Twofish's Blog

September 18, 2006

Wikipedia, China, and the Media

Filed under: china, wikipedia — twofish @ 1:57 am

There have been reports about Wikipedia and China in the media recently, and a lot of the stories are missing some crucial facts.  I have some first hand information with regard to the topic, and this is what I think I know.  (If you want to know how I know this, e-mail me and ask.)

a) Jimbo Wales and the Wikimedia Foundation are pretty firm in their instance that WMF not officially sponsor a site that is censored by the Chinese government, and everyone that I know of is pretty ok with this position.  *However*, there are a number of wikipedians in the PRC who are interested in starting their own wiki sites that are subject to PRC governmental restructions, and everyone that I know of is of they opinion that they have every right to do so.  A lot of the discussion has been how to coordinate these wikis.

b) Everyone involved is interested in getting some dialogue going with the PRC government and to find out what is going on.  So far there hasn’t been any contact between the PRC government and anyone involved in Wikipedia, and no one knows even who to talk to.

c) Something that is very important to me is the fact that everyone has their own opinions about what to do, and everyone’s opinions is different from everyone elses.  Jimbo Wales has his ideas.  I have mine.  Everyone that has been involved in the discussion has theirs.  We are all sharing information and ideas, and no one is trying to find the “one true way” of handling this issue.

d) Personally, I’m trying to do what I little can do help with establishing some sort of communcation with Beijing.  The other thing that I’m really, really, really trying to do is to prevent these sorts of discussions from becoming some secret cabal, which is why I’m blogging about this, and trying to keep as much of this as I can in the open.

e) From where I stand the problem with Beijing is less the censorship and more the secrecy.  I’d really like to know what Beijing is doing, why they are doing it, so that I can figure out what my role is in all of this.  Fair is fair, and so if I think the transparency is a value that I’d like to hold Beijing to, I don’t want a situation in which Wikimedia becomes opaque.

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