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> Are corporations people?
thekohser
post Mon 14th March 2011, 4:45pm
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A Wikipedia essay that tried to extend WP:BLP protections to articles about corporations was recently burned and scattered to the wind -- the "public" reason being the essay was created by a banned user. I think the "private" reason is one more familiar to us, though -- such a policy would fly in the face of Wikipedia's real purpose as the world's largest online defamation platform.

How can you tweak Crisco's nose, if you're going to be subjected to duty of care policies about corporations?!

Anyway, I have asked three administrators if they would issue me the contents of the deleted essay. One has refused, while the other two have not responded.

Is there a functional admin somewhere who could reproduce here the contents of the deleted essay?

This post has been edited by thekohser: Mon 14th March 2011, 4:47pm
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nableezy
post Mon 14th March 2011, 5:42pm
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QUOTE(thekohser @ Mon 14th March 2011, 11:45am) *

A Wikipedia essay that tried to extend WP:BLP protections to articles about corporations was recently burned and scattered to the wind -- the "public" reason being the essay was created by a banned user. I think the "private" reason is one more familiar to us, though -- such a policy would fly in the face of Wikipedia's real purpose as the world's largest online defamation platform.

How can you tweak Crisco's nose, if you're going to be subjected to duty of care policies about corporations?!

Anyway, I have asked three administrators if they would issue me the contents of the deleted essay. One has refused, while the other two have not responded.

Is there a functional admin somewhere who could reproduce here the contents of the deleted essay?


I dont see what in BLP should not be applied to every single article. Use better sources. Write in a disinterested tone. Besides "maintaining privacy", what in that policy should not be applied to every article?
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thekohser
post Mon 14th March 2011, 6:03pm
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QUOTE(nableezy @ Mon 14th March 2011, 1:42pm) *

I dont see what in BLP should not be applied to every single article. Use better sources. Write in a disinterested tone. Besides "maintaining privacy", what in that policy should not be applied to every article?


Uh oh. Mods, you may want to delete this lucid moment of Nableezy's, before he gets banned from Wikipedia for subversive thought.
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Kelly Martin
post Mon 14th March 2011, 6:57pm
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Of course this is absurd. For a significant portion of Wikipedia's community, the entire purpose of their participation is to post critical comment about the corporations they hate (which, for some of them, is all of them). Wikipedia just can't prohibit the favorite pastimes of one of Wikipedia's biggest editor constituencies, not without threatening the all-important metric of "editor participation".
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gomi
post Mon 14th March 2011, 7:02pm
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QUOTE(Kelly Martin @ Mon 14th March 2011, 11:57am) *
For a significant portion of Wikipedia's community, the entire purpose of their participation is to post critical comment about the corporations they hate (which, for some of them, is all of them). Wikipedia just can't prohibit the favorite pastimes of one of Wikipedia's biggest editor constituencies, not without threatening the all-important metric of "editor participation".

I don't know whether the contingent of corporation-haters or corporation-lovers is larger. There is so much astro-turfing about Microsoft, Apple, I don't know how anyone would take those articles seriously.
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Jon Awbrey
post Mon 14th March 2011, 7:06pm
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One corporation trying to control opinion about other corporations —

This is news ???

Jon huh.gif
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Sxeptomaniac
post Mon 14th March 2011, 7:43pm
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QUOTE(Kelly Martin @ Mon 14th March 2011, 10:57am) *

Of course this is absurd. For a significant portion of Wikipedia's community, the entire purpose of their participation is to post critical comment about the corporations they hate (which, for some of them, is all of them). Wikipedia just can't prohibit the favorite pastimes of one of Wikipedia's biggest editor constituencies, not without threatening the all-important metric of "editor participation".

Your statement is overly narrow. It's corporations, people, products, etc. IMO, a majority edit WP based on their emotional response to articles they consider either a whitewash or hit pieces. It's not about a grand spreading of knowledge, but spreading their opinions under the pretense of fact.
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Tarc
post Mon 14th March 2011, 10:31pm
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QUOTE(thekohser @ Mon 14th March 2011, 12:45pm) *
Is there a functional admin somewhere who could reproduce here the contents of the deleted essay?


No need for admin assistance, as it was up long enough for google to preserve it forever. Assuming you can link directly to these things;

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/sear...=www.google.com
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thekohser
post Tue 15th March 2011, 12:04am
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Thanks, Tarc.

One very KnightLago of the ArbCom also provided me the wikitext.

I'm going to preserve the text here, too. You never know where this content-publish-by-the-banned might disappear to.

QUOTE
This guideline attempt to address issues of articles about corporations within the scope of the Wikipedia community.

Corporations are fictitious perons

Just as with living people, corporations are fictitious persons and real entities in our modern society. They have a cash flow with real money, and they have living persons as their employees. Their reputations that can impact their ability to compete in our global economy. It is inappropriate for individuals to engage in inherently biased activitsm and to use Wikipedia to to attempt to unfairly attack the reputations of law-abiding corporations even if those corporations are in industrial sectors that those individuals find upsetting to themselves or at odds with their personal agendas.

Editors must take care when adding information about operating corporations to any Wikipedia page.[1] Such material requires a reasonable degree of prudence and good judgment, and must adhere to all applicable laws in the United States, to this policy, and to Wikipedia's three core content policies:

* Neutral point of view (NPOV)
* Verifiability (V)
* No original research (NOR)

In particular, corporations that operate in a law-abiding fashion are not appropriate targets for a corporate profile that includes extensive criticism about those corporations unless they are clearly a trust or monopoly as defined by the Sherman Act, or in the very rare cases where they clearly represent the vast preponderance of that entire industrial sector. All of the general policies mentioned Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons also apply to all aspects of profiles of operating corporations. In other words, the vast preponderance of a corporate profile should describe that corporation, its history, its mission, its current operations and those issues with its reputation that it has publicly acknowledged or has been determined to be fact in a court of law. Criticisms should be in summary format or, if notable enough, entirely factored out and delegated to a separate article with a brief introduction to that other article remaining in the corporate profile.
Dealing with articles about your corporation

Wikipedia has editorial policies that will often help to resolve your concerns. Very obvious errors can be fixed quickly, including by yourself. If you feel that you understand the the goals of neutrality, then edit the article yourself and be judicious about the goal that the article should be objective, balanced and non-promotional. While Wikipedia has had some internal incidents with problematic autobiographies, it is assumed that proper representatives of notable operating corporations can and will behave in good faith and in a mature fashion. See Wikipedia:Autobiography for sound advise on the matter.

Within the Wikipedia community, many users willing to help with the technical details of the MediaWiki format, and a wide range of gradual escalation processes are available within the Wikipedia community that can address such issues with good faith and all deliberate speed. If you do not confident in editing the article yourself, post suggestions on the article talk page, or place {{adminhelp}} on your talk page. If you have reason to complain, please bear in mind that Wikipedia is almost entirely operated by volunteers. Their community policies can often trigger a precipitous termination in communication, even to the point of blocking your account or IP address, based on a policy of Wikipedia:No legal threats where you might expect a person in a more businesslike context to remain in a more tolerant and receptive stance. If the Wikipedia community does not provide satisfaction, then see below for how to contact the Wikimedia Foundation.

For a browsing tree of all corporate profiles at Wikipedia, see Category:Companies.
How to complain to the Wikimedia Foundation

If you are not satisfied with the response of editors and admins to a concern about corporate profile material about operating corporations, you can ask the Foundation's team of volunteers for help. Please e-mail info-en-q@wikimedia.org with a link to the article and details of the problem; for more information on how to complain, see here. See here for how to contact the Wikimedia Foundation.
Notes

1. ^ Corporations are presumed to be operating unless there is reason to believe otherwise or are bankrupt or otherwise have legally and permanently ceased operations.

Further reading

* Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
* Organizational culture
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Somey
post Sun 20th March 2011, 12:38am
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I would just like to go on record (actually, I believe I've said this in at least one earler thread) that I personally don't believe corporations should be treated as people at all, and that includes on Wikipedia. I'd be concerned that applying BLP standards to corporations would just water down the existing rules, though admittedly the existing rules are already extremely watered-down from what they should be.

What WP really needs is some sort of new guiding principle with respect to articles containing criticism of corporations - that being, "would this content threaten to put a significant percentage of the company's staff out of work"? And if so, that shouldn't be added to the article unless there's a criminal conviction or some other ironclad factual sourcing for such content. (And it should also require a good deal of pre-publication review, not that anyone on WP really believes in things like that.) Whereas, if the content would threaten just one person's position, and by that I mean the CEO's in most cases, then properly-sourced allegations might be appropriate even if a conviction hasn't (yet) been obtained.

But that's just me; these days I'm becoming increasingly anti-corporate personally, so y'all can take that with a grain of salt if you wish.
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anthony
post Sun 20th March 2011, 12:56am
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QUOTE(Somey @ Sun 20th March 2011, 12:38am) *

I would just like to go on record (actually, I believe I've said this in at least one earler thread) that I personally don't believe corporations should be treated as people at all, and that includes on Wikipedia.


Not at all? What does it mean for corporations to not be treated as people "at all"? The fact that a corporation is treated sorta kinda like a person is, I'd say, essential to the definition of "corporation" (more specifically, it is essential to the definition of "legal entity", of which a corporation is one form among several).
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anthony
post Sun 20th March 2011, 1:04am
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QUOTE(Somey @ Sun 20th March 2011, 12:38am) *

What WP really needs is some sort of new guiding principle with respect to articles containing criticism of corporations - that being, "would this content threaten to put a significant percentage of the company's staff out of work"? And if so, that shouldn't be added to the article unless there's a criminal conviction or some other ironclad factual sourcing for such content. (And it should also require a good deal of pre-publication review, not that anyone on WP really believes in things like that.) Whereas, if the content would threaten just one person's position, and by that I mean the CEO's in most cases, then properly-sourced allegations might be appropriate even if a conviction hasn't (yet) been obtained.


I'd say that's pretty much exactly backwards. If the content would threaten just one person's position, then it's already clearly a BLP issue.

(I'm saying this based on an assumption that a guiding principle on WP could actually work, which is probably false.)

This post has been edited by anthony: Sun 20th March 2011, 1:11am
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EricBarbour
post Sun 20th March 2011, 1:49am
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QUOTE(anthony @ Sat 19th March 2011, 6:04pm) *
(I'm saying this based on an assumption that a guiding principle on WP could actually work, which is probably false.)

And I'm here to tell you, it isn't "probably false".
It simply won't happen--unless there's a massive purge of the WMF's brown-nosing top management,
followed by a purge of the administrative ranks. I suspect that flying pigs are more likely to appear
at this point. WMF is becoming "entrenched" as a nonprofit, one that makes money despite its own
blatant incompetence and corruption. People have said similar things about PETA, so think of it as the
"PETA of 'pedias". They're complete lunatics, but some people love 'em. yecch.gif
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MZMcBride
post Sun 20th March 2011, 2:26am
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Corporate personhood?
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anthony
post Sun 20th March 2011, 3:02am
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QUOTE(MZMcBride @ Sun 20th March 2011, 2:26am) *


That's one (or more than one) of a number of separate questions. Are corporations people? Of course not. That's absurd. Does the law treat corporations similarly to people? Sure. That's the whole point. A corporation can sue and be sued. A corporation can own assets. A corporation can enter into contracts. A corporation pays taxes. Does the law sometimes define a corporation as a "person"? Indeed. Is that a good idea? I don't know. It's convenient, but it's sometimes confusing. Doing the equivalent of a global search and replace in the law replacing "person" with "legal entity" might be less confusing than defining "person" as "a natural person or other legal entity".

Do corporations have rights? Well, that's subject to some heated debate, though I'd still say of course not. Not until one becomes sentient, anyway. Do people have rights which they can exercise via corporations? Well, that's subject to some heated debate, though I'd say of course they do. Just as a website doesn't have the right to free speech, but a group of individuals have the right to free speech using their website, a corporation doesn't have the right to free speech, but a group of individuals have the right to free speech using their corporation.

This post has been edited by anthony: Sun 20th March 2011, 3:10am
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Somey
post Sun 20th March 2011, 7:17am
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QUOTE(anthony @ Sat 19th March 2011, 7:56pm) *
Not at all? What does it mean for corporations to not be treated as people "at all"? The fact that a corporation is treated sorta kinda like a person is, I'd say, essential to the definition of "corporation" (more specifically, it is essential to the definition of "legal entity", of which a corporation is one form among several).

You make some very good points, of course - in terms of legal entityhood (is that a word?), if a society clearly wants it to be possible for people to indemnify themselves against various forms of liability for wrongdoing by being part of a corporation (some would say "hiding behind," though), then that's a legitimate thing for society to do.

But in addition to liability, the usual context(s) we discuss here are reputation, accountability, and security. The context of "liability" would probably encompass the various distinctions between criminal/immoral activity and lawful/moral activity, but even if it doesn't, let's just say it does for the sake of brevity.

As a group of people, a corporation naturally will attempt to avoid liability, defend its reputation, and ensure its security. And, it may or may not choose to be accountable in relation to whatever it and its owners/members/employees do. There isn't anything we can do about this; it's simply the natural result of people operating as a group, and if society gives specific kinds of groups certain rights that other groups don't get to have, then so be it - as long as society can also take those rights away when that's in society's best interests.

So... when I say corporations shouldn't be treated as people, I'm mostly talking about an individual choice. Individuals such as myself don't have to agree to support the notion that people operating as a group should be treated separately (in any of those aforementioned contexts) from the group itself, as a "legal entity," when considering the actions of that group. We just have to agree to respect the law, even if we don't always like or agree with what the law says.

You can also turn some of the arguments in favor of corporate personhood around to some extent; for example, a corporation can, and is by definition, owned by one or more people. So to properly support the idea that corporations are legally equivalent to people, you'd have to allow people (and/or corporations) to own other people too, and then claim that the actions of the people they own are not really their own actions. It sounds ridiculous because it is, but slavery has existed for a long time, it still exists today in some parts of the world, and it will probably still exist for the foreseeable future. It's not as far-fetched as we'd like to believe. So it has to be fought; and if it can't be stopped, it at least has to be minimized and contained.
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Cock-up-over-conspiracy
post Sun 20th March 2011, 1:04pm
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Are corporations people?

No, they are psychopaths. To be a person, one needs a little humanity. The question then, why are they psychopaths? A reflection of the time, place and people that invented them in a world without social, environmental and ethical responsibilities perhaps?

It strikes me that the law has been created somewhat wiki-like, an individual or gang gets in first, drives home their POV, then spends the rest of time defending it against new interest groups until eventually one breaks down gives up, without small incremental changes being achieved on the way.
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anthony
post Sun 20th March 2011, 2:29pm
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QUOTE(Somey @ Sun 20th March 2011, 7:17am) *

QUOTE(anthony @ Sat 19th March 2011, 7:56pm) *
Not at all? What does it mean for corporations to not be treated as people "at all"? The fact that a corporation is treated sorta kinda like a person is, I'd say, essential to the definition of "corporation" (more specifically, it is essential to the definition of "legal entity", of which a corporation is one form among several).

You make some very good points, of course - in terms of legal entityhood (is that a word?), if a society clearly wants it to be possible for people to indemnify themselves against various forms of liability for wrongdoing by being part of a corporation (some would say "hiding behind," though), then that's a legitimate thing for society to do.


There are many advantages to the concept of corporations beyond tort liability. And the ability of an individual to "hide behind" a corporation is, in practice, quite limited. Especially with regard to the large corporations which you seem to hate the most. But even with regard to smaller corporations, in many cases the employer and employee share joint and several liability, even without piercing the corporate veil.

Without a big rich corporation to sue when a fast food employee forgets to warn people about the wet floor causing you to slip and bust your head open, who are you going to sue, the poor high school student with the mop and without the yellow sign? I suppose we could force every single person in the world to maintain liability insurance... But no, that wouldn't work, because no individual would ever be able to amass the kind of capital it would take to guarantee the claims.

QUOTE(Somey @ Sun 20th March 2011, 7:17am) *

As a group of people, a corporation naturally will attempt to avoid liability, defend its reputation, and ensure its security. And, it may or may not choose to be accountable in relation to whatever it and its owners/members/employees do. There isn't anything we can do about this; it's simply the natural result of people operating as a group, and if society gives specific kinds of groups certain rights that other groups don't get to have, then so be it - as long as society can also take those rights away when that's in society's best interests.

So... when I say corporations shouldn't be treated as people, I'm mostly talking about an individual choice. Individuals such as myself don't have to agree to support the notion that people operating as a group should be treated separately (in any of those aforementioned contexts) from the group itself, as a "legal entity," when considering the actions of that group. We just have to agree to respect the law, even if we don't always like or agree with what the law says.


Morally, I agree with you. With respect to criminal law, I agree with you (and so does the law). With respect to tort law, I somewhat agree with you (though the law mostly does not). And with respect to contract law, I completely disagree with you.

I don't think you can run a modern free society without the notion of legal entities. I'm not going to sign a significant contract with Joe Schmoe. I'm not going to buy a car manufactured by Joe Schmoe. About the only way you could make such a society "work" would be to have all such transactions run by the government.

QUOTE(Somey @ Sun 20th March 2011, 7:17am) *

You can also turn some of the arguments in favor of corporate personhood around to some extent; for example, a corporation can, and is by definition, owned by one or more people. So to properly support the idea that corporations are legally equivalent to people, you'd have to allow people (and/or corporations) to own other people too, and then claim that the actions of the people they own are not really their own actions. It sounds ridiculous because it is, but slavery has existed for a long time, it still exists today in some parts of the world, and it will probably still exist for the foreseeable future. It's not as far-fetched as we'd like to believe. So it has to be fought; and if it can't be stopped, it at least has to be minimized and contained.


No, it's not as far-fetched as we'd like to believe. The doctrine of "respondeat superior" ("let the master answer") was regularly applied to slaves.

Maybe we need to do away with the concept of "respondeat superior". I've not investigated it thoroughly, but I've read some good arguments in favor of this.

But I never said I supported the notion "that corporations are legally equivalent to people". In fact, I'd say pretty much no one does once you eliminate the equivocation in that statement and change it to the notion "that corporations are legally equivalent to [natural persons]". The law makes lots of clear distinctions between natural persons and juristic persons - for instance, slavery.

My objection was to your earlier comment that you "personally don't believe corporations should be treated as people at all". I think that's as absurd as the belief that corporations should be treated as equivalent to humans.

Corporations should, and are, treated somewhat like humans in some situations. They can sue and be sued. They can enter into contracts. They can own property. (They also can be taxed, which is a point which I would think you would be in agreement with.)

But corporations aren't people. And the law does not treat corporations as legally equivalent to humans.

This post has been edited by anthony: Sun 20th March 2011, 3:10pm
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anthony
post Sun 20th March 2011, 2:45pm
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QUOTE(Cock-up-over-conspiracy @ Sun 20th March 2011, 1:04pm) *

Are corporations people?

No, they are psychopaths.


Aren't psychopaths people?
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Jon Awbrey
post Sun 20th March 2011, 3:15pm
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QUOTE(anthony @ Sun 20th March 2011, 10:45am) *

QUOTE(Cock-up-over-conspiracy @ Sun 20th March 2011, 1:04pm) *

Are corporations people?

No, they are psychopaths.


Aren't psychopaths people?


Syllogism —

The Wikimedia Foundation is a corporation.

The Wikimedia Foundation is a psychopath.

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

Soylent Green Is People❢❢❢
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