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

Brian Brian.Mingus at colorado.edu
Sat Jun 6 18:28:17 UTC 2009

I also have not seen a clear explanation of what those who would like to
generate statistics using web bugs plan to do with that data. How do they
plan to use the data, and why aren't the plethora of statistics now made
officially available by the WMF not satisfactory?

You have bypassed the correct procedure. The amount of time that it takes
the WMF to accomplish goals can be frustrating. Getting them to make your
goal their goal can be frustrating. But it all has to start with you
presenting them with a coherent goal that takes all the constraints into
account. Then you need to get WMF approval which often involves getting
community approval.

Let's be clear that the privacy policy is a legal issue for the WMF.
Volunteer admins cannot take user privacy into their own hands, under their
own interpretation. That's just not how it works!

2009/6/6 Brian <Brian.Mingus at colorado.edu>

> This is another e-mail on this subject that just strikes me as flawed.
> These are not vague privacy fears - they are real privacy fears. I see a
> fundamental failure by those involved in this controversy to understand this
> point.
> On Sat, Jun 6, 2009 at 1:31 AM, Tisza Gergő <gtisza at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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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