Scientology Banned

I found this piece on Wired and found it really interesting. Wikipedia, which bills itself as “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit,” may need to amend that tag line. It may need to say “the free encyclopedia that almost anyone can edit.” And the reason for that is because Wikipedia has banned the Church of Scientology from editing any articles. That’s a Wikipunishment (I just made up that word) for the church’s repeated and deceptive editing of articles related to the controversial religion. The ban will be enforced by banning users from all IP address owned by the church. It also bans certain editors by name. It’s an interesting conundrum. The whole Wiki model is based on the concept of “open sourcing” – anyone can contribute, and because of that openness, the truth will emerge. But that model apparently can be frustrated by a determined group of zealots with Internet access. And so Wikipedia has decided to drop the hammer. And I get that. But I wonder about the precedent. Maybe the Scientology folks made the decision easy – if the edits were on black and white factual issues that are clearly false, it’s easy to sympathize with Wikipedia. But what if it’s more subtle than that, so that the edits aren’t so clearly false? We’re not talking about censorship exactly here, because Wikipedia isn’t a government. But I wonder how Wikipedia’s arbitration council will address this type of thing going forward.