Net503 Policy Primer on Wikipedia


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  • This is a great online policy primer which thoroughly describes Wikipedia’s Terms of Service in an easy-to-read and comprehensive manner. There are many similarities and differences that I observed throughout this presentation between the Terms and Services that Twitter employs, and those used by Wikipedia. I have explained more about Twitters Terms of Services and Privacy Policy in a Slideshare presentation located at

    The first similarity between the two services is that both platforms are open, meaning that anybody with an internet connection is able to register and post information. In addition, both platforms offer their services freely to users and the public, meaning there are no membership or subscription fees. The concepts behind both platforms and what they have to offer users are similar in nature too, with both services aiming to engage people worldwide and share content on a global scale, however this content differs in that Wikipedia is predominantly a scholarly-based platform and operates under ‘five pillars’ which guides how users publish information (Wikipedia Policies and Guidelines, 2012), whilst a vast array of content can be shared on Twitter.

    In comparison to Twitter, which requires users to register a user account, users on Wikipedia do have the ability to edit and publish content without registration. Similarly, both Wikipedia’s and Twitters Terms of Service note that users are responsible for the content that is uploaded to the site, and both companies hold no legal responsibility for information that users post, particularly information that infringes on copyright policies (Twitters Terms of Service, 2012; Wikipedia Policies and Guidelines, 2012). Similarly, this can be seen in Bloggers Terms of Service and Content Policy, which can be viewed as a Slideshow presentation at

    Further, both platforms also employ a Privacy Policy to protect users from malicious others, and protect their identities (Twitter Privacy Policy, 2012; Wikimedia Foundation Privacy Policy, 2012). However both services note that personally identifiable information may be released circumstances involving abuse, issues involving law enforcement, and with the users permission (Twitter Privacy Policy, 2012; Wikimedia Foundation Privacy Policy, 2012). In both services, users can be terminated by breaching rules and regulations, such as copyright infringement, vandalism and harassment (Twitters Terms of Service, 2012; Wikipedia Policies and Guidelines, 2012).


    Twitter Privacy Policy. (May 17, 2012). Retrieved 13th September 2012 from

    Twitter Terms of Service. (June 25, 2012). Retrieved 13th September 2012 from

    Wikipedia (2012). Wikipedia: Policies and Guidelines. Accessed 13th September 2012 from

    Wikimedia Foundation (2012). Privacy Policy. Accessed 13th September 2012 from
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  • How are you today,
    i hope fine,my name is miss blessing, i saw your profile today at ( and i became interested in you i will also like to know more about you, and i will like you to send an email to me so that i can send my photos to you, remember that distance, color or language does not matter but love matters allot in life, am waiting for your reply in my E-mail ID at have a nice day yours blessing.
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
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Net503 Policy Primer on Wikipedia

  1. 1. Net503 Policy PrimerTerms of Use of Wikipedia English version – (Image: Wikipedia)
  2. 2. So, I hear you’ve been usingWikipedia…Thinking you might like to havea go at writing or editing somearticles yourself?Perhaps even become a partof the Wikipedia community?
  3. 3. Before you do, there are a fewthings you should know.Don’t worry it won’t take long –just a few minutes is all you’llneed…
  4. 4. What is Wikipedia?• A free, web-based encyclopaedia project.• Articles appearing on Wikipedia are written collaboratively by site users.• In most cases, anyone with Internet access can read, write or edit Wikipedia articles – there is no need to register. (Wikipedia, 2012)
  5. 5. Wikipedia is not alone… Wikipedia is a ‘project’ site of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc (WMF) - a not-for-profit organisation. Its mission is to ‘empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally, free of charge.’ (Wikimedia Foundation, 2012)
  6. 6. Wikipedia is not alone… When using Wikipedia, whether you are a registered or non-registered user, you are governed by the WMF’s Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and any other associated policies or guidelines applicable. Wikimedia’s General Disclaimer also applies. (Wikimedia Foundation¹, 2012)
  7. 7. Terms of UseThe Terms of Use covers itemssuch as:• Content creation & hosting• Copyright• Privacy• Termination of service• Modifications to Terms of Use• Things you mustn’t do
  8. 8. Content creation & hosting You are responsible for the information that you upload to the site. WMF merely supplies the infrastructure to host that data. WMF takes no legal responsibility for the information posted. (Wikimedia Foundation¹, 2012) In short, don’t post information you’re unsure about. If you do & get into trouble, you’re on your own!
  9. 9. CopyrightWikipedia wants you to shareinformation.When submitting text that you hold thecopyright for, you agree to license itunder:1. Creative Commons Attribution- ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, and2. GNU Free Documentation License.This may affect how you may use thisinformation in the future. (Wikimedia Foundation¹, 2012)
  10. 10. Copyright Once you have posted information, you cannot revoke the copyright license…You mustattribute or …even if youreference text choose to nothat you use longer usefrom the work the service orof others. your use of the service is terminated.(Wikimedia Foundation¹, 2012)
  11. 11. Privacy - ssss hhhhh h Privacy is a relational concept (Introna, 1997) and what’s OK for you may not be acceptable to others. All users of WMF project sites are bound by the Privacy Policy. ‘It may not be circumvented, eroded, or ignored by local policies.’ (Wikimedia Foundation², 2012)
  12. 12. PrivacyThe WMF collects aminimal amount ofpersonally identifiableinformation to:• enhance the public accountability of the projects.• provide site statistics• solve technical problems (Wikimedia Foundation², 2012)
  13. 13. Privacy Information that can personally identify you may be released in some situations such as: 1. Law enforcement, 2. With your permission, 3. To investigate abuse complaints, vandalism and issues relating to spiders or bots, 4. To protect the rights, property or safety of the WMF, its users or the public. (Wikimedia Foundation², 2012)
  14. 14. To register or not to register… You may create an account using a pseudonym or your real identity. You may also use the service as an unregistered user. Note that your IP address will be published as your author name if you publish content without registering or without being logged in. Your IP address may identify your Internet Service Provider (ISP), school, organisation or home. (Wikimedia Foundation², 2012)
  15. 15. …that is the questionThrough your edits on publiclyavailable pages, you becomesearchable. (Lessig, 1998)The WMF warns that others mayuse your IP address ‘incombination with other information,including editing style andpreferences, to identify an authorcompletely.’ (Wikimedia Foundation², 2012)Thus, privacy may be bettermaintained by becoming aregistered user.
  16. 16. Termination of service – by choice You can choose to leave the Wikipedia community at anytime, BUT… Your user name (or IP address) along with all your publicly made contributions will remain viewable on the site.(Wikimedia Foundation¹, 2012)
  17. 17. Termination of service - by force If you repeatedly breach aspects of the terms of use, your use of WMF services may be terminated. This includes breaches of copyright, harassment of other users, repeated vandalism of pages and so on. HOWEVER… Unless you are told otherwise, you may still read publicly available page content. (Wikimedia Foundation¹, 2012)
  18. 18. Modifications to Terms of Use The Wikipedia community will be given at least 30 days to review and comment on proposed changes to the Terms of Use. And even longer if the proposed change is substantial. (Wikimedia Foundation¹, 2012)
  19. 19. Accepting new Terms of UseOnce modifications to the Termsof Use become official, yourcontinued use of the servicemeans that you accept the newTerms of Use.If you do not agree with the Termsof Use then you cannot use theservice. (Wikimedia Foundation¹, 2012)
  20. 20. Things you mustn’t do Users must not: x Harass or abuse others x Violate the privacy of others x Engage in false statements, impersonation, or fraud x Commit infringement (eg copyright, trademarks) x Misuse services for illegal purposes x Engage in disruptive and illegal misuse of facilities (Wikimedia Foundation¹, 2012)
  21. 21. But wait there’s more…In addition to the formal Terms of Use and Privacy Policy,Wikipedia also operates under fundamental principles knownas the ‘five pillars’:1. Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia.2. Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view3. Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify, and distribute.4. Editors should interact with each other in a respectful and civil manner.5. Wikipedia does not have firm rules.
  22. 22. And STILL more… The five pillars set the scene for a number of policies and guidelines that you may need to familiarise yourself with before using or contributing to Wikipedia. These are created by Wikipedia community members to improve the service. (Wikipedia¹, 2012)
  23. 23. How about a set of steak knives? Well, maybe not steak knives but there is a General Disclaimer that you should also take note of. This clearly states that, ‘WIKIPEDIA MAKES NO GUARANTEE OF VALIDITY’ Content is user generated and no peer review process has been entered into. Users should use their discretion when using information posted onto the site. (Wikipedia², 2012)
  24. 24. The start of abeautiful friendship??? Now that you’ve read about the Terms of Use and associated policies, guidelines and disclaimers governing Wikipedia, you can make an informed decision on whether this is a service you want to take part in.
  25. 25. References• Introna, L.D. (1997). Privacy and the computer: why we need privacy in the information society. Metaphilosophy, 28(3), 259-275. doi: 10.1111/1467-9973.00055• Lessig, L. (1998). The Architecture of Privacy. Retrieved from• Wikipedia. (n.d.). [Image] Retrieved from• Wikipedia. (2012). Wikipedia:About. Retrieved from• Wikipedia¹. (2012). Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines. Retrieved from• Wikipedia². (2012). Wikipedia:General disclaimer. Retrieved from• Wikimedia Foundation. (2012). Mission statement. Retrieved from• Wikimedia Foundation¹. (2012). Terms of Use. Retrieved from• Wikimedia Foundation². (2012). Privacy Policy. Retrieved from• All images excluding image on slide 1 copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos