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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No real PR problems

Tony Sidaway says:

Actually I run a small rss news aggregator that focuses on news about Wikipedia. In my experience our press is overwhelmingly positive. [Emphasis added -- and yeah, tony's right. I've been reading the google news alerts for a couple years. -Ben] Even the gossipier stuff seems to make a much bigger splash within the community and on its peripheries than it does outside--exactly the reverse of my expectations.

Most of the debate outside Wikipedia circles, in the mainstream press, focuses on the reliability of Wikipedia and its appropriateness for various uses. Those are very appropriate topics for debate and we should take it as a huge compliment that a project built completely by untrained volunteers is regarded as comparable in any way to the works of highly educated specialists. We shouldn't lose sight of that utterly remarkable and unexpected achievement.

The fact that we're criticised (and often rightly so) isn't surprising. The fact that we receive so little criticism and have had so few problems, given the open parameters and huge scope of the project, is one of the most amazing facts of Wikipedia's existence. Wikipedia doesn't have any significant PR problems at present.

All the ins and outs of the wikinews/moller thing -- about fifty kilobytes so far. That's the mailing list I know :P

Mike Godwin: "The Foundation has no interest in preventing Wikinews from publishing a story critical of WMF. If you are under the impression the stories were censored because they were critical of WMF, then you have your facts wrong."

So, the idea is that this was a run-of-the-mill libelous article removed* like other libelous articles have been, and for the same reason -- fear of being sued.

But in this case, the person doing the suing would have to be foundation employee Erik Moller, right? I find it unlikely that he'd sue the foundation for failing to hush up wikinews. I freely admit not understanding how lawyers think, though.

* With some ambiguous degree of community involvement. And hey, as long as we're running with this broad a definition, isn't it libel to accuse the article's authors of libel?


Jason Safoutin said...

Wikileaks already has the articles, if that's what you mean.

Ben Yates said...

*Smacks forehead*.

Now that I've read it -- it's definitely not libel for wikinews to just quote other people making allegations. (And also, it's not libel if it's true, duh.)

Seth Finkelstein said...

"But in this case, the person doing the suing would have to be foundation employee Erik Moller, right?"

No. It might be EX-foundation-employee Erik Moller.

You are now furhter along the path to understanding how lawyers think :-).

Anonymous said...

"No. It might be EX-foundation-employee Erik Moller."

That was my thought. Erik being an employee just puts the Foundation at greater risk. Sexual harrassment, hostile work environment, wrongful termination.

"You are now furhter along the path to understanding how lawyers think :-)."

Exactly. Don't consider the most likely scenario. Consider the worst case scenario. The ability to censor bad press is just a convenient side-effect.