[Foundation-l] Wikipedia tracks user behaviour via third party companies #2

Tisza Gergő gtisza at gmail.com
Sat Jun 6 07:31:58 UTC 2009

Robert Rohde <rarohde at ...> writes:

> You may not be aware, but the relaying of page view data to third
> party analysis platforms has been tried on a number of occasions in
> the past and consistently shutdown.  (I think this even includes cases
> before the Privacy Policy was adopted.)
> However, to my recollection there has never been a case that quite
> mirrors yours since we are talking about a privately hosted server
> administered by a highly trusted community member.

The (WM-DE-owned) toolserver ran a statistics script called WikiCharts for a few
years, which worked with data relayed by Common.js from several wikipedias,
including de and en. While that is not exactly the same situation (as the WMF
has access to the toolserver), I think it proves my point that passing IP data
to an (in the strict organizational sense) third-party server does not
necessarily violate the privacy policy, neither letter nor spirit, as long as
that server remains within the larger WM community.

It is important to understand that this is a much more general question than
that of web statistics: any third-party service that interacts with the standard
wiki user interface receives private data, whether it needs it or not, because
the user interface (the HTML page) is "executed" in the user's browser, and the
browser has to contact the third-party service, and it cannot hide its IP in
that process. For example, we considered setting up some sort of spell checking
service for hu.wp. That is something that cannot be done well centrally - there
is too much difference between languages. And if you do it with a local server,
it has to communicate with the user's browser, and could in theory log requests
and correlate them with edits on the wiki, thus it has to conform with the
privacy guidelines. It would be a shame if all such uses would be blindly
forbidden because of vague privacy fears.

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