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US: Wikipedia blocks Scientology from altering entries

30 May 2009 8:42 AM

SAN FRANCISCO, May 29 AFP - Wikipedia has blocked the Church of Scientology from editing entries at the communally-crafted online encyclopedia due to an unrelenting battle over the group's image.

A "longstanding struggle" between admirers of Scientology and critics of the group prompted Wikipedia on Thursday to bar online edits from computer addresses "owned or operated by the Church of Scientology and its associates".

An array of editors believed to have taken sides in a Scientology public image war at Wikipedia have also been barred from tinkering with topics related to the church.

"Each side wishes the articles within this topic to reflect their point of view and have resorted to battlefield editing tactics," senior Wikipedia editors said in arbitration committee findings backing the decision.

"The worst casualties have been biographies of living people, where attempts have been repeatedly made to slant the article either towards or against the subject, depending on the point of view of the contributing editor."

A church spokeswoman downplayed the development, saying the Wikipedia arbitration committee is part of a routine process for handling conflicts at the website.

"Do Scientologists care what has been posted on Wikipedia? Of course," said Karin Pouw. "Some of it has been very hateful and erroneous. We hope all this will result in more accurate and useful articles on Wikipedia."