The Wikimedia projects make up one of the world's largest repositories of human knowledge. With that much information, someone is bound to get upset by some of the content from time to time. While the vast majority of content disputes are resolved by users themselves, in some extreme cases the Wikimedia Foundation may receive a legal demand to override our users.
The Wikimedia projects are yours, not ours. People just like you from around the world write, upload, edit, and curate all of the content. Therefore, we believe users should decide what belongs on Wikimedia projects whenever legally possible.
Below, you will find more information about the number of requests we receive, where they come from, and how they could impact free knowledge. You can also learn more about how we fight for freedom of speech through our user assistance programs in the FAQ.
Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen.
Story: A user contacted us to express concern about an English Wikipedia article on a famous work of art. They wanted to remove a single sentence, on the grounds that the sentence infringed their claimed copyright in a theory they had published some years ago. We explained to them that it is impossible to copyright an idea or a short statement of fact. They could copyright their article, but not the theories contained within. If the community thought the idea was interesting or notable and complied with Wikipedia’s policies, it was free to include it in the article.
Time Period: January 2015
Story: A self-identified religious group wrote us, requesting that we remove multiple English Wikipedia articles. As support for their request, they cited a self-publication declaring that the founder of their tradition is the ruler of the universe. We explained that the Wikimedia Foundation does not edit or curate content on Wikipedia, and that if they were concerned about inaccuracies, they could consult Wikipedia's experienced volunteer editors. We also directed them to Wikipedia’s policy on verifiability and guide to identifying reliable sources, so that they could better understand the standards applied to Wikipedia articles and permissible sources to cite in those articles.
Time Period: March 2015
Story: A lawyer reached out to us on behalf of a lesser-known North American political party that was unhappy with edits to English Wikipedia articles about the party and one of its leaders. Her clients apparently wanted previous, more promotional versions of the articles restored in place of the later versions. To better engage in discussions with the community, we encouraged them to familiarize themselves with Wikipedia's recommendations on style and tone and the policy restricting use of promotional language. We also advised that one of the best ways to resolve their concerns is to engage with the community directly.