University hosting panel continues discussion on Wikipedia ethics without Wikimedia

Thursday, May 15, 2008

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Mike Godwin.
Image: Alice Lipowicz.

Wikinews has learned that the Wikimedia Foundation has decided not to participate in a panel discussion that is to take place at Santa Clara University in California. The discussion, which is titled 'The World that Wikipedia Made,' was to be based on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and ethics involved in the editing of the website. It is the ninth such meeting in a series on technology, ethics, and law and is taking place today.

In an e-mail to Wikinews, Miriam Schulman the communications director for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University which is to host the discussion, states that Mike Godwin, legal counsel for the Foundation, will not be speaking during the discussion as was originally planned.

According to Schulman, Godwin canceled his scheduled appearance just one week ago and has decided not to have anyone from the foundation replace him. Valleywag, a gossip website about technology, recently reported that Godwin was not attending due to a "groundswell of criticism of Wikipedia".

"I don't want to speak for Mr. Godwin or Wikimedia, but someone else made an incorrect assumption about this, so let me clarify that in our understanding, the problem was never with the composition of the panel. Mike Godwin, General Counsel of Wikimedia, was scheduled to participate in the panel, 'The World that Wikipedia Made,' on May 15. Last week, Mr. Godwin informed us that he would not participate, and subsequent discussions with Wikimedia Foundation indicated that they would not designate a replacement speaker," stated Schulman to Wikinews.

De Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University
Image: Matthew Hendricks.

"This is our ninth such panel (in addition to the hundreds of events on other topics our centers run each year), and we feel confident in our ability to set a respectful tone for discourse on controversial topics," added Schulman.

Schulman would not comment on the reason for the Foundation's decision. Wikinews also attempted to contact Godwin, but was directed to Jay Walsh who is the head of communications for the Foundation, but Wikinews has not received a response.

The panel was to include Carl Hewitt an electrical and computer science engineer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Godwin discussing Wikipedia with Pedro Hernández-Ramos, associate director for the Center for Science, Technology, and Society moderating the discussion. The plan was to discuss Wikipedia, and what does and doesn't work for the encyclopedia.

"This panel will explore what works and what doesn't in the Wikipedia editing model from the angles of ethics, expertise, education, and the law," said a statement on the Center's website.

Schulman states that the discussion, which is open to the public, is "still planned" for Thursday May 15 at 6:00 p.m. (pacific time) at the De Saisset Museum on the university's campus, but it is not yet known if anyone outside the Foundation will be replacing Godwin. The High Tech Law Institute along with the Ethics Center are sponsoring the discussion. Both individuals are still attending the discussion.

"These events are always open to the public, which means everyone is welcome. In this kind of setting, we invite anyone with an interest in the topic," stated Schulman to Wikinews.

The Foundation is the parent organization of Wikipedia and other projects such as Wikinews and Wikimedia Commons, a Wiki dedicated to hosting images that can be used throughout the projects of the Foundation.


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