Requests for Comment/NordVPN

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Following the recent Board of Directors' Meeting on March 12th, a proposal was discussed regarding a partnership with NordVPN. At that meeting, there were expressed concerns that entering a partnership as an affiliate and providing a link to users in a semi-prominent place would border on violating Miraheze's "ad-free" commitment.

Therefore, the Board have passed the decision onto the community to make, and to suggest how to implement the promotion of a partner without violating any of the commitments Miraheze makes. Thank you, Owen (talk) 19:12, 21 March 2020 (UTC)

The original proposal to the board can be found on etherpad.wikimedia.org

Enter Partnership[edit | edit source]

The Miraheze Community does not feel entering a partnership with NordVPN violates Miraheze's 'ad-free' commitment.

Support[edit | edit source]

  1. Support as person who proposed the idea to the Board Zppix (Meta | CVT Member | talk to me) 21:13, 21 March 2020 (UTC)
  2. Support this was a hard decision to make and it is because I do not like the wording of the proposal. I have decided to support the proposal because in the first place what is proposed is not an "advertisement" but more of a sponsorship/partnership which is not exactly the same. My agreement to this proposal is also only if wikis are allowed to opt-in rather than opt-out. I mostly support this proposal because it does not look like Miraheze is doing very well with finaces and an extra place to get money would be needed.
    I do agree with what the Pioneer has said though and it does feel ironic and maybe even hypocritical that a site that bans VPNs would be promoting and partnering with a VPN service. While that part is an issue which originally made me lean towards no I think that Miraheze needs to concentrate more on finances rather than principles at the moment. Finally, if Miraheze does not force wikis to sponsor this service to me that means that it is not violating its ad-free commitment by making it optional. DeeM28 (talk) 18:31, 24 March 2020 (UTC)
  3. Strong support I agree with all of the supporters. The Pioneer has a point, but overall this partnership sounds great to me. WickyHoney (talk) 16:42, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
  4. Support same reason as worded out by User:DeeM28 Drgng (talk) 18:08, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
  5. Support As long as the ads are not intrusive and do not violate the privacy of users (as some ads tend to do), I support the partnership. Miraheze could always use some extra funds. --EK ● πŸ“ ● 🌎 22:22, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
  6. Support As a former NordVPN user, they could do much worse. And if this means Miraheze won't resort to intrusive e-begs like Wikipedia every other Tuesday, I'm all for it. User:MarcoPolo 12:14 AM, EST, 29 March 2020
  7. Support Miraheze needs funding, and if donations aren't sufficient then a partnership sounds like a good idea. I'd rather that than ads or the Wikipedia "e-begs" described above. --Gaddman (talk) 08:14, 5 April 2020 (UTC)

Oppose[edit | edit source]

  1. Oppose A partnership with a VPN service is very odd, given that we have NOP and ban tons of VPN/proxy for abuse and spam. Additionally, some, if not many, wikis do not welcome use of VPN because it can cause socking, block evasion and vandalism, even though it's not globally prohibited for registered users.--ι–‹ζ‹“θ€… (The Pioneer) (talk/contribs | global🌎) 11:36, 22 March 2020 (UTC)
  2. Oppose Per The Pionner.A promotion of a partner is an advertisement.Would be a violates of the "ad-free",and would promote spam.Many wikis would not welcome use of VPN,no only by socking,block evasion,vandalism and others,but too spam,something not acceptable for many peoples.Gustave London (talk) 15:25, 22 March 2020 (UTC)
  3. Oppose. Rereading the proposition, I do "feel entering [this] partnership with NordVPN violates Miraheze's 'ad-free' commitment." I state no opinion on whether we should decline this deal with NordVPN, renounce our 'ad-free' commitment, or edit the commitment to cover this case or codify limits on the practice. See also below at Neutral. Spıke (talk)00:16 24-Mar-2020
  4. Oppose This is the same company that pays for good reviews and had their ad banned from the UK. Also, what the fuck happened to no ads? If you want some ads to pay for the servers that's fine but how about regular ads instead of shady deals and borderline scamming. What's next, Miraheze Casino? Naleksuh (talk) 05:11, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
  5. Oppose as it violates the ad-free commitment. KamafaDelgato021469 (talk) 18:33, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
  6. Oppose An ad is an ad, no matter what you call it. If they provide support of any sort and expect from a mention here to get increased revenue or even just increased awareness among a desired demographic, that is by definition advertisement. -- Looney Toons (talk) 18:35, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
  7. Weak oppose Parnerships are not evil per se but I found it hard to believe this is compatible with an ad-free environment and it would be better if it was someone who cared for a free internet without providing easily abusable tools.--Wedhro (talk) 18:39, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
  8. Oppose I believe this would go against Miraheze's ad-free commitment, as this would be technically an advertisement itself. I also agree with The Pioneer's statement. I personally find it strange and rather contrasting that we would partner with a VPN service while also banning VPNs/proxies and having the NOP policy. I also think that this might indirectly help vandals, as VPNs can be used to keep vandalizing a wiki after being blocked, however I do not dislike VPNs as it may seem (I've actually used them before, but only for self-protection against things like IP loggers made by malicious people, and not for usage while on a wiki), but I just don't think a VPN service and a wiki farm would go together. --LuckyTimes (talk) 22:02, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
  9. Do Not Enter Partnership. NordVPN isn't non-profit. Promoting commercial services is very different from promoting non-profit services and serve very different purposes. PiotrGrochowski (talk) 05:50, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
  10. Oppose Using a VPN is a common practice of LTA. Putting such things as advertisements is totally unacceptable. --Schwarz・Talk / γ‚¦γ‚½γƒšγƒ‡γ‚£γ‚’ 07:26, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
  11. Strong oppose If you want a partnership with NordVPN, you want anonymous vandalism. Nieuwsgierige Gebruiker (talk) 08:28, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
  12. Oppose I do not necessarily agree with the ad-free policy but it would need to be revised before we agreed to anything like this. ~ El Komodos Drago (talk to me) 09:32, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
    Looking at our current state of finances, I would suggest that if what we are doing right now is working, don't caveat our donations with 'we sort of also run ads'. ~ El Komodos Drago (talk to me) 10:52, 29 March 2020 (UTC)
  13. Weak oppose If we have to have an ad then I'd agree that having it in the footer would be a good place, I don't like intrusive or obstructive ads and it is for that reason that I use Miraheze. However, the reason that I am still opposed to the idea is that Nord VPN is for profit and a very big company. I fear that they may try to infringe upon the space that you have created here that would be dissagreable. Kiokurashi (talk) 10:34, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
  14. Weak oppose I would rather not see ads at all (and calling ads "partnerships" seems disingenuous to me; they're ads). If they have to be there in order for Miraheze to survive financially, please put them at the bottom only and as small as possible, and give the community some input on what is accepted. -- User:Pmattes
  15. Strong oppose As per The Pionner, Naleksuh, KamafaDelgato021469, Looney Toons, and Miraheze's NOP policy. --Robkelk (talk) 16:30, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
  16. Strong oppose Same as said above. First, it does an ad, while Miraheze describes itself as being free of any of them ; then some risks of the VPN (this one or any other!) being abused by some vandals or other people with bad intentions. It almost feels like betrayal. Nocturnal-Galatea (talk) 00:53, 29 March 2020 (UTC)
  17. Weak oppose I think this is not a good idea. --Mb1209 (talk) 01:31, 29 March 2020 (UTC)
  18. Weak oppose While an opt-out badge isn't much cause for concern, VPN abuse is an egregious issue on wikis and makes admin's lives a pain. A bad choice of sponsor, I feel. LMN8 (talk) 13:10, 29 March 2020 (UTC)
  19. Strong oppose I feel like this is just a total break in your "ad-free" commitment. Will not support this move at all. Hypercane (talk) 03:33, 30 March 2020 (UTC)
  20. Strong oppose I completely agree with the above. I would welcome a donation campaign if you are in need of support. Keep Miraheze add free: this move could be the beginning of the end of Miraheze. User:Agilulfo 08:51, 30 March 2020 (UTC)
  21. Oppose If nordVPN wants to advertise, they can advertise on the finance page by frequently donating. If miraheze is in financial trouble, i would consider this proposition. My concern is a gateway ad problem. If we open the gate and allow nordVPN in, then who's next? At minimum NordVPN ads should be off by default. NordVPN Might eventually influence our content. If x is bad for this wiki generating income via nordvpn, like making them/vpns sound bad, that content might get removed to maximize ad revenue. I believe reddit was bigger on free speech yrs ago but over time they have moved to become more advertiser friendly. From the FAQ of Miraheze: "Why don't you have ads?  People dislike ads, ads won't gain us more money than donations (and ads could induce people to stop donating to us), ads are a privacy leak, and ads raise the risk of pressure from the companies doing the advertising that we adjust the content on wikis. We defend our editorial independence, and that of authors working on individual wikis." --Syrian (talk) 12:19, 30 March 2020 (UTC)
  22. Weak oppose In addition to what the users have said. The proposal is not very clear and leaves many gaps. For the moment I am opposed until it becomes clear how this "alliance" would work and what benefits it brings to Miraheze (and not the other way around). Hispano76 (talk) 21:46, 30 March 2020 (UTC)

Neutral[edit | edit source]

  • A "promotion of a partner" is an advertisement for the partner and violates the "ad-free commitment." Would you provide details on this partnership? NordVPN operates a VPN service that it would like to pitch to Miraheze users? Does "providing a link to users" mean NordVPN is provided a link to users? or are users provided a link to (provided an ad for) NordVPN? Perhaps the very partnership violates Miraheze's commitment, independent of the manner of its promotion, if it monetizes us. Spıke (talk)00:33 22-Mar-2020
    I have updated the description. Does that help? ~ RhinosF1 - (chat)Β· accΒ· c - (     around) 08:12, 22 March 2020 (UTC)
    Yes, it does, thanks. It is an advertisement; a studiously unintrusive one (this time, in this implementation), but it is an attempt to monetize Miraheze membership despite nobly proclaiming that we don't. Am not opposing as I don't expect anyone to work for free. In contrast to the opponents above, I don't think it matters what we think of NordVPN's business. (But take an ad from a politician I think is loathsome and I may decide you've taken sides!) Spıke (talk)16:54 22-Mar-2020
  • I don't think the VPN itself is bad. Networks that are not censored by third parties are important for freedom of speech.The security of https encryption depends on the amount of computation required for decryption. (i.e. Since encrypted communication itself can be received, the discovery of computers with high computational power and high-speed decryption algorithms is a threat to the communication protection provided by https.)Therefore, VPNs that virtually create a "direct connection" are very useful from a privacy perspective.Therefore, I do not agree with the idea of ​​rejecting ads because it is a VPN provider.I agree with showing ads when sending passwords or when sending wiki emails.However, displaying ads in regular articles is the opposite.This is usually because the article is published, and we consider the contribution of the VPN to be small.What I just mentioned is based on the assumption that the ad was decided to run. I have no opinion about placing or not placing ads. Because I don't make any financial contributions to miraheze.--松 (talk) 09:15, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
  • "a proposal was discussed regarding a partnership with NordVPN. "
    ... for what purpose? What does a VPN have to do with a wiki farm? Psephomancy (talk) 16:25, 28 March 2020 (UTC)

Implementation[edit | edit source]

Propose ideas for implementation should the above proposal be passed.


Assuming we decide to proceed with NordVPN and renounce or restate our 'ad-free' commitment, some issues suggested in the above discussion are:

  • Ads appear on Meta only, or on member wikis as well?
That can be dependent on what the community decides. but it would at least be on Meta if approved (atleast that is what i had thought in my original proposal to the board) Zppix (Meta | CVT Member | talk to me) 17:39, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
  • Management of individual wikis has the right to refuse all ads? to refuse some but not all ads?
I think if anything it would be opt-in unless the community would decide otherwise. Zppix (Meta | CVT Member | talk to me) 17:39, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
  • We seem to want any ad to be unintrusive (like a link in the page footer the user would click to read offers from Miraheze sponsors) (not like in-line display ads such as at Wikia). Would we state this as our new commitment?
I believe that would be up to the community and/or board. I do also want to clarify that I want this partnership to be as uninstrusive as possible, making it so the user would have to choose to interact with the "ad" Zppix (Meta | CVT Member | talk to me) 17:39, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
  • Does the community vote on each new sponsor?
I think its up to the board, but I would assume so. Zppix (Meta | CVT Member | talk to me) 17:39, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
  • Are there classes of ads we'd reject out-of-hand? (Endorsements of politicians? Political advocacy? Ads from companies seeking only to burnish their reputation as opposed to selling a product?)
I would hope we would keep any partnerships down to something that doesn't introduce a bias to person(s) or companies. However, i think partnerships with privacy-adovcating (sp?) things would be a plus. Zppix (Meta | CVT Member | talk to me) 17:39, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
Hmm...No advocacy, except for advocating my view Spıke (talk)19:22 27-Mar-2020
No, I think I can speak for the Board when I say, Miraheze is, and always will be, free. Zppix (Meta | CVT Member | talk to me) 17:39, 27 March 2020 (UTC)

  • I am afraid that this may cause a fork of users, similar to the Wikitravel/Internet Brands/Wikivoyage situation. β€” Preceding unsigned comment added by KamafaDelgato021469 (talk β€’ contribs)
@KamafaDelgato021469: "Fork" suggests that a cohort sets up elsewhere and claims it is Miraheze. What you mean to say is merely that the deprecation of our "ad-free" promise will cost us customers (wikis). It's possible. Spıke (talk)01:11 29-Mar-2020
@Spike: - I understood what [KamafaDelgato021469] meant. The history of the Wikitravel -> Wikivoyage tells the story, and it seems fair to say that Wikivoyage was a fork from Wikitravel. It seems possible that many wikis currently hosted at Miraheze would decide to migrate away from Miraheze to another provider. It could be that the big wikis currently hosted by Miraheze could individually migrate (shutting down their Miraheze wiki) or fork (allowing both a Miraheze copy and a new copy of their wiki to exist). The latter case is a fork, even without an attempt to co-opt the Miraheze branding and naming, and in fact, forking usually involves a rename. -- RobLa (talk) 22:04, 29 March 2020 (UTC)
  • Are individual users allowed to opt out, by choice? -RH 05:35, 28 March 2020 (UTC)

License issue[edit | edit source]

As Miraheze allows each wiki to use CC-BY-NC and CC-BY-NC-SA licenses, which are both non-commercial, hosting ads on these wikis could be treated as a violation even if Miraheze as a whole allowed it. Therefore, I don't think it's legally acceptable if the community decides to host ads on all the wikis. These wikis must be opted out (automatically, if possible) regardless of the community decision.--ι–‹ζ‹“θ€… (The Pioneer) (talk/contribs | global🌎) 02:11, 28 March 2020 (UTC)

I disagree. The licenses say β€œNonCommercial means not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.” The primary used would still be for a wiki. If this was the case and β€œprimary” wasn’t there, then there’d be a debate about how we collect donations from these wikis. ~ RhinosF1 - (chat)Β· accΒ· c - (     around) 04:16, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
What you say might be true, but still, it will make things unclear; say, what if a member of the board made a new page on one of such wikis, and it went popular among social media, resulting in a boost of ad-based income? No one can prove that it was not his/her very intention (even if the community, who knows him/her well, did not think so).--ι–‹ζ‹“θ€… (The Pioneer) (talk/contribs | global🌎) 15:29, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
The single word "primarily" does not give us an escape from CC-BY. No one watches television for the ads, and no one produces a show out of a desire to sell laundry soap. But the network unites viewers, content providers, and advertisers in the ad-based business model. A "primary" goal of the Miraheze board is survival, and that implies an adequate revenue stream, here promoted by shifting slightly toward an ad-based model. So the concern is real.
What we should have been asked is: Do we endorse this shift? and Shall we impose hard limits on how far to take it? What we are largely discussing is how we feel about one advertiser and the VPN business. Spıke (talk)13:38 29-Mar-2020
Miraheze Limited's Board does not promote the idea, nor is shifting anything. The reason this was made, was the proposal was made to us by a member of the community and we had a real concern over whether this was something we wanted to do. To make the best possible informed decision, we agreed to let the community have a say before us - and one that is binding to add. There is no shift, there is no concern. Regarding the CC-BY-NC, the intention of the Non-Commercial is related to exchange for information - whether the exchange of content is done only conditionally based on a commercial exchange. The proposal is an exchange of money for services paid for by users willingly - there is no commercial focus on the provision of content. There is no commercial exchange for the content which would render an CC-NC license or derivative void. Owen (talk) 15:04, 29 March 2020 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't intend to suggest that the Board had a position on this, merely that survival and finances are issues for it. I believe that the transaction by which NordVPN pays for mention here is the only issue; any transactions entered into by Miraheze users who see that mention, are not. At Wikia Uncyclopedia (with much more intrusive ads), there were these same objections that material contributed for non-commercial use was undergoing commercial exploitation. Spıke (talk)21:51 29-Mar-2020

NOP[edit | edit source]

I think it is important to highlight a misunderstanding regarding open proxies, webhosts and VPNs. A lot of comments seem to suggest NOP introduces a blanket ban, it does not. It only says anonymous editing should not be conducted through such methods. Proxies, webhosts, VPNs and Tor are allowed to be used to edit on Miraheze. John (talk) 16:56, 28 March 2020 (UTC)

While it's true that use of VPN/proxies by registered users is not restricted by our global policies, it's also true that it depends on local policies of each wiki as well (see the chart below). I'd like to point out that local ban on such services is a good evidence showing use of VPN will not be welcomed anywhere on Miraheze.
user type / use of VPN global local wikis
non-registered not allowed to edit, blocked if abused per NOP restricted by NOP, and harder local restrictions/bans on some wikis
registered allowed, might result in global range blocks if abused fully banned/restricted on some wikis
--ι–‹ζ‹“θ€… (The Pioneer) (talk/contribs | global🌎) 18:25, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
That is true, but when people use global policy to back that up, it is a wrong point. John (talk) 19:09, 28 March 2020 (UTC)