The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

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The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Daniel R. Tobias
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/06/wikipedia_otrs_volunteers/

They're criticizing the fact that the [[Lava lamp]] article got blanked out for a lengthy period
due to an unexplained "OTRS ticket".

Those OTRS and WP:OFFICE actions, though sometimes necessary for legal reasons, can
be rather frustrating when articles are blanked out without explanation.
Dan
Dan's Web Tips: http://webtips.dan.info/
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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Tony Sidaway
On 7/8/07, Daniel R. Tobias <[hidden email]> wrote:
> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/06/wikipedia_otrs_volunteers/
>
> They're criticizing the fact that the [[Lava lamp]] article got blanked out for a lengthy period
> due to an unexplained "OTRS ticket".
>
> Those OTRS and WP:OFFICE actions, though sometimes necessary for legal reasons, can
> be rather frustrating when articles are blanked out without explanation.

Confidentiality of email to Wikipedia means we cannot be as
transparent as some editors assume we ought to be.  OTRS actions can
be checked by any editor with access to the OTRS system, of whom there
are quite a few on English Wikipedia.  The procedure for querying an
OTRS action is outlined on the "Wikipedia:OTRS2 page on English
Wikipedia.

I notice that this Register story is written up by Cade Metz, rather
than Andrew Orlowski, who has made no secret of his dislike of
Wikipedia.

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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Rory Stolzenberg
In reply to this post by Daniel R. Tobias
On 7/7/07, Daniel R. Tobias <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/06/wikipedia_otrs_volunteers/
>
> They're criticizing the fact that the [[Lava lamp]] article got blanked
> out for a lengthy period
> due to an unexplained "OTRS ticket".
>
> Those OTRS and WP:OFFICE actions, though sometimes necessary for legal
> reasons, can
> be rather frustrating when articles are blanked out without explanation.
> Dan
> Dan's Web Tips: http://webtips.dan.info/
> Dan's Mail Format Site: http://mailformat.dan.info/
> Dan's Domain Site: http://domains.dan.info/


We should at least have some sort of substub about the subject so readers
can at least see SOMETHING. I find it difficult to believe that something
like "lava lamps are lamps with heated wax inside" would be controversial,
though http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lava_lamp&oldid=139811701was
reverted, so I guess there must be something odd in this case.
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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Daniel R. Tobias
As much as I hate to admit it, they have a point this time. We can't
just accept every demand to take down a page and leave it down for a
fortnight. I don't have access to OTRS, so I don't know what this was
about, but from the talk page it would appear to be related to
trademark issues. Since when have encyclopedias been restricted from
using trademarked terms? We're not selling lava lamps, we're just
talking about them - IANAL, but I'm pretty sure trademark law does not
apply.

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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Gregory Maxwell
Before complaining about this... why wouldn't you look to see what
user blanked it?
Don't fall for the register's irresponsible journalism without
checking your work.


On 7/7/07, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:

> As much as I hate to admit it, they have a point this time. We can't
> just accept every demand to take down a page and leave it down for a
> fortnight. I don't have access to OTRS, so I don't know what this was
> about, but from the talk page it would appear to be related to
> trademark issues. Since when have encyclopedias been restricted from
> using trademarked terms? We're not selling lava lamps, we're just
> talking about them - IANAL, but I'm pretty sure trademark law does not
> apply.
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
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>

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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Thomas Dalton
> Before complaining about this... why wouldn't you look to see what
> user blanked it?
> Don't fall for the register's irresponsible journalism without
> checking your work.

A legal intern? What difference does that make? In fact, it makes it
worse - someone with no legal experience could justifiably say they
needed to blank it while they got legal advice. Someone employed for
their legal experience should know better from the start.

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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Gregory Maxwell
In reply to this post by Gregory Maxwell
On 7/7/07, Gregory Maxwell <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Before complaining about this... why wouldn't you look to see what
> user blanked it?
> Don't fall for the register's irresponsible journalism without
> checking your work.

Eating my words: Their story is inflammatory, and it is overplaying a
rare event... but it's not outright inaccurate.

The article was blanked by a experienced Wikipedian but a brand new
and inexperienced OTRS user, shortly after being given access to OTRS.

He did not come to through the normal community channels, he stopped
in to visit the office. For some reason which I can not fully
comprehend he was given access to the legal queue, a subset of OTRS
which is not available to the broad majority of OTRS users.

In it there was what appears to be a frivolous complaint about the use
of the lavalamp trademark. Complaints like this at not infrequent, and
they almost always come from the actual trademark holder, but they are
almost always completely without merit.  When there is merit to such
complaints is is usually a matter which is not directly related... an
unsourced negative comment in the article, or even outright vandalism.
 Issues like that are addressed by OTRS users acting in their capacity
as regular editors, and the party with the trademark complaint is told
to buzz off if they continue to push their meritless claims.

Some poking around indicates that the confusions have since been resolved...

I apologize for my initial quick response.

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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Steven Walling
They're complaining about censorship of the *lava lamp* article? Who the
hell would care enough to "censor" that? It's like censoring the Butter
article. What nonsense. As for this disgruntled moron, he "acknowledges
there will be cases where OTRS volunteers would be justified in keeping a
complaint secret." Uh, did he just invalidate his own complaint there?

Plus, they're calling the lava lamp the "world's most famous novelty item"?
Riiight. What's with the crap gossip-mongering at the end ("Are you having
problems with Wikipedia community? Do let us know.") If these people are
journalists, I don't want to be one anymore.


On 7/7/07, Gregory Maxwell <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On 7/7/07, Gregory Maxwell <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > Before complaining about this... why wouldn't you look to see what
> > user blanked it?
> > Don't fall for the register's irresponsible journalism without
> > checking your work.
>
> Eating my words: Their story is inflammatory, and it is overplaying a
> rare event... but it's not outright inaccurate.
>
> The article was blanked by a experienced Wikipedian but a brand new
> and inexperienced OTRS user, shortly after being given access to OTRS.
>
> He did not come to through the normal community channels, he stopped
> in to visit the office. For some reason which I can not fully
> comprehend he was given access to the legal queue, a subset of OTRS
> which is not available to the broad majority of OTRS users.
>
> In it there was what appears to be a frivolous complaint about the use
> of the lavalamp trademark. Complaints like this at not infrequent, and
> they almost always come from the actual trademark holder, but they are
> almost always completely without merit.  When there is merit to such
> complaints is is usually a matter which is not directly related... an
> unsourced negative comment in the article, or even outright vandalism.
> Issues like that are addressed by OTRS users acting in their capacity
> as regular editors, and the party with the trademark complaint is told
> to buzz off if they continue to push their meritless claims.
>
> Some poking around indicates that the confusions have since been
> resolved...
>
> I apologize for my initial quick response.
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Matthew Brown-5
On 7/7/07, Steven Walling <[hidden email]> wrote:
> If these people are journalists, I don't want to be one anymore.

It's The Register - total pageview whores who'll say anything if it'll
get people worked up enough to post the link anywhere.  They've worked
out that tweaking Wikipedians gets them pageviews.

IMO, they're no more than trolls, and commercial trolls at that.

-Matt

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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Steven Walling
The sad thing is, before I knew that I argued that a tabloid-like story was
notable because it was mentioned in the Register. I'm kicking myself now...

On 7/7/07, Matthew Brown <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On 7/7/07, Steven Walling <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > If these people are journalists, I don't want to be one anymore.
>
> It's The Register - total pageview whores who'll say anything if it'll
> get people worked up enough to post the link anywhere.  They've worked
> out that tweaking Wikipedians gets them pageviews.
>
> IMO, they're no more than trolls, and commercial trolls at that.
>
> -Matt
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Jimmy Wales
In reply to this post by Daniel R. Tobias

On Jul 7, 2007, at 4:58 PM, Daniel R. Tobias wrote:

> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/06/wikipedia_otrs_volunteers/
>
> They're criticizing the fact that the [[Lava lamp]] article got  
> blanked out for a lengthy period
> due to an unexplained "OTRS ticket".
>
> Those OTRS and WP:OFFICE actions, though sometimes necessary for  
> legal reasons, can
> be rather frustrating when articles are blanked out without  
> explanation.

Of course, in this case, the entire complaint is right there on the  
talk page for anyone to see, so it is pretty hard to see how much  
MORE of an explanation could be given.

I told The Register this quite plainly, which they admit:
"Wales insisted that the reason for suppressing the article was  
posted to its "talk" page, but there doesn't seem to be a link  
between those discussions and the OTRS action."

That's total bullshit of course.  I can tell you, having seen the  
OTRS ticket, and talked to the person who did the blanking, that  
there is an EXACT link between those discussions and the OTRS  
action.  Not that the Register ever cared to report things fairly.

--Jimbo

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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Jimmy Wales
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton

On Jul 7, 2007, at 5:43 PM, Thomas Dalton wrote:
> As much as I hate to admit it, they have a point this time.

No, actually they don't have much of a point at all.

> We can't
> just accept every demand to take down a page and leave it down for a
> fortnight.

But see, this is exactly what happens when you trust the Register to  
report on anything accurately.  We certainly do NOT "accept every  
demand to take down a page" nor is it normal or usual for a page to  
be "down for a fortnight".

Every case is different, and while it is of course sensible to always  
be vigilant for ways to improve the OTRS system and practice, the  
Register was completely unfair in their "reporting".

> I don't have access to OTRS, so I don't know what this was
> about, but from the talk page it would appear to be related to
> trademark issues. Since when have encyclopedias been restricted from
> using trademarked terms? We're not selling lava lamps, we're just
> talking about them - IANAL, but I'm pretty sure trademark law does not
> apply.

That's right, but real legal threats from real lawyers have to be  
taken seriously.  I think this case could have been handled  
differently, and that's worth talking about.  But the hysteria of the  
Register is well known, and should be taken into account here.

--Jimbo

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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Kat Walsh-4
On 7/8/07, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On Jul 7, 2007, at 5:43 PM, Thomas Dalton wrote:
> > As much as I hate to admit it, they have a point this time.
>
> No, actually they don't have much of a point at all.
>
> > We can't
> > just accept every demand to take down a page and leave it down for a
> > fortnight.
>
> But see, this is exactly what happens when you trust the Register to
> report on anything accurately.  We certainly do NOT "accept every
> demand to take down a page" nor is it normal or usual for a page to
> be "down for a fortnight".
>
> Every case is different, and while it is of course sensible to always
> be vigilant for ways to improve the OTRS system and practice, the
> Register was completely unfair in their "reporting".

I agree, about that.

A lot of people say that every time they hear about OTRS it's because
of some big frustrating action. This is largely because the small
undramatic actions or the ones where the people writing are told
"sorry, we don't do that" -- or the ones where people get into tense
20-message exchanges that amount to "sorry, we don't do that" -- no
one hears about those.

> > I don't have access to OTRS, so I don't know what this was
> > about, but from the talk page it would appear to be related to
> > trademark issues. Since when have encyclopedias been restricted from
> > using trademarked terms? We're not selling lava lamps, we're just
> > talking about them - IANAL, but I'm pretty sure trademark law does not
> > apply.
>
> That's right, but real legal threats from real lawyers have to be
> taken seriously.  I think this case could have been handled
> differently, and that's worth talking about.  But the hysteria of the
> Register is well known, and should be taken into account here.

Again concur. People are human and make calls that aren't perfect. If
the worst that happens as a result of a mistaken call is that a few
articles out of a million or two are stubbed or blanked longer than
they need to be, I think the system isn't working too badly.

-Kat

--
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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Steven Walling
After reading all of this, I only have one question left...is the Register
ever considered a reliable source per WP:Notability? Is there some way we
can list it as being unsuitable for referencing?

On 7/7/07, Kat Walsh <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On 7/8/07, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > On Jul 7, 2007, at 5:43 PM, Thomas Dalton wrote:
> > > As much as I hate to admit it, they have a point this time.
> >
> > No, actually they don't have much of a point at all.
> >
> > > We can't
> > > just accept every demand to take down a page and leave it down for a
> > > fortnight.
> >
> > But see, this is exactly what happens when you trust the Register to
> > report on anything accurately.  We certainly do NOT "accept every
> > demand to take down a page" nor is it normal or usual for a page to
> > be "down for a fortnight".
> >
> > Every case is different, and while it is of course sensible to always
> > be vigilant for ways to improve the OTRS system and practice, the
> > Register was completely unfair in their "reporting".
>
> I agree, about that.
>
> A lot of people say that every time they hear about OTRS it's because
> of some big frustrating action. This is largely because the small
> undramatic actions or the ones where the people writing are told
> "sorry, we don't do that" -- or the ones where people get into tense
> 20-message exchanges that amount to "sorry, we don't do that" -- no
> one hears about those.
>
> > > I don't have access to OTRS, so I don't know what this was
> > > about, but from the talk page it would appear to be related to
> > > trademark issues. Since when have encyclopedias been restricted from
> > > using trademarked terms? We're not selling lava lamps, we're just
> > > talking about them - IANAL, but I'm pretty sure trademark law does not
> > > apply.
> >
> > That's right, but real legal threats from real lawyers have to be
> > taken seriously.  I think this case could have been handled
> > differently, and that's worth talking about.  But the hysteria of the
> > Register is well known, and should be taken into account here.
>
> Again concur. People are human and make calls that aren't perfect. If
> the worst that happens as a result of a mistaken call is that a few
> articles out of a million or two are stubbed or blanked longer than
> they need to be, I think the system isn't working too badly.
>
> -Kat
>
> --
> Wikimedia needs you: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Fundraising
> * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Mindspillage | (G)AIM:Mindspillage
> mindspillage or mind|wandering on irc.freenode.net | email for phone
>
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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Bryan Derksen
Steven Walling wrote:
> After reading all of this, I only have one question left...is the Register
> ever considered a reliable source per WP:Notability? Is there some way we
> can list it as being unsuitable for referencing?

Not a good idea. What would happen to
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Register> or
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Orlowski>? They both use references
to The Register entirely validly.

In general, one should avoid drawing hard-edged lines where
situation-by-situation judgments are just fine. The looniest, kookiest,
most unreliable site in the universe can still be an important and
useful reference when talking about that site.


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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

John Lee-14
In reply to this post by Steven Walling
On 7/8/07, Steven Walling <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> After reading all of this, I only have one question left...is the Register
> ever considered a reliable source per WP:Notability? Is there some way we
> can list it as being unsuitable for referencing?


Its journalism is irresponsible, but that's a point of view. We can easily
cite it without lending credence to its claims by saying, for example, "The
Register asserts..." or "Andrew Orlowski asserts..." and presenting the
opposing points of view.

Johnleemk
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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Andrew Gray
In reply to this post by Steven Walling
On 08/07/07, Steven Walling <[hidden email]> wrote:
> After reading all of this, I only have one question left...is the Register
> ever considered a reliable source per WP:Notability? Is there some way we
> can list it as being unsuitable for referencing?

...what? Is this some kind of "they wrote an article we don't like so
we'll punish them?"

The Register is usually reasonably good, if editorially slanted,
journalism in its chosen field. Being editorially slanted, there are
some topics it doesn't report as well as one could hope, and one of
those is us. It happens, and that's life.

--
- Andrew Gray
  [hidden email]

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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Kat Walsh-4
Kat Walsh wrote:

>A lot of people say that every time they hear about OTRS it's because
>of some big frustrating action. This is largely because the small
>undramatic actions or the ones where the people writing are told
>"sorry, we don't do that" -- or the ones where people get into tense
>20-message exchanges that amount to "sorry, we don't do that" -- no
>one hears about those.
>
Would it be feasible to periodically publish OTRS statistics?  Something
that appears, for example,  as 80% refusal, 19% negotiation, 1%
capitulation could give a clearer picture.

Ec


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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Jimmy Wales
I think the answer, throughout the entire history of Wikipedia, is 0%  
"capitulation".

NPOV is non-negotiable.  As ever.

On Jul 8, 2007, at 9:31 AM, Ray Saintonge wrote:

> Kat Walsh wrote:
>
>> A lot of people say that every time they hear about OTRS it's because
>> of some big frustrating action. This is largely because the small
>> undramatic actions or the ones where the people writing are told
>> "sorry, we don't do that" -- or the ones where people get into tense
>> 20-message exchanges that amount to "sorry, we don't do that" -- no
>> one hears about those.
>>
> Would it be feasible to periodically publish OTRS statistics?  
> Something
> that appears, for example,  as 80% refusal, 19% negotiation, 1%
> capitulation could give a clearer picture.
>
> Ec
>
>
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Re: The Register decries Wikipedia's "censorship" via OTRS

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales
> > As much as I hate to admit it, they have a point this time.
>
> No, actually they don't have much of a point at all.

You admit lower down that things weren't handled ideally, so they did
have point. Yes, they blew that point out of all proportion, they're
Register writers, it's what they get paid for, but they did have a
point.

> > We can't
> > just accept every demand to take down a page and leave it down for a
> > fortnight.
>
> But see, this is exactly what happens when you trust the Register to
> report on anything accurately.  We certainly do NOT "accept every
> demand to take down a page" nor is it normal or usual for a page to
> be "down for a fortnight".
>
> Every case is different, and while it is of course sensible to always
> be vigilant for ways to improve the OTRS system and practice, the
> Register was completely unfair in their "reporting".

Ok, "every" was a gross exaggeration, sorry. It does seem to happen a
little more often than I'm happy with. I doubt OTRS hardly ever
receives legitimate complaints that require blanking the entire
article. Even if there is a marginally questionable legal issue with
the article, it's likely only to be in one small section, and that
small section is the part that should be blanked (and the article
protected).

> That's right, but real legal threats from real lawyers have to be
> taken seriously.  I think this case could have been handled
> differently, and that's worth talking about.  But the hysteria of the
> Register is well known, and should be taken into account here.

IANAL, but as far as I'm aware, the only kind of legal complaint that
we need to worry about is libel. Real legal threats from real lawyers
about libel need to be taken seriously. Other legal threats can, and
should, be ignored. This legal threat was, apparently, about
trademarks - just because the person complaining was a real lawyer
doesn't mean they aren't talking complete nonsense.

I'm glad you agree that things weren't handled ideally. Could you
elaborate on what you think should have been done in this case?

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