"Mrs P contacted me this morning, having spoken to the police. She has a report number issued by the police.
JP was on MSN last night talking to a friend who advised her that a personal message had been put on a website in her name.
The site name is Wikipaedia
The message which was somehow posted on the front page of this website read:
JP has long blonde hair and is 100% gay and lives at XX Street Lane.
Mrs P advises that the message has now been removed.
Apparently yesterday JP’ s class were told to research string Instruments as part of a Music research project.
JP went on Google, typed in ‘string instruments’ and a whole list of different sites came up. She went on Wikipaedia and found the message on the front page.
Mrs P has been on the history link to the site and found the timing of the message as 3.55 on 12/06/06. The IP address is 86 136 43 197.
Mrs P feels this message was put on the site by one of our pupils."
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Now, I'm a bit dubious here. Wiki wouldn't have it on its frontpage - would it?
Secondly - Mrs P clearly thinks that she knows something about computers by telling me the IP address - or can you look up the IP of posters on Wiki? Is it possible that she's reported her own IP to me?
Our teaching staff are looking to me for suggestions and resolution here. Do I:
a) offer to ban Wikipaedia full stop for the school, and thus ban a whole host of some very useful information?
b) answer that we have no control of who posts what and when, and that the IP address was not from this school (our IP addesses externally start 194.), certainly not at 3.55pm
c) refuse to ban Wikipaedia, explain that the IP was not from our school and therefore we have no control over who posts what and when outside the school.
I would say something along the lines of what it sounds like you want to say.
a) You cannont possibly ban every site that people can post to, especially not one as valuable as wikipedia. Blocking is not the solution.
b) The IP address of the poster shows it was not done from a school machine, and the time indicates it was outside school hours too. You cannot be looked upon to police the students outside the school network and school hours, that is the sole resposibility of the parent.
In short, if it was me, I would refuse to ban Wikipedia, they'll just post it elsewhere anyway if they want to.
Also I would say that you cannot find out who did it as the IP address is not a school one, it was done at home, a tracert shows it's a BT IP, they can start there to trace the user.
I would say that you have no control of the site as it's external, but find a contact email address or something, and ask them to remove the post, and possibly take action on the user (if this post ever existed, or the police are dealing with it).
And anyway, if the police are dealing with it, then surely that's enough, you can't reeeeeally ban wikipaedia due to it's information as you said!
Thanks for your thoughts, I've gone back to the Assistant Head who's dealing with this with a very succinct and formal-sounding reply, that basically says to her: "tell this woman that we can't police it, won't police it and couldn't even if we wanted to - and she needs to leave it with the police"
Bit extreme, mind, informing the police. If that'd happened to me, my parents would've told me to stop looking at the site and ignore it anyway ;-)
You have no control over wikipedia or it's content. It is a valuable educational resource. Due to it's nature it does suffer vandalism.
The incident was outside school and outside school hours. Attempting to do anything to combat this in school would be illegal. It would be a violation of the perputrators human rights. Although there have been no cases here (yet) I've posted about serveral incidents in the US that have lead to lawsuits along these lines.
It is the polices problem. Although it's unlikely to go anywhere. Alternatively the victim and their family can seek redress in civil courts.
We have had several similar complaints about bullying and offensive messages, from students to other students via IM ... by students creating their own websites, or sites created by people outside of the school (students at other schools usually, but sometimes ex boyfriends/girlfriends ... and so on).
The stock answer is "We have no control over the world outside of the school. We are aware that this goes on and can advise you one the best ways of stopping a certain amount of this (ie keep an eye on what your son/dughter is doing on the computer) and point you to the relevant peopel at your ISP (or other ISPs) to speak to. Failing that you may contact PC Blah on xxxxx xxxxxx"
Works for us ... and there have been parents that have gone to the police ... and the police have been supportive too ... and usually used the principle of giving the offending party a quiet word in their shell-like to sort out the error of their ways ...