Requests for comment/Internet Defense League

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The following request for comments is closed. In closing this RFC, I did take into account that for such a major RFC, it has been posted for less than a week, and as such this closure reflects only the users that have commented thus far, but I believe that there is a reasonable representation of our community for the most part. There is an overwhelming consensus from the users that have participated in this Request for comment that the Foundation should not join the Internet Defense League. Whilst there has been support of the SOPA blackout from some of the users that have voiced their opinion on this page, consensus shows that joining this League is far too political to be in line with the Wikimedia Mission and the Foundation's goals. In addition, the lack of clarity and information has increased uncertainty of what will ultimately happen if another "threat" occurs and what actions may be expected of the Wikimedia Foundation. The Helpful One 23:40, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
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Information

Due to the Internet Defense League's deadline, it will be necessary to close this RFC late in the day on 3 July. Thank you.

Overview[edit]

Recently, the Wikimedia Foundation was approached by the founders of an organization called the Internet Defense League (Wikipedia article, their website) which is soon to be launched. The founders would like the Foundation to join the League. However, the online community as a whole is the heart of this proposed grassroots movement and therefore, the Foundation would like guidance from the community as to whether or not the community feels the Foundation should join this effort.

NOTE: The information provided below is a synopsis of the limited information that was provided directly by the League and will not likely be available online until they officially launch. Please accept our apologies for a lack of proper citations.

Basic Background[edit]

The League is a shared project of Mozilla Foundation and Fight for the Future. The League is intended to create a network of people and websites who can collectively utilize their influence to help defend an open and free Internet. Essentially, they wish to establish a permanent transparent method of notifying individuals and organizations in the League should a significant threat to the Internet occur (i.e another SOPA/PIPA). Individual members of the League are not required to act should they be notified of such a threat, which means that the Foundation would not be obligated to act if there was no Wikimedia community support behind such an effort.

What the League provides[edit]

  1. A Network - Any League member can propose sending an alert or submit an action plan for such an alert via the email list or a subreddit (reddit.com/r/internetdefense). An alert will only be sent and an action plan will only be implemented if there is a general consensus by a group of policy experts or a high number of votes in the League's open forum in favor of the alert and/or action plan. Individual members are not obligated to act on the alert nor are they obligated to follow the specific action plan decided upon by the League if they do decide to act.
  2. Code - The League intends on providing members with tested and easy-to-deploy code (most likely simple Javascript) that they can use to launch campaigns on their sites. The code will broadcast the issue at hand and the action that the site's users can take. Members are not required to use the code, but if they do, they have control over the message's style and how it is displayed. They hope to have more advanced versions of the code (with features like geolocation, theme, auto-trigger options, etc.) developed by a volunteer developer community in the future.

Who has joined so far?[edit]

w:WordPress, w:Imgur, w:Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, w:Fark, w:Reddit, w:Craig Newmark's CraigConnects, w:Cheezburger Network, w:OpenCongress/PPF, w:TechDirt, w:Patrick Ruffini, Elizabeth Stark, w:Marvin Ammori, Doll Divine, w:Songmeanings, w:ROFLCON, w:Identi.ca, Electronic Consumers Association, Fight for the Future, w:Hypemachine, w:Boing Boing

Thoughts from the WMF's Legal and Community Advocacy Team[edit]

While this may be a very valuable initiative, there are a few points in the proposal that remain a bit unclear and others that should be considered generally. Prior to joining the League, we would seek clarification on these points. We invite the community to discuss these points and to share any additional considerations or concerns that have not been mentioned here.

The details of how the League network will function have not been fully established.
  • The type of consensus that is required to send an alert is unclear. Under the proposal, an alert is to be sent if there is general consensus amongst a group of policy experts or a high number of votes in favor of sending an alert on an open forum. The proposal does not indicate who the policy experts are, how they are appointed, how many there will be, or what constitutes a consensus or a high number of votes.
  • The proposal does not establish what kind of open forum will be used. The proposal states that there will be an email list and a subreddit, but does not indicate who may participate or how the members or general public will be notified of a new topic.
  • It should be noted that regardless of how the decision of sending an alert is made or who is allowed to participate, the Wikimedia community would still be the driving force behind any action taken by the Foundation. If an alert is sent, the Foundation would still advise the community of the alert and ask for a consensus prior to acting, much like it did with the SOPA blackout. If the community decides through a consensus that an alert to be sent on a particular issue, the Foundation would propose the alert to the League.
It is unlikely that the Foundation would use the League's code.
  • Regardless of the code which may be developed by the League, it is unlikely that the Foundation would use the code, not because we think that it's unsafe or not good, but because the Foundation has an incredible team of developers, both on staff and in our volunteer developer community, that can tackle the challenge of developing code for such an occasion. But more importantly, developing Wikimedia's message independently of the League will insure that the message reflects the values of the Wikimedia movement and that it is done so transparently with community involvement.
Joining the League could be seen as a move on Wikimedia's part to become more political.
  • This could be a negative thing as the Wikimedia projects are seen as neutral sources for information and during the SOPA blackout, there were some concerns that the Foundation and the movement were moving into the political sphere. However, joining the League does not mean that the Foundation will act on issues that the community does not believe is in the best interests of the Wikimedia movement.

Discussion[edit]

The Foundation supports a free and open Internet where we can all continue to freely share in the sum of all knowledge. However, whether we use the Internet Defense League as a means of demonstrating this support is a proposition worth community discussion. We encourage you to discuss this idea and the Foundation will listen to your thoughts, ideas, and concerns. While this request may appear in various lists and public locations, please post all comments and questions on the RFC so that we can ensure broad and full participation.

The Foundation should join the Internet Defense League[edit]

  1. This IDL seems to me an excellent initiative. Of course, we know little about it for so far because it is new. And the concerns raised above must be dealt with. Anyway, if I see it right there is no automatical obligation to actually put the code on one's site. We should wait for the answers to our questions. Ziko (talk) 18:52, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  2. It seems natural that the Foundation should make a move to protect itself for the future. I don't think there is anything political about that, as I think most will see that this is not a political maneuver. It seems that the League is well-intentioned, although I don't know much else, but I think that no harm will probably come from this, so it can only strengthen the Foundation. As it is written above, "the Wikimedia community would still be the driving force behind any action taken by the Foundation." I see no political problems nor do I have any other concerns. Bzweebl (talk) 01:23, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  3. I'm going to sound a note of cautious optimism for the next revision of this proposal once it becomes more concrete. I've been watching http://www.reddit.com/r/internetdefense/controversial/ that used to list https://boycottplus.org/ which seems rather drastic (but potentially very powerful and effective) but which is now listing http://stopthetrap.net that does seem like a very important issue which places the continued existence of the Foundation, Wikipedia and wikis in general at considerable risk. [edit: see also here.] There are other discussions at w:SOPA initiative/Post-blackout activities and initiatives#Internet Defense League. 70.91.171.54 02:13, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
  4. ...

The Foundation should not join the Internet Defense League[edit]

  1. Per S Marshall. Not enough information, but the way it reads now is a bad idea. This is the first I've heard of a so-called Interent Defense League, and the concept reads like using Wikipedia as a megaphone for anything that may be conceived as threatening the freedom of the Internet. We're not a political soapbox. The SOPA blackout was important because it was a very real and very current issue that Wikipedia saw fit to take action on. If something similar like SOPA pops up again, the Wikimedia Foundation can act upon it without needing to subscribe to a larger group's agenda.--128.227.79.236 17:43, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  2. While I appreciate the effort the founders of this movement are putting in to this, I don't think that we should join them. People trust Wikipedia for its neutrality, and taking this move could make us appear to favour certain political policies. Ajraddatz (Talk) 17:45, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  3. There are lots of noble causes that it would be good for WMF to support in the abstract. In practice, however, we need to steer clear of the politics of the moment and stay focused on the mission of providing a neutral and reliable encyclopedia. Carrite (talk) 17:52, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
    … and textbooks, a dictionary, a library of source documents, a news service, learning resources, a collection of images and sounds, a biological directory, and a collection of quotations, you mean, yes? Foundation#Main Wikimedia projects is important to read. Uncle G (talk) 19:59, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
    Nah, I mean an encyclopedia. Carrite (talk) 20:56, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  4. Please not more politicking. Wikimedia was conceived as and should remain an educational organisation, not a political lobbying group, or a vehicle for social activism. --JN466 18:28, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  5. I don't see how the wikimedia community is benefited by the foundation's membership in the league. If the need for protest arises again, the community can raise the alert without a formal mechanism in place to do it, and as far as I can tell that is the only benefit of membership. Monty845 (talk) 18:30, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  6. Given the decentralized and content-NPOV nature of Wikimedia, joining the IDL is impractical, as suggested in the 2nd (unlikely to use their code - top-down action) and 3rd point (becoming political) in the Thoughts section above. Deryck C. 18:44, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  7. Significantly per S Marshal, if there is a legitimately dire political issue, a native (on wikipedia) grassroots campaign can be established to do something about it. We don't need creepers from other sites to put down roots in our soil. If IDL wants to establish a notice/buliten board here to germinate discussion on "active alerts" I say more power to them, just be prepared to have to justify each and every campaign that they want Wikipedia to support Hasteur (talk) 20:00, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  8. Wikimedia isn't a political organization, nor should it be. Hot Stop (talk) 20:02, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  9. Not worth the hassle.Geni (talk) 21:24, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  10. Agree with Jayen. While the WMF working with the group in cases that interest it is not a bad idea, perhaps something like what was suggested below, I do not believe it should join some ill-defined political advocacy group.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 21:25, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  11. While I think our SOPA action was reasonable and appropriate, I am not sure that pre-emptively joining a heterogenous group like this, with diverse priorities and interests, will be in the best interests of the projects. Deciding whether to act on an IDL proposal would provoke extensive debate regardless of whether we are a member or not, as it would have to be referred to the community, so the speed of response would not be changed. Our acting on a proposal would have approximately the same level of overall effect regardless of our membership status prior to the proposal, but being a member would mean that our not acting would result in negative external reactions that would not occur if we were not a member. As such, Wikimedia's slow reaction times and high thresholds for initiating protest action might even lower the overall result of IDL actions. Andrew Gray (talk) 21:38, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  12. There's too little information on what this group is actually for. No mission statement, no values, nothing on which to base a decision. Wanting a "free and open internet" is all well and good, but what does it actually mean? There is also too little information on what it is going to do. We don't need a "league" in order for like-minded organisations to keep each other informed about what is going on - we already do that perfectly well. The fact that they haven't supplied us with this kind of information from the start means they don't know what they are doing and, therefore, will probably end up doing more harm than good. We should stay well away. If something more serious and well thought-through gets proposed, we can reconsider. --Tango (talk) 21:37, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  13. Better to wait and see. In the extremely rare (preferably never!) cases where the WMF needs to bring attention to an institutional position, it can do so with a high enough profile that it doesn't benefit from joining the IDL. The IDL might benefit from having Wikimedia as a member, but it's too soon to say whether that association might become a problem for the WMF. Nathan T 21:44, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  14. I believe that the Sopa blackout was an appropriate measure, and i personally believe rather strongly in a free and open Internet. However, i do not support Wikipedia joining the IDL at this time. I would point out that one of our core goal is neutrality, which is hard to defend nor achieve if we take permanent seat in what is essentially a campaign group. Additionally i don't see us joining in on any IDL actions unless they are threatening Wikipedia's ability to function as an encyclopedia; I would also point out that Sopa has been the first and only example in our entire 11 year existence where we took a stance like that (Thus i question the need or purpose of joining a group if we aren't going to be a part of it anyway). With some good natured humor i would point to an essay on the English Wikipedia (WP:NOBLE) which deals with non profit or "Noble" organizations. While the IDL may definitely have noble intentions, it is really not out purpose to join in or advance those goals. Excirial (Contact me,Contribs) 22:14, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  15. I think all the above hoopla about not "politicking" is off-base. Sometimes Wikimedia has to defend its own existence, and the values which it holds dear (like the value of free knowledge and the value of unhindered access to that knowledge). Doing so, as with the SOPA protest, is sometimes necessary. But, the Internet Defense League is a silly name and is likely to be confused with the English Defence League, a far-right street protest movement in Britain. It's a dumb piece of branding and we should not be involved in a group with such a silly and potentially reputation-damaging name. The very least they should have done before adopting such a name is Google it. —Tom Morris (talk) 22:22, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  16. Other users above have already explained very well what I, too, think. Wikipedia projects need to be careful not to be perceived as being politically biased. On those hopefully rare occasions when something like SOPA comes up, we already know from that past experience that we have enough clout to express our consensus and be heard, without needing to join another group. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:10, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  17. The blackout was fine as a once off. And if this organization go about some other similar action, we may decide at the time to join in. However, as a principle, we should remain apolitical. I wish them well, but it's not us. -- RA (talk) 00:48, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  18. Fight for the Future and this subproject seem to be positioned as a free speech movement. I don't think that's what Wikimedia is about, our goal is to educate, not to provide a platform for free speech. -- Tim Starling (talk) 05:29, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  19. I was significantly concerned about even the SOPA blackout and raised my concerns at that time, so my position here hasn't really changed. It is of significant importance for the WMF and Wikimedia projects in general to appear to be apolitical, where the five basic pillars (particularly the NPOV pillar foundational to all of the projects) needs to be maintained. I know it is well meaning to be involved with something like this, but don't get caught up with the perceived political leverage that Wikimedia projects have at the moment because of very hard earned good faith efforts by hundreds of thousands of volunteers over the years. Involvement with this group would compromise the Wikimedia projects' neutrality in an irreparable manner. That doesn't stop working jointly on projects with a group like this when their interest coincide with the interests of Wikimedia projects, but that should be informal at best and not long-term advocacy or even lobbying. --Roberth (talk) 06:27, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  20. Certainly support their aims but a) it looks a bit ridiculous, b) doesn't bring us, materially, anything much and c) is further politicisation of Wikipedia etc. --ErrantX (talk) 11:41, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  21. I notice that this page has a long list of "Who has joined so far?". If WMF joins, you can bet it will get high billing on that list as the League continues its recruiting. Even if we never participate in a single action, we will have endorsed the League and implicitly encouraged others to do so. We just don't know enough about the League to justify that sort of endorsement. —RuakhTALK 14:03, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  22. The community has no control over, or even input into, the policies and actions of this organisation. And they are too new to be able to judge them by their past performance. SpinningSpark 15:14, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  23. It's too soon to know exactly what effect this would have. As the SOPA issue demonstrated, the community is perfectly capable of determining an appropriate reaction to an exceptional circumstance. I don't have any trouble with WMF monitoring any concerns that the IDL brings up and bringing them to the community's attention if likely to directly and adversely affect Wikimedia projects, like SOPA would have, but I don't think Wikimedia should in general be a platform to Right Great Wrongs that aren't really relevant to Wikimedia. That being said, I could see reconsidering this proposal after the IDL has existed for some time, so that we can have a track record to judge them by. Seraphimblade (talk) 16:05, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  24. "It isn't us. It's an interesting approach, but it isn't us." --165.189.32.4 16:46, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  25. The proposal to join is extremely premature. Even when/if the organization formalizes its governance structure and modus operandi, and establishes a track record, it is not clear to me how membership would help to advance the Foundation's objectives. Interested Wikimedians may want to monitor their announcements and bring issue alerts to our attention for possible action, but that does not require broadly endorsing their activities or lending them our trademarks. ~ Ningauble (talk) 17:09, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  26. If there is another issue, we'll hear about it, and we'll be able to decide to take action on it. We should keep talking to all these organisations, but formalising this network doesn't really help achieve our mission. (Also,I may be wrong, but it strikes me as quite a US-centric organisation - don't forget that the first Wikipedia blackout was nothing to do with SOPA, it was an Italian Wikipedia protest against an Italian gagging law. Has anyone translated this RfC...?) Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 19:52, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  27. I believe the WMF ever sticking its nose in politics was a significant error, and one that should not be compounded by joining this group; we should be both apart from, and above political nonsense like this group. Courcelles 19:55, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  28. "The League is intended to create a network of people and websites who can collectively utilize their influence to help defend an open and free Internet. Essentially, they wish to establish a permanent transparent method of notifying individuals and organizations in the League should a significant threat to the Internet occur (i.e another SOPA/PIPA). Individual members of the League are not required to act should they be notified of such a threat, which means that the Foundation would not be obligated to act if there was no Wikimedia community support behind such an effort." - in ordinary language: "We will all have a big meeting once a year where we will sit around a table and get absolutely nothing done. We will start an email list which will send automated messages to everyone on it when we feel annoyed about something. We will never have to do anything and will let ourselves be crushed by big government and big business." --Claritas (talk) 20:25, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  29. I oppose this. No doubt the League's goals sound worthy, but we should be steering wikipedias away from political activism, not towards. When I edit, it's to make better and more accurate information available on one particular site, not to "mobilize the planet to defend the internet from bad laws & monopolies". The fact that some might see no difference between the two makes the difference even more problematic. If I want to sign a petition or do something activist in another field, that's my choice, and I would not do so in the name of every other wikipedian/wikimedian. It also seems USA-centric, which merely reinforces our problems of systemic bias - there are much worse threats to free communication than SOPA, but they're in different countries that nobody really cares about. bobrayner (talk) 20:45, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  30. The WMF shouldn't be involved in anything like this. Ottava Rima (talk) 00:08, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
  31. Wikipedia should not be affiliated with any political organisation. We are an encyclopaedia not a pressure group. The Foundation is not Wikipedia, but is close enough for the relationship to be troubling. SilkTork (talk) 09:28, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
  32. I don't see any benefits. On the one hand, political soapboxing is not within the (proper) purview of the Foundation. On the other hand, if we ever did decide to shout a message again, our megaphone's large enough already. Having this affiliation would do nothing but tie our name to another organization and to its causes - benefiting them, perhaps, but not us. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 13:04, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
  33. If we want ongoing participation and content from the entire spectrum of GLAM organizations, government organizations, and political sector organizations, we need to remain a neutral platform for information provision. Djembayz (talk) 11:44, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
  34. Despite the demise of SOPA and PIPA, the issue of a free and open internet is one that really has really become no less immediate since Wikipedia took its recent public stance on the matter, and in this climate of urgency offers of partnership from ideologically similar parties can be very tempting. The problem is, we don't know enough about how the league will operate to know what its definition of "significant threat" will ultimately become. That's putting aside for the moment the discussion of whether it's appropriate to allow ourselves to be prompted to political action, however passively, by an outside institution. I was absent for the whole SOPA/PIPA blackout discussion, but I think I would have supported the initiative, given the stakes. However, it was clearly an unprecedented move and the blackout was only implemented after a huge level of community debate. But the Wikimedia Foundation's mere membership in the proposed league would necessarily (if unpredictably) influence the process by which we asses these threats. Even though I most likely would have supported the afore-mentioned extraordinary actions, I'm sincerely hoping those are tools the community will not feel compelled to use again anytime soon - and even if a consensus for another action were to come about again, I'd like the impetus to grow organically as well, from Wikipedia's own internal community process. Put another way, I think the foundation joining this league would condition us to anticipate, and perhaps even accept, the inevitability of an action, whereas I would rather that was continued to be viewed as a controversial and highly unlikely incident, just as we would have before the blackout. If we prepare ourselves for political action we will become more inclined to view that as an acceptable regular activity and part of our purpose here. I feel it can only serve to distract us from editing and maintaining our projects at best and could compromise our integrity with regard to neutral point of view and other core principles at worse. Add to all of this the IDL's currently vague mandate, process, and internal structure, and I'm afraid I must, for the time being at least, oppose this association firmly, though I sympathize in general with the IDL's mission as I see it stated here and might support them in other spheres. Snow Rise (talk) 19:38, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
  35. US-centric politics. Rather than worrying so much about US laws, we should be preparing to host Wikimedia projects in another country in case that becomes necessary. Ecuador? John Vandenberg (talk) 22:12, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
  36. The IDL does not match the mission of Wikimedia, and joining it would indicate a bias. Although some may agree with the aims of IDL, Wikimedia needs to have more flexible approach. It is free to hear the message of IDL and repeat it where necessary, and the community can support or oppose any particular proposal. But it is to much to preemptively support it. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 11:11, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
  37. Out-of-retirement to strongly oppose joining. For all Wikipedia/Wikimedia's faults, its key strength is that it's generally considered broadly neutral. Once it starts explicitly picking sides, it immediately loses the trust of the educational institutions, media companies and government archives on which its long-term future depends. The WMF seems to have a peculiar blind spot when it comes to recognizing that some people - rightly or wrongly - supported SOPA, and that a number of museums and archives will quite readily withdraw cooperation if they see Wikipedia lining up with an organization explicitly opposed to copyright protection. – iridescent 16:01, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
  38. The name has some rather right wing connotations, especially as it hasn't yet codified exactly what it wants to defend the Internet from. I'm all for lobbying where Wikimedia's interests are at stake, but not for going beyond that, especially not when we don't yet know what the objectives are. Once the IDL decides whether it thinks the Internet wants defending from: trolls or those who'd restrict trolls, Copyviolaters or copyright enforcers, spammers or spam hunters, pornographers or prudes, then we can re-evaluate and decide whether we should collectively join. In the meantime there is nothing to prevent individuals joining and or collaborating on a case by case basis. WereSpielChequers (talk) 16:11, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
  39. We simply don't know enough about it. Additionally it appears rather US-centric, as evident by the choice of name which will not play well in the UK with its similarity to the right-wing English Defence League. the wub "?!" 16:21, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
  40. Fuzzy aims, not aligned with our mission, and the name is absurd. Risker (talk) 20:03, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
  41. Wikipedia supports a neutral point of view in its encyclopedic content, and is not necessarily a counterforce to all noble aims. However, Wikipedia should not take strong and permanent political stances. The banner display in protest of SOPA was an example where a comprehensive community debate had taken place before the banner was put up, and the display of a banner was a one-time event; this is a permanent fixture where there is no clear responsibility of the WMF to the community. I would have narrowly supported membership if the IDL had made a clearer statement of its goals and had a name that sounded less like the KKK's Internet arm. How the Wikimedia community fits into this is also poorly defined and there are no clear accountability structures, and hence I oppose membership at the present time.
  42. The Foundation should not join the League and the members who supported the blackouts should resign. Thierry Caro (talk) 12:29, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
  43. Per Risker and the wub. --194.176.105.136 13:18, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
  44. We shouldn't join a group that will make us appear to hold positions the Community hasn't explicitly approved. --SarekOfVulcan (talk) 13:28, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
  45. It became abundantly clear during the SOPA blackout that Wikipedia cannot make decisions as fast as Reddit or the Cheezburger Network can -- our consensus-based decision-making takes far longer than their top-down decision-making. Because of this, we will forever be followers and not leaders in such an organization. --Guy Macon (talk) 15:05, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
  46. I can't support this - I did support the SOPA blackout (from afar) but we cannot afford to be seen as a political entity. Were another direct threat to Wikimedia to arrive, I'm sure the community would act accordingly. This is unnecessary. Though being a part of something that sounds like the Justice League definitely appeals to me. Keilana|Parlez ici 15:21, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
  47. I agree with user:Roberth. Pucesurvitaminee (talk) 15:53, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
  48. Per Roberth and iridescent above — Arkanosis 16:46, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
  49. I voted in favor of the SOPA blackout, but I can't favor this. The WMF has every right (nay the duty) to help the community if its mission is potentially compromised. However it is crucial that the foundation stays as a-political as it can be. Such a position makes us weaker in terms of influence and we will have to do more heavy lifting as a community, but in the long term it will be worth it in terms of image. I'm all for the IDL, but i'd rather see our users be a vocal part of it, than the WMF. TheDJ (talk) 18:16, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
  50. Per TheDJ above. The protest against SOPA represented a immediate, tangible threat to the future of the project, and it was one which the community discussed for some time beforehand and acted upon. That said, the WMF needs to say of focused on its goal as an educational and apolitical group, and joining this is a backslide from that. elektrikSHOOS (talk) 18:26, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
  51. No, per others above. This isn't something we should be getting involved with. Intothatdarkness (talk) 20:03, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Other / Discussion / Undecided[edit]

  1. Insufficient information to decide. Please ask again when the community can examine the actual details.S Marshall (talk) 17:36, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  2. Concur with S Marshall - David Gerard (talk) 17:42, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  3. Concur with S Marshall ~~EBE123~~ talkContribs 17:48, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  4. I'm a bit skeptical about the lack of transparency relating to Fight for the Future. It bills itself as a project of the "Center for Rights", which in turn is apparently a project of the Media Democracy Fund, which is a "grant-making collaborative hosted by the Proteus Fund"[1]. None of them have WP articles, which isn't exactly confidence-inspiring. More fundamentally, though, signing as a full member of the Internet Defense League seems to imply a commitment to push the IDL's messages out to all of WP's readers (even if via Foundation code rather than via IDL code). This is almost a form of political advertising, with spots handed over to an agency. I'm in favour of some form of collaboration; maybe Wikimedia can be an observer member of IDL, aimed at keeping an eye on actions that might be necessary to specifically defending the interests of the encyclopedia as the law impacts on it. There could be a WikProject to help keep people informed, and on ad hoc basis the project can ask the wider community to decide to take wider action (from banner ads up to a blackout). Rd232 (talk) 18:38, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
    Seems the Proteus Fund is one of those groups that funnels corporate foundation dollars into "grassroots" causes as a way to conceal the big money connection.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 21:20, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  5. Concur with Rd232. Observer status could be a good solution. Dankarl (talk) 21:12, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  6. The WMF is seperate from the various communities and should do as it sees fit. I sincerly appreciate that the WMF is asking for community input on this idea and I thank them for their efforts. However, I think one of the strengths of our global projects is that each project (i.e. enwp, dewp, eswp, commons, etc.) does what it thinks is best for themselves. I view the WMF the same way and think they should do what they feel is best for themselves. In general I Support the idea of a free an open internet, but I have far too little information to make an informed comment on this. I would say the WMF should use the data it gathers here to help them make a decision, and then they should do what they feel is in the best interest of the foundation. Best regards. 64.40.54.97 01:19, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  7. It strikes me that this would be hopeless to implement. I like the concept, and support what they're doing, but the decentralised way Wikimedia works is not very well suited to gaining local consensus on each and every project that may or may not join in. Best to leave the projects to themselves. In addition, there is the issue of using the projects as soapboxes. WMF is near-unique in its very strict neutrality requirements and this is difficult to reconcile with this cause, no matter how worthy. I'm not going to all-out oppose because of the concerns above: insufficient info. It is possible that some limited value may be achieved by WMF membership; I do like the 'observer' post mentioned above. Maybe other alternatives will be dreamt up, too. Certainly, the ability for the WMF to have an outlet for relevant views and concerns (including those of its community) is highly desirable from our viewpoint, although there's a concern that's a case of deriving benefit without really contributing much. Then again, what can we contribute? TL;DR: There are still issues to be mulled over here, but I suspect we can't join up in the 'normal' way. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 16:32, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  8. Have our cake and eat it too. Could we take part in the alerts without committing to join the league? Users could have an option in preferences to see the alerts and still vote on blackouts and other actions etc. Then each user could decide their own politics on it an WMF would remain neutral.--Canoe1967 (talk) 20:06, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  9. Several of the opposer's above mention our value of "neutrality", but fail to distinguish between the neutrality of our (encyclopedic) content and the political neutrality of our community as a whole. The latter, we clearly are not. We should actively lobby for legislation that makes it easier to keep out content neutral (including but not limited to freedom of speech related issues and more liberal intellectual property and fair use laws). I do agree with some of the other concerns mentioned (US-centrism, the ill-chosen name and a general lack of information). Ruud Koot (talk) 13:35, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Response / Proposal from Fight for the Future[edit]

Hi everyone--- Holmes Wilson here from Fight for the Future (one of the organizers of the league). We've read through the concerns and rather than responding to each one individually, we thought it made more sense to zero in on what seemed to be the general problem and propose a way to solve it. (Please edit this if I'm not responding in the right place, and if you'd like point-by-point responses to all of the questions here we can do that too.)

It seems to us that the biggest problem is the following: we don't have a concrete plan for how a community-run, non-hierarchical organization participates in the league. Individuals and hierarchical organizations can join based on an intuitive assessment of the overall vision, knowing they can change course later if they need to. But for a non-hierarchical organization everything needs to be rigorously explicit.

For example, our intention is to make the "alert" system participatory, but we don't know exactly how that will work. That's obviously a problem for any wikipedia member making the decision to join.

We'd like to know if there's a way to break off with a group of wikipedia community members who are interested in the league to figure out the details of how Wikipedia and its community members participate in the league and come back with a complete proposal. This way, we can work out the questions of governance and participation in ways that make sense for Wikipedia.

Finally, regarding neutrality, if sites like Wikipedia can't protect their ability to pursue their goals, they're falling short of those goals. Just as there's nothing non-neutral about insisting on high quality articles, there's nothing non-neutral about insisting on the basic conditions that make your work possible.

We know that the internet needs large coalitions of sites to defend it. If Wikipedia didn't participate in the blackout, SOPA/PIPA would have passed in some form, threatening the clear safe harbor rules that Wikipedia other online communities depend on. At the same time, the difficulty in organizing the blackout and the large element of sheer luck and serendipity involved made it clear that we need at least a loose network in place going forward. It may make sense to only use this power in rare emergencies. But when a rare emergency comes along, our mobilization shouldn't depend on luck. SOPA/PIPA proved both that sites need to act together to defend the open internet, and that the internet needs something like the League.

Whatever this network grows into, the need is clear, and wikipedia's membership would make it stronger-- even if it's just for the experience its members would bring in organizing ambitious efforts in an open and participatory way. I hope we can work this out, and if this idea of breaking off to prepare a proposal is acceptable, perhaps people who are interested in being involved could sound off here. The preceding unsigned comment was added by Holmeswilson (talk • contribs) 2012-07-02T05:59:00 .

  • Or to summarize, 'We want the Wikipedia name (and you can bet it will be "Wikipedia" that goes on the press releases, not "WMF") to give our organization some credibility in a fight against a law in a single country in which the overwhelming majority of the users and editors of WMF projects don't live. If you don't agree with this, we're going to shoot-till-we-win and keep coming back with variations on the same proposal until we scrape a majority.' – iridescent 16:15, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
    • Yes, and frankly, what relevance is the law of Palau to the legal position of the US-based WMF anyway? ... oh wait, it's about US law. Put another way, the overwhelming majority of users and editors may not be subject to US law, but the website they use certainly is, and pretending otherwise helps no-one. Rd232 (talk) 16:51, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
      • True, but a free and open internet isn't synonymous to the ability for Wikipedia to operate. If the US goverment would decide to ban all traffic encryption and VPN under some terrorism law, or if the suggestion was raised that net neutrality was to be entirely dropped that would be a clear threat to the open and free internet. But would it threaten Wikipedia? Vert unlikely. Would there be any purpose for Wikipedia itself to join a protest? No.

        No matter how noble the goal, Wikipedia's purpose is always neutrality, and affliction with a campaign group would certainly harm that purpose and at worst attract people who wish to use Wikipedia as a campaigning platform. Besides this i would point out that the Sopa blackout essentially got 66% or so in support since it would directly threaten Wikipedia, and even so many editors noted (Myself included) was that this was a very rare, one time exception from the neutrality stance. Having seen that i very much doubt that permanently joining an interest group such as the IDL would ever be done, no matter the conditions. At most i see us observing the alerts, but honestly i doubt anything would be actioned, except for issues that would be raised outside the IDL as well. Summarized - The IDL has a noble goal, and while it overlaps Wikipedia's goal in part, it is not the same nor similar enough to integrate it entirely. Excirial (Contact me,Contribs) 22:51, 2 July 2012 (UTC)

  • I disagree with your premise, the idea that this is about the difficulty of a decentralised organisation joining something that a more hierarchical one with similar values would join. The problem is that you want our brand name for purposes that are currently too amorphous. You are quite right to say of us that there is "nothing non-neutral about insisting on the basic conditions that make your work possible". Now why not codify a set of values, those aspects of the Internet that you believe worth defending, and if that has a good fit with the basic things that make our work possible then maybe we can sign up. Or maybe we can sign up but with explicit caveats that we are not to be considered part of the coalition trying to achieve z but we do support x & y. WereSpielChequers (talk) 16:49, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
  • If you want to create a participatory system, create one and Wikimedians can individually participate (or not). Based on that, the League and Wikimedia will be linked enough that individual proposals for Wikimedia sites to take action can be made as necessary by participating Wikimedians, armed with the information provided by the League to persuade their colleagues. Formally, WMF can be an observer, as far as I'm concerned, without committing to any action (which clearly Wikimedians don't want to make at this time). Rd232 (talk) 16:57, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
  • This proposal pretty well seals the deal for me; I cannot see the Wikimedia family of educationally-oriented websites participating in a coalition that clearly does not understand either the structure or the purpose of our interconnected projects. Risker (talk) 20:07, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Mr. Wilson, as a long-time civil-libertarian, let me take this opportunity to indicate my profound concern. For example, your statement about "threatening the clear safe harbor rules that Wikipedia other online communities depend on" is artfully phrased, so I will not deem it false. But I would say it is deeply misleading in implication. I see many people in this discussion repeating the mistaken idea that SOPA would have directly threatened Wikipedia. This is a false conception, which arises because there were blatant and repeated lies told by political manipulators in order to generate wide-ranging opposition to SOPA (and I say this as someone who opposed SOPA). What was primarily threatened was Google's profits regarding YouTube in terms of liability for copyright infringement, though there were also civil-liberties threats too. And in my view, Wikipedia sacrificed its neutrality then to become in essence a lobbying extension of Google. Now, this might have been worth it for certain interests, that's an empirical calculation. There might even have been a net positive outcome, putting aside the ends-vs-means moral problem. But I'm worried that _Fight for the Future_ is trying to continue to use civil-libertarians as Google astroturf. After all, the previous effort was very successful, so why not? I'm jaded enough not to dismiss this out of hand. But my concern is how one could ever hold Google to account if it simply used and then discarded civil-libertarians, or Wikipedia, once it had achieved its goals? Oh, and please, let's not waste time with the storyline that this is about nation-building, human rights, and bringing democracy to benighted lands. The money shows otherwise. -- Seth Finkelstein (talk) 23:31, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
    • There is plenty of content on Wikipedia coming from foreign nations which violates US copyright law. Not that we endorse it; we try actively to purge it from our system in order to comply with existing law. But Wikipedia could be shut down due to the transient presence of copyright-violating content which was not its fault. Hence it was in the best interest of Wikipedia (not just Google) to oppose SOPA. Wer900 (talk) 04:14, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
      • The idea that "Wikipedia could be shut down" was a scare story you were told, in order to mask Google's very real enormous lawsuit problems with copyright infringement on YouTube, with a fabricated sympathetic issue. It was a "Death Panels" moment for net-politics. The truth is sites like Wikipedia were exempt. Now, before you reply, consider why you believed it, and what it would take to convince you that you had been manipulated for political reasons. Like "Death Panels" - why would someone tell you that the government is going to have mandatory euthanasia, and how does one prove this wasn't the case against a generic argument that single-payer health care could be abused by putting sick old people to death. Then, ponder the problem of Wikipedia doing more Google Defense, cough, "Internet" Defense, in the future. -- Seth Finkelstein (talk) 05:10, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Holmes Wilson from Fight for the Future, are you approaching Wikimedians and the Wikimedia Foundation, or are you approaching Wikipedians, specifically those of the English Wikipedia (given that no-one seems to have told the non-English projects about this RFC)? Uncle G (talk) 09:55, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
    • Well, I can't speak for everyone, but the first I got wind of this was via The Signpost; each project will have to get the message out using its own community tools, and it's not surprising the members of the wiki with the most developed community networks (and the largest overall population) should show up in numbers here first. But I think you're right - clearly the IDL prizes the influence of en.Wikipedia above its sister projects; but is this really surprising or unacceptable? If anything, I appreciate the bluntness in this context. Wikipedia is the largest project and the one with the largest population of Americans - this means it arguably has the biggest vested interest in the IDL's agenda and is the project which could prove must useful to their efforts. I don't support an acceptance of their proposal (at least, not at present), but I don't see the problem with speaking plainly about matters. Wikipedia did stop SOPA, or was arguably the single most crucial factor in stopping SOPA, at least, despite jumping in only in the 11th hour. This was also the moment when everyone (most Wikipedians included, I think) realized just what a juggernaut Wikipedia could be politically, if it chose to. And the moment a lot of people realized how much they depended upon this service and what it would mean if it, and other important elements of the internet, were to be taken away because they weren't properly protected -- which of course was the point. Now the IDL wishes to leverage that influence, whether appropriately or not; we can't allow that with the current ambiguities involved, of course -- or rather we can't allow it without first letting the WMF know how strongly we oppose it -- but I don't think Fight for the Future's leadership, whatever their aims, should be penalized for addressing the issues frankly. Snow Rise (talk) 11:50, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
      • No. The English Wikipedia got a direct notification from Foundation representatives; and the top of this very page says "the Wikimedia Foundation was approached" and "the online community as a whole". Uncle G (talk) 12:20, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
        • Right, because the WMF correctly interprets this as an issue that could have significant impact on all Wikimedia projects. But whether to join the league (and in what capacity) is for the WMF to decide (in consultation with the various project communities). Again, I just don't see the point in criticizing the IDL's direct language concerning the practical alliance they are hoping to forge with Wikipedia. Either they have respect for our project and goals and are intent on ultimately delivering the foundation a proposal that is consistent with it's mission and the needs of its projects -- in which case they shouldn't be chastised for honesty -- or they are here simply to gain our assistance and will say anything to get it - in which case they shouldn't be helped to adapt their message faster. In either case we are better off with a transparent and blunt message about why this connection is important to them. As to en.Wikipedia getting a cent notice, are you certain no others have? Honestly, the WMF could not possibly have made this a public matter an expected it to stay confined to the English Wikipedia's community, so I'm relatively certain that outreach to all projects must be in the works, if not underway, but we'll see shortly either way. Snow Rise (talk) 14:23, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
          • Again, no. (Goodness, you don't half put up loads of straw men.) The only people who directly told the WMF projects, and sizeable parts of the Wikimedia community, that are other than the English Wikipedia, aren't part of the Wikimedia Foundation: Michaeldsuarez, who told Commons, and me. Ironically, this RFC is now scheduled to close before the majority of the Wikimedia community, that it was intended to consult, even know of it. Uncle G (talk) 15:03, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
            • I confirm. The only message on the French Wikipedia was Uncle G's (thanks, btw). Can't tell for other projects. — Arkanosis 16:39, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
            • Well forgive me as I have only limited experience with how these notices go out in the other Wikipedia's, but isn't that often how these things circulate -- one or two of the central notice boards get the info and then volunteer translators handle making the notices more broad? I seem to recall there's even a toolset for expediting these global notices by way of the community. All of that being said, I do agree with you that there's nothing to lose and a plenty to be gained from not closing the RfC until a broad selection of Wikimedians have been given the opportunity to voice their opinions on what is sure to be a contentious issue. But this decision is within the discretion of the foundation and we're just going to have to trust that its leadership will continue to solicit the opinion of the broader community as the IDL continues to refine its proposal. Afterall, if we can't assume good faith out of the WMF (of all institutions), then we'd already have bigger issues than this particular one. Anyway, again, that all concerns what we expect of the WMF. Addressing your original point, though, yes the IDL clearly (and reasonably) seems to see en.Wikipedia as the main target of this recruiting effort. Snow Rise (talk) 22:25, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
              • Much as I sympathize with everyone getting to put in their 2k, pragmatically, this is, in the jargon, a "snowball close". And it's fairly trivial anyway. All it means is that the Wikipedia name will not be on the press release announcing the Google, umm, Internet, Defense League. Sure, that would be nice for them. But it's not where the big power resides. The next time Google's profits are at risk, excuse me, I meant to say, a free and open Internet is in peril, I'm sure those people will be able to find the Wikimedia Foundation to work on having Wikipedia turned into a giant Google propaganda billboard, err, cough, taking action to raise awareness of the terrible risk to Wikipedia. -- Seth Finkelstein (talk) 22:48, 3 July 2012 (UTC)