Wikipedia decides to ban users of Church of Scientology IPs, after its Arbitration Committee found that those IPs were being used for biased edits to various entries on the site. Although controversies have erupted at times over the true neutrality of certain entries, Wikipedia has publicly attempted to remain as neutral as possible, while also positioning itself as the site that anybody can edit.
Wikipedia, after a period of protracted debate, has made the decision to ban
any site edits originating from IP addresses associated with the Church
The final vote by Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee was 10-to-0 in favor of
a ban, with one member abstaining. The committee examined whether members of
the Church of Scientology
and their opponents had been riddling entries with "bad faith assumptions,
personal attacks, edit wars, soapboxing, and other disruptions," and found
that users on Scientology IPs had been openly editing Scientology-related
In addition, it also found that pro-Scientologist editors
had been directing the changes through a handful of different IPs, making it
difficult to verify individual users.
Such activity would, obviously, put Wikipedia's public face as an unbiased
provider of information at risk, and the committee acted accordingly.
"The worst casualties have been biographies of living people," the
committee wrote in a posting
, "where attempts have been repeatedly made to slant the
article either towards or against the subject, depending on the point of view
of the contributing editor.
"However," the committee added, "this problem is not limited
to biographies and many Scientology articles fail to reflect a neutral point of
view and instead are either disparaging or complimentary."
In that spirit, the ruling blocks Scientology IPs "as if they were open
proxies." Wikipedia, however, is leaving the door open for certain
individuals to request exemptions.
Jay Walsh, a spokesman for the Wikipedia Foundation, told The Wall Street
Journal that "the arbitration committee wants to send the message that
Wikipedians have to be neutral on all accounts and all fronts." He
emphasized that the banning of IPs was traditionally a last-ditch step by the
The banning of the Church of Scientology
from Wikipedia represents the first time that the site has blocked a major
organization from editing to the site. In the past, minor controversies have
erupted as companies, and even U.S.
congresspeople, have edited their entries to put themselves in a more positive