[Foundation-l] Request for your input: biographies of living people

P. Birken pbirken at gmail.com
Tue Mar 3 12:00:47 UTC 2009

2009/3/2 Sue Gardner <sgardner at wikimedia.org>:

> So, two questions strike me:
> 2) When it comes to the German Wikipedia and other language versions which
> put an unusually high priority on quality ..... I am curious to know what
> quality-supportive measures (be they technical, social/cultural, or
> policy-level) those Wikipedia have in place.  Philipp says a high threshold
> for notability is one in the German Wikipedia. Are there others?

I'm afraid I should have been more precise. When I said: "When in
doubt about notability, delete BLPs. Do not make low notability
criterias for living persons.", that was not a description of what is
happening on de-WP, but my opinion on how things should be done.
Factually, notability criterias are noticably more strict on de-WP
than on en, but not all over the place actually lower regarding

Policy-wise, we have adopted WP:BLP from en with "when in doubt,
respect privacy".

There are two factors where things are different from en as far as I
can see. The first is the community. There are dozens of "Stammtische"
in almost all major german towns, where wikipedians meet on a regular
basis. This helps spreading awareness about the problem and that is a
key thing in my eyes: the issue about BLP is always the conflict
between privacy and freedom of the press. I have the impression that
Wikipedians tend to take the stance that "We are wikipedia, we are
good, it is our duty to tell the public the truth", while ignoring the
detrimental effects this can have on living persons. Raising awareness
about the problems of BLP is important. Rub peoples nose in the effect
wikipedia articles have on the described persons live, make them
imagining how that person might feel and that even little things may
be an invasion of privacy. We all became experts on copyright, we
should all become experts on personality rights and ethics as well.

The second factor is freedom of the press. This is less strong in
Germany than in the UK and the US. Even things that are true may not
be written, for example people who have served their time in jail have
the right of not being named in the press. This makes discussion on
the wiki very streamlined. The difficult cases are where it is not
forbidden by law to write something, but only not useful, not
encyclopedic or even unethical.



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