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Oversighter's Handbook on Commons
this is just to let you know that I have just added a link to an unofficial Oversighter's Handbook that I had recently created on Commons. Of course, some of the procedures written down there are Commons–specific, but most of them should apply to all Wikimedia and, indeed, all MediaWiki–based wikis, so I hope that it might be useful for your oversight work.
"Removal of potentially libellous information.. when the subject has specifically asked for the information to be removed from the history"
Just how broadly is "potentially libelous" defined?
It is reasonable to assume that Office actions that address libel define libel legally since the "Office" consists of legal professionals. But there is no reference in this policy to the law or the relevance of any legal definitions. Nor is there any indication that oversighters are expected to be familiar with libel law. The definition of "libelous" is up to the discretion of the oversighter amd the oversighter need not feel restricted by the narrow definition of legal libel, is that correct? I note that the policy is, in fact, even broader than the oversighter's self-definition of libel as it extends to "potentially libelous." I dare say that at any given time there is usually somebody somewhere who thinks that something negative about a subject is "potentially libelous." If suppression can be that broadly applied, I believe it would only be fair if that suppression be applied in an unbiased way, and by that I mean extending the courtesy of suppression to other stakeholders. The U.S. government has provided an enormous amount of imagery to the Commons by virtue of deeming works done by U.S. government employees public domain, yet this oversight policy fails to acknowledge any sort of responsibility towards either the U.S. government any other free country. The Intelligence Identities Protection Act makes it a federal crime to expose the identities of U.S. intelligence agents yet I see no acknowledgement of this in this policy, despite the fact that Wikimedia has servers in the U.S. and disclosure of this information - even if the accuracy of that information has been verified by citing an obscure but "public" reliable source - could lead to people being killed. There is also no acknowledgement in this policy that it is illegal to disclose protected trade secrets. "Corporations are people," became a laugh line last year amongst people opposed to the politics of Mitt Romney, but as a matter of law it's true. If oversight isn't going to be either clearly constrained or subject to community review, I submit that these powers should not be used to exclusively advance the libertarian/civil liberties agenda that I see pushed so often on Wikimedia projects. If the subjects of biographies can get their articles censored without even asking for this I think fairness implies broadening this courtesy. I note that the FBI once asked us to help minimize counterfeiting of its official seal by reducing the resolution of its seal hosted on our servers. The FBI was, of course, told to get stuffed, yet if a gang of hardcore criminals should end up getting access to a protected area where they kill innocent civilians because they bluffed their way past security with counterfeit identification that they pulled off of a Wikimedia site, I dare say Wikimedia's sense of responsibility is disturbingly selective. --Brian Dell (talk) 05:45, 29 August 2013 (UTC)