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• 6/25/2013

Wikia's Upcoming Policy Changes

Hey everyone. Thought I would use the Forums for this so everyone is notified about it. (I'm also trying to work on migrating myself and everyone else away from blogs and into the forums. Let's see how it works out!)

This is important, and I believe we might be directly involved/affected/impacted sometime soon in the not-so-distant future. So hang tight and please continue reading... :)

Basic run-down

So, in case none of you stay updated on Wikia's blogs @ Community Central (I try and stay updated because I run a ton of stuff here), they recently made an announcement about some new changes being made to COPPA - the U.S. federal law Wikia (as a U.S. based company) is under that requires them to limit use of their website to those at least 13 years of age.

What is the change? I didn't read into all of the details, but basically, there's a new addition to what websites/operators are not allowed to collect or share publicly: IP addresses. For those of you familiar with wikis, you'll know that that's exactly how Wikia, Wikipedia, and anything else that uses MediaWiki software identifies anonymous contributors.

The sitch

Because of this change, Wikia is currently reviewing the way they handle communities that are (or possibly) directed to people 12 years of age or younger. They will be using a variety of criteria to look at wiki communities within this category (those they consider "high risk" to the new law change). If a wiki is considered high risk, Wikia will (in order to comply to federal law) be switching off anonymous editing and commenting for that wiki.

This wiki, I'm sure you'd all agree, is one such community with a topic and target audience directed primarily towards children, so there is a chance that we're going to be reviewed by Wikia at some point. My guess is that it'll be soon, but it seems like right now they're busy with reviewing larger communities (and are therefore at higher risk).

But, we don't need to panic over all of this. All it basically means is that contributors will need to have an account and login. Yes, it's contrary to the whole idea of a wiki being a website that "anyone can edit", but it's also important that laws are obeyed so we can actually have something to edit in the first place, right?

The law change will be going into effect July 1st, 2013, so I'm sure Wikia is currently going full-speed-ahead with this. I guess we'll have to wait and see...

In case it went over your head

Yes, this went over my head a little bit, too. But this comment, I believe, sums it all up:

If a website's "primary target audience is children", then the website operator may not collect identifying information from them.

IP addresses are regarded as identifying information.

Therefore, Wikia may not collect and share IP addresses from users of websites whose "primary target audience is children".

Since IP addresses are recorded as shared if you edit while logged out, wikis whose "primary target audience is children" trigger COPPA.

So, "Basically they disabled anon editing for all major wikias whose primary target audience is children." - as is necessary to comply with the law.

-- 452

More info

Here are some helpful links if you want know more:

I'll also be posting updates here if I (or Wikia staff, or other users, or any of you) find out more. I'll be attending Wikia's upcoming webinar on Friday that will cover this topic, and I'll be sure to take notes on that.

And if you'd like, share your thoughts/opinions/questions here. That is all - thanks, everyone! :)


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Spottedstar
PixelPuppet
VaporMist
Zaralyyth
1
• 6/26/2013
71.162.18.176 said:
Are you saying that anonymous contributors are no longer allowed to comment or make any changes to the wiki whatsoever.


ONLY if it is deemed that this Wiki serves users under the age of thirteen. If the staff find that anonymous contributors are under 13 years of age, then yes, anonymous contribution will be disabled, unfortunately, to comply with federal laws.

0
• 6/28/2013
I like the idea.
1
• 6/30/2013
This is a VERY good idea.
0
• 6/30/2013
By the way COPPA is here to make sure children don't give their personal info to stalkers or perverts.
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A FANDOM User
• 6/30/2013
Is this definate?
0
• 6/30/2013
71.162.18.176 said:
Is this definate?

Yes, it is mostly, but thats besides the point, COPPA is here to make children safe.

0
• 6/30/2013

71.162.18.176 said: Is this definate?

Wikia is definite about the decision (and so is the Federal Trade Commission with the new law changes), but I'm not too sure it's going to happen here (yet). They haven't said or posted anything on here about switching off anonymous editing here, and I haven't received any notifications from them, so it might not happen right away. But for those wikis that they've already contacted, the switch is happening tomorrow. We'll have to wait and see how that works out, and then see if Wikia will start contacting more wikis after that.

I should probably also mention this: I attended their webinar last Friday, and they did briefly cover the new COPPA changes and their criteria for determining wikis directed towards children, but it wasn't anything new that they haven't already talked about. They have strict criteria (which some of it is a call of judgment), and they're still trying to go for the highly-active wikis - those at "high risk" with the new law change. If they don't see us as qualifying under that, then there won't be any immediate changes here.

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• 6/30/2013
Spottedstar said:

71.162.18.176 said: Is this definate?

Wikia is definite about the decision (and so is the Federal Trade Commission with the new law changes), but I'm not too sure it's going to happen here (yet). They haven't said or posted anything on here about switching off anonymous editing here, and I haven't received any notifications from them, so it might not happen right away. But for those wikis that they've already contacted, the switch is happening tomorrow. We'll have to wait and see how that works out, and then see if Wikia will start contacting more wikis after that.

I should probably also mention this: I attended their webinar last Friday, and they did briefly cover the new COPPA changes and their criteria for determining wikis directed towards children, but it wasn't anything new that they haven't already talked about. They have strict criteria (which some of it is a call of judgment), and they're still trying to go for the highly-active wikis - those at "high risk" with the new law change. If they don't see us as qualifying under that, then there won't be any immediate changes here.


I'm sorry I must've made a mistake.

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• 6/30/2013

PixelPuppet said: I'm sorry I must've made a mistake.

It's okay - I don't think you were wrong. I still think there's a very good chance it'll happen here, just not right away. :)

0
• 7/1/2013

Well, it looks like I was the one that was wrong. Disregard my message above - it seems Wikia did survey this wiki at some point and has already disabled anonymous editing here. And I already tested it out - I logged out and tried to edit a page, and it prompted me to login.

I still didn't get any specific notifications from them, but I just barely received the message prompt at the bottom-right of my screen (which I'm guessing they didn't post globally, but only on the wikis they've disabled anonymous editing). They also probably thought it wasn't necessary to make a specific announcement here since I already did, and they've been announcing their blog on it too.

I kind of have mixed feelings about it all, but I don't think it's anything to be stressed over. Overall I think it'll be a good change. I'm still going to encourage everyone to get an account - it's the easiest thing ever, has no strings attached, and you'll get to be an "official" member of our awesome KFP community! :)