Church of Scientology indefinitely banned from editing Wikipedia

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Contributors to Wikipedia, the self-described free, online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, have voted to block the Church of Scientology from editing the encyclopedia. The arbitration committee voted to block the Church with 10 supporting the ban and 1 against it.

"All IP addresses owned or operated by the Church of Scientology and its associates, broadly interpreted, are to be blocked as if they were open proxies. Individual editors may request IP block exemption if they wish to contribute from the blocked IP addresses," a statement on Wikipedia's website explained.

The ban comes after an arbitration case that lasted six months, beginning in December 2008. The case was opened after contributors discovered that the Church had been editing Scientology-related articles and removing or adding information to promote the Church's studies.

"Editors [have been] openly editing [articles related to Scientology] from Church of Scientology equipment and apparently coordinating their activities," added Wikipedia. The committee says that the edits were damaging Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy.

A "host of anti-Scientologist editors" were also banned from working on Wikipedia's Scientology-related articles. The committee concluded that both sides had "gamed policy" and resorted to "battlefield tactics", with the encyclopedia's articles on living persons among the "worst casualties".

Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw said some of the encyclopedia's articles had been "hateful and erroneous". She added: "We hope all this will result in more accurate and useful articles on Wikipedia."

Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis said church members were only "confronting inaccuracies" on the internet: "The story that's being missed is there were people who were doing non-stop attacks on the church and using Wikipedia to do it. Those people have been banned." He said there had been no orchestrated campaign by church leaders to have members change Wikipedia articles: "The church is huge. Scientologists are going to say what they're going to say about their own religion."