talk:General disclaimer


Suggestion for rewording

The closest thing to this that currently exists is the Wikipedia:Featured articles process, but even the articles listed there may have been mercilessly edited shortly before you view them.

Substitiute 'changed to something inaccurate or poorly written'. Mr. Jones 11:00, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Please add a title here

This page does not link to anywhere, if anyone thinks it is useful, perhaps it should be linked somewhere? I just drafted it and it is similar to Wikipedia:risk disclaimer though not so garish and scary (which is what you want from a risk disclaimer) and not as technical as the Wikipedia:legal advice disclaimer. Alex756 07:44 May 11, 2003 (UTC)

Copied from: WikiEN-L by User:Maveric149

Toby wrote:
> The "international" (that is, non-English) Wikipedias
> are also subject only to US and (I think) California law.
> That's where they're located, after all.
> (Although suggestions have been made in the past
> to self-censor fr: and zh:
> in order to prevent the governments of France and the PRC
> from declaring it illegal to *view* them,
> which isn't exactly the same thing.)


Ahem. If it is illegal for user x to do a and b in the country they are 
contributing from, then that user should /not/ do that!  
General comments to all:
If it is illegal in your nation to do something that would otherwise be legal 
in California, then you are still taking a personal risk if you break your 
own nation's laws. The simple fact that the server is in California does not 
shield you from the laws of your own nation.
But what is legal for Wikipedia to have on its server in San Diego is really 
only a matter of California/United States law (as Toby points out).   
I don't think the first part of this point gets stressed often enough.
Of course, what is "appropriate" is a different matter and is largely dictated 
by consensus and standing policy (both Wikipedia wide and language specific). 
<devil's advocate>
It is here where an interesting question arises; should particular languages 
have /added/ restrictions across their own language version of Wikipedia that 
go beyond California/US law in order to make texts written in French, for 
example, legal to have on a server in France?
Wouldn't that make the texts more useful to French-speaking peoples (well, at 
least the French speakers in France)?
</devil's advocate>
I would argue that this is a dangerous idea because then the laws of 
potentially every nation on earth could have veto power over what we have on 
Wikipedia just to make it theoretically possible to have our text usable as 
is and hosted on a server in each of those nations. The result of that would 
be massive censorship in order to meet the lowest common denominator.
IMO, we should keep things simple and only concern ourselves with these two 
things (as far as the legal issue goes):
1) What is legal for any one user to do in the nation they are submitting 
2) What is legal to have on our server in California (this applies to 
everything we all submit; all text/media must be legal under California/US 
Both of the above factors limit what we each can individually submit. So for 
example; a user writing from Germany has to respect restrictions set forth by 
German law and US law in what they submit while a user writing from Australia 
has to do the same in respect to Australian and US law. 
Hm. This concept should be on a general disclaimer or something....
-- Daniel Mayer (aka mav) User:Maveric149 
WikiEN-l mailing list
This is a useful comment. Alex756 12:24 15 May 2003 (UTC)

Found this on the talk page about libel Wikipedia:libel:

The Wikipedia:general disclaimer should address three main areas. The Gnu license - no liability for accuracy - Talk pages are not encyclopedic. I thought this was already being done. -Stevert

I think we should just have one disclaimer for everything... ehh I dunno. Evil saltine 08:48, 3 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Well some topics need more specific treatment, me thinks. --mav 09:14, 3 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia:content disclaimer is still being linked to from a few places, I've delinked it as it is redundant with the general disclaimer now in place. — Alex756 18:27, 4 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Perhaps we should add that links from Wikipedia to external websites do not constitute endorsement of those sites? -- The Anome 14:33, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Can some sysop add Chinese interwiki "Wikipedia:免责声明" here? Thanks! --Samuel 20:28, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)~

Some sysop please add these interwiki links to the page: da:Wikipedia:Generelle forbehold no:Wikipedia:Generelle forbehold thanks. -- Christian 17:59, 7 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Done. Evil saltine 18:13, 7 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I suggest to exchange the first two sentences.

The currently second one: WIKIPEDIA MAKES NO GUARANTEE OF VALIDITY expresses everything an average reader needs to know about the content of the page, and it's much easier to parse (for a tired foreigner like me, at least) than the currently first one: PLEASE CAREFULLY READ THE STATEMENT BELOW BEFORE LEAVING THIS PAGE which is void of actual content. And "WIKIPEDIA MAKES NO GUARANTEE OF VALIDITY" makes for a better motivation for further reading the page. (Same remark on the other disclaimer pages...)

--FvdP 22:16, 8 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Actually I'd just suppress the "PLEASE READ CAREFULLY" like I did on Wikipedia_talk:Risk_disclaimer:

  • it's annoying to have to read this before knowing what the page is about.
  • "CAUTION: Use Wikipedia at your own risk" is such a better catch phrase
  • 99% of the readers just don't need to "read carefully" everything that is on the page. All we want them to know, is here that Wikipedia can't guarantee validity, with for the interested (or paradoxically skeptical) reader a few reasons why.

(BTW, english is not my native language and I'm puzzled by the 2 possibles (in my eye) meanings of "statement": is "statement below" just the next sentence ("WIKIPEDIA MAKES NO GUARANTEE..."), or the whole page ? This puzzlement is yet another obstacle to my reading this page, even though it's a small one, it's an unneccesary one too.)

By the way, all these disclaimer pages are mostly redundant. It seems to me that Wikipedia_talk:Risk_disclaimer would be good enough for all purposes, and it puts the emphasis on the most important dangers.

--FvdP 22:41, 8 Jan 2004 (UTC)

The "Please Read" statement is gone. Our pro-bono lawyer Alex may object, and if so I encourage him to reinstate the line. --mav 07:37, 9 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I find very bothering having link to this disclaimer on top of every page. Can some jurist clarify whether we are obligated to have it or not? (on most sites there is small copyright notice at the bottom and it's normal) If we can, I think we should leave only the bottom one. And I suggest merging it with copyright into one short page that would say:

  1. Wikipedia is...
  2. That's why WIKIPEDIA MAKES NO GUARANTY ..., so ask your doctor/lawyer...
  3. You can distribute contents of Wikipedia under GFDL, that is you should ...
  4. When you add to Wikipedia you agree that everybody will be able to edit and redistribute your addition, so all legal questions are on you.

I think that this short page would answer all basic legal questions. Then there should be more links to particular 4 topics.

Please move this suggestion to its right place. ilya 10:44, 10 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Another thing we need to disclaim but don't yet?

Many sites now use Wikipedia for content. They do so happily, thanking their lucky stars that it is GFDL. However every day people submit copyrighted work without permission. We try very hard between us to remove it all but can't be sure we always succeed. So it is possible that someone will copy our material and by doing so actually (unwittingly) copy other people's copyrighted material. They could get in hot water for that and are naturally going to want to point the finger back at Wikipedia (and maybe at the original contributor). Do we need to do anything about this? Do we currently? Pete/Pcb21 (talk) 15:03, 27 Jan 2004 (UTC)

This is a good point. There is some mention of it here and there, but perhaps there should be some mention of it in the Wikipedia:Terms of use and Wikipedia:Submission Standards currently being drafted. — Alex756 [ talk] 05:28, 28 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Could You add a interwiki link to Polish Wikipedia (pl:Wikipedia:Zrzeczenie się odpowiedzialności), please.

Done. — Alex756 [ talk] 02:25, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Any chance that after all of these warnings about the reliability of the information on wikipedia (e.g., "misuse of the information here has been known to cause your monitor to catch fire" - to steal a famous warning from the X Window System documentation), that some kind of positive statements could be added, say "the material here is provided because is believed to be useful, and the editors of Wikipedia request any errors found to be brought to their attention"? I believe I've seen this language used elsewhere in a similar disclaimer of reliability. -- llywrch 05:28, 17 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

First, IANAL, and this is not legal advice.

This page says that Wikipedia is being maintained in reference to the protections afforded to all under the United States Constitution's First Amendment and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. The UDHR is a statement of principles and not a binding document; it provides no protections whatsoever. I'm therefore going to strike this clause from the sentence.

There is a treaty that implements the principles in the declaration, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is what the Human Rights Council uses as reference. The United States is a signatory, but doesn't consider the treaty as being "self-activating". That is, the principles in the ICCPR don't automatically apply, without supporting laws passed by the federal or state governments. So it's questionable whether there's any point in mentioning it, either.

It may be reasonable to replace the reference to the UDHR with a reference to the ICCPR. --ESP

Oh, hey, apparently I'm not going to strike the clause; the page is protected (and not just by a declaration of principles!). --ESP 01:41, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)
As you rightly state the ICCPR does not really have the force of law in the U.S. and is therefore legally irrelevant. The UDHR was mentioned because of its general approach to human rights. The language "being maintained in reference to" is a way to state that Wikipedia does not want to violate the generally accepted principles of human rights, that's all. — Alex756 [ talk] 14:29, 4 Mar 2004 (UTC)

please can any one add "ca:Viquip�dia:Av�s legal" to the page [[User:Pl�cid|Pl�cid]] 22:59, 3 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Done. --mav

Add language links

Please add

[[sv:Wikipedia:Allm�nt f�rbeh�ll]]

as a link to the General disclaimer at Swedish Wikipedia. [[User:Den fj�ttrade ankan|Den fj�ttrade ankan]] 18:50, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Please add hu:Wikipédia:Jogi_nyilatkozat. --grin 16:32, 2004 Mar 11 (UTC)

Both done, sorry for the delay on the Swedish one. Pete/Pcb21 (talk) 16:53, 11 Mar 2004 (UTC)

This looks like the Japanese edition. A-giau 23:45, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)


It has been suggested at VfD that MediaWiki:Oscars should be deleted and a general trademark disclaimer should be placed here instead. Opinions? Tuf-Kat 03:47, Mar 23, 2004 (UTC)

100% agreement from me. --mav 04:19, 23 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I added the following:

Any of the trademarks, service marks, collective marks, design rights, personality rights or similar rights that are mentioned, used or cited in the articles of the Wikipedia encyclopedia are the property of their respective owners. Their use here does not imply that you may use them for any other purpose other than for the same or a similar informational use as contemplated by the original authors of these Wikipedia articles under the GFDL licensing scheme. Unless otherwise stated Wikipedia and Wikimedia sites are neither endorsed nor affiliated with any of the holders of any such rights and as such Wikipedia can not grant any rights to use any otherwise protected materials. Your use of any such or similar incorporeal property is at your own risk.

Any comments, suggestions or changes welcome. — Alex756 [ talk] 15:15, 24 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I still do not have a firm belief that trademarks are distributable under GFDL, but that issue aside, I think this is definitely a good idea.
Is there currently any policy regarding different types of trademark uses on English Wikipedia? For example, things like,
  • Posting an image which is just bare trademark.
  • Posting an image of, say, people wearing a T-shirt on which there is a trademark, or a landscape in which some trademarks can be seen.
I also assume that the issue taken care of by that text is not only trademarks, but things like product design? I think there could be a legal problem if a licensee used GFDL'd image of a person to make fun of his face, or to mislead people as if there is an endorsement (say print that image on some package of a commercial product). And the text is to state that liabilities are on the side of licensees, and not the contributors, editors, admins, or the Foundation. Tomos 18:47, 25 Mar 2004 (UTC)
The GFDL is really dealing with copyright, not all intellectual property rights so there is no contradiction with disclaiming other IP rights within the GFDL framework. I know that there has been at least one complaint about using a trademark on Wikipedia, but if an article is accurate (i.e. it states that one use of a term may be a trademark, for example) then the use is informational and should not create a problem for a trademark owner. In an article one can always use ™ or ® symbols to make it clear that the word, phrase or logo is a trademark for informational purposes. Trademark infringement and passing off violations only occurs when you are using this information for some commercial purpose. As the GFDL allows for derivative works that could be used commercially a disclaimer (while probably nnot necessary) is a good idea so that people don't get the wrong idea about what rights they are being granted. — Alex756 [ talk] 06:37, 26 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Thanks for your reply, Alex.

I personally share your understanding of GFDL, that it has to only with copyright, and not other rights (IP rights or otherwise). Downstream users, for example, do not have the right to defame somebody by modifying an article of a person. GFDL does not explicitly prohibit it, but that does not mean it gives permission. (But the problem is I don't know have solid evidence for this interpretation.)

But I suppose some trademarks (like corporate logos) are also copyrighted works they are creative expressions of ideas fiexed in a tangible medium. If that is the case, things like uploading an image of a corporate logo might be in violation of copyright, when fair use defense can not be applied. So I suppose this disclaier would cover things like a name of a product (trademarked) apprearing in an article, or image including a trademark along with some object, but not an image which is nothing but a trademark. Is that right? Tomos 03:01, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Well, a corporate logo may also be a trademark and have copyright. If used for informational purposes (i.e. fair use) then such use is not infringement of the copyright. Thus a small thumbnail of a MLB logo in an article about the team is not going to be infringement (you will also see such logos routinely on television news programs, the news programs use the logos to identify the teams, not to sell their products). So it is covered by fair use. Everyone screaming that it is a violation of the GFDL, IMO is wrong, because we are creating an encyclopedia here, if someone is going to use fair use material in a different manner that infringes the copyright owners economic interests we have an argument that they are not copying our fair use version, but are copying directly from the copyrighted materials. In this case there is no violation of the GFDL by Wikipedia, only by those who are attempting to evade copyright of others by trying to cloak such rights in Wikipedia. Note that this analysis does not mean that Wikipedia can only be used in non-commercial ways, there are many encyclopedias that are commercial that use all kinds of logos and symbols as part of their informational exposition. — © Alex756 05:51, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)
There is a related discussion on Wikipedia talk:Logos#Logos of other encyclopedias going on at the moment. I'd be interested to see some informed input. Lupin 22:43, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Please insert a interlanguage link for ro: to ro:Wikipedia:General disclaimer

Done. — © Alex756 05:44, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)

terms of use

This information is being given to you gratuitously and there is no agreement or understanding between you and Wikipedia

This will need to be changed when wikipedia:terms of use goes live. Martin 01:58, 11 Apr 2004 (UTC)

voluntary association

Wikipedia is an online open-content encyclopedia, that is, a voluntary association of individuals and groups who are developing a common resource of human knowledge

The phrase "voluntary association" here may have some quite surprising copyright implications. Perhaps it should be reworded to something like:

Wikipedia is an online open-content encyclopedia, edited by a variety of individuals and groups who are developing a common resource of human knowledge

What do you think? Martin 02:09, 11 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Looks good to me as a change. Best to dodge anything which sounds like "association", "collective" or similar, since those words can have or be argued to have copyright implications which can conflict with the GFDL grant people are told they are making. And your version is shorter and that's good as well:) Jamesday 02:16, 11 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Science disclaimer

I think that in addition to the medical disclaimer, Wikipedia should have a general disclaimer about description of chemical, physical etc... reactions. In the past, there has been a number of teenagers (as well as adults) who caused great bodily harm to themselves or to others by trying to make "home chemistry" reactions which they knew enough about to start, but not enough to know the precautions and dangers. For instance, the page on nitroglycerin describes an extremely risky reaction for preparing this explosive. You don't want an angry parent to sue Wikipedia because his 16 year-old son tried to prepare high explosives in the basement. I've just added to ice cream the description of a method of preparation using liquid nitrogen, which I think should be harmless under normal precautions, but which has potential issues. I don't want to risk legal trouble. David.Monniaux 10:29, 28 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Financial advice

I think WikiPedia not giving any form of financial advice is also a good idea--BozMotalk 10:58, 7 May 2004 (UTC) (moved from user talk:Angela)

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse: useful legal resource

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse is a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and University of Maine law school clinics. It covers a lot of trademark issues, intellectual property issues, online rights and more, with lots of citations and authoritative suggestions. Thought I'd mention it... Catherine - talk 21:26, 16 May 2004 (UTC)


Could someone with write access to the page change 'knowledgable' to 'knowledgeable'? Thanks. Abigail 11:31, May 17, 2004 (UTC)

Alex756 has fixed this, but knowledgable is an alternative spelling [1], not a mispelling. Angela. 21:01, May 17, 2004 (UTC)
Then it shouldn't appear in Wikipedia:List of common misspellings. Abigail 00:54, May 18, 2004 (UTC)
Ok, I removed it. Angela. 05:14, May 18, 2004 (UTC)
When I first joined WP I was chastised for not spelling knowledgable correctly and told that I was making busy work for other volunteers because it appeared on that list of common mispellings. I guess that is another example of a US-centric approach to WP rules, in my judgement (or is that judgment?). I guess I can take license with these rules now, or is that license? Anyway, maybe you can just humo(u)r me, until someone starts issuing Wikipedia jewellery, o.k.? — © Alex756 00:20, 21 May 2004 (UTC)

Proposed disclaimer

I propose that all pages describing a potentially harmful activity that the reader may like to try (chemistry experiment, sport etc...) should carry a disclaimer linking to a long version such as this proposal. In the past, there has been a number of people, generally older teenagers, who have harmed themselves or others trying to do stuff they had read about in a book (like making explosives). Even if Wikipedia is not legally liable for this (and this even remains to be seen, depending on the jurisdiction and how courts rule), there's a definite risk of adverse publicity. The media can well blow such incidents out of proportion: "Online encyclopedia a cookbook for explosives", "Youngster experiments as described in online site, loses both arms", etc... David.Monniaux 07:46, 31 Jul 2004 (UTC)

There's already a general disclaimer on every page. Isn't that adequate? - Nunh-huh 08:22, 31 Jul 2004 (UTC) (click link at bottom of page to read it) -- Nunh-huh 08:22, 31 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I know, but we already have specific disclaimers for medical and legal issues. You will tell me that any person with common sense would not do a dangerous chemistry experiment based on some vague Web encyclopedia content, but the same applies to medical and legal advice. David.Monniaux 13:14, 31 Jul 2004 (UTC)
It's my impression that the specific disclaimers were/are not to be used. Though I suppose they keep getting re-added because they seem like a good idea to people. - Nunh-huh 21:14, 31 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I suspect that anyone who wants to make explosives will try to do so regardless of any warnings. A specific disclaimer would probably be more aimed at protecting Wikipedia than its readers - a question of legal liability, and of publicity. From a publicity point of view, I could see a short notice being more useful than the proposed long screed: obvious and easy to understand. On the other hand, the boundaries of "dangerous activities" are rather ill-defined, so it's not clear how many pages might end up with disclaimers. If sports are to be tagged, then almost anything can be. --AlexG 17:01, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)
The point is not to warn people for their own benefit, but to warn them so that they or their family cannot sue afterwards, claiming they have been misled into doing something dangerous.
I was not thinking of regular sports, but of the more extreme activities. David.Monniaux 07:37, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)
That is why there is a disclaimer link at the bottom of every page. The lack of a disclaimer in an article would make some people think that the article is somehow more safe than an article with it. Who decides what if safe? All the per-article disclaimers were removed after each page got one. That is how it should be. --mav 07:14, 5 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I agree with mav. See also Wikipedia talk:Risk disclaimer where this was discussed before. Angela. 21:47, Aug 9, 2004 (UTC)
In practice any sort of warning may not be enough. We implicitly invite minors into WikiPedia (by not prohibiting them) despite some of its content, and they could follow links straight to pages and they may well do something irresponsible without reading the disclaimer. There is a strong argument for an unsuitable or dangerous content label but perhaps in practice that would just make such things easier to find. --BozMo|talk 10:14, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Perhaps such notices about risks would be better as part of the meta data that Article validation will generate. People could tick a box to say if the topic was unsuitable for children, or contained risks, etc, in the same way they can tick the box to say the article is suitable for print. Angela. 22:08, Aug 12, 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I think that would be a very good idea -- 06:26, 26 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Comparing with other disclaimers

For comparative purposes, selected disclaimers from sources often regarded as credible can be found at non-Wikipedia disclaimers.

I have noticed an increasing number of sites putting disclaimers on external links. I struggle to believe courts would be silly enough to make someone liable for the sites they link to but other people obviously think this risk is real? --BozMo|talk 14:23, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Very minor, but a typo

Since I can't edit the page, here's the typo: "note that that the" should be "note that the" — Bill 22:42, 8 Oct 2004 (UTC)

More friendly disclaimer from a major mirror

This article was derived fully or in part from an article on - the free encyclopedia created and edited by online user community. The text was not checked or edited by anyone on our staff. Although the vast majority of the wikipedia encyclopedia articles provide accurate and timely information please do not assume the accuracy of any particular article. This article is distributed under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.