know the history of encyclopedias, or the etymology of the word.

Either let everyone edit Wikipedia, or no one. But selectivity is going to lead to elitism.

TJ   May 30th, 2009 7:20 am ET

The site should be used for scientific theories that hold ground. i.e. Gauss' Law, triple integration, and even controversial evolution. If I wanted to read opinions, I will read blogs or forums.

Ana Sarca   May 30th, 2009 7:28 am ET

I take Wiki stuff with a grain of salt because anyone can edit anything. Well, now we know of a couple of incidents where that isn't allowed; but on the whole, anyone with an interest or agenda can freely write whatever. Never cite it as a source without something else to back it up.

Socrates   May 30th, 2009 7:43 am ET

How disingenuous of Wikipedia. I will grant that Scientology is no science, and a fringe religion. But neither is Wikipedia a valid encyclopedia. To ban Scientologists–and not the rest of the millions of unqualified "wiksperts" to this fauxcyclopedia–is patently hypocritical. Wikipedia itself is a mega-cult of unqualified opiners contributing to a compendium of humbug. I never ever use it as an authoritative source on anything.

Sam the Man   May 30th, 2009 8:15 am ET

Wikipedia needs control and transparency is the best way to accomplish this. Have users registered and verified (like Ebay does with yes I admit intrusive methods) so that people vandalizing can be removed.

Martin   May 30th, 2009 8:25 am ET

Thumbs up for Wikipedia.

The new type of Web 2.0 media, like Wikipedia still have a long way to go before their operating rules will be "standardized", commonly accepted and understood. Thats because serving entire world has to be govern by different types of rules, comparing to any other "local" services. At the end of the day some type of "constitution" will cover the user rights and olbigations in Web 2.0 world as well as it does today real-life.

Anyway, openly declaring false information about ourselves is prohibited, or at least non-ethical in entire human society. I cannot see a reason why it should be allowed on Wikipedia. So I belive the act of Wikipedia is right. Same times it gives us urge to setup better rules for digital world, constitutions and lows to govern such issues transparently.


Carole Gold   May 30th, 2009 8:33 am ET

While everyone should have access to the free expression of thought through speech (it is the basis of the First Amendment) that does not translate into everyone having the right to "advertise" in venues where the goal is the accurate, not persuasive, dissemination of factual material. Wikipedia, as I understand it, is not a billboard..

Peter Martin   May 30th, 2009 8:37 am ET

No one should be blocled especially if the subject is about a person or group that is being blocked. Their entries should be so noted as the subjects by making them a certain color or putting their entries on a separate page.

Dan   May 30th, 2009 8:46 am ET

I hate the Church of Scientology, but I don't support this action by Wiki. Wikipedia has already become highly politicized (e.g. see animal rights or recent election articles for example), likely due to the fact that those who time to edit have no real lives and tend to be young. Activists also see Wikipedia as a way to propagate their politics. Those with real knowledge tend to write for sources that pay. Likewise, in the guise of NPOV, Wikipedia has become a postmodern experiment, where all knowledge is treated equally, and opinion/criticism becomes fact. Science is seen as just another mode of thought equal to hearsay and voodoo (see autism and other "medical-oriented" articles, for example). I won't use Wikipedia until all authors are forced to reveal their identities and affiliations. As I tell my children and students, Wikipedia is only valuable if you have the time to read the entire edit history associated with the article of interest, and a scholarly review is almost always better quality.

Randy Smith   May 30th, 2009 8:49 am ET

Wikipedia has so many incorrect articles I don't even know where to start. I stopped using it as a factual source long ago. And forcing attribution - to other ridiculous sites ["I saw it on the Internet. It must be true!"] - doesn't make something true. But people are free to believe what they want! As someone said above, 2 + 2 is and always will be 4 and the earth is and always will be round. People can challenge that all they want and only show their own ignorance.

But banning certain servers [I assume by IP address] does absolutely nothing to cure the Scientologist problem. The posters need only log on using a computer not connected to the Scientology servers. Like do it from home. Do it via dialin [Does anyone still support dialin?] Do it from a laptop at Starbucks.

jaycee   May 30th, 2009 9:51 am ET

I am no fan of the Church of Scientology but I cannot cheer the ban either. It will start as a ban on the CoS but be assured, YOU will be next.

Jenna   May 30th, 2009 9:55 am ET

I understand that students have gotten poor grades when using wikipedia as a source. Rarely correct in any of their information. More like a gossip mag.

Joe   May 30th, 2009 10:04 am ET

Wow – a comment I posted was held in moderation, then deleted. Was it because I was, in part, critical of Barack Obama when faced with the same situation? Without even the decency of an email or notification why?

I'm not an advocate of Scientology, but something's not right here:

“The edits coming out of Church of Scientology servers were of the sort that made their organization look better. Up to a point that’s justifiable, when it comes to correcting inaccuracies or removing poorly sourced negative information. There were times when they went beyond that and deleted well sourced information that was unflattering, and there were times when they insulted other editors in a manner that would reflect poorly upon any religion.”

When there were FACTS posted about President Obama, reliable, well sourced FACTS, that were "unflattering", Wikipedia removed them and refused to allow anyone to post anything that was not favorable of the President.

Why will they allow one history to be changed, but not another? Is this "fair and balanced" ?

Other Sully   May 30th, 2009 10:08 am ET

Way to go! Scientology is not is a cult. Just a drive down Ft Harrison past their headquarters in Clearwater and a look at all the scientology bots will convince even the most ardent doubter.

Wahlheiner   May 30th, 2009 10:15 am ET

"Couldn’t someone just start editing pages in a (for example only) Pro-Catholic way… and thereby get the Catholic Church banned? What if their goal was to get the Church banned all along?"

Hey BJ, yes, if this individual were making the edits via the church’s computers or servers. I recently read a similar article about edits coming from congressional servers to political articles. In my opinion it’s not about the content, as long as it’s documented but about the source of edits and the relationship to the article. In this cause the changes where coming through the church’s network.

EGR   May 30th, 2009 10:24 am ET

Big Kudos for Wiki..

it's an ENCYCLOPEDIA not a blog.. Religious fanatics can exert their freedom of speech and impassioned opinions to other equally popular venues. It is like changing the meaning of words in a Dictionary to accommodate a political or religious view! To edit facts to skew an article is actually an act of vandalism.

ed   May 30th, 2009 10:32 am ET

Wikipedia is a left wing nut case. When writers create examples they are always Pro Marxist. wiki states that they do not tolerate POV articles, but that is only if it is a Conservative POV. Liberal POVs are running rampant on the site. It is just another good idea taken over by Left Wingers for their own agenda.

M. T. Field   May 30th, 2009 10:33 am ET

Way to go, Wikipedia! So, when do you ban the Secularist cult?

ed   May 30th, 2009 10:34 am ET

Efrain...Surely you jest? hahahaha

Philip   May 30th, 2009 10:36 am ET

But Wikipedia bans negative comments about President Obama, even when they are accurate. so why doesn't Wikipedia follow its' own rules.

David   May 30th, 2009 10:36 am ET

Jeez, people, did it ever occur to you that you can be respectful of a religion (even if you think its stupid and even if you think its not a religion)? I thought we lived in a society that accepted people, even in "fringe" religions?

This sounds like a modern day Nazi Germany.

Wikipedia does what it thinks it needs to do. Whatever. But, the vitriol I see in these comments is shocking.

jerry   May 30th, 2009 10:46 am ET

I've found that most info from Wiki is correct, or at least as correct as the source it's taken from. There's textbooks in our school system that are less accurate than what's on their site. Scientology, on the other hand, is a cult started by a con to put money in his own pocket, and constantly looks for ways to make themselves look better then they are. Anyone who doesn't want their propaganda spread via their website or other means of communication has the right to refuse them. I long for the day that those loonys are seen by all for what they are.

Kat   May 30th, 2009 10:47 am ET

I'm no fan of Scientology, and I understand perfectly what Wikipedia has done, but I do hope that it doesn't turn into an opportunity for the proliferation of more poorly sourced unflattering information. The facts, in my mind, are unflattering enough without muddying the waters with childish BS.

That said, it figures that Scientology, collectively, would attempt to "babysit the internet" in the words of Jerry Holkins... A fool's mission because there's a lot of internet out there: controlling Wikipedia's content isn't going to accomplish much, for them or anyone else.

itsmetoo   May 30th, 2009 10:52 am ET

Anybody who thinks Wikipedia is a legitimate reference is nuts anyway.

Crisp   May 30th, 2009 10:54 am ET

Support Freedom of acceptable, committee approved speech!

Khadijah   May 30th, 2009 11:12 am ET

ISTM that the ultimate improvement to the WIki would be a function where a professional editorial review board could designate certain sentences or groups of sentences to be factual (fact-checked), and thus off limits for future edits.

Jeremy   May 30th, 2009 11:13 am ET

Wikipedia has rules, and those rules are meant to create good, fair, and accurate content. If a company has employees that violate the rules of a website in a way that's intentional, that company *should* be sanctioned by loss of prvileges.

Based on the article, this wasn't scientolgy members browsing from home. This was scientology members makiung the changes from official scientology computers (at the office, church, or whatever they call it).

As for the comment about Wikipedia being nothing more than a gossip mag, has that person ever actualy used wikipedia? I suppose if they visited articles about gossipy topics, like their favorite actor/actress, they might find gossip, but try look up information about a city, country, or a scientific topic – wikipedia blows away any other encyclopedia.

David Lewis   May 30th, 2009 11:14 am ET

Wikipedia is essentially an electronic encyclopedia. In order for it to serve its purpose it should contain accurate information. Religious books often contain beliefs and opinions, which should never be portrayed as fact.

I think it's okay to provided facts about a religion or to clearly state various opinions but the wikipedia is not a place for debates. Groups such as scientology have a habit of trying to push faith as fact.

Often we find thoery within scientific books which also could be considered a type of scientific faith. However a thoery is clearly indicated as unproven in scientific writings. The same care is NOT present in religious writings. There is the important difference and why I believe wiki did the right thing.

LetsBeLogical   May 30th, 2009 11:20 am ET

Response to Mr Vicious: Your ideas form your beliefs. It is illogical to pretend there is a big difference between ideas and beliefs. You said,
“I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should be malleable and progressive; working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth; new ideas can’t generate. Life becomes stagnant"

You imply that your point of view is superior. Isn't your point of view a belief ? Whoops, not supposed to have those.

mike   May 30th, 2009 11:21 am ET

way to go wiki! don't worry that CoS will try to destroy you!

tiredofit   May 30th, 2009 11:22 am ET

Good for Wiki !!!

These imaginations of superhuman beings should remain in comic books....

andy   May 30th, 2009 11:28 am ET

I would hate to think that there is arbitration committee that decides what is 'factual' ... No matter how repulsive information may be – who should be the judge what we see or don't see?

Should we only allow information to be shown that we agree with? Should we vote on truth? A majority of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein was actively involved in 911 – does that make them right?

judibea   May 30th, 2009 12:08 pm ET

Interesting discussion--our personal views of Scientology may cloud our decision here especially being that we all know that WIKIPEDIA is not the Encyclopedia Britannica--their discussion pages are interesting to read. How about letting them post in the "DISCUSSION" zone and then your "editor geeks" who ultimately decide WHAT gets posted click the UPDATE/PUBLISH button.

Disco   May 30th, 2009 12:11 pm ET

If you've followed wikipedia for a long time like i have, you'll know that these things have happened before. I'm positive that the ArbCom didn't take this decision lightly. The site has probably been subject to repeated abuses by Scientology. I'm glad they did this and it couldn't have happened to a nicer group of people :p

michael   May 30th, 2009 12:13 pm ET

Uh – it certainly seems strange that an organization would want to post information about itself on a web site designed for posting information. So no animal lovers post for PETA, no African Americans post about descrimination or Martin Luther King Jr. or gays post about hate crimes? How can you ban people who participate in Scientology from participating? Has anybody here compared the Obama and Bush 43 wiki pages? It looks like they were both written by Barack Obama. It will be fun to watch Joke-a-pedia back down (like Google) when China edits its own wiki page.

Stephen   May 30th, 2009 12:14 pm ET

I was banned in 2008 for putting a link to the Obama/Jerimia Wright article in the Obama main article. Just a link mind you – I did not actually add any content that was not already on Wikipedia. But apparently the Arbitration Committee were voting for Obama and did not want to see any negative information about him on his page.

Caesar in Atlanta   May 30th, 2009 12:15 pm ET

Well, although I do respect freedom of speech, removing facts and attempting to mislead the general public with their hidden agent to recruit for profit and lure innocent fools into their shady cult in their name of God...then I'm all for loosing their right if they abused it.

vivian   May 30th, 2009 12:30 pm ET

So the Church of Scientology can't scrub info but Obama can? Very interesting!!!

jellyfishcoolman   May 30th, 2009 12:37 pm ET

Wikipedia is right to insist on people following it's rules. In any case we cant allow only one view from Scientology to be heard. If they want to project the right info about themselves they should do so on their own website and not on wikipedia.

Dan Donche   May 30th, 2009 12:38 pm ET

It's not censorship because the site isn't about expressing your opinions. If you post false information, or info that is unverifiable, they have every right to delete it or ban you. If you keep deleting derogatory crap about yourself that IS verifiable and factual, yeah, ban you.

The only agenda it seems Wikipedia has is keeping their site free of false information, which is a daunting task. Does that mean enemies of Scientology can "freely" continue posting derogatory info? Only if it's factual, and by all means it should be allowed. Does that mean they should ban ALL churches from posting on wikipedia just because people disagree with their views? No, because THEN that would be censorship. As long as an organization posts verifiable info, it is within the policy.

Wikipedia has my respect.

History Guy   May 30th, 2009 12:45 pm ET

This isn't the first time. They also tracked and blocked systematic deletes by governments, corporations & lobbyists such as Prescott Bush's associations with Hitler and the alleged plot to overthrow FDR and install a fascist dictatorship in the US. All of which is part of Congressional Record but not taught in US schools.

david   May 30th, 2009 12:49 pm ET

wikipedia is not a place for every voice to be heard, it is a place where every one can contribute, but if what they are contributing is not 'well sourced information' and they are deleting other contributions then they are to be banned, it is a place to find relevant information on any topic. if you want to go to a place where any voice is heard go to unmoderated forums and imageboards not an online encyclopedia.

RB   May 30th, 2009 12:56 pm ET

Wikipedia should just post the link to the South Park Version of Scientology. Its as believable as what Scientology puts out and a whole lot funnier too....(see scenes where Tom Cruise wouldn't come out of Kyle's closet).

Tim   May 30th, 2009 1:09 pm ET

Not sure if its Wikipedia or its posters, but anything negative, even if sources are cited, about Obama is quickly removed, so I'm not sure if this is really any different.

Ben   May 30th, 2009 1:09 pm ET

First they banned Scientology from editing their page but I didn't care because I'm not a scientologist. Then they banned Catholics from editing their page but I didn't care because I'm not a catholic. (you know the rest)

Really, I don't care about Wikipedia period. Wikipedia is an information source for people who don't care about their information sources. Ban Wikipedia. I wouldn't miss it at all.

flowergal   May 30th, 2009 1:11 pm ET

me said: "Great!, So now when do we ban the Christian & the Muslim cults?
That time is fast approaching because there is a steady decline in religions all across the nation, even around the world. But, something that you might find interesting is that the God of the Bible "Jehovah" says in the book of Revelation that because of all the injustices committed in the name of religion & because "She" (religious organizations) has committed fornication with the Kings of the earth, then He (Jehovah God) will put it into the hearts of the nations to put an end to all religious organizations around the earth. So, Me, the time is coming when no religions will be allowed to exist.

JSA   May 30th, 2009 1:18 pm ET

As long as Obama's (pardon me – THE MESSIAH'S) site is locked, then Wikipedia has ABSOLUTELY NO CREDIBILITY!!!
By Wikipedia's OWN RULES of submission, credible sources include national news outlets/stories. When these are used/cited regarding his qualification to be POTUS, they were IMMEDIATELY redacted!

What hypocricy!!!!!

Clay   May 30th, 2009 1:25 pm ET

I am a scientologist and an avid wikipedia user and I know first hand that much of the data they have on scientology is totally inaccurate. I am aware of the “negative” data that they display and the majority of it is NOT “well-sourced”.

I can also do without the idiots spouting off about “cults” when they know nothing about scientology.

It is obvious that someone at wikipedia has an “agenda” they want to advance.

Scientology calls into question psychiatry and the drugging of children for instance. Wikipedia is slanted in favor of psychiatry. Perhaps this is at the root of all of this.

This move by wikipedia calls into question all of the content on their site.

squirrelmaster   May 30th, 2009 1:26 pm ET

"How disingenuous of Wikipedia. I will grant that Scientology is no science, and a fringe religion. But neither is Wikipedia a valid encyclopedia. To ban Scientologists–and not the rest of the millions of unqualified “wiksperts” to this fauxcyclopedia–is patently hypocritical. Wikipedia itself is a mega-cult of unqualified opiners contributing to a compendium of humbug. I never ever use it as an authoritative source on anything."

In addition to the fact that the Wiki doesn't actually /claim/ to be 100% factual, most people will cite more than one source for any proper writing.

It's not hypocritical when the rules of the site explicitly state certain guidelines for editing the information.

And to say that the site is full of unqualified "opiners" misses the entire basis of the site itself. These people don't sit around wondering how to describe a topic in their own words. Information on the site is cited from other sources.

A lot of the people posting here have NO IDEA how Wikipedia works. Pots and kettles, unqualified opiners.

Cyrus   May 30th, 2009 1:29 pm ET

This is laughable! Wikipedia allows the Left free rein to edit political entries, while restricting the Right, but won't allow Scientology to edit entries about themselves.

Gerry Shuller   May 30th, 2009 1:30 pm ET

The only possible good that may come out of this is that some may realize that Stinkipedia was never about objectivity (NPOV as they call it). The systemic bias is overwhelming and obvious. If you happen to have the same world view as the administrators, you can have your prejudices reinforced. If you seek the truth, go elsewhere.

gg   May 30th, 2009 1:42 pm ET

Scien-toology: from bogus auditing to bogus editing. The scam that keeps on giving.

Mauricio Villablanca   May 30th, 2009 1:50 pm ET

Wikipedia has become a cesspool of propaganda for left-wingers, atheists and "climate change" ecowackos. Theese hacks go from page to page whitewashing articles that deal with issues they cherish and demonizing those they don't.

Just check any pages related to abortion , Republicans and Democrats, religion, socialism, you name it. The one that tops the cake is, of course, Obama. read the embellished article they wrote about him and you will find no mention of his background (Rev. Wright, convicted scammer Resko or terrorist Bill Ayers).

It's as if Wikipedia staff got orders straight from the Democratic Party headquarters.

Mark   May 30th, 2009 1:54 pm ET

Still I think WIKI is a far more reliable source of info than COS by a mile

Al   May 30th, 2009 2:38 pm ET

If the goal is to show only objective information and not believes or comments on others’ believes, than it is OK, but this ban should stand for ALL RELIGIONS AND SECTS, or Wikipedia will face discrimination lawsuits!
But how can we identify all the servers of religious people and ban them? We should let only non-religious people edit Wikipedia entries – even about religions – as for them all religions and sects are the same and objectivity is guaranteed!

Jim   May 30th, 2009 2:42 pm ET

Wikipedia is not an authoritative source on any topic. Its practically worthless as a research tool. In order to have an authoritative source you need an authority. The open editing thing is a joke.

GregorMandelbaum   May 30th, 2009 2:43 pm ET

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Scientologist. I don't know any Scientologists personally, nor am I a fan of any of celebrity Scientologists. In fact I believe their belief system is nonsensical and that they are a business masquerading as a church.

That said:

No matter what their official position, WIKIPEDIA is a major source of disinformation and propaganda when you consider most any topic there which has any political or religious overtones. I got into this myself when I corrected some of the more blatant propaganda and disinformation on one topic. No matter how accurate and well sourced my edits, they were deleted immediately. I've given up on WIKIPEDIA as they only pay lip service to their commitment to complete honesty and accuracy. Besides, how can you ensure the bias of the controlling editor does not replace the bias of the person writing the article in the first place? Avoid bias in the first place? GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!

Aleister Wilson   May 30th, 2009 2:44 pm ET

Now how about the Catholics? When they join forces you should see the propaganda outflow!

Dakota Kid   May 30th, 2009 2:45 pm ET

More restrictions=less freedom
A cult is a small scale religion.
A religion is a large scale cult.
Use a steamroller to ban what you disagree with today.
Someone will use it against you to ban what you believe tomorrow.

My2Cents   May 30th, 2009 2:54 pm ET

Smi2le: You work for Wikipedia? Where to you get your facts about the Vatican. Just like Wikipedia, we must take all comments here for what they are worth. Provide proof with your comments and you will be taken seriously.

Milo   May 30th, 2009 3:05 pm ET

I don't see what the big deal is about Scientology. I mean....I would pay millions as well to be able to move objects with my mind and prevent car accidents.

Scientology = Super Powers!!!

I am down for that!

marcozna   May 30th, 2009 3:14 pm ET

It's a crap solution to the inevitable problem of Wikipedia. It has become so big and important in the eyes of Google that it was bound to go out of control.
I guess they will need to hire teams of experts that will need to review and filter the articles that are submitted.
Advantage is it can contain articles on everything from anywhere on the planet. Disadvantage is if one doesn't agree with something one can start slamming it no end.
So they will need to hire real editors and that will be the end of a free encyclopedia... and hopefully it doesn't start a new line of slanted media.

jaranth   May 30th, 2009 3:25 pm ET

I'd ordinarily find the overt banning of a group on Wikipedia suspect, if it were any other organization besides the Church of Scientology. They are well known for their aggressive behavior towards those that make even the simplest honest inquiries. Their secretive behavior, suspicious history, and predisposition towards suing people makes them seem pushy at best and dangerous at worst.

THUMBS UP to those people at Wikipedia!

John Gusty   May 30th, 2009 3:28 pm ET

I think the last two sentences of the article summed it up best:

"Should Wikipedia actively suppress self-serving, misleading or inaccurate information? Or does every voice deserve to be heard?"

I mean seriously... "deserving" to be heard is subjective. And it's seperate from "being allowed" to voice one's opinion. If Wikipedia is looking to be a creditible and structured source of information at all... they simply can not allow ANY yahoo to advance their own agenda based on emotion and passion.

Stick to the facts man. And if the facts don't align with one's agenda... then I'd suggest some re-evaluation of ones agenda and adjust like a grown-up big boy or girl.

I mean come on Scientologists... volacanoes, thetans and Xenu are cool and all. But so are Chewbacca and Darth Maul.

idaho beef   May 30th, 2009 3:29 pm ET

not everything on the internet should be trusted or given approval. wikipedia did the right thing. scientology is dangerous to people.

Thamios   May 30th, 2009 3:39 pm ET

CoS shouldn't be banned from Wikipedia. They should be banned from the US, just as they are in Germany (It is ILLEGAL to practice Scientology in Germany. You can be arrested for it.)

People may disagree with my views, but I've never liked them. I've had friends that have been taken in, and I haven't seen them in years. They broke contact with me after I told them that I refused to join into their cult. I'm just not comfortable with tossing a few hundred bucks to them every few weeks so I can learn about Xenu and all that. I don't want to start a flame war, so if you want to know more, just google Xenu.

Vercingetorix   May 30th, 2009 3:44 pm ET

The necessity for free speech is axiomatic.
In the competition of ideas, truth has a way of winning in the end.

Wikipedia would be much better if its czars dropped their leftist open (as long as we like what you write) format to an expert review system, similar to the peer review process in scientific publication.

ComputerGuy [Wikipedia User]   May 30th, 2009 3:54 pm ET

I am all in favor of this decision. I am an atheist and very religious tolerant, but I can't stand to see a benificial work in progress, in this case, Wikipedia, being destroyed through religious virtues.

gDavid   May 30th, 2009 4:08 pm ET

My confidence in Wiki just went up several notches.

Jacked   May 30th, 2009 4:15 pm ET

I'm glad I scanned the first few comments, as DWD (4th comment from the top) stated the same points I was going to make, and stated them better than I would have:
May 29th, 2009 4:14 pm ET

First, your final questions strike me as pretty illogical. Wikipedia is supposed to be an encyclopedia of knowledge, not a compendium of opinions. There’s a difference between restrcting freedom of speech and insisting that contributions are factual. If the Church of Scientology is attempting to shape public opinion using a platform intended for the sharing of knowledge, then their attempts to do so should be blocked. They are free to continue to shape the truth to suit themselves using more malleable channels.

Second, the suggestion that this decision does damage to the Web 2.0 vision is equally absurd. Users ARE allowed to freely contribute, but human beings aren’t always (often?) so altruistic as to have the dissemination of knowledge as their goal for contributing, so rules must be inplace to govern the quality of information supplied. I applaud Wikipedia’s decision. I would also expect to be banned if I intentionally and persistently contributed misleading, uncited, unverifiable claims as though they were facts. The problem is not policy here, it’s the human predilection for dishonesty and distortion of objective facts in order to promote a specific agenda.

All that said, the Wikipedia folks are going to have a tough time ensuring that this kind of thing doesn’t keep having, and that’s the real shame.

RockstarRaccoon   May 30th, 2009 4:43 pm ET

I think it's wrong to stop anyone who's contributing accurate and well cited information, but that's not what they were supposedly doing here, as the article says, they were actively distorting info, most importantly by removing well cited sources and insulting people for their edits. This reminds me a bit of the thing that goes between the pro and anti Israel activists, where one will say something, and the other will claim that it is "faked", and then they will edit wikipedia where they will remove or overwrite each others edits to turn an article to their side of the story.
You know what's a good question though: how does wikipedia know where these edits and users come from? Are they all just coming from the church's headquarters?

Just Tex   May 30th, 2009 4:53 pm ET

Wes Finley-Price wrote: "Wikipedia officially prohibits use of the encyclopedia to advance personal agendas – such as advocacy or propaganda and philosophical, ideological or religious dispute"

That policy sure sounds good, but in reality, Wikipedia is no better than a Left leaning Blog.

To prove my point, just TRY to "edit" anything on Wikipedia regarding "Global Warming", "Climate Change", "Al Gore" or any of dozens of related topics, & you'll find very quickly, that a small band of powerful volunteer Official Wikipedia "Editors", will change your post back to their original pro-alarmist propaganda message, most often within a very few minutes. Some even do so automatically, by a software program built into the page servers.

Also, nearly across the board, you'll find the same Left leaning slant is true, of each & every issue that in any way supports Left leaning politics. And anything that tends to support Right leaning politics, is most often "edited" back to the original propaganda message, just as swiftly, in support of a Left leaning bent.

I stopped using Wikipedia when I discovered these things to be true. And I wont use it until the Leftist in control of the site are brought under control.

tango   May 30th, 2009 4:56 pm ET

Not much love for Scientology here. That's fine, I don't care much for it either, but the question is about banning one organization that some folks dislike. It's not always clear what is and isn't a "fact." Even to the extent that most would agree that something is factual, it can still be spun a particular way. I don't know the specific material at issue, but there was clearly a difference of opinion about it. This isn't the first time the Wiki folks have chosen sides on some issue. That seems contrary to the basic philosophy behind the site. If there's going to be a bias against one religion (call it a cult if you want), all religions, or anything else, then Wiki needs to admit it and stop trying to portray itself as the people's encyclopedia.

Nick Stuart   May 30th, 2009 4:58 pm ET

On the web every voice is heard. Scientology has a website. Scientoligists can post blogs, and blog comments. They're not being suppressed.

Wikipedia, however, is not under an obligation to let anyone and everyone post whatever they want, and edit the postings of eveyone else. That wouldn't be utopia, it would be anarchy.

Beverly   May 30th, 2009 5:09 pm ET

I want to know why Wikipedia won't allow editing of Global Warming.

Jason   May 30th, 2009 5:27 pm ET

Institute peer review. Without it, you will always wonder if what you read is garbage or truth. Free flow of "comments" is not the same thing as the free flow of "information". Garbage in garbage out. Institute peer review.


Goth VanHellsing   May 30th, 2009 5:30 pm ET

Today what you feel is a cault tomorrow it will be your Church.

Joshua Bons   May 30th, 2009 5:31 pm ET

Does no one see the hypocrisy here? The founder of Wikipedia on a USA commercial spot for their interesting people/characters of the year (or whatever) said he created wikipedia so that *everyone* could contribute so that "rich white people" would stop dictating what appeared in encyclopedias. That's fine and good... but I suspect he is rich, and I know he's white... and I suspect the board is made up of mostly "rich white people" who are now apparently dictating who can post what on their site? So what now exactly is the difference between wikipedia and a regular encyclopedia? I mean, aside from the potential of finding significantly more inaccuracies...

They have the right to do what they're doing obviously, but it doesn't sound like they're practicing what they preach. I think anyone with a brain who reads wikipedia knows the information is not reliable unless you can source it elsewhere and I know the church of scientology isn't the only organization doing stuff like that, as stupid as it may be... but with that said Wikipedia can't demand that its users remain neutral and not promote agendas when in fact Wikipedia is promoting agendas as some other users have mentioned in the area of politics among others. It sounds like it's just turning into a platform "rich white people" can use to manipulate others... of course I could be wrong, maybe it's "rich red/brown/yellow/black/white people" who are doing the manipulating... same result in the end.

Andrew   May 30th, 2009 5:55 pm ET

Why not just create a forum connected to wiki so people can express their opinions about how something is wrong before they go and destroy researched data.

eddie willers   May 30th, 2009 5:59 pm ET

next, they came for the Atheists....

austinwyss   May 30th, 2009 6:13 pm ET

Equality is something we all like to believe in, but the sad fact is that some voices will always hurt others. If a claim is made on Wikipedia that is substantiated with undeniable proof, it should be protected from those who feel slighted by it.

Peter C.   May 30th, 2009 6:20 pm ET

Behind closed doors with its vulnerable newbie followers, the Church of Scientology uses deception and strong-arm tactics to rip huge sums of money from these people. Church directors go to great lengths publicly to create a goody-goody image and to deny any dark side.

Try this analogy. Imagine a university where the bursar calls a woman freshman from class and demands the next three years of tuition before she’ll be allowed back to class. If she files a complaint, her academic record will be smeared (or worse). If the college-town newspaper investigates the story, the reporter will be intimidated in the strangest of ways.

Any organization built on such operating principles would stop at nothing to manipulate its image in the press and on the Internet. Hats off to Wikipedia for detecting the manipulation and handling it.

Patric   May 30th, 2009 6:27 pm ET

It would be unethical for wikipedia to not include information just because it's unflattering to the track record of an institution. It would also be unethical for them to allow propaganda of any kind. The real, whole truth is the only kind worth being told and heard. Way to go, Wikipedia. Scientologists, grow up.

John Doe   May 30th, 2009 6:36 pm ET

If the goal is to sensor those who would use every means possible to advance their distorted view of reality, then Scientology is the least of your worries. Start with the DEA, Department of Homeland Security and a few other factions of the (now ubiquitous) Military Industrial Complex. After all, you don't really think the Scientologists came up with this idea just now on their own, do you?

We could really use some of that transparency and accountability that Obama's been promising right about now, and it seems to me like the Wikipedia platform might be instrumental in making that happen..

Anon   May 30th, 2009 6:59 pm ET

On the article it says that this decision may affect the utopian goal of Web 2.0, well as far as I can see Web 2.0 is a vision whereby the freedom of information is either censored or it is banned, as YouTube have clearly shown in many cases.

What is CNN trying to imply by this? What exactly is Utopian? Surely having a Utopian internet would mean that freedom is at its core, not censorship and banning.

Martin   May 30th, 2009 7:10 pm ET

That ArbCom took an absurd amount of time – 6 months. It originally involved less than ten people, but the ArbCom admins decided to add almost every editor who ever was involved in the scientology articles during the fifth month, then topic banned all of them. The corporate IP address ban was justified, but not the blanket topic bans.
Wikipedia is not about fact, it is about verifiability to other references. Unfortunately, the administrators on Wikipedia have elected each other into a fascist clique. They have their own cult that has declared war against the scientology cult.

.....   May 30th, 2009 7:41 pm ET

I love how people who disagree with any organization's stances are yelling and screaming "bias! bias! don't listen!". One easy solution to this problem is to stop making articles based off of religion.

Luis   May 30th, 2009 7:49 pm ET

Excellent, way to Scientology is not a religion.

Way to Wiki, keep it up.

Scott   May 30th, 2009 7:50 pm ET

About time a "information source" has enough guts to stand up for itself instead of being "politically correct." Way to go Wikipedia.

Martin   June 1st, 2009 2:52 pm ET

Wikipedia has the right to ban who they want, they are a private organization too.

But anyone should be able to opt-out of the wikipedia. Then voila, it's a fair game.

Anything else is like a little trap isn't it. "You must be here, but you may not say anything to your defense"

Wikipedia is a great idea, but I guess there is a reason why the function of Scholars was invented and is well paid. An encyclopedia will never work as an anarchy.

Anonapotamous   June 2nd, 2009 5:44 pm ET

For those who are concerned that Wiki will end up banning sites that seemingly have false alterations:

They can see "who" is altering the content. They saw lots of computers within the Scientology's domain's that were altering content.

"Can" they ban sites because of this? Yes. "Should" they? Depends.

Chris   June 3rd, 2009 6:42 am ET

I am not so familiar with Wikipedias Content Management methods. I think it could be possible to have two kinds of Content Authors. One that is public following the chaotic rules of Web 2.0 and one that is cleary written by the Object of the Content.

In this case they could mark Content that is directly from the Scientologists, and allow the other more self regulating content to grow and change. This would enable the Scientologist to manage the content they see as it is – but clearly stating it is from them. And make an interesting read when three paragraphs later a seperat submission does a 180 on the content.

Tina Marie   June 14th, 2009 12:09 pm ET

I think it's silly that anyone would hold anything Wikipedia has in it as reliable information. It's basically like reading a book of what a bunch of 'sources' views are about something. I've never found Wikipedia to be very helpful, as I can't be certain as to the reliability of the content (you've got haters of parties claiming things simply because they hate – not because they actually know anything about what they're ranting about. Not once did I read information a person who opposed say they did because they checked it out and was wronged by the beliefs of the whole group, not an individual). There are some Christians who are really horrible people and claim they're righteous Christians and commit their atrocities 'in the name of God'. Too, you can't take one person's experiences from another who represents a group as "THE GROUP'S VIEWS AND ACTIONS." I don't really care, but it seems if there's s/t negative being said an entry, one should go to the site of who the negativity is about and discover for oneself and make his own decision. That and realize, you're kinda wasting your time if you're gonna go to Wiki for any correct data – you have, as this example gives a lot of bias and stupidity. The web offers so much – 1 source which is a collection of individual viewpoints is not a "source" of anything. Finally, as a person who lost her mom to 6 psychotropics, 3 times a day, as ordered by her Psychiatric DOCTOR, I'm glad somebody (the scientologists) are out there fighting THAT multi-trillion dollar fight. Having the g'honas to stand up to those deep pockets and educate people on the harmful effects of putting your life in THEIR hands. I work at a drug detox center for methadone and Anti-psychotics and these people had NO idea what they were getting into – their response is all the same – I just did what my Dr. told me – I had NO idea that I could become addicted and be in a worse condition than I was when I went to them for HELP! I say, beware of the money-hungry Doctors with THEIR secret agendas!

Lobo   June 27th, 2009 5:15 pm ET

Scientology dislikes those who speak in an open and civil manner about their activities, and this is proven on a historical as well as daily basis. Even those who speak about their organization on neutral, unbiased grounds are considered enemies of the organization. Altering Wiki definitions of Scientology and Scientology related activities comes to no surprise given their agenda and lack of truthfulness on issues of their organization, which have been proven on multiple occasions.

Marc Perkel   January 30th, 2010 1:10 pm ET

Wikipedia is sort of cult like itself. They are in the process of trying to ban the Church of Reality as well.

Mary   May 7th, 2010 6:30 am ET

I absolutely support Wikipedia in banning Scientology for the reasons stated in your article. High five!

escort old   August 31st, 2010 8:35 pm ET

Rather interesting place you've got here. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. I would like to read more on that blog soon.

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Davud Salter   December 17th, 2010 8:27 am ET

Religions survive and prosper by circulating mis-information, or creating a dispute regarding a notion that is extremely unlikely to be true, but which in reality cannot be proved either way. Few people have been into outer-space and seen that the Earth is a sphere, yet you would be considered mad to claim that it might be flat. The theory that the Earth is a sphere is probably supported by less evidence than the theory of evolution – yet people with poor knowledge of how the term "theory" is used think that is means the subject is up for dispute. So I think that ALL "information" regarding ANY religion should be omitted from Wikipedia – which is after-all a site for knowledge NOT conjecture. Let's get our heads out of the middle ages please!

David Salter   December 17th, 2010 11:14 am ET

Many people on here are ranting on about "free speech" – what has that got to do with it? Wikipedia is supposed to be about objective, accurate information. Free speech just allows every crazy, half-wit to air their mis-conceived, unsupported, SUBJECTIVE notions. Notions which may seem to be widely held, but which are possibly the result of absorbing too much tv fantasyland rubbish.

I say – Good one Wikipedia! Bring on more censorship. "Freedom of speech" sounds like a nice idea when you are young and naive – but it confuses otherwise settled arguments, and so doesn't allow truth to prosper. And if you consider truth (in the sense of "most likely to be true") to be important (religious people can nervously stare at their feet at this point) then accurate sensorship, maybe in the form of proportional demographic representaion, has to be the answer. The TV and media do create a problem for human knowledge though, because it can make rather stupid ideas seem as though they are widely held. Where one person can influence the minds of millions of non-thinking, passive absorbers. Who have little real knowledge of anything in the real word, and who listen to the opinions of TV celebrities as though they are some kind of authority on physics, biology, cosmology, or whatever.

Jane   December 18th, 2010 1:16 am ET

I think this needs to be done across the board for all "religions". Let the religions give a blurb about their religion without claims to truth, but religious speculation or conjecture is not "knowledge". What is muddying the waters is the recent reframing that argues we have different ways of "knowing", and that folklore and anecdotes (which lack validity and reliability) are equal to scientific theory-building (which they are not). People are confusing doctrine with knowledge, primarily because of a group of people recently releasing a meme to spread doctrine.

Jane   December 18th, 2010 1:21 am ET

This doesn't just happen on religious topics, by the way. I've seen political stuff in entries left untouched which is obviously far left or far right leaning. But I know better than to look to Wikipedia for accuracy, since I know it's going to be biased. They are making an attempt to improve it, but it's just too big to catch all instances. And all people are biased. Buyer beware.

Dave   December 20th, 2010 11:23 pm ET

So this brings us to the question, just what are the facts about Scientology and who gets to decide what is true? One of the kids who leaves senseless hate mail in this column? It is obvious most of the comments are left by those who are heavily biased. Are you one of them? What is the truth about Scientology and who gets to decide?

Jane   December 21st, 2010 1:30 am ET

Dave–you nailed it. Each belief system has its core tenets, and outsiders see what the media presents, which generally focuses on sensationalizing the negative stories of those who had a bad experience, while giving some religions a pass, based on the native culture of the reporter. I have worked with "recovering" Catholics, Mormons, and evangelicals (they all have a place on Google groups and BeliefNet!), and I've personally been treated at a religiously affiliated hospital that operates on tithes from church members to some extent.

The fact is, there have been instances of people in many faiths committing atrocities. I note that the anti-Scientology material points repeatedly to a few instances of misbehavior by leaders or members, ignoring the hundreds or thousands committed by those of other "faiths" over time.

Another problem lies in sects of a religion that break off so they are no longer affiliated. Think of Baptists and Catholics, for example. Both claim to be categorized as "Christian", and yet there are sects that ordain women and sects that deny women access to the pulpit or even any situation teaching men. With Scientology there are also those who broke off, and use some of the practices without the belief system of the mother church.

Perhaps creating a way for the religion itself to do a short "what we are" description within a classification, so they can describe themselves with some caveats (can't say anyone who disagrees will go to a hot place, for example or that they have the only true path to X). All of them claim some specific element of belief that sets them above the rest (or at least empowers their leaders to make claims to that effect). It should be more encyclopedic than proselytizing. And maybe they should each have to pay some reasonable sum to wikipedia for that privilege to cover costs–otherwise people get to change what they write!

Maybe people could be directed to BeliefNet or Google or Amazon forums (or something similar) for discussions of what they choose to put in their encyclopedic entry! I hate to see wikipedia becoming so standardized, but everything new always eventually does.

Bob Calder   December 21st, 2010 9:25 am ET

Dave and Jane, No, it doesn't bring us to the point of begging authority. There is no evidence that God exists, not is it even remotely true that Scientology is even a church or that Scientologists worship anything save aliens from one of the worst sci-fi stories of all time.

The article is about Wikipedia, a notoriously open-minded lot that have been pushed to ban posters from the corporate Scientology offices because of their organized trolling.

As to why young people get involved in bashing Scientology, it is a matter of getting their skeptical orientation. Scientology is one of the biggest targets around when you are looking for "stupidity on parade." So young critical thinkers start on the obvious and later move on to the less obvious like anti-vaccination FUD or global warming denial. CNN is not the place to argue whether evidence produced by former Scientologists by the bucketful is valid. If you are interested in it, google operation clambake and spend YOUR time trudging into the federal court system to read transcripts. This is an old story and you are late to the party.

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Jack Scarry   April 30th, 2012 7:25 pm ET

Hurray for wiki for stopping the scientology manipulation of the facts and other breaches of civilised conduct.
Germany banned the "church" and so should the whole world shun them for spreading phony baloney about the basis and foundations of their "religion."

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Thank you, thank you, thank you............................... Would that the USA could ban them as germany did. They are really nothing but a money and power grubbing cult all built on a grab bag of lies made up by L.Ron Hubbard to win a bet and get out of paying taxes.


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