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Wikipedia excommunicates Church of Scientology

Accusing the church of systematic manipulation of Scientology Wikipedia entries, the online encyclopedia bans all entries from IP addresses owned or operated by the church.

I believe the world doesn't give us enough to believe in.

So we should look to any possible source of guidance to help us through the messy morass of life.

If Wikipedia does it for you, lovely. If the Church of Scientology is your preference, lovely too.

But it seems these two sources are in something of a credibility saber fight, one in which Wikipedia has dealt the church a wounding swipe.

In a decision that will concern some in Los Angeles, the online encyclopedia has decided to ban all changes to the site made by IP addresses owned or operated by the church and its associates.

According to a report by the Register, the arbitration against the church, the longest in Wikipedia's history, ended this week with a 10-0 decision, one Wikipedian abstaining.

This is a Scientology exhibit. CC Jarrod Trainque/Flickr

The decision shows that Wikipedia's arbitrators were anything but arbitrary. They noted around 430 articles concerning the Church of Scientology and described "persistent point-of-view pushing and extensive feuding over sources on multiple articles."

They said that the very topic of Scientology "has become a magnet for single purpose accounts, and sockpuppetry is rife." (Single purpose accounts are those that only contribute on one sole topic. Sockpuppetry is, oh, you can work that one out.)

The least reliable, or perhaps least neutral, entries appear to have been biographies of living people in which pro- and anti-Scientologists tried to force their own mirror on the innocent reader.

I don't know about you, but whenever I am approached by Scientologists on the street, asking to take my blood pressure, asking the time, or asking if I'd like to fly up to Planet Excitement in a rather fine rocket, I marvel at their conviction.

However, Wikipedia demands a little faith too, so one has to admire that it is trying to keep its vast Church of Knowledge in order before someone knocks over a pew or two.

Still, it would be heartening if the two parties could find some sense of accommodation in the long run. There are many who would really like to discover an objective truth or two about Scientology.

So perhaps Wikipedia could ask some Scientologists to edit a few entries about Hollywood. You just know they must have some rather fun information they could share on certain biographies of living artists.

And perhaps, in a return gesture of goodwill, John Travolta could play Jimmy Wales in a biopic.