Wikiversity:No legal threats

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You can help develop this proposal, share your thoughts, or discuss its adoption as a Wikiversity policy, guideline, or process. References or links should describe this page as a "proposal".

Do not make legal threats on Wikiversity. Users who do so may be blocked from editing while the threats are outstanding. Legal threats should be reported to Wikiversity:Request custodian action or elsewhere to an Custodian. Rather than immediately blocking users who post apparent threats, Custodians should first seek to clarify the user's intention if there is doubt.

Rather than posting a legal threat, you should try to resolve disputes using Wikiversity's dispute-resolution procedures. If your issue involves Wikiversity itself, you should contact the Wikimedia Foundation.

A legal dispute between users, whether as a result of incidents on Wikiversity or elsewhere, is not a valid reason to block, so long as no legal threats are posted on Wikiversity. Editors involved in a legal dispute should not edit articles about parties to the dispute, given the potential conflict of interest.

What is not a legal threat[edit]

Copyright[edit]

A complaint in cases of copyright infringement is not a legal threat. If you are the owner of copyrighted material that has been inappropriately added to Wikiversity, a clear statement about whether it is licensed for such use is welcome. You may contact the information team or the Wikimedia Foundation's designated agent, or use the procedures at Wikiversity:Copyright problems.

Defamation[edit]

A discussion as to whether material is libelous is not a legal threat. Wikiversity's policy on defamation is to delete libelous material as soon as it is identified. If you believe that you are the subject of a libelous statement on Wikiversity, please contact our staff.

Conflict of interest[edit]

Politely making paid editors aware of the requirements of the Wikimedia Foundation's terms of use, or laws against undisclosed advertising, is not a legal threat.

Perceived legal threats[edit]

It is important to refrain from making comments that others may reasonably understand as a legal threat. For example, if you repeatedly assert that another editor's comments are "defamatory" or "libelous," that editor might interpret this as a threat to sue, even if that is not your intention. To avoid misunderstandings, use less charged wording, such as “that statement about me is false and damaging, and I ask that it be corrected." Rather than immediately blocking users who post apparent threats, Custodians should first seek to clarify the user's intention, if there is any doubt. The mere use of a legal term or concept is insufficient justification for a block where a reasonable person would recognize that actual legal action is either not intended or not possible.

Rationale for the policy[edit]

While you may sue in a court of law, Wikiversity is not the place for legal disputes. Making legal threats on Wikiversity is uncivil and causes a number of serious problems:

  • It severely inhibits free editing of pages, a concept that is absolutely necessary to ensure that Wikiversity remains neutral. Without this freedom, we risk one side of a dispute intimidating the other, thus causing a systemic bias in our articles.
  • It creates bad feelings and a lack of trust within the community, damaging our ability to proceed quickly and efficiently with an assumption of mutual good faith.
  • We have had bad experiences with users who have made legal threats in the past. By making legal threats, you may damage your reputation on Wikiversity.

Attempting to resolve disputes using the dispute resolution procedures will often lead to a solution without resorting to the law. If the dispute resolution procedures do not resolve your problem, and you then choose to take legal action, you do so in the knowledge that you took all reasonable steps to resolve the situation amicably.

Conclusion of legal threat[edit]

The Wikiversity community has a long-standing general principle that (almost) anyone is capable of reform. Accordingly, statements made in anger or misjudgment should not be held against people once genuinely and credibly withdrawn.

To prevent damage to the project, this policy temporarily removes from participation in the community editors who make legal threats on Wikiversity. The editor is not blocked just because "it's a legal threat", but because the block:

  1. reduces scope for escalation of a bad situation,
  2. reduces stress and administrative burden on the wiki,
  3. reduces disruption to articles and the editorial environment,
  4. prevents a situation in which someone is seeking to be a collaborative partner while setting themselves up as a legal adversary.

If these conflicts are resolved (or a consensus is reached to test whether they are resolved), then editors should be unblocked if there are no other issues that warrant a block.

The aim is to prevent legal threats being posted on Wikiversity, not to keep bad content from being fixed. Admins should encourage an aggrieved user to identify factual errors in the article at issue; a link to Wikiversity:Contact us/Article problem/Factual error (from subject) may be appropriate.

Repeats of legal threats on the user's talk page have limited scope for disruption or chilling effect. The user should not be prevented from using their talk page until reasonable attempts have been made to open a civil discussion. We assume good faith while containing disruption, but the assumption of good faith is not a suicide pact; persistent or vexatious complaints may indeed lead to the user being banned and prevented from editing their talk page, but this is a last resort.