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Wikipedia IRL


Wikipedia's full user agreement includes their Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The terms are written with the vision of Wikipedia in mind, that the site itself does not act as publisher or editor and it relies on the virtue of the public to create, manage, and edit content. As such you find similar terms to other services with third-party content, like limits on warranties of fitness, merchantability, and non-infringement. Users also agree to hold Wikipedia harmless from all claims you may have against third-party content. The sharing agreements are very detailed in the terms and the headings are excerpted below. One unique feature is the "To understand & experiment" heading that discusses the nature of open-source software development that powers Wikipedia and the non-disclosure tools and agreements they use with third-parties.

Representations & Warranties


"At the Wikimedia Foundation, we do our best to provide educational and informational content to a very wide audience, but your use of our services is at your sole risk. We provide these services on an "as is" and "as available" basis, and we expressly disclaim all express or implied warranties of all kinds, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. We make no warranty that our services will meet your requirements, be safe, secure, uninterrupted, timely, accurate, or error-free, or that your information will be secure.

We are not responsible for the content, data, or actions of third parties, and you release us, our directors, officers, employees, and agents from any claims and damages, known and unknown, arising out of or in any way connected with any claim you have against any such third parties. No advice or information, whether oral or written, obtained by you from us or through or from our services creates any warranty not expressly stated in these Terms of Use.

Any material downloaded or otherwise obtained through your use of our services is done at your own discretion and risk, and you will be solely responsible for any damage to your computer system or loss of data that results from the download of any such material. You agree that we have no responsibility or liability for the deletion of, or the failure to store or to transmit, any content or communication maintained by the service. We retain the right to create limits on use and storage at our sole discretion at any time with or without notice.

Some states or jurisdictions do not allow the types of disclaimers in this section, so they may not apply to you either in part or in full depending on the law."

Limitations on Liability


"The Wikimedia Foundation will not be liable to you or to any other party for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, consequential or exemplary damages, including but not limited to, damages for loss of profits, goodwill, use, data, or other intangible losses, regardless of whether we were advised of the possibility of such damage. In no event shall our liability exceed one thousand U.S. dollars (USD 1000.00) in aggregate. In the case that applicable law may not allow the limitation or exclusion of liability or incidental or consequential damages, the above limitation or exclusion may not apply to you, although our liability will be limited to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law."



As of the  edition of the terms, there is no indemnification provision other than to mention that "WMF generally cannot offer any protection, guarantee, immunity or indemnification" if authorities attempt to come after content creators or posters on the site.

Key Definitions

  • "The Wikimedia Foundation"- The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., the non-profit organization that operates the Wikimedia Sites.

  • "Wikimedia sites"- Wikimedia websites and services (regardless of language), including our main projects, such as Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, as well as mobile applications, APIs, emails, and notifications; excluding, however, sites and services listed in the "What This Privacy Policy Doesn't Cover" section below.

  • "Personal information"- 

    • Information you provide us or information we collect from you that could be used to personally identify you. To be clear, while we do not necessarily collect all of the following types of information, we consider at least the following to be “personal information” if it is otherwise nonpublic and can be used to identify you:

    • (a) your real name, address, phone number, email address, password, identification number on government-issued ID, IP address, user-agent information, credit card number;

    • (b) when associated with one of the items in subsection (a), any sensitive data such as date of birth, gender, sexual orientation, racial or ethnic origins, marital or familial status, medical conditions or disabilities, political affiliation, and religion; and

    • (c) any of the items in subsections (a) or (b) when associated with your user account.

  • "Third party/third parties"- Individuals, entities, websites, services, products, and applications that are not controlled, managed, or operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. This includes other Wikimedia users and independent organizations or groups who help promote the Wikimedia movement such as Wikimedia chapters, thematic organizations, and user groups as well as volunteers, employees, directors, officers, grant recipients, and contractors of those organizations or groups.

Sharing Agreements

Wikipedia has full descriptions of the following scenarios in their Privacy Policy but the the headings for each situation when your information may be shared are as follows:

  • With your permission

  • For legal reasons

  • If the organization is transferred

  • To protect you, ourselves & others

  • To our service providers

  • To understand & experiment

  • Because you made it public

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