Legal Threats


I floated around a proposal a long time ago that frivolous legal threats should be met with swift temporary bans and memory-holing in order to mitigate any chilling effect. Debating the issue takes a long time and the damage to discourse is done by the time the community reaches any consensus on what to do with a particular legal threat. While I still believe that this should be policy, I don't see much to discuss here. The threats are over so that particular problem is gone. —WL

We need a primer for people who really don't understand what is going on with the wiki, I give my long winded explanation about once every 2-3 months on the latest person to blow into the wiki all concerned about something they have a monetary interest in and NOTHING else. Literally nothing else. Some jaded business owner, or some friend of an owner will show up and trample all over everything in a blind rage related to protecting their fiefdom.
Perhaps people who make legal threats could receive not a perm ban, but a LTB (legal threats ban) which basically redirects them to a page with info on the subject and then makes them acknowledge some info, or a bunch of cases showing safe harbor precedent etc etc. This is once again much ado about nothing that is detracting from making meaningful edits on the wiki.

Is this page for discussing or documenting legal threats...both? -MikeyCrews

I imagine that when a business owner starts a page here they assume that they will have a certain amount of autonomy over the factual business information and any graphics that represents the company, that local clients will leave comments based on good faith, that active members are part of the community, that the editors are unbiased, transparent and local and that if they decide to not have their business be part of the wiki, that they could remove the page. It should be stated before someone starts any page that this is not how it is. Also, I would think any legal questions should be addressed openly and thoroughly and not by banning people. If the wiki is completely covered by safe harbor or even if it's not why suppress discussion about it? -jimi

-Yes, I did read it. You miss my point. My point is that the general public is unaware of the scope of that phrase and the dire consequences of it.

There have been a grand total of zero administrative actions taken during this whole debacle, Please stop referencing them as they have been and will remain neutral. And furthermore yes, peoples presumptions will reflect on how they view a business, but surprise surprise that happens in the real world all the time even without the help of a wiki. moreover when you make an edit you are never challenging anything, you are simply adding your side and participating instead of choosing not to. We are all equal nobody takes precedence over anyone else. Just add information don't remove

If someone other that the business owner makes a page for that business and then leaves derogatory comments or uses that page as a vehicle
to damage the company, it would violate SB 1411. -jimi

SECTION 1. Section 528.5 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

who knowingly and without consent credibly impersonates another
actual person through or on an Internet Web site or by other
electronic means for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening,
or defrauding another person is guilty of a public offense punishable
pursuant to subdivision (d).

another person would reasonably believe, or did reasonably believe,
that the defendant was or is the person who was impersonated.

opening an e-mail account or an account or profile on a social
networking Internet Web site in another person's name.

exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a
county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and

suffers damage or loss by reason of a violation of subdivision (a)
may bring a civil action against the violator for compensatory
damages and injunctive relief or other equitable relief pursuant to
paragraphs (1), (2), (4), and (5) of subdivision (e) and subdivision
(g) of Section 502.


I'm in favor of dealing quickly with legal threats, although I'm leery about memory-holing stuff. I think it'd be worth doing some sort of write-up to use by default as a response to legal threats, which would be left on that user's page, along with a temp ban and deletion of the threat. A sample message:

Things can get a little fuzzy - was this a legal threat or just an implication that there's a cause of action? There will always be an element of judgment involved. For borderline cases, maybe there should be some sort of discussion or vote. For something that seems like a threat, I'd say the suspension should be automatic. If the administrators don't mind dealing with the potential headache of someone who hasn't cooled down yet from their cooldown ban, the message could include a contact e-mail address. —TomGarberson

One unexplored question is: what are the possible side-effects of a temporary ban on someone who's making legal threats on the wiki? Are they more or less likely to take actual legal action? —PhilipNeustrom

Really good discussion, folks; it makes me confident that this wiki is being edited in a manner that adds to the community. I do have to agree, as an occasional editor, that the Penal Code section quoted above seems to have no applicability to starting a page about a business, under most circumstances. —DougWalter

Do we have something approaching consensus on TG's proposal? Any other concerns? —cp

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