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The Media The Internet

Wikipedia Bans Church of Scientology 665

El Reg writes "Showing a new-found resolve to crack down on self-serving edits, Wikipedia has banned contributions from all IP addresses owned or operated by the Church of Scientology. According to Wikipedia administrators, this marks the first time such a high-profile organization has been banished for allegedly pushing its own agenda on the 'free encyclopedia anyone can edit.'"
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Wikipedia Bans Church of Scientology

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  • The Irony (Score:5, Funny)

    by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Thursday May 28, 2009 @08:49PM (#28133507)

    Does this mean that Scientology now has to do their edits Anonymously?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:01PM (#28133613)

      Our E-Meter detects more money in your pocket.

      • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:03PM (#28133637)
        Now the Scientologists will just edit it from their homes.
        • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:53PM (#28134045)
          Like the Congressmen do now.
        • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by 644bd346996 ( 1012333 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:25PM (#28134323)

          Then it will be possible to identify the IP addresses of devout Scientologists based on the edit patterns. Not something they would want to do if they were internet-smart.

        • Re:So what? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by DriedClexler ( 814907 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:09PM (#28134585)

          Hah! Joke's on them! They try to make sure their members are living in Scientology-owned compoundes and so have no separate residence which makes it harder to leave or be persuaded by others!

          Bout time that policy came back and bit them in the ass, eh? Not that they'll stop editing Wikipedia, it'll just be more inconvenient.

          Btw, is there going to be a big asterisk at the slogan now? "Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia anyone* can edit. *not including the Church of Scientology"

          • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Nathrael ( 1251426 ) <nathraelthe42nd@gmail . c om> on Friday May 29, 2009 @01:55AM (#28135503)
            "Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia anyone* can edit. *not including people who constantly make disruptive edits and keep breaking the established rules". What the Co$ was doing wasn't exercising their right to free speech, they were vandalizing a website with spreading lies. Free speech means you can lie in your own mediums and when talking to people, but does not include the right to lie in a medium you do not own, because there, you have to operate within the rules that apply to everybody.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:50PM (#28134011)
      We are the Church of Scientology. We are the New Anonymous.
    • Re:The Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Brandybuck ( 704397 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:58PM (#28134085) Homepage Journal

      No, it means they have to use other IP addresses. It's stupid of Wikipedia to think this stops anything.

      • Re:The Irony (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:36PM (#28134743) Homepage Journal

        Having read the article, the Wikipedia has identified sites that robotically edit the wiki pages to suit the Scientologist's agenda. Yes, of course those people responsible can find proxies and new addresses to edit from. But, if there are 5, 10, or 50 people with multiple accounts who sit all day watching for edits that they don't like, they will become apparent as their bot-like behaviour shifts to new IP's. And, they can be shut down again, and again, ad nauseum.

        I don't think the Wikipedia intends to put a ban on all edits that might favor this "church", just to stop the corporate style attack on the pages. If I'm wrong, and they really intend to ban all edits favoring the "church", well - more power to them. It will cost them a lot more than a few banned IP's. They better get some help from Anonymous or 4chan, or someone like them that is willing to sabatoge Scientology machines and networks.

      • Re:The Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Friday May 29, 2009 @12:13AM (#28134995) Homepage

        No, it means they have to use other IP addresses. It's stupid of Wikipedia to think this stops anything.

        Real-world interaction systems don't need to be perfect, they just need to discourage or encourage certain behaviors.

        This makes for one more step that members of the Church of Scientology have to make before they can edit. I'd guess that would cut down the edits that would need to be rolled back by half, which would be a sizeable improvement for any organization.

        Further, this sends the clear and documented message that any editor which finds CoS propaganda should just go ahead and revert the change. And it is arguable, but if Scientology is banned from editing Wikipedia, Wikimedia might have a stronger court case that Scientology is tresspassing on their servers. This could be important if Wikimedia is ever sued by Scientologists.

        • Re:The Irony (Score:5, Interesting)

          by neomunk ( 913773 ) on Friday May 29, 2009 @01:34AM (#28135413)

          Wikimedia might have a stronger court case that Scientology is tresspassing on their servers.

          That's what I was thinking too. Doesn't the law in the U.S. read such that attempting to bypass ANY security in place on a computer system, no matter how weak, is a crime? If Wikimedia could show that the same edit pattern was being done by the same computers (or possibly even users, I don't know) by proxying around the blacklist, wouldn't that be proof of an attempt at security circumvention?

    • by dword ( 735428 ) on Friday May 29, 2009 @12:58AM (#28135283)

      We should do the same and ban them from Slashdot, forcing them to post under the shameful name "Anonymous Coward". That'll teach them!

  • Fine by me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zappa86 ( 1288842 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @08:54PM (#28133555)
    It still is the "free encyclopedia anyone can edit," nothing has changed. You miss the point of "free" and "open" it doesnt mean that everything one puts will stay there. People make mistakes, people distort the truth, and people Lie. Others, have to correct these errors. If one person "cries wolf" a lot, you're simply not going to listen to them. This is all that it is. If someone had a history of not telling the truth, why would you trust them?
    • Re:Fine by me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lindseyp ( 988332 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:03PM (#28133635)

      No, but all this does is cracks down on "official" astroturfing. We all know that xenu's followers will simply do their edits from home, from now on.

      This sort of thing cannot be contained if the information is publically editable. I just hope this doesn't mark the beginning of the end for Wikipedia.

      • Re:Fine by me (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:22PM (#28133753) Homepage

        This sort of thing cannot be contained if the information is publically editable. I just hope this doesn't mark the beginning of the end for Wikipedia.

        If this was the end, wikipedia has had the fat lady singing since the beginning. There's way too much useful information nobody bothers getting into an edit war about to be killed off by these sorts of things. If I didn't read about them on slashdot, I'd barely know they were there but I guess that's because I already know where to expect them.

  • About Fucking Time (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @08:55PM (#28133573)

    The Church of Scientology has a long history of censorship and general Internet fuckery.

    http://www.factnet.org/Scientology/censorware.html [factnet.org]

    Two things:

    1. Wikipedia should never lift the ban.
    2. Jimbo should watch his back; Scientology *DOES NOT* play nice when it doesn't get what it wants.

    • by Mike Buddha ( 10734 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:27PM (#28133803)

      Yeah, look what they did to that Shamwow dude.

    • by dgcaste ( 1230640 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:30PM (#28133829)
      No it doesn't.

      My brother in law is a practicing Scientologist, and he works at the "Church" in San Diego.

      He's explained to me time and time again that the church's position is "if you're not with us, you're against us", and that they defend their territory without impunity. Even perceived threats are great game.

      When I ask him, "how can you trust an institution that is so legally violent? if it wanted to be judged by its merits, it shouldn't be litigating the hell out of everyone that stands in its way!", he responds "our opponents deserve litigation because they intend to suppress us". It is quite frustrating to have these conversations with him.

      Even more interestingly is that inter-church issues are not taken to court, in fact, to take an internal quarrel to court is grounds from a church ban. They have their own "ethics committees" that see such cases, but they generally follow their own laws and not those of the locale they're in.

      So I asked him, "if it's a matter of a constitutional issue, why wouldn't you take it up to the Supreme Court?" and his reply is "we don't trust or expect the legal system to understand how we do things."

      I'm quite sure he didn't see the double standard in his views - litigation is good, when it's convenient for the church to litigate.
      • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:45PM (#28133975)

        The part about how they treat the outside is definitely evil, although primarily evil insofar as they have a lot of money and intend on doing harm.

        The rest doesn't seem at all like a double standard or inherently malevolent. We're all free to get along and settle our differences outside of court. The courts inherently exist only for the cases when no agreement can be reached, but action is required. Definitely it's a huge drain on society to have people dragging one another in there for every trivial piece of bullshit infighting that may occur. Get along, as much as possible.

        I don't especially want to take my sister to court because she didn't pay me that $100 back that I loaned her in high school. Nor is there a double standard if I should take my phone company to court if they refuse to reimburse me for making a mistake on my bill. I might be able to agree with my sister, or decide that it's not worth the family hostility, but the phone company is (at best) nobody to me.

      • by Shadow of Eternity ( 795165 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:45PM (#28133981)

        Legally violent? They're not above assassination attempts and framejobs for outsiders and raping and murdering insiders.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:50PM (#28134021)

      2. Jimbo should watch his back; Scientology *DOES NOT* play nice when it doesn't get what it wants.

      Simple solution to this. Any religion that says you can ignore the law may do so, but must be subject to it's own proclamations. It seems to me that if their own policies were applied to them, they wouldn't have a right to due process, nor would their "enemies" be bound by the rule of law. Good luck defending yourselves and practicing your religion without the law.

      I almost never post anonymously but I need a bunch of religious zealot nutjobs with no moral compass harassing me like I need a terminal disease.

  • Why!? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nrbelex ( 917694 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @08:56PM (#28133579) Homepage
    Hmmm... but according to my research [wikipedia.org], it's just a harmless religion based on love and understanding of others. Why would Wikipedia ban such a group?
  • by linzeal ( 197905 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @08:57PM (#28133589) Homepage Journal
    CoS has abused Wikipedia since almost its inception and have been a thorn in the side of the moderators for dozens of articles, but this is not going to stop them until you get a coourt to prohibit them from using the site. CoS specializes in umbrella fpr tax shelters and all sort of even more nefarious things and I bet right now they have a fresh batch of IP address just waiting for this story to die down so they can continue to suppress knowledge by outright censorship and the promulgation from the top to continue their intelligence operations based on their own special brand of disnfo, w extra crazy sauce, threats of lawsuits and calls to physical violence.
  • xenu (Score:5, Funny)

    by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:01PM (#28133623)
    watch your back jimbo, interplanitary DC9's coming your way
  • by MacColossus ( 932054 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:05PM (#28133645) Journal
    Their Thetans made them do it. :-)
  • by ZosX ( 517789 ) <<zosxavius> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:07PM (#28133659) Homepage

    no criminal organization should be allowed to hide under the thin veil of religion

    if they offer therapy to people for a fee they need to adhere to state guidelines and laws concerning licencing.

    "1 Scientology has attempted to operate its Narconon drug
    "therapy" program outside of required State licensing or
    inspection on a leased "independently sovereign" Indian
    reservation outside of Newkirk Oaklahoma. Just this month, after
    extensive and costly litigation the state goverment of Oaklahoma
    ordered this facility closed."

    http://skull.piratehaven.org/~atman/factnet/scnbond2.txt [piratehaven.org]

    Its amazing how many people have ended up 6-feet under after becoming a member of scientology:

    http://www.badcult.info/watd/ [badcult.info]

  • Good :) (Score:5, Funny)

    by Christmas ( 1294060 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:11PM (#28133687)

    They were just way too pushy. OMG and I don't even know how they call themselves a church. I'm Catholic and we just go about our own business and don't try to convert anyone or make people believe what we believe.

  • Tor? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by viyh ( 620825 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:12PM (#28133695) Homepage
    This will only cause them to start using something like Tor or any other method of obscuring their IP. I don't see how an IP ban will be that effective. It only serves to make it much more difficult to prevent them from doing this in the future since the Wikipedia folks could at least know when it was them before due to the originating IP block. Now it will just be random IPs and much more difficult to keep a handle on. It's forcing them to be smarter. Just what we need, knowledgeable religious wingnuts who worship aliens.
  • by acb ( 2797 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:13PM (#28133699) Homepage

    Didn't the Church of Scientology own (a big stake in) earthlink.net some years ago? Is this still the case? If so, does this mean that this ISP's users will be banned from editing Wikipedia?

  • by youn ( 1516637 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:19PM (#28133737) Homepage

    how long before they sue wikipedia because they say what they"re doing is unfair :)

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:29PM (#28133819)

    Wikipedia - the free encyclopedia many people can edit!

  • What Science? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:33PM (#28133859)

    Scientology is to science what Al Qaeda is to Islam, total fucktards having hijacked a noble precept.

  • Operation Clambake (Score:5, Informative)

    by bryan1945 ( 301828 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:38PM (#28133901) Journal

    For more really really fun and interesting info, go to Operation Clambake. Before you freak about the URL, the URL is real, and so is the guy (Andreas Heldal-Lund, who runs this out of Norway, which is why Scientology has not gotten any legal traction against him yet). I recommend a read, for what little that's worth.

    http://www.xenu.net/ [xenu.net]

  • Devious alternatives (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:00PM (#28134093)

    I've wondered if it would be feasible to have a dedicated Wikipedia server that is dedicated to 'banned' accounts. Instead of marking the accounts banned, you just mark them to go to this private dedicated server. That way they continue to make edits not realizing that no one else is seeing them. Even allow them to police themselves.

  • by themeparkphoto ( 1049810 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:19PM (#28134267)
    There's a page that lists famous Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts. I always add, with CITATIONS FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES and other sources, Charles Manson and Dennis Rader ("BTK Serial Killer) and the terrorist group known as the BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA promptly removes it.
  • by Cajal ( 154122 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:30PM (#28134357)

    IP addresses don't identify people. They tell routers where to forward packets.

    Can we please move beyond this 1980s idea that IP addresses identify people?

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.