LOS ANGELES (AP) – Popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia has banned Scientology’s more vocal friends and foes from editing articles about the religion, a move that worries some in the Internet community.

Wikipedia has blocked contributions from computers at the Church of Scientology’s Los Angeles headquarters, as well as some critics of the religion.

The move is aimed at diminishing a long-running war of words between the two groups, said Dan Rosenthal, a spokesman for English Wikipedia.

Some bloggers worry the site is stifling free speech. Rosenthal said it is standard practice to ban users found violating rules designed to keep people with an agenda from propagandizing.

The decision to shut out the Scientology computers was made after hundreds of articles became virtual battlefields. The case was reviewed by Wikipedia’s arbitration committee, a body of volunteer editors elected by users to resolve disputes. Several Scientology computers and about 40 users from both sides of the debate were locked out.

Church spokeswoman Karin Pouw said she did not know of any church members editing Wikipedia but was glad the site had banned Scientology critics, who were engaged in “biased editing for the purposes of antagonism as opposed to providing accurate information.”

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