Eye on Oracle

Jun 5 2008   8:42AM GMT

Does Oracle take Wiki censorship too far?

Shayna Garlick Shayna Garlick Profile: Shayna Garlick

What would you think if you said “something not unambiguously positive about Oracle WebCenter” on the official Oracle Wiki, only to have all the negativity in your comment edited out?

This is exactly what happened to Stan Vesterli, who made the criticism part of a (failed) experiment. The Denmark-based Oracle professional wanted to see if the Wiki could actually be a place where pro/con discussions about Oracle tools could take place.

Instead, he was “flamed by an Oracle product manager, and any trace of negativity (was) edited out of one of his pages,” Vesterli wrote.

He has not revealed what it was that he actually wrote on the Wiki.

I took a look at the Wiki’s Rules of Conduct, and under the “Create appropriate content” subcategory is the statement:

“Do not use the Oracle Wiki as a platform for political or personal views/opinions, personal publishing projects, or shameless self-promotion (get a blog for that).”

Yes, maybe what he posted was somewhat of a “personal opinion,” (or was it, if based on a weakness that could be proven?). But doesn’t that somewhat defeat the purpose of the Wiki in the first place?

This CMS blogger points out that in the end, Wiki owners have the last say, even if others don’t agree with their moderation tactics. As the customer, we have to be aware of their right to keep damaging information away from competitors.

Which prompts the question: What’s the point? If Oracle’s editing out anything that’s “not unambiguously positive,” is the Wiki a useful source of information? How much credence do you give it? Is it a Wiki or just more product marketing from Oracle?

4  Comments on this Post

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  • Tim Hall
    Hi. If the author had posted his opinions on his blog, then Oracle put pressure on him to remove them, I would think Oracle were totally out of order. As it is, he posted his opinion on a wiki. A wiki, regardless of the owner, is not the correct location for opinions. That sort of stuff should go in a blog or in a forum. I believe the author should reprint his original comments on his blog, then people will be able to judge if they are fair or not. I can't speak for Oracle's motives for removing these opinions, but I think they did the correct thing. The wiki should be a location to find information, not opinions. There are a million and one blogs where we can get opinions. Cheers Tim...
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  • Rg
    Who owns the wiki? There are many wiki's and blogs available that are not owned by Oracle. Companies spend millions in protecting their brand and products, I completely understand why they would have concern over their company owned wiki being used against their own sales efforts. (no, I do not work for Oracle, I just don't feel your free speech rights extend into a company owned forum)
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  • Jonah H. Harris
    As a non-Oracle employee who has contributed significantly to the Oracle Wiki, I can say that I have seen nothing which would lead me to believe it is being intentionally censored. Oracle Wiki is a great place for factual information regarding Oracle products. In fact, there are several pages which mention features which don't work as expected, but they're written in a factual and tactful manner. As Stan's criticism could easily have been overly negative, or related to his own improper configuration/implementation, I can see how it may have qualified for removal. In my opinion, blogs are best designed for opinions/experiences. -Jonah
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  • Sten Vesterli
    I'd like to point out that my Wiki entries were simply modified by other users that happened to be Oracle employees. They were not editorially removed and my version remains in the history pages of the Wiki for everyone to see. The issue is not that Oracle product managers pay close attention to the Oracle Wiki and edit pages agressively. Others can simply edit them again until a consensus is reached - that's the Wiki way. The issue is that by flaming people editing the Wiki, some Oracle employees are trying to assert ownership of pages - and that's not the Wiki way...
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