Yes, thanks Florence. That's about my understanding too.

There's editing and there's imposing policy. I can see that WMF, obviously,
can't take on an editorial oversight role (and the entailed responsibility)
because it can't possibly vet every edit.

But it seems to me they can impose editorial and other behavioural *policy*
on the projects. Yet, even in the case of BLP, they just urged the projects
to behave responsibly and left it up to the projects to take it or leave

Not that I want them meddling in projects' policies much. I'm just worried
they're unnecessarily constraining themselves. Others have implied this
inaction on project policy is in order to safeguard their protections under
the Communications Decency Act but nothing in that, to my non-expert eye,
stops them from imposing editorial and behavioural policy.

If it's just a position they've adopted for philosophical reasons, that's
fine. But I'd like to know what is at the heart of the WMF's practice here.

Anthony Cole

On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 7:49 PM, Florence Devouard <>

> I am not a lawyer so would not have the correct legal words to explain
> this. But roughly... the legal responsibility is not the same when you are
> simply "hosting" content published by others, as opposed to "publishing
> with an editorial role".
> For example, when you are simply a host provider, you can not be held
> responsible if you host a content which is defaming a person as long as you
> were not aware of it. Once the host is informed of the existence of the
> illegal content, it has an obligation of removing it.
> And to a certain extent, the host has an obligation to make sure that
> steps are taken to avoid illegal content to land on its servers. This is
> one of the reason for the existence of terms of use. Or this can justify
> recommandations made by WMF to the community to be super careful when
> dealing with biographies of living people.
> However, when the company is considered to have an editorial role (and
> this is very vague...), it may be considered legally responsible for any
> illegal content being on its servers. It is by default considered aware of
> the illegal content, and even worse... supporting its presence there.
> The LAST thing we want is to have the WMF being recognized as having an
> editorial role.
> Is that clearer ?
> Flo
> Le 27/02/16 18:50, Anthony Cole a écrit :
> Florence, can you explain to me the actual risk the foundation  would be
>> exposed to if ir got involved in editorial decisions, please? Perhaps some
>> hypothetical examples would help.
>> Anthony Cole
>> On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 9:49 AM, Florence Devouard <>
>> wrote:
>> Le 27/02/16 00:37, SarahSV a écrit :
>>> On Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 12:11 PM, Pete Forsyth <>
>>>> wrote:
>>>> However, if the core interest (as Sarah suggests) is to create paid
>>>>> opportunities for those who excel at Wikipedia writing and editing,
>>>>> those
>>>>> opportunities exist, and are increasingly available. The money doesn't
>>>>> need
>>>>> to flow through the WMF. In my opinion, it's much better if it doesn't;
>>>>> the
>>>>> WMF has enough political challenges to deal with, without getting
>>>>> involved
>>>>> in paid editing.
>>>>> ​Hi Pete,
>>>> I didn't intend to start a detailed discussion about paid editing in
>>>> this
>>>> thread. I mentioned it only as one of the ways in which the Foundation
>>>> could help unpaid editors.
>>>> To address a few issues: the point of suggesting the Foundation as a
>>>> neutral broker is to remove the paid editor's COI. The editor would have
>>>> no
>>>> relationship with the people wanting the article, and would not be
>>>> chosen
>>>> by them. The brief from the Foundation would be to produce a
>>>> well-written,
>>>> reasonably comprehensive, neutral article about X, based on the best
>>>> sources available. (Someone referred to this as advertising. It would be
>>>> exactly the opposite.)
>>>> It needn't be the Foundation that organizes this. A third party might
>>>> work,
>>>> but the danger of a private company doing it is that they would rely on
>>>> it
>>>> for profit, and therefore would be sensitive to pressure from companies.
>>>> The idea of the Foundation as broker is that it would always place the
>>>> core
>>>> policies above the desires of the client. Foundation involvement struck
>>>> me
>>>> as the only way for an editor to be paid for an article without having a
>>>> COI.
>>>> I believe someone else suggested in this thread that it could be run the
>>>> way the Education Program is, as a related but separate body. That would
>>>> be
>>>> something you would be perfectly placed to lead, Pete, given your
>>>> experience as consultant, editor, and former Foundation employee.
>>>> Sarah
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>>>> Removing a COI is not the only issue at stake Sarah.
>>> Would WMF get involved into such a process, it would also possibly change
>>> its legal reponsibility. Right now, WMF does not get involved in the
>>> editorial process, which allows to claim WMF is only hosting the content.
>>> If WMF is somewhat involved in an editorial process which results in
>>> paying the authors, then WMF might lose the "host" status.
>>> Flo
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