Talk:Wikipedia Art controversy

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I am going to make a few minor corrections but my main concern here is notability. There is RS coverage but not significant RS coverage as required in the policy. I did consider tagging it for deletion but it is borderline so it is probably best if I don’t do that as I was too involved in the original matter to appear neutral.

As I see it, this is an article about a very minor, non-notable spat involving some artists who misunderstood what was allowed on Wikipedia, their website, and the Wikimedia Foundation. The artists have not disrupted Wikipedia since and there has been little ongoing interest in the matter. It seems pointless to dredge it all up again, particularly in the article space where articles about Wikipedia internal issues are discouraged. Domain name disputes happen every day. Some receive a little coverage. Few are notable. Would we have an article about this if it was some other encyclopaedia involved? I think not.

BTW: I have noticed a couple of IPs removing content from the AfD discussion for Wikipedia Art without any explanation which I have reverted. I don’t know if this is related to this matter, or the creation of this article, in any way. If anybody knows who is doing it, please tell them to stop. —DanielRigal (talk) 14:56, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Concur. — The Red Pen of Doom 15:20, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
I agree with regard to notability. WP:NOT#NEWS would seem to apply here; there’s no indication that this minor event will be even remotely significant in a couple days. Mr.Z-man 16:31, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
I disagree, The deletion of the original article is not notable in itself. However, the fact that wikipedia is going after the artists for using the domainname for alleged trademark infringement is notable. This is a major shift in priorities and values for wikipedia. Rammer (talk) 06:40, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

I with Rammer on this. This article should stay as any deletion could be interpreted (rightly or wrongly) as a Wikipedia cover-up. Beware the streisand effect! Jaqian (talk) 11:53, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Show us actual significant 3rd party coverage and there is no “coverup”. Without 3rd party coverage keeping the article is self-promoting navel-gazing. Just because it involves Wikipedia does not mean it is important. — The Red Pen of Doom 12:13, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
A couple blogs picking up a story does not make a notable event. An article on Wikinews perhaps, but not here. It only looks like a major shift in priorities because people published their stories without contacting Wikimedia first (which is probably why sources with more journalistic integrity haven’t covered it, since they realize there isn’t much of a story if they do their job correctly). Mr.Z-man 16:26, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

I did not say there was a cover-up only that it could be interpreted as one if deleted. Jaqian (talk) 09:48, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

We can’t let that stop us from doing the right thing. We just need to be sure that deletion is the right thing. If it is then we should have the guts to do it. If anybody is looking for an excuse to malign our motives (and I am not saying that anybody is) then they will find something whatever we do. So long as it is clear to an independent observer that we are being fair then that is sufficient. —DanielRigal (talk) 13:01, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
The problem is tht this is not true (fairness), and is the crux of the article. The process showed the inherently flawed nature of the system, and this is what is interesting/notable, and why so many are currently finding it notable. I like the dicussion on the Wikimedia list asking if Wikimedia shoudl talk to Lucasarts to ask if they find Wookieemedia confusing. —Patlichty (talk) 13:43, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
The following constitues actual media (not a blog) coverage andsuggests that the controversy has yet to die. [1] Rusty Cashman (talk) 18:53, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

streisand effect as see also[edit]

There is nothing relating this controversy to streisand effect – no party is trying to keep any private information from becoming more pubic and the attempt leading to greater publicity of the private info. Cyber squatting — there you have a related “see also”. — The Red Pen of Doom 03:06, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Blogs and News[edit]

I am concerned that blogs are being added to this article, either as references or as “News coverage”. I understand that the authors want to prove breadth of coverage but adding things that do not meet the requirements for WP:RS does nothing to help. It just makes the article look more poorly sourced than it is because the first thing that catches the eye is that several of the sources are bad or borderline. It is better to rely on a few good references than a few good ones plus a load of poor ones.

The “News coverage” section is misconceived. It was fair enough that it was put in quickly as a home for coverage that might be usable as references (although maybe putting it here on Talk would have been better) but it is now time to go through this list and see which articles can be converted into references and which just duplicate what we already know. The most recently added one pre-dates the whole domain name “controversy” so I can’t see much value in that.

I am not going to zap the News Coverage. Some of it is borderline and I don’t want to start another argument. It is clear that this article has friends. I would prefer it if its friends tidied it up in accordance with the WP:MOS. —DanielRigal (talk) 10:55, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Links do not have to be a RS to be linked. If they provide background information (even a blog), simply move them to a ‘Further reading’ section; WP:FURTHER. I usually use {{Cite web}} for these as well to help maintain a consistent look. Tothwolf (talk) 21:11, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

_Guardian_ column – “Do commercial pressures outweigh artistic ideals at Wikipedia?”[edit]

FYI – “Do commercial pressures outweigh artistic ideals at Wikipedia?” “When do commercial pressures affect ideals? Testing that proposition was an unexpected result of the ‘Wikipedia Art’ project” — Seth Finkelstein (talk) 01:17, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Forgive me for reacting in a manner not furthering the improvement of the article, but it seems that you make a rather glaring and erroneous conflation between the Wikimedia Foundation – which may, let’s grant, be looking out for its own commercial interest – and the English Wikipedia “community”, a.k.a. “a cult filled with suspicion, fanaticism, and group dysfunction”, who let’s conjecture are out to further their own individual ideological ends. If the WMF wanted the Wikipedia Art article deleted and were opposed by the Wikipedia community, it is extraordinarily unlikely that the former would prevail; the latter, in turn don’t care a damn about the WMF’s commercial possibilities. The column reads as if the hypocritical “Wikipedia” censors those furthering aims it once embodies but has abandoned for base economic motivations.  Skomorokh  01:49, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Wow … I’m always surprised at how misunderstood my articles can be, at how people sometimes see them so differently from what I intended. Where even to begin … Well, first, the title was written by editors, not me, but I think it’s OK shorthand for a headline. I’m well aware of the distinction between the Foundation and Wikipedia, and that’s in the text (“Its owner, the Wikimedia Foundation”). I tried to be evenhanded between the artists and the community itself, note I didn’t spare the artists some criticism either (“an obscure and frankly irritating manner … objection [that] they were nowhere near as clever as they seemed to think they were”). My main intended focus of criticism was the trademark-based legal controversy, not the page deletion debate. — Seth Finkelstein (talk) 02:46, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

I appreciate that the community reaction to the project was not the thrust of your column and that subeditors are responsible for titling the article, and I don’t take any position for or against the artists or the Foundation. However, the effect of your column is to position “Wikipedia” as a discrete entity defending a particular version of copyright for (I assume, in the context of your other columns) the avaricious and self-serving ends of its agents. It seems to me that the artists were directing their efforts at the conventions and assumptions of the community of editors, that the Foundation stepped in on an unrelated note, and media then sells this as this “Wikipedia” stomping on artistic ideals for its own narrow and misrepresented purposes. I think there’s scope for critiquing the WMF’s stance on copyright, and the “community”‘s disagreeable insular and perhaps overly modernist attitude, but to bundle them up into a single ideological perspective as your column appears to by, for example, quoting uncritically the attribution of the Foundation’s actions to “the usually open-minded folks at Wikipedia” is what one might colloquially term “unreliable synthesis“.  Skomorokh  03:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Umm … 1) It’s trademark, not copyright (there is a trademark “fair use” separate and distinct from the far better known copyright “fair use”). 2) I really hope that people would get that I have distinct criticisms of the hucksters and the mob, as well as a lot of compassion for the exploited (how many “above $75,000” speaking gigs are YOU getting?) 3) The “folks at Wikipedia” comes from a widely-distributed EFF posting, and in context is clearly referring to Wikimedia Foundation higher-ups. — Seth Finkelstein (talk) 03:49, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

I should know better than to accept the bait and contribute towards keeping this nonsensical issue alive, and I realize that the author of the above Guardian article will defend his work, but for anyone else wondering whether there is anything at all behind this story, the answer is no. If you are in doubt, please read the extremely reasonable (and accurate) account given as a reference in the article, namely Mike Godwin’s message (WMF attorney).

Summary: Some artists want to promote their work. They decide to use Wikipedia for that purpose. They also register a domain name that is certain to confuse readers (the name suggests a connection with Wikipedia, a registered trademark). Sit back and wait for the publicity! No legal threats, no legal action, no censorship, no puppies harmed. It’s a non-story. Johnuniq (talk) 07:51, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Both Godwin’s and Wales’ responses – with varying degrees of reason, but plenty of inaccurate information – have been picked apart and refuted with documented evidence contrary to their assertions. And, you give the artists FAR too much credit if you think they could possibly have planned this all along. Have you read any of their initial documentation, or at least the article in the Sentinel? Wales complains about “reading tea leaves” around his opinion in one of the above articles – and he was right. But you and they can say what the artists were thinking or wanted because – well, why exactly? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:33, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Your “picked apart” links are absolute nonsense. I guess people are tired of discussing whether a plane crashed into the Pentagon, and are now looking for fresh ideas. You will have to find somewhere else because I’m not going to use this talk page as a forum for much longer, but I will quote the text from the “demand” that anyone with a nodding familiarity with public life understands is correct: “As a trademark owner, Wikimedia is obligated to enforce its legal rights, which includes policing the Internet for unauthorized uses of the WIKIPEDIA name”.
I suppose that some people can’t understand what’s wrong with the WMF allowing sleaze bags (who would follow the two artists in question) to adopt the Wikipedia name. Such people may not understand many things at all. Johnuniq (talk) 02:24, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

Sigh … no good can come of me getting-into-it further, so I’ll simply bow out. Note to readers – please grant that my views are well-informed. — Seth Finkelstein (talk) 05:55, 29 May 2009 (UTC)


The logo is not part of the supposed “controversy” and therefore adds nothing to the article. An IP editor claims that it is “background”, but provides no evidence that the logo is part of the dispute. The IP also claims that it adds because it is “visual” – a picture of mount everest would be visual too, but it also would have nothing to do with the article topic and should not be part of the article. — The Red Pen of Doom 12:40, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

there is no dispute without the original article. without wikipedia art. it is the logo of the people the dispute is against. i actually disagree that the dispute is “only” the domain dispute (see above ongoing “controversy” here on Wikipedia, and the fact that almost all the mainstream press spends more time covering the work of art than the domain issue), but even if I agreed with you, by your logic, we should remove every single image from wikipedia. what does it add? a visual of the THING ITSELF. your bias just oozes, dude. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:09, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

I can’t see any bias in this. I have no strong objection to the logo being included but its purpose is primarily decorative. It illustrates nothing. As far as I can see, it adds nothing to the comprehensibility of the article. TheRedPenOfDoom’s logic for removing it seems reasonable. If you want to disagree then that is certainly something to discuss here but please try to do so without impugning the motives of other editors. —DanielRigal (talk) 14:31, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
redpen has been trying to have this article removed, trimmed down, about nothing but the domain dispute, from day one (shown above). and your own bias can’t be ignored here either, daniel. third parties have continually tried to bring up that this is not “only” about the domain dispute, and it has been ignored and/or shut down with shady reasoning. in isolation, perhaps his argument is reasonable – although again, by that logic, every single logo on all of wikipedia is “decorative” and “should” be removed; all photos of people, said same. Why did RedPen only decide to “punish” this article now? And why are ad hominem attacks ok for the artists and writers but not the editors of wikipedia (again, see above)? this ongoing “controversy” just proves how childish everyone here on wikipedia is. play the adults if you want, but you’ve convinced no one but yourselves of your suppsed objectivity. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:39, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

It IS purely decorative. The page isn’t about “Wikipedia Art” it’s about the “Wikipedia Art Controversy”. Most pages with logos are about the subject itself. If this image were copyrighted it’d not be allowed in the article, per WP:NFC. That said, it’s a free image so there’s nothing inherently wrong with having it, as it’s mostly related, though perhaps moving it down further might help remove its prominence. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ (talk) 15:08, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

I have removed the logo because it is nothing to do with the “Wikipedia Art controversy”. I understand that people like images, whether or not they are relevant, so someone may put it put back. If so, please use a relevant edit summary.

I am removing the logo to show how I think the article should appear (reason below). Also, I object to this edit summary which claimed the removal of the logo was connected with censorship. There is absolutely no basis for imagining anyone is being censored. The reason I support removing the logo is per WP:DENY which indicates that publicizing people who get a thrill from disrupting or misusing Wikipedia is not a good strategy. If WMF had objected to the logo, then of course it would be relevant and it would be shown. But the logo is nothing to do with the issue.

The subject of this article should be merged into Wikipedia in culture where there are plenty of more interesting examples of people trying to promote themselves using Wikipedia. None of the incidents should have their own article (which just invites escalating attacks). If it is considered that the subject of this article is notable because it involved a couple of lawyer letters, then it can stay as a separate article. However, there is no need to display a logo or otherwise dress up the issue in any way that might encourage other misuse of the encyclopedia. Johnuniq (talk) 00:05, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

I believe you are in error to remove the logo, because while not mentioned in specific, it is relevant to the trademark dispute in terms of the appearance of the site (the screenshot in the lawyer letter might be a better image to use). The “controversy” should be understood as “trademark / threat”, not “self-referencing page”. In fact, I’d say it might be helpful to rename the article along those lines, though I don’t want to do a big argument over that. — Seth Finkelstein (talk) 03:45, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

“While not mentioned in specific,” for us to include it would be WP:SYN. — The Red Pen of Doom 04:01, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
I just re-read the letter from WP legal and have confirmed that it only objects to the use of “wikipedia” in the domain name (on the basis of a trademark registration). The Mike Godwin mailing list post mentions that “wikipediareview” is clearly a critique of WP (no confusion), while “wikipediaart” could easily be an official WP site (and readers may readily imagine it to be produced by WP). The logo is not mentioned in any of the correspondence.
You can tell from what I’ve written above that I think any embellishment of this issue is a bad strategy. While I wish the artists well in their futures, encouraging similar activities on WP is a waste of time for the people who have to clean up, and it takes Wikipedia down the Facebook path, away from being an encyclopedia. So, whereas your idea to feature the letter as an image has merit, I think the links currently in the article are adequate. In this email we read the WMF attorney’s comment that an earlier, similar case resulted in being changed to There appears to be zero mention of visualwikipedia in WP, so perhaps a case could be made for moving this article to a more generic “attempts to use the Wikipedia name” article (and describe both cases). However, I don’t see any encyclopedic value in that. Johnuniq (talk) 04:45, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

The letter refers to (my emphasis) “changes to your website and domain name”, thus indicating it was not merely the domain name at issue (this is not WP:SYN, merely a careful reading of the text). Hence my suggestion that the screenshot of the site as used in the demand letter (not an image of the demand letter itself) would be a helpful illustration for the dispute. While I’m quite familiar with issues of courting legal controversy, there is no evidence that happened in this case (accusations by one party involved suffering very bad publicity not counting as evidence), and so little reason to keep out encyclopedic information. — Seth Finkelstein (talk) 07:08, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

merge proposal[edit]

As an occasional editor whose edits are usually prompted by obvious vandalism or need of copyediting, I agree with the suggestion that this be merged with Wikipedia in Culture. Coverage- yes. It’s own entry- not really. (talk) 19:38, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

The art project itself is very different from the trademark legal issue. The trademark legal issue doesn’t seem to me to be the sort of topic for “Wikipedia in Culture”. — Seth Finkelstein (talk) 04:29, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

as used in Wikipedia, “culture” does not limit itself to “art” but is frequently “culture and society”. The sourced contents of this article would clearly fit under that umbrella. I have made the formal proposal to merge. The discussion ends up on the merge to article if you wish to make your comments there. — The Red Pen of Doom 11:26, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Umm…Have you guys noticed that Wikipedia Art is part of the Internet Pavilion of the Venice Biennial? It doesn’t get much more notable than that for Artists…Homeiswheretheartis (talk) 22:23, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Lets not get too excited. It is listed as a “collateral event”, rather than as an official pavilion of the Biennale. Obviously it has some degree of recognition and notability but it is not like an appearance in a national pavilion. See: (talk) 00:03, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
This article is about a “domain name ownership dispute”. If a collateral event staged at a Biennale is sufficiently notable, it should have an article (or should be a section within an article on the exhibition). If this article features in the exhibit, it would encourage other people to try to use WP as a giant social-networking site with consequent disruption to the encyclopedia. Johnuniq (talk) 03:38, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
I don’t think the “art project” itself is very notable. But I don’t think it in itself is very dangerous, or has high copycat risk. Maybe it’s my lack of imagination, but I can’t see much of a call to arms to create articles about creating articles. — Seth Finkelstein (talk) 04:03, 5 June 2009 (UTC)