[Foundation-l] Informing BLP subjects

WereSpielChequers werespielchequers at gmail.com
Mon May 23 14:46:20 UTC 2011

Re the idea of informing BLP subjects that we have a biography on them.

Whilst some subjects of BLPs would be quite easy to contact via Email,
there are those who won't be. Especially the ones who are now senile
or in jail.

While most of the subjects of our BLPs are fine upstanding members of
society, some are in jail and others deserve to be. Allegedly a
quarter of our editors are legally minors, I would be uncomfortable
with any new process that involved us encouraging adolescents to email
strangers or that classified the subjects of our BLPs into those
suitable or unsuitable to be contacted.

There is a practical issue about informing people when we have
articles on them in scores of languages. During next years Olympics
there will be new sports stars emerging who suddenly have articles
created about them on scores of different language versions of
Wikipedias. Having a separate notification of each one would probably
be seen as spam, but checking whether someone had already been
notified via the intrawiki links would be difficult - even the death
anomaly project only attempts to work across 80 language versions.

So this would require quite a team of volunteers, especially if you
included one of the larger language versions such as English, and
especially if you restricted this to our older editors.

Finding volunteers to do this and continue to recruit as they leave
might be difficult.  I can't see either the article creators or  the
newpage patrollers accepting this as an additional task even if we
weren't worried about inviting adolescents to email Mafiosi and so

Also there is a serious risk of raising false expectations, over here
there was a recent unsuccessful legal attempt to put the onus on the
newspapers to inform subjects before they wrote about them. That
didn't differentiate between writing bios on people or naming them as
part of another story, and I think we would have difficulty holding
the line that a one paragraph article on one person was fundamentally
different to a similar length mention in a match report or an article
about a Rock group or terrorist incident. In my experience a large
proportion of our BLP violations don't take place in BLPs, but a
policy of informing people whenever we named them on wiki would be
even less practical than one of informing them when we wrote an
article about them.


> Message: 7
> Date: Mon, 23 May 2011 00:40:10 +0100
> From: Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Interesting legal action
> To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List
>        <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
> Message-ID: <BANLkTi=KR4FVoV12N-72sHYPkm5On5yBDg at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
> On 23 May 2011 00:03, FT2 <ft2.wiki at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Out of interest, when a BLP is created and not speedy deleted, could we not
>> write a standard email to the subject stating that a biographical article
>> has been created on them on the online encyclopedia "Wikipedia", inviting
>> them to review it, explaining what it's about, and pointing them to remedies
>> for fixing minor or major issues or requesting deletion? Hearing from us
>> might at the very least be seen as "us trying to do something right".
> I've not heard that idea before; I like it. We should do that. It
> wouldn't be difficult and would, as you say, show that we are at least
> trying to do the right thing. We would need to be prepared to deal
> with the increased traffic to OTRS that it would inevitably result in,
> but that's not too big a problem.

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