On Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 3:05 PM, Nathan <nawrich(a)gmail.com> wrote:
Now that we have taken the necessary first step to
regard the English
Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects as high-profile platforms for
political statements, we ought to consider what other critical humanitarian
problems we could use our considerable visibility and reputation to
"considerable visibility and reputation" is the key point here. The
visibility is unlikely to be much affected, but the blackout and
activism may well affect the reputation, or the mental image many
people have of Wikipedia, especially if it becomes a regular
occurrence. More comments below.
Of course, there is no articulated reason to limit
ourselves this way.
Surely a large portion of our voting community would be against
"voting community" is the key point there. This community changes and
will be greatly affected by these developments, especially if
black-outs become a regular event. Some will leave, others will
arrive. The make-up of the community will change. I also predict that
those who previously stayed silent will start to speak up, and more
than just those who are naturally activist and/or political will start
to speak up.
The possibilities are, quite unfortunately, nearly
endless. Obviously we
can't keep Wikipedia offline and just rotate the protest message; perhaps
we should consider creating a Campaign of the Week (or Month?) to highlight
humanitarian problems. All we need are volunteers to set up a
Wikipedia:CotW and get it rolling, and we can start to make a real
I wasn't entirely sure if you were being sarcastic here and elsewhere
in the post.
A couple of objections.
(1) Many (hopefully most) Wikipedians are here to write an online
encyclopedia, not to be part of an activist community (though there
are elements of that in the parts of the free licensing movement who
actively promote copyleft and work to (legitimately) reduce as much as
possible the restrictions produced by copyright legislation, which is
pertinent given the SOPA element here).
(2) Many Wikipedians are quite happy to be activist elsewhere and to
make protests in person at demonstrations, and to sign petitions, and
help run activist and/or political organisations, but are happy to do
this as something completely separate from Wikipedia. It tends to be a
question of balancing different interests and not letting one dominate
the others, and keeping interests that might conflict apart. Some will
say you shouldn't keep things like this separate, others will say you
should. There are valid points for both arguments.
As I said above, the main result of all this, especially if it
continues, will be to shift the public perception of Wikipedia from a
user-edited resource that is moderately reliable if used with caution
(sometimes very unreliable if used without caution) to an activist
platform. That could be disastrous for its reputation. Consider if a
rival was started or was around that pledged it would never use its
visibility and reputation to make points like this.
A one-off black-out, yes. Repeated black-outs, no. I would hope most
Wikipedians would oppose anything like this happening again in the
near future, if only because this strategy becomes less effective the
more it is used.