Wikidata:Requests for comment/Privacy and Living People

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An editor has requested the community to provide input on "Privacy and Living People" via the Requests for comment (RFC) process. This is the discussion page regarding the issue.

If you have an opinion regarding this issue, feel free to comment below. Thank you!



Wikidata is in the process of growing up given that it just turned five. Growing up means getting more mature. In it's policy for biographies of living people the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees called on the global Wikimedia community to "Ensuring that projects in all languages that describe living people have policies in place calling for special attention to the principles of neutrality and verifiability in those articles". Given that we are a project that describes living people it's time to do our part and also have an explicit policy instead of just informal decisions.

In addition, to fulfilling out duty, I consider this policy also to be valuable because it will make it easier to come to consensus around adding new properties. We had conflicts about new properties such as Wikimedia username (P4174) because some of us feared that having the property will lead to privacy solutions. With this policy, users that add a property like Wikimedia username (P4174) just because they know who's behind an account and who don't add a reference, will get an automated message telling them that their action is problematic. Not having an agreement about how privacy-sensitive Facebook ID (P2013) and LinkedIn personal profile URL - DEPRECATED: Use P6634 (P2035) happen to be produced controversy in the grant proposal for soweego that wouldn't need to happen when we implement the proposed policy.

By defining terms clearly and labeling privacy-sensitive properties with structured data we allow various automated processes that will help us to protect privacy. Having a clearly outlined processes of how individuals who see their privacy violated can complain will make it easier for them to engage with us and allow us to become more aware of issues we need to fix.

I created this RfC in the form that I consider to be best. To the extend that other people have different suggestions of how specific sections should be handled I invite everybody to add their own section to this RfC.  – The preceding unsigned comment was added by ChristianKl (talk • contribs) at 15:28, 30 December 2017‎ (UTC).


General Comments[edit]

  • The policy must be clear that it applies to all pages. Note that is the very first thing stated in EnWiki BLP policy.
  • The second sentence from EnWiki should also be substantially copied, specifying that such content must adhere strictly to all applicable laws in the United States as well as strict compliance with other policies. Living Persons Policy and Copyright Policy are not ordinary policies, they are both fundamentally grounded in law, and they then set a perimeter well clear of that law. That seriousness of the policy should be highlighted in the initial sentences.
  • In section Statements likely to be challenged the following sentence was copied from EnWiki policy: In the case of a dispute, the burden of evidence rests with the editor who adds or restores material. There are two problems:
    1. This must be moved out of the Statements likely to be challenged section. It addresses statements which actually are challenged. If a living person is described as dead/racist/nazi/whatever else, it doesn't matter whether or not it was in a pre-defined 'likely' category.
    2. The text was cut short. The two sentences after it must be included as well: If it is to be restored without significant change, consensus must be obtained first. Material that has been repaired to address concerns should be judged on a case-by-case basis. The entire point of the policy is that disputed Living Person content doesn't get treated like other content disputes. The content gets removed until the dispute is resolved. Without that, you don't have a Living Person's policy.
  • The crucial Definition of living person section is currently failing. As discussed in that section, replacement text should be substantially copied from EnWiki or a comparable BLP policy.

The items listed above are probably the most seriously flaws, and they are serious enough to render the policy worthless swisscheese. The entire policy should be reviewed in sentence-by-sentence comparison to EnWiki or other well established Living Person policy, with all relevant aspects copied or adapted as appropriate. Alsee (talk) 22:06, 3 February 2018 (UTC)

@Alsee: There was originally a section on application to non-item spaces - this was removed here. See also the draft's talkpage. Nikkimaria (talk) 00:43, 4 February 2018 (UTC)
Why would US law take precedence, for a project hosted in Germany? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 21:47, 4 February 2018 (UTC)
Wikidata:General_disclaimer#Jurisdiction_and_legality_of_content states that it is hosted in the US? Nikkimaria (talk) 01:21, 5 February 2018 (UTC)
News to me; but fair enough. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 14:51, 5 February 2018 (UTC)

Andy Mabbett are you endorsing the general text once we establish and include the correct jurisdiction? Or are you opposing the text entirely, and raising an incidental question of jurisdiction?
I'm having difficulty finding information on the physical hosting of wikidata servers. However I did find M:Legal/Legal Policies Applicable Law: United States law is applicable to Wikimedia Projects. The Wikimedia Foundation is a U.S.-formed corporation, and, for that reason, Wikimedia complies with U.S. law. Alsee (talk) 13:09, 5 February 2018 (UTC)
I've given detailed comments throughout the rest of this page. My question on jurisdiction was just that; and not an objection per se. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 14:51, 5 February 2018 (UTC)
The "In the case of a dispute, the burden of evidence rests with the editor who adds or restores material." sentence is not in the paragraph that votes on the individual point in question. It's also not in the policy that I proposed to be adopted when I created the RfC.
@Alsee: You can simply add your vote to the version that exists in this RfC (and which doesn't contain that sentence) is you think that version works.ChristianKl❫ 16:42, 5 February 2018 (UTC)

ChristianKl the above discussion cites your revert on the applicability of the policy. You apparently reverted on a rational that there is little applicability in prior-discussion before adding content. On Wikipedia almost none of the applicability is in prior discussion of content. Outside of articles, BLP generally arises in dealing with content after someone has removed something, and assorted issues not directly involving article content. If Wikidata's goal is to grow, then the expectation is that Wikidata will run into the wide range of issues other wikis experience. BLP issues can and do arise anywhere that somebody can enter text. That includes usernames, page tiles, edit summaries, and more. Not only should you revert your revert, you should convert ==non-item space== into subsection ===non-item space=== and put it back under the original section title ==Applicability of the policy==. That section should have this adapted sentence Living Person Policy applies to all material about living persons anywhere on Wikidata, including talk pages, edit summaries, user pages, images, categories, items, and properties. Alsee (talk) 14:16, 5 February 2018 (UTC)

There are no images on Wikidata. While EnWiki does hosts it's own images, all our image come from WikiCommons and WikiCommons has it's own BLP rules. ChristianKl❫ 16:22, 5 February 2018 (UTC)

The structure of this RfC appears to be flawed. While fluid, we currently have a majority in favour of adopting the whole draft, but majorities against adopting several parts of it. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 15:47, 5 February 2018 (UTC)

I understand "We will vote for the individual subpoints of the policy below." to be part of the general vote. To the extend that individual subpoints aren't accepted, we need to find an alterantive version for them that's get's accepted. ChristianKl❫ 16:28, 5 February 2018 (UTC)
For my part, while I view the current proposal as flawed, it is still better than the alternative, which is nothing. Lankiveil (talk) 02:56, 17 February 2018 (UTC).
Don't let the perfect become the enemy of good. --Rschen7754 03:14, 17 February 2018 (UTC)