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Wikipedia Censorship News

Wikipedia Debates Strike Over SOPA 175

An anonymous reader writes "Jimbo Wales has suggested that English Wikipedia restrict its services for a period to protest against the anti-piracy SOPA bill in the United States. This follows a similar action by the Italian Wikipedia last month." Reader fiannaFailMan points out another bit of Wikipedia news: they've taken the wraps off a prototype for a new visual editor. A sandbox is available to try out. The Wikimedia Foundation hopes easier, more intuitive editing will shore up waning contributor numbers.
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Wikipedia Debates Strike Over SOPA

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  • I went with Drupal rather than a Wiki because I didn't want to have to write everything in wiki format. Just didn't want to learn another syntax. Have been forced to muddle with it anyway to update some articles.

    • by devent ( 1627873 )

      I take another wiki format anytime over the stupid WYSIWYG editors. Because WYSIWYG is usually not what you get and all the editors are still very cumbersome and error prune. Check out textile [] It's very easy to learn (most you don't have to learn anything), have a very clean syntax and translates good to html.

    • Funny, you must not have looked very hard []. There was also FCKeditor [] before that.

    • Oh. Just in case you want to look at what Wikipedia's doing: Extension:VisualEditor [].

    • by gorzek ( 647352 )

      Wiki format is really not that difficult. Why are some people averse to learning anything?

      "I want to do x, but I'm not willing to learn anything in order to do it."

      Why are you so lazy?

      • I've already learned enough PHP to hack drupal and enough Perl to hack config files and enough C to get stuff I download to compile and enough HTML for most purposes and enough CSS to bash around a bit and good god what is next? Should I memorize all the BBCode tags, too? Maybe all the common :smiley: tags.

  • Finally (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Deathnerd ( 1734374 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @06:23AM (#38367798)
    Big Jimbo speaks and it isn't about something that isn't feeding his wallet AND IT'S SOMETHING REASONABLE!

    I'll support this. This will provide so much more (negative) publicity to SOPA than anything any other group has done to date. GO JIMBO!
  • Fully agree ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @06:25AM (#38367814)

    Shut wikipedia down for 24 hours (yes, that long, it should really hurt) with some placeholder site saying that this is to protest against SOPA!

  • by definate ( 876684 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @06:31AM (#38367842)

    Excellent! This would affect me heaps as I use wikipedia many times each day. Given it affects me, I know it would affect many others, and so hopefully it would raise the profile of what's happening.

    Hopefully other companies which are against it, such as Google, can do something similar.

    Either way, if they start doing stuff like this, that SOPA bill will get a lot more publicity about how bad it is, and it will be dead in the water.

    • by jpapon ( 1877296 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @09:08AM (#38368752) Journal
      Can you imagine if Google, Bing, and Yahoo shut down together even for a few hours? The internet would basically grind to a halt!
    • by Skal Tura ( 595728 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:31AM (#38369534) Homepage

      Imagine if google shut down even for 1hr in protest against SOPA ... Maybe even 10minutes would have quite a crucifying effect!

    • by sapgau ( 413511 )

      As usual there is no clear explanation what SOPA is. This is what I found in a comment at :

      "The MPAA could go on a site, post an “illegal” video, then claim copyright infringement and have the site shut down. We already know they practice this because Viacomm did it with YouTube and were caught in court.

      What these new acts would do effectively takes the sniper rifle of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act — “Somebody on your forums posted my photo without permission; rem

  • Wiki who? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @06:34AM (#38367852) Homepage Journal

    Get Google to go offline for day and you might wake people up. I work in a shop with a lot of techies and it has never ceased to amaze me how many never used wikipedia nor care too. As in, they don't need it. So get someone who truly matters to people, get Google to do a day of it.

    As for getting for edits, get rid of the sanctimonious editors who revert everything that doesn't fit their political leaning or doesn't fit in their universe where every song by glam bands is important and characters who appeared in some obscure anime get full page treatment.

    • Get the whole Internet to go offline for a day and you might wake people up. It has never ceased to amaze me how many never used Google nor care too.

      But now that I think about it, I know many people who don't really use the Internet that much. My mom certainly wouldn't care much. So...

      Get supermarkets to close for a day and you might wake people up!

      But I know some other people who ...

    • Re:Wiki who? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @07:36AM (#38368174)

      The problem is, Google is a business. Right now congresscritters really don't understand the kind of power that Google wields, and if Google uses that power for protest, the panic button will get smashed, repeatedly. Regulation would follow as fast as they could ram it though the wheels of congress.

    • Re:Wiki who? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ianare ( 1132971 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:27AM (#38368454)

      Having a private company like Google directly influencing the outcome of the legislative process is even more dangerous than this proposed law.

      It would mean corporations no longer have to hide behind lobbyists (and some semblance of democracy), and can simply demand any changes they want to a law they do not agree with.

      • Re:Wiki who? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RogerWilco ( 99615 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @11:22AM (#38370070) Homepage Journal

        I prefer a company do something out in the open that is clearly visible, instead of money changing hands behind closed doors.

        Imagine an issue where you could get both Bing (and Yahoo) and Google search to shut down during office hours in whatever country the protest targets.
        I think it would be front page news around the world, affect the stock market and shock people.

        It's not such a basic utility as electricity, but many people would be affected and nearly anyone would be aware.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I know. What would happen to our democracy if corporations spent time publicly protesting instead of handing out bribes? This is our democracy: where legislation is bought and paid for, just like our founding fathers intended. These companies shouldn't be out raising public awareness, in an attempt to inform the public about the issues. An informed public is no part of a working democracy. These companies should be in back rooms, where they belong, throwing as much money as it takes at congressmen to get wh
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Just stop deleting stuff. There is no reason not to have pages dedicated to obscure anime characters if there is enough info and references for them. Wikipedia is not paper, as they used to say, and if people have trouble finding stuff it is because the search engine is deficient.

      Wikipedia used to be great for articles on obscure subjects that served as a jumping off point. Now much of the good stuff has been deleted, and people won't participate because their efforts end up being wasted. Might as well post

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      If the United States' 6th most popular website according to the TOP500 list isn't good enough for you, what is? Yes, Google is about ten times bigger but it's bigger than eBay, Twitter, Craigslist, MSN and Bing. People will notice...

    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      Just change the Google logo for a day with something that evokes the death of the net, and linking to informations about SOPA.
      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        My favorite search engine, DuckDuckGo, did that. It was classy and it got my attention. Google, not so much.

  • by Ailure ( 853833 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @06:35AM (#38367858) Homepage

    I know this comes up every time regarding Wikipedia, but Wikipedia simply gotten more hostile towards new contributors with it's bureaucracy and "territorial editors" (seen way too many revert-happy editors who rather revert than fix minor errors), to the point that I simple start to wonder if Wikipedia is taking itself way too seriously. Making it simpler to edit is not the only answer (though might make it simpler for the few layman who can handle bureaucracy but not the markup).

    • by Ailure ( 853833 )

      Of course, I am still a fan of reading Wikipedia and I do support Jimmy's idea of taking down Wikipedia for a day. And hoping for other services to follow suit as not everyone use Wikipedia.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by pla ( 258480 )
      to the point that I simple start to wonder if Wikipedia is taking itself way too seriously.

      You need look no further than the "notability" requirement to prove that.

      I appreciate Wiki as a convenient replacement for the encyclopedia, but Jimbo can take his army of Undead Nazi Editors (tm) and stuff them straight up his [citation needed].
    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      Eh, it's a tricky issue, because there is also considerable complaining in the other direction: a well-respected group of experts in a field will expend considerable effort improving an article collaboratively, sometimes in response to specific attempts to recruit them to help (this happens in medicine and physics), and then if nobody is vigilant, the article just sort of rots over the next few months, as a bunch of minor changes are made that collectively decrease the quality of the article, sometimes even

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @06:38AM (#38367880) Homepage

    I've never struggled with markup and the editor wasn't a problem. Lowering the barrier to entry just means there'll be more vandalised entries and badly formatted text.

    But the real reason nobody contributes is because of the perceived hierarchy and complete lack of human input at times. If I upload a photo, I get 10 or 20 robots written by random people crawl all over it demanding copyright tags etc. and spamming my personal page with their demands.

    Every time someone writes a bot that believes my previous tags to be inadequate, I get spammed again and I get my images forcibly removed. There's no human control over it, and the bots are basically allowed to run riot, so even if it was perfectly acceptable when it was first uploaded, and you commented on the exact origins / rights assignment in order to prevent future problems, the next bot that doesn't spot newly-introduced-tag-X on it will just spam you and delete it.

    Every time you edit an article, someone who thinks they own the article will just stomp all over it, even if your changes are minor and cosmetic and doing things like removing broken links, changing incorrect spelling, etc. God forbid you add to an article that was all but void of content with some personal knowledge and don't back it up. Surely *something* without citations in an article that's already been created and allowed to remain and even linked to is better than a page that has zero information at all, the citations can come later when people flesh out the article.

    And, just occasionally, you'll write an article that will be wiped out as "non-notable", even if it's about a TV program, or a book that's selling millions of copies, or a computer game from the 80's where all its peers are already have their own articles (and the publishing house was famous and their article still sits with a broken link because it mentions that game and there's no article for it).

    The problem of Wikipedia is *not* the interface. You *want* people to actually have a deal of experience with editing before they start changing prominent articles. The problem with Wikipedia is that people are allowed to discourage other contributors FAR TOO EASILY, even if their "corrections" are rolled back later.

    What's needed is the same kind of system as the Project Gutenberg proofreading site has. Everyone has a login. You have to proofread the text. As you are doing so, your changes are also double-proofread by someone else in another round (there's usually 3-4 rounds). As you gain experience and your edits are "confirmed" (or at least not changed) by other people, you rise through the ranks and it's HARD to get to the point where you have prominent control over the article in question. There are no bots. There are no humans with zero experience of the wiki changing your perfectly-spelled text to junk in the process. There are no vandals that go unpunished. And it works on the same mass scale.

    Wikipedia was a brilliant idea and I put a lot of work into contributing. A year later, every careful change I had made was deleted or removed, and that information never found its way back on - those articles are just empty shells now and some were deleted for not having any content after some rogue editor's culling! I haven't contributed since. Show me that the system works and people's hard work is wiped out by a bot written by a schoolkid, and I'll come back. Until then, fancy text editors mean nothing.

    • by labnet ( 457441 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @06:58AM (#38367984)

      Even better would to have meta moderation like slashdot. When you revert an edit, at least two other unrelated parties vote if the edit was unfair. To many negative meta mods and you loose the right to revert.

    • by aix tom ( 902140 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @06:59AM (#38367990)

      That's exactly why I stopped editing and adding to Wikipedia.

      The problem is definitely not that the interface is hostile to people changing and adding things, it's that the entire environment has become hostile against changes and additions.

      They will never bring in new people when 90% of the contributions get thrown out again anyway. If they only want a select circle of a few people contributing, then why not limit the ability to add new things to that select circle in the first place?

      • I've never had a contribution I made be reverted or removed. What kind of articles are people writing on Wikipedia that this happens to? (I write both on the Dutch and English Wikipedia, although not a lot).

    • Here's another way to handle the problem: When you write an original entry for Wikipedia, also put it up somewhere else, like Everything2. That way, even if some jackhole assbastard deletes your article, the work isn't wasted. As a bonus, you can cite the wikipedia article in the E2 article, and vice versa. I wrote a couple e2nodes and cited Wikipedia and then later came to find that my e2node was cited BACK in the wikipedia article! Uhhhh fail.

    • Thing that made me annoyed is when I found a very good picture that was being voted for deletion because it didn't meet criteria since it was in breech of France's panorama copyright laws. However it was not in breech of where it was originally uploaded and this would never have been an issue if some moronic bot (or person) had not "helpfully" moved it.

      My last authored article was for a large scale computer game with millions of player that was tagged with "not notable

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      Amen brother. I was about to write practically the same thing.

      The editor never was the problem. The culture at WP is. I used to contribute, I've not done so for a long time now. I spend my time writing for audiences that actually care about it.
      WP failed when they snuffed the experts and thought that references could replace knowledge. Nope, it doesn't. References back up knowledge, they are never a substitute. There's a reason scientific papers go through peer-review and not just reference-checking.

      And ther

      • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:27AM (#38368450) Homepage

        No, you don't understand the stance of Wikipedia.

        References are the one and only - because Wikipedia articles stay alife even if no active editor takes care of them anymore. If the knowledge condensed in the Wikipedia article can't be supported by any references, no one will be able to acquire the knowledge to take care of the article again.

        As an ideal, Wikipedia articles should contain all the references necessary to check every sentence of it - so someone new to the topic can work through them until he's able to maintain the article. That's what "no original research" means in the end: keeping Wikipedia articles maintainable.

        • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

          If the knowledge condensed in the Wikipedia article can't be supported by any references, no one will be able to acquire the knowledge to take care of the article again.

          Are you suggesting that if I post an article on glycolysis on Wikipedia and don't include references, that there is a risk that human kind might lose the knowledge of glycolysis and we might have to re-discover it to edit the article?

          Nothing wrong with references and discussing anything that is controversial and not referenced. However, suggesting that the ONLY way people can edit articles is by reading the already-cited references seems a bit extreme.

          • by Sique ( 173459 )

            If the topic is popular enough, then the danger of falling into obscurity is low, indeed. But you don't know which topics will stay popular, and which will fall into obscurity. And why should a lower level of quality be required for articles about popular topics anyway? If there are so many people with a profound knowledge about the topic, then finding enough references to help those not familiar with the topic should be the easier.

            • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

              Sure, but my point is that simply not having references shouldn't be grounds to remove material. The reason for removing material should be that it is wrong. Now, references are a good way to settle any debates.

              However, I see no harm in letting an article start out light on references and gain them over time, rather than squashing contributions because they're not at publication quality from the beginning.

        • by Tom ( 822 )

          Look, I didn't write that there should be no references.

          But references alone do not make a good article, and references do not equal knowledge. I can easily write a WP-style article about UFOs, the conspiracy that murdered JFK and was really behind 9/11, the secret hiding place of Hitler who is, of course, still alive and a hundred other total-bullshit topics and have enough references in them to satisfy every WP bot and editor.

          And yet we know that all this is bullshit because of all the other evidence that

        • References to URLs often rot. Your national newspaper article or local TV station article will likely not be accessible at the same URL in 2-3 years because of the constant CMS churn.

          Then what? It gets deleted for no references? Unverifiable information? Or does the valid-but-no-longer-referenced data get cut?

          Wikipedia is a farce. Sometimes it's a handy farce, but I'll never donate a nickel nor a minute of my own until they fix their fundamental problems (which requires top-down change; IOW it will nev

    • by Phurge ( 1112105 )

      I was going to give this another +1, but instead I'll comment.

      Firstly I'm a windows user and will never be a mac or linux user. I know my way around computers but when it comes to wikipedia's markup - I'm sure I could learn those obscure symbols if I really wanted to, but really I just can't be fucked. I bet I'm not the only one.

      +5 agree on everything else - bots are cause more damage than good, deletionism is a problem, and YES - some form of community (not appointed experts) peer review is needed.

    • doing things like removing broken links

      You shouldn't be removing broken links. You should be noting them, or correcting them. You should also briefly describe the changes you have made in the "edit summary" box when submitting a change. I do this all of the time and never had an edit reverted when doing so.

      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        So I should just leave all that spam on the page, redirecting the user to god-knows-what via those domain-hunters that grab expired domains, exposing every Wikipedia user who views the link to any sort of monstrosity until someone can recreate that external site, or find equivalent content?

        Rather than a one line, commented, edit that can be reverted in a second if I'm wrong?

        What about the nothing-but-spam links?

        It's "article management" like that that's making WP the mess it is.

        • Note that I'm not criticizing anything other than your desire to "remove broken links". Although I didn't make it explicit, I was referring to links as cited references, not to a list of external links (though it is preferred, but not always possible to fix or replace dead external links).

          So I should just leave all that spam on the page, redirecting the user to god-knows-what via those domain-hunters that grab expired domains, exposing every Wikipedia user who views the link to any sort of monstrosity until someone can recreate that external site, or find equivalent content?

          This isn't what I'm suggesting at all. If you note a dead link properly this is not a problem.

          a one line, commented, edit that can be reverted in a second if I'm wrong

          This is exactly what works in my experience.

  • by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @06:41AM (#38367900) Homepage

    News anchor 1: "...The 24 hour shut down is in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act."

    News anchor 2: "And in other news, thousands of students across the world have delayed handing in their homework by 24 hours, claiming that they need the extra time to make finishing touches to their work."

  • I support wikipedia and any other organisation opposing this absolute drivel piece of legislation! This and the indefinite detention act are proof in front of your very own eyes CONGRESS AND OBAMA ARE CORRUPT AND NEED REPLACING.
  • A debate is where you have a reasonable number of people on opposing sides. That was more like "Oh yes, we have got to do this" times about 500. Even the "Debate" should make obvoius what the literate world thinks of this idea.

    Now, how do we get some legislation proposed that would cut copyright back to reasonable levels, like a flat 14 year monopoly on commercial distribution?

  • How come when the NY Times puts up a paywall, Slash think converges on "ha ha information wants to be free, this will never work" but when Wikipedia proposes trying to limit access in the US to make a political statement, it's a great idea?

    • You can't see the difference between a corporation fiercely clinging to their failing 19th century business model and a nonprofit foundation making a temporary political statement out of concern for a bill's potential abuse?
      • by murdocj ( 543661 )

        This has nothing to do with whether the motives of the various groups are good or bad or right or wrong (although I do disagree with the idea that newspapers are dead). But that's irrelevant. The issue is that we have two organizations, each of which creates a "product" that is an aggregation of information. Each organization, for its own reasons, wants to restrict the product. Why does slashdotters think one organization will fail and the other will succeed?

  • Fox News is pro SOPA. Wikipedia could go offline forever and it would not make a difference. Making the SOPA bill matter to the proletariat would involve Google and Facebook going offline.
  • I don't care for SOPA as much as the next reader, but Wikipedia's management really sucks. I tend to avoid that site ever since Jimmy turned it into an annoying ad-driven "give us more moneys" show.

    The thought of shutting down access to Wikipedia for 24 hours to make a political statement really spits in the face of contributors that have provided either money or content.
  • If I type a load of well researched, well cited information, and some plank can just blow it away with one click, whose view is going to prevail?

    Wikipedia is premised on most editors being honest. If that's the case, it doesn't matter if it takes more than 10 seconds to remove vandalism, right?

  • I recognize what the idea behind having Wikipedia protest is.

    However, the last thing I want is MORE politics from Wikipedia. They are supposed to be an unbiased source of information, thats the claim. Protesting SOPA is in no way unbiased and just goes to show that you can't really use them as an unbiased reference for anything.

  • Forget it. The battle's already lost. The big media companies are actually running pro-SOPA commercials on TV. "Tell your representatives to protect our information!" Where "our" is cleverly used to imply that the viewer is part of the same "us" that's running the commercials.

    Wikipedia already begs for money just to keep the site running. A strike will have as much effect on decision makers as all those "occupy" people sleeping in the park.

    And a Merry Christmas to you all.

  • I am not a tax attorney but I believe that tax exempt programs can lose their tax exemption if they engage in political activity. The tax issue comes up with regard to churches from time to time.
  • Most folks are ignorant that this is even an issue; might get the point across to a far wider audience.

  • /. went on strike for 24 hours? It would bring the internet to its...oh forget it.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.