[Foundation-l] Wikipedia disclaimers, Take II

Samuel Klein meta.sj at gmail.com
Tue Oct 14 22:23:08 UTC 2008

Wikipedia disclaimers : humorous, quasi-legal.  rarely viewed.
touched by lawyers but also by many, many other editors.  probably
ineffective even when viewed - I used Wikipedia as a backup lab manual
in auto-appendectomy class last week and totally forgot about the
medical disclaimer I had read a month previous.  Luckily noone was

1.  How much should we care about encouraging people to understand the
pro/con aspects of Wikipedia's mutability?

2.  Most disclaimers are CYA affairs, not intended to inform, merely
intended to make lawsuits harder.  Is this what we care about?  Are we
worried about legal liability from a weak disclaimer?  Are we worried
more about making sure all readers understand the value and risks of
information they receive?

3. positively : We can use the time people spend visiting/viewing a
disclaimer to educate them a bit about disclaimers in all sorts of
knowledge everywhere.   A disclaimer that provides background and
context for disclaimers in general and those used in reference works
in specific.  Would that be ok?  It would certainly be interesting and
empowering, rather than frightening and offensive, as some find the
current texts.

4. alternatively : groups that really worry about being sued tend to
have longer, even more frightening disclaimers than ours; is it worth
finding an eloquently conservative set of disclaimers that enumerates
hundreds of specific ways in which Wikipedia should not be used?


More information about the foundation-l mailing list