WT letter advises JWs not to edit Wikipedia articles on JW subjects

by cabasilas 44 Replies latest jw friends

  • cabasilas

    Apparently, the Watchtower Society has recently issued formal advice that individual Witnesses should not edit JW articles on Wikipedia. I occasionally edit some of the JW articles on Wikipedia. A couple of days ago I noticed a comment from one of the most respected JW editors to another JW editor on his personal talk page mentioning a letter from the WT Society about editing on Wikipedia. I then realized I had not seen much activity from the JW editors recently.

    So I decided to write this JW editor and ask about this letter and also to ask him why he no longer identified himself as a Witness on his personal page and no longer mentioned his interests in editing JW articles. To protect privacy, I have edited names of individuals involved.

    My first letter:


    Letter from WT Headquarters about JWs editing JW articles on Wikipedia


    You wrote to Sxxxxxxxx:

    "I have a letter from the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses with their recommendations about editing Wikipedia articles about our faith. Please email me and I will send you a copy of the email I've sent to other JW Wikipedians. - Xxxxxxxxxxx 18:13, 16 November 2006 (UTC)"

    Is there an official stance taken by the Watchtower Society re: JWs editing Wikipedia articles on the JW subjects? I notice you no longer list "Jehovah's Witnesses" as one of your Wikipedia interests and no longer edit the JW pages...

    [Here I inserted a link to his talk page for October 14, 2006 where he removed any reference to editing articles on Jehovah's Witnesses from his personal page]

    I may be jumping the gun here, but does the Watchtower Society recommend JWs not edit JW subjects here on Wikipedia? If so, that should be noted in the JW articles as it could mean the JW articles may become unbalanced if there is no participation by JW editors.

    Would you be willing to share what the Watchtower Society's letter said regarding JWs editing here on Wikipedia? Dxxxxxxx 02:25, 6 December 2006 (UTC)


    His first reply:

    The content was one of sound and realistic advice (which after careful consideration have elected to follow) rather than instruction. The letter is private, and as such it would not be appropriate for me to share it with an audience for whom it was never intended. If you want to get the writing department's stand on this, I recommend writing to them and ask them what their views are. - Xxxxxxxx 02:40, 6 December 2006 (UTC)


    My first reply:

    Further on WT advice for JWs not to edit JW articles on Wikipedia

    Thanks for the reply. I notice two other regular JW editors have stopped editing JW articles about the same time you removed any references to Jehovah's Witnesses on your talk page.



    You say you contacted other JW Wikipedians about this communication from WT headquarters besides Sxxxxxxx. How many JW editors did you contact about this? How many have stopped editing here? Why did you feel the need to encourage other JW editors not to edit JW articles? Dxxxxxxx 04:44, 6 December 2006 (UTC)


    His second reply:

    You said :
    You say you contacted other JW Wikipedians about this communication from WT headquarters besides Sxxxxxxx. How many JW editors did you contact about this? How many have stopped editing here? Why did you feel the need to encourage other JW editors not to edit JW articles?
    When Jesus was haled before the Romans, he kept silent. Why? It's not that he didn't know the answer; it's that the truth was already before them and they chose not to accept it, no matter how well-meaning they might have appeared. Certainly he could have talked his way out of his execution. He could have used supernatural means, or he could have masterfully argued his case. It was not simply a matter of prophecy. Individuals had the knowledge and freedom of choice to participate in his execution, or refuse. Many Jews did not condone the actions of their leaders.
    Jehovah's Witnesses have done much to make sure people know who they are and what they believe. They offer themslves actively to people who honestly wish to know more. Opposers and naysayers are everywhere, and it is not a useful exercise to try to answer every challenge; at people's doors, if they want to debate us, we almost always walk away. Wikipedia will always be a forum for constant challenge wherein "newcomers" can repeatedly edit incorrectly or inaccurately the same misinformation into the articles, requiring someone or a number of people to be everpresent to re-argue reality again and again. This is not a valuable use of my time. The accurate information was added; opposers wish to nitpick and draw out this procedure far beyond its useful study, and Wikipedia is perfect for them to do so. If you're looking for accurate information about what we believe, just ask us. - Xxxxxxxxx 05:16, 6 December 2006 (UTC)


    My second reply:

    Thank you for the explanation re: WT advice for JWs not to edit JW Wiki pages


    Thanks for explaining the WT's advice for JWs not to edit the JW Wikipedia pages. I am sorry to see this happen. Personally, I have a more optimistic view of the Wikipedia editing process and think that we did achieve some good consensus edits while the Witnesses were participating. As much as I am able with my limited time, I will try to encourage even-handed editing of the JW articles. Dxxxxxx 06:54, 6 December 2006 (UTC)


    His third reply:


    My final reply:

    I can understand, but...

    I can agree that working with controversial subjects on Wikipedia like the JW articles can be frustrating at times. I think that when the main JW article was semi-protected so that only registered users could edit was a more productive time. I have to disagree with your "us vs. them" statements earlier about "opposers" and "nay sayers." Many constructive edits have come from people who are not JWs and there have even been cases of good working relationships developed between JW and non-JW editors. Not to deny that there are occasional (and sometimes too often) loons who are actually interfering with and vandalizing what the serious editors are trying to do. I think a form of permanent semi-protection would be good for the JW articles.

    Having said that, I am still dismayed at the advice given by the Watchtower Society that JW Wikipedians should not edit JW articles. Given that most JW editors have disappeared indicates that this advice was considered of great importance. Hopefully, some JW editors will have the courage to continue. Dxxxxxx 03:11, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

  • jgnat

    That is unfortunate. I noticed Wikipedia was reaching consensus.

    Now, the Watchtower can't have THAT can they? Consensus with the "world"? I hope with this latest instruction from the Watchtower, those fine JW editors will come over to the "other side". I'm sure their efforts are wasted WITHIN the society.

  • crazyblondeb

    What amazes me, is that they would address this issue. Isn't being on the internet alone suppose to be a big no-no!!??

  • kwintestal


    I'd say there's three reasons behind this. 1) they don't want the active JW's to stumble upon something stumbling, 2) (along the same lines) it lets the general JW population know that the WTS conciders Wikipedia to be somewhat apostate and to be avoided, and 3) information control, they want to be the ones giving the information about JW's with their own spin on it via watchtower.org, not the spin of a JW/Apostate combination.

    Too bad, but whatever. The apostates can now take over!


  • Abandoned

    There is so much to comment on in this - too much. It sounds like the gb are preparing for their version of masada. Soon, they'll have the whole organization walled in. I wonder if they'll even halt the preaching before too long.

  • Merry Magdalene
    Merry Magdalene

    I couldn't help but find this remark of his a bit ironic, considering the anonymity of WT writers:

    I don't think that anonymity has any value to academic progress.


  • cabasilas

    Just got one last reply from this JW editor:


    I don't actually expect you to grasp what opposers are because you don't have personal experiences involving them. Our shared experiences and my own personal experiences, along with the Bible's description of those who oppose Jehovah, give us a much different picture than could be perceived from those on the outside.

    Your wording, specifically "I am still dismayed at the advice ... that JW Wikipedians should not edit JW articles," and "hopefully, some JW editors will have the courage to continue", concerns me, because it suggests that you still see our "leadership" as more dictatorial and that we do not really follow in our minds and hearts the Scriptural reasonings offered by them at all. We have made the choice not to edit anymore because the logic and Scriptural reasoning makes sense to us. It is a matter of courage, not to keep rebuffing every single lie, but to respond to the right kinds of misinformation under the right circumstances. Taking only most appropriate action when necessary, and not 'striking our blows so as to be hitting the air,' takes courage, and strong faith in Jehovah. - Xxxxxxxx 04:27, 7 December 2006 (UTC)


    Continuing the discussion would be pointless, IMO. I don't think he realizes how the average person can see through this very easily. "We have made the choice not to edit anymore because the logic and Scriptural reasoning makes sense to us." I'd say this forcefully shows the authoritarian nature of the WT Society that they can issue such "logic and Scriptural reasoning" and it is automatically accepted by all JWs. It's not "I have made the choice...," it's "We have made the choice not to edit anymore." No doubt, to go counter to this "logic" puts one in spiritual peril among JWs.

  • Abandoned
    I don't actually expect you to grasp what opposers are because you don't have personal experiences involving them.

    What arrogance. How does he know what you've been through? These words resonate with me on at least two levels. One, because of how self-centered they are and two, because I thought exactly like this. It's part of the brainwashing. If they can maintain the "us against them" paradigm, they can maximize their power. Oh well. I hope he comes to his senses but he won't do it following "society" suggestions to the letter while convincing himself that he's the one doing the choosing.

  • merfi

    This is good news, I think. If JW are no longer editing Wiki, then as someone else said -- the apostates can take over. A very good thing as it will be the truth about the 'Truth', not the biased JW version. What I see as an even better thing -- many people use Wiki for all sorts of research. It's not a JW-centered site like this one and the blatantly anti-JW ones out there the WTS has warned against. Wiki has lots of other topics, and a JW might just might be tripping along at Wiki, checking out info for a talk or whatever and happen to type in a key word and ... Bam! JW topics... *click*....*eyes wide, jaw dropped*... *brain opened*...


  • jwfacts

    Very interesting, but not really good news. What it is doing is stopping thinking JWs having intelligent discussion on the internet. I am confident the WTS will have a hard core Bethelite continue to add their propoganda to Wikipedia.

    I have been spending time on Yahoo Answers. There is a person referred to as Achtung that professionally answers every single reference to Jehovah, always filled with links to the WTS official website. The information is even more misleading than what appears in the Watchtower. I get the impression that this person is a Bethelite.

    The WTS is in full time marketing mode, with their media website etc. The letter about Wikipedia is just another area that they want to take control from the sheep, and have it all resting with censured information from the leaders.

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