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> Letter to UK Charity Commission, Is this a big enough stick? I hope so.
Peter Damian
post Tue 22nd November 2011, 8:37pm
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I think I have found a lever at long last. The clue is in the long time it took for Wikimedia UK to get recognised as a charity. As Ashley van H says here http://bambuser.com/channel/pigsonthewing/broadcast/2140981 "it was quite a big story [i.e. charitable status] for the U.K - the charity commission struggled for a long period, and has had to refine their understanding of a public utility". What does he mean? Well it goes back to 2009, when the Charity Commission ruled that "The production of an encyclopaedia is not the charitable advancement of education and has not been accepted as such in law... If the object [should] be the mere increase of knowledge it is not in itself a charitable object unless it is combined with teaching or education," http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/27/wi...ia_charity_not/ (register article)

So kudos to Jonathan Burchfield, partner at the law firm Stone King (specialists in Charity and Education Law, for reversing this decision:

QUOTE
In accepting Stone King’s application on behalf of Wikimedia UK, the Commission has been at pains to point out that the publication of information useful to the public and the promotion of open content are not inherently charitable activities. Any similar organisation seeking to become registered with the Charity Commission would need to demonstrate that its activities are exclusively for the public benefit and that the content promoted has sufficient editorial controls and safeguards on the accuracy and objectivity of the information provided. In Wikipedia’s case, for example, the continuous development and operation of editing policies and content security tools assure an increasingly high quality of content.”
http://www.stoneking.co.uk/news/articles/-/page/1244 (Stone King press release)


QUOTE

“Burchfield said that in order to be registered, Wikimedia UK had to demonstrate that it had high standards for controlling and monitoring the content of Wikipedia so that it was not easily open to abuse.”
http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/news/1102747/ (Third Sector)


This is really really really important. Wikimedia's lawyers had to argue that Wikimedia can operate under the heading "object of general public utility" as proposed by Samuel Romilly in the 19th century. There is a (somewhat long and difficult) legal judgment here http://www.btinternet.com/~akme/shaw.html which illustrates the principle involved. According to the Romilly principle, benefit has to be conferred on the public by the proposed ends of the charity. Political purposes are not OK, nor the furtherance of a movement such as 'the Wikimedia movement'. Some identifiable section of the community must derive a real benefit from the purpose. More details from the Charity Commission website http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/Librar...e/lawpb1208.pdf .

It was under a generous interpretation of the Romilly principle that WMUK was recognised. This was clearly why there was a requirement that "the content promoted has sufficient editorial controls and safeguards on the accuracy and objectivity of the information provided. "

I am now preparing an appeal to the UK Charities Commission, giving clear evidence of all the points in which WMUK demonstrably fails to meet the requirement for general public benefit, either because it lacks 'sufficient editorial controls', or for other reasons such as simply not benefiting the general public.

Any suggestions welcome. I am particularly interested in recent cases where Wikipedia has failed to provide appropriate control or oversight. I can think of a few, such as the Philip Mould case http://ocham.blogspot.com/2011/05/wikipedi...in-fiction.html, where a gross slur remained on the site for a year and a half. What are appropriate controls for this sort of thing? Is anonymous editing an insufficient? I think so. Is making the WMUK board collectively responsible for the content of BLPs a minimum condition for good control? I think so too. Please let me have your suggestions

A thing that already puzzles me is that if WMUK must 'control and monitor' the content, the following statement from its website seems inconsistent with that.

QUOTE

Please note that we are a separate organization from the Wikimedia Foundation, and have no control over Wikipedia or any other Wikimedia Foundation projects.” http://uk.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Indeed, the whole principle on which Wikipedia was founded was that there should be no editorial oversight in the traditional sense, and that all content would be the result of a ruthless Darwinian fight for survival. That in itself makes it impossible for WMUK to 'control and monitor' content.

This post has been edited by Peter Damian: Tue 22nd November 2011, 8:38pm
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EricBarbour
post Tue 22nd November 2011, 9:39pm
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QUOTE(Peter Damian @ Tue 22nd November 2011, 12:37pm) *

This is really really really important. Wikimedia's lawyers had to argue that Wikimedia can operate under the heading "object of general public utility" as proposed by Samuel Romilly in the 19th century. There is a (somewhat long and difficult) legal judgment here http://www.btinternet.com/~akme/shaw.html which illustrates the principle involved. According to the Romilly principle, benefit has to be conferred on the public by the proposed ends of the charity. Political purposes are not OK, nor the furtherance of a movement such as 'the Wikimedia movement'. Some identifiable section of the community must derive a real benefit from the purpose.

This has some possibilities. It would be easy to come up with material, right now.
You could send them samples of the following:

--evidence of WP defamation (Daniel Brandt, conservatives, LaRouche, Taner Akcam, etc)

--that Turnitin report on plagiarism

--some of my charts about WP's content vs. Britannica

--samples of a few of the major editwars

You might also point out the "benefit to the public" seems to consist mostly in its use by UK citizens
for "amusement", meaning obsessive behaviour/addiction/abuse of others, with administrator
examples (Gerard, Sidaway, FT2, Ironholds, Morwen etc).
Plus its popular use by schoolchildren as a place to steal content for school papers.
Plus its massive football and Doctor Who content. Plus pedophilia and bestiality content.
Plus that list of Commons categories I gave you.
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gomi
post Tue 22nd November 2011, 9:52pm
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[Modnote: I removed (to the Tar Pit) some posts that were off-topic and/or do not model a positive form of interaction here. -- gomi]
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EricBarbour
post Tue 22nd November 2011, 10:16pm
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For some extra "oomph", you could print Jimbo Found Out and Jimbo Fired Up, and send the Charities Commission a copy. tongue.gif

This post has been edited by EricBarbour: Tue 22nd November 2011, 10:26pm
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UseOnceAndDestroy
post Wed 23rd November 2011, 2:11pm
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Wikipedia has no controls, because it does not know who its "editors" are.

You'd think the Johann Hari thing has got to be near to top candidate for recent WP defamations that have potential to strike a chord in the UK - the success over 4-plus years of his pseudonymous smear/fluff campaigns discredit the quality of the site's "safeguards on the accuracy and objectivity of the information provided". Cristina Odone is eloquent on her treatment at the hands of wikipedia:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/cristina...-will-come-out/

http://wikipediareview.com/index.php?showtopic=34320

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/david-al...ipedia-admitted
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Daniel Brandt
post Wed 23rd November 2011, 3:00pm
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QUOTE(EricBarbour @ Tue 22nd November 2011, 3:39pm) *

--evidence of WP defamation (Daniel Brandt, conservatives, LaRouche, Taner Akcam, etc)

I suspect that this page that chronicles my problems with Wikipedia editors would be relevant here. Many hours of research were needed to discover the identities of some of the editors listed on that page. Moreover, my complaint letters and emails to Brad Patrick, and later to Mike Godwin, former legal counsels for the U.S. nonprofit foundation, were all ignored.
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SB_Johnny
post Wed 23rd November 2011, 6:28pm
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QUOTE(Daniel Brandt @ Wed 23rd November 2011, 10:00am) *

QUOTE(EricBarbour @ Tue 22nd November 2011, 3:39pm) *

--evidence of WP defamation (Daniel Brandt, conservatives, LaRouche, Taner Akcam, etc)

I suspect that this page that chronicles my problems with Wikipedia editors would be relevant here. Many hours of research were needed to discover the identities of some of the editors listed on that page. Moreover, my complaint letters and emails to Brad Patrick, and later to Mike Godwin, former legal counsels for the U.S. nonprofit foundation, were all ignored.

No surprise there. Apparently they believe that the the piggy bank is at risk if they dare to remove content, even if the content happens to be illegal.
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Peter Damian
post Wed 23rd November 2011, 7:52pm
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David r from meth productions
https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/w...eth+productions

Sock of journalist Johann Hari. Blocked by Courcelles

(a) How long had it been going on

(b) More importantly, how was it uncovered. I want to know whether the new 'monitor and control' culture that WMUK installed had been effective in spotting this breach of policy. Or was it the Evening Standard or some other watchdog, or someone complaining that set if off?

Ed

QUOTE(Daniel Brandt @ Wed 23rd November 2011, 3:00pm) *

QUOTE(EricBarbour @ Tue 22nd November 2011, 3:39pm) *

--evidence of WP defamation (Daniel Brandt, conservatives, LaRouche, Taner Akcam, etc)

I suspect that this page that chronicles my problems with Wikipedia editors would be relevant here. Many hours of research were needed to discover the identities of some of the editors listed on that page. Moreover, my complaint letters and emails to Brad Patrick, and later to Mike Godwin, former legal counsels for the U.S. nonprofit foundation, were all ignored.


This is highly relevant, can you send me copies of correspondence if possible.

However, more recent information is better. It may be that the new control and monitoring culture at the WMUK has been more effective recently.

Those IRC 'dickhead' channels are also good. But again, has IRC cleaned up its act? It may be that that new control culture has been effective here. We need evidence for or against.

This post has been edited by Peter Damian: Wed 23rd November 2011, 7:53pm
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Peter Damian
post Wed 23rd November 2011, 8:00pm
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I think the charity commission might be interested in the one below anyway, however old.


QUOTE

Hive chatter about Brandt
Esteemed encyclopedia editors
discuss the subject of an article

from #wikipedia IRC channel on Freenode


2006-04-26: "evil" 2006-04-26: "one crazy fucker" 2006-04-29: "age bigot"
2006-04-30: "dickhead" 2006-05-02: "paranoid fruitcake" 2006-05-12: "full of crap"
2006-05-14: "blackmailer" 2006-05-14: "attention whoring" 2006-05-14: "belongs in an asylum"
2006-05-27: "freaking nut" 2006-05-27: "idiot" 2006-05-27: "just wants attention"
2006-05-27: "very successful troll" 2006-05-27: "likes to persecute" 2006-05-28: "insane maniac"
2006-05-29: "fucktard" 2006-05-29: "cuntfuck" 2006-05-29: "conspiracy theorist"
2006-05-29: "bastard" 2006-05-29: "internet crazy" 2006-05-30: "zealot"
2006-05-30: "extorted a minor" 2006-05-31: "not fully sane" 2006-05-31: "an attention seeker"
2006-05-31: "thinks like a 3-year-old" 2006-05-31: "malicious and stupid" 2006-05-31: "real animal"
2006-06-10: "fucking douchebag" 2006-06-10: "dickhead" 2006-06-10: "troll"
2006-06-10: "Saddam in disguise" 2006-06-12: "doody-head" 2006-06-13: "mental problems"
2006-06-13: "internet nuisance" 2006-06-18: "fatass" 2006-06-19: "bit of a loon"
2006-06-20: "totally batshit insane" 2006-06-23: "delusional idiot" 2006-06-27: "asshole"
2006-07-02: "a big dick" 2006-07-04: "a pile of monkey nuts" 2006-07-06: "irritatingly paranoid"
2006-07-06: "such a bastard" 2006-07-07: "cocksucker" 2006-07-08: "Brandt is a dick"
2006-07-18: "a spineless coward" 2006-07-18: "sucks really big balls" 2006-07-18: "a big assbag"


I see Coren is reading.

This post has been edited by Peter Damian: Wed 23rd November 2011, 8:01pm
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EricBarbour
post Thu 24th November 2011, 3:05am
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Perhaps the chair of the Charity Commission should read her own BLP.......

QUOTE
Controversies

Suzi Leather’s public appointments, none of which were elected posts, have led some right-wing commentators to question the motives of those who appoint her. The Adam Smith Institute accused her of pursuing a "political agenda" on behalf of politicians who lacked the "moral courage" to tackle the issue themselves.[4]

During her tenure at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, Leather was criticised for stating that a child's absolute need for a father figure was "nonsense".[5] Jack O'Sullivan, of the campaign group Fathers Direct which campaigns for the rights of fathers, said that "while discrimination against single and lesbian women was wrong, the benefits of a father figure were proven by scientific studies".[5]

The Charities Act (2006)[6] added to the traditional list of "charitable purposes" for which charities can be established (the prevention or relief of poverty, the advancement of education, the advancement of religion, and so forth) a requirement that their activities should be carried on "for the public benefit"; and it required the Charities Commission to determine how it would be established that the public benefit was being served. In pursuance of this requirement, in 2009 Dame Suzi instigated an investigation into private schools in order to determine whether non-profit education providers should continue to be accorded charitable status automatically. She has stated that she cannot "see why charitable status was always merited". Specifically, it was decided that, while providing education is a charitable purpose, doing so only in exchange for an economic fee does not meet the requirement that the purpose is carried on for public rather than private benefit. A fee-paying school could nonetheless deserve charitable status, for example if it offered bursaries, or provided teaching or coaching children from surrounding schools, or otherwise contributed. As of July 2009, five private schools in the North West of England had been investigated and it was concluded that two of the five gave insufficient benefit to the public and had therefore failed the proposed test. These school would lose their charitable status in a year’s time "unless they gave out more bursaries".[7] It has been claimed that the Commission may have exceeded its powers under the 2006 Charities Act.[8]
[edit] Public Sector Salary

In 2010 a list released by the Cabinet Office in a drive for greater transparency in public life revealed the salaries of 156 "quango" bosses,[9][10] including Dame Leather's remuneration package of £104,999 a year for a 3 day week as head of the Charity Commission.


This post has been edited by EricBarbour: Thu 24th November 2011, 3:05am
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Michaeldsuarez
post Thu 24th November 2011, 3:40am
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QUOTE(EricBarbour @ Wed 23rd November 2011, 10:05pm) *

Perhaps the chair of the Charity Commission should read her own BLP.......


http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=...oldid=302005932

The revision that added the controversy section to the article is interesting. It even includes a faux "CENSORED BY COURT ORDER" message. That revision and its faux message apparently influenced the judgment of those who read the Wikipedia article at that time:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/20...comment-4936126

This is an example of how Wikipedia editors can influence gullible readers.

This post has been edited by Michaeldsuarez: Thu 24th November 2011, 3:41am
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EricBarbour
post Thu 24th November 2011, 3:53am
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In fact, people have been inserting defamatory remarks in her BLP for years.

Usually via IP address, though it does appear that Galatian (T-C-L-K-R-D) doesn't like her very much.

And looky who expanded the article for the first time.

Gosh, Batman, I wonder who this is.

This post has been edited by EricBarbour: Thu 24th November 2011, 3:55am
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dogbiscuit
post Thu 24th November 2011, 8:44am
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Some good specific examples, though I'd guess to respond to attacks against the Chair or body itself would give the impression of self-interest and give the CC a problem.

What are some good solid generic problems that a public body could not ignore?

The dysfunctional discussion on image filters might actually be a solid example - the way Wikimedia UK has no ability to consider or impose control for the public good, and WMF has stepped back from imposing any solution. Need to hunt out some key words there. It is a good example, because it is current.

Clearly, another good example is the subversion of National Gallery assets into the public domain. I am not clear how best to arrange that argument, and I suspect that there is an implication of breaking some UK law, Misuse of Computers Act (if someone used the National Gallery system to extract the pictures against the express lack of consent of the National Gallery) as well as a moral position. What is the link between the extractor and Wikimedia UK?

The wider problem being that the Wikipedian community is vociferous in imposing its own code of conduct not only within the organisation but on matters that impinge on the real world. I suspect there are some good examples that would support this, the casual promotion of pornography for example. As a generator of conflict and its inability for resolve disputes, it has a negative impact on the charitable aims.

Finally, there is a problem that Wikimedia UK trustees have a duty to Wikimedia UK and should only act in the interests of Wikimedia UK, not the wider Wikipedia or WMF. There is probably little evidence of a conflict of interest, but something worth monitoring.
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Cla68
post Thu 24th November 2011, 2:20pm
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If I remember right, there was an article on a British lower-division professional rugby or football team which had been heavily vandalized and the vandalism had stood for something like a year. The text had said something like, among other things, "The Farthingham Trotters are the largets openly homosexual team in British professional football" or something like that.
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timbo
post Thu 24th November 2011, 4:37pm
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Narcs suck.

t
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Kelly Martin
post Thu 24th November 2011, 6:04pm
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It's interesting how WMUK abjectedly lied in its application, by claiming that it had any control or influence over editorial policy or practice, when in fact it has none at all. The main purpose of WM chapters is to arrange parties. That's it.
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SB_Johnny
post Thu 24th November 2011, 6:26pm
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QUOTE(Kelly Martin @ Thu 24th November 2011, 1:04pm) *

It's interesting how WMUK abjectedly lied in its application, by claiming that it had any control or influence over editorial policy or practice, when in fact it has none at all. The main purpose of WM chapters is to arrange parties. That's it.

And to have free beer at the parties. Free beer as in free beer, one might imagine.

Has Jimbo been seen hanging out with any of the CEOs of London's local breweries? There has to be a tie-in to the castle/yacht fund somewhere.
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dogbiscuit
post Thu 24th November 2011, 6:39pm
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Could you run through Verifiability not Truth once more?
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QUOTE(Kelly Martin @ Thu 24th November 2011, 6:04pm) *

It's interesting how WMUK abjectedly lied in its application, by claiming that it had any control or influence over editorial policy or practice, when in fact it has none at all. The main purpose of WM chapters is to arrange parties. That's it.

and again, the lawyers make specific reference to Wikimedia's high quality images, some of which were laundered through the US to circumvent UK copyright laws, but presumably would not be public domain in the UK.

The exact wording of the application would be helpful, because the Fraud Act of 2002 makes it unlawful to make any sort of misleading statement with the intent of gain. It is the statement that is the critical act, not the gain, which does not have to be crystallised.
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Kelly Martin
post Thu 24th November 2011, 6:48pm
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It does occur to me that Jimmy's relocation to London makes WMUK far more relevant than it used to be: they're now responsible for organizing the Godking's parties, rather than just their own. But feting on the overblown ego of your cult's private god is not a "charitable" purpose even in the US, and certainly not in the UK.
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RMHED
post Thu 24th November 2011, 7:41pm
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The listing as it appears on the Commissions website, and the trustees.
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