Wikipedia talk:Libel

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Suggested possible source material[edit]

Some suggested source material to provide guidance on the development of this article (and related policy) include:

~ Penlite (talk) 09:53, 7 June 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Criticism sections in biographies of living people[edit]

Wikipedia has a few hundred Criticism sections in biographies of living people. Would these sections typically be considered libelous? Jarble (talk) 17:41, 8 October 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Jarble: sorry, but this is an article talk page to use to discuss the article itself, and your question isn't relevant here. Perhaps Wikipedia:Village pump (policy). Doug Weller talk 07:20, 9 October 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]


We point people here from the WP:OS page as a way of establishing whether content requires oversight. We don't actually then help with that decision - this page then redirects again to the defamation article for a definition. We clearly need a better definition than pointing to a 12,000 word article, which is in article space and not WP space nonetheless. As a starter to get people's thoughts, I propose we add the following. We could also add some examples of libelous content.

Wikipedia treats libel (otherwise known as defamation) as any content which cannot be demonstrated to be true (via in-line citation to a reliable source), and which is reasonably likely to damage a person or company's reputation. Content which is found to be defamatory should be escalated for suppression. Content that is merely "grossly insulting, degrading, or offensive" does not satisfy this criteria, and is instead a candidate for revision deletion.

Best, Darren-M talk 22:17, 29 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Looks good to me, though it might be worth also notifying WT:OS about this discussion for their thoughts. GeneralNotability (talk) 23:14, 29 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
GeneralNotability, good shout - done. Darren-M talk 23:19, 29 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

After a discussion on IRC, amending to:

Any content which cannot be demonstrated to be true (via in-line citation to a reliable source), and which is reasonably likely to damage a person or company's reputation, is likely to be libel (otherwise known as defamation). Such content should be reported for suppression immediately. Content that is merely "grossly insulting, degrading, or offensive" does not satisfy this criteria, and is instead a candidate for revision deletion.

Darren-M talk 23:29, 29 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Edit conflict: I'll post my objection which does not exactly apply to the revised proposal. No! Wikipedia does not, indeed cannot, give medical advice or legal advice. We have no opinion on the definition of "libel", and anyone wanting to know whether supporting certain content would be safe from litigation needs to consult their lawyer. The point of WP:LIBEL is to state the obvious: any libel will be deleted, using the "I know it when I see it" and cautionary principles. Johnuniq (talk) 23:32, 29 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Johnuniq, the concern that this stems from is that there's no bar for an editor to decide whether to report for revdel or for suppression without reading through a 12,000 word article to decide what defamation is. That seems unhelpful. I'm not precious on the wording, but I think we clearly need to provide more guidance than we currently do. Darren-M talk 23:35, 29 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Define truth :) I'm also not so sure about defining as libel things which don't have an inline citation, or in fact trying to define it at all to any extent. I also don't think that we should be attempting to re-define the oversight and rev-deletion policies here. For instance, the instructions above don't agree with the relevant policies. Libel is regularly - like really really regularly - just rev-deleted, and this is often the right thing to do for several reasons. Regarding guidance, e-mail is probably just the most straightforward way for most people looking at this page to reach people who can make the relevant decisions. This Libel policy is actually one of my favourites as it is because it doesn't go into definitions and clauses and criteria and caveats, etc. It is a straightforward statement of intent, and I hope it remains so. -- zzuuzz (talk) 23:40, 29 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Zzuuzz, yes, but this page does not define libel/defamation and refers editors to a very long page. That isn't terribly helpful to people who have no idea what defamation means. GeneralNotability (talk) 23:46, 29 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This goes to Johnuniq's point of "I know it when I see it", which especially applies to people looking up this page. Perhaps we should remove the link? Not so helpful perhaps, but let's not try and replicate with another definition. -- zzuuzz (talk) 23:49, 29 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Zzuuzz, Nick has suggested swapping 'true' for 'verifiable', which I would have no concerns with. I'm not quite awake enough to respond to the rest of your comment but will do so tomorrow! Best, Darren-M talk 23:50, 29 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is a straightforward statement of intent, and I hope it remains so. I don't think Darren-M wants to turn this page into something that has a dozen clauses and two dozen caveats, what I get from chatting to Darren is that they're looking to provide users with a bit more guidance on what to report. I know and like I know it when I see it but I've got 15 years of experience in deleting, new users coming here for the first time don't, and could do with a bit more guidance and probably a bit more encouragement to report stuff to the appropriate venues. Nick (talk) 17:42, 30 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Fair points. I've really said all I'm going to say on the subject, and won't stand in the way of progress. However I think the more elaborate this policy gets, the more things are going to get twisted ... when you start trying to define libel, or the concept of truth, or even mandatory inline referencing, not to mention directing people to either OS or OTRS or revdel or CSD, etc. I think many people will arrive at this policy simply because they think they are being libeled, and they want to know what our stand is and the single point of contact to e-mail. I don't think oversight is really best placed, as a single point of contact, for the queries this might generate, however if they want to take it on then good luck to them. -- zzuuzz (talk) 18:09, 30 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nick, this is an accurate summary, and saves me typing anything else of my own up. Cheers! Darren-M talk 22:13, 30 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

External Link: Gillick note[edit]

I’ve deleted the addendum in the External links section attached to the BBC guidance on Libel, which stated "Note that Victoria Gillick actually lost her libel case, the reverse of what this claims", with a 2000 newspaper article as source. While true, its certainly not the whole truth: She won her appeal in 2002, which what the BBC guidance (written in 2004) reflects.
There’s a certain irony in the fact that a misleading comment has been sitting here on a legal policy page for the last 9 years, despite the discussion at the time telling the full story.
The BBC advice is clear enough, and (I suggest) if anyone really wants to know the ins and outs of the Gillick case (over and above the general point that a person is libelled if a publication "Generally lowers them in the eyes of right thinking members of society") they can always read our article(s) on the subject. Swanny18 (talk) 22:03, 17 August 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Defamation that is true?[edit]

Our article on defamation notes that, "In several countries, including South Korea, a true statement can also be considered defamation." However, Wikipedia should not remove such "defamation" if it is true, verifiable, and in conformity with the BLP policy. (t · c) buidhe 12:33, 16 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]