The recent Newsweek story on the Wifione / IIPM admin corruption case
has clear implications for Wikipedia Zero.
Wikipedia Zero creates hundreds of millions of passive Wikipedia users who:
- Cannot see the sources of a Wikipedia article (I believe SMS users cannot
even see which statements *are* sourced and to what)
- Cannot view alternative sources
- Cannot meaningfully edit Wikipedia (lacking access to new sources)
At the same time, Wikipedia Zero creates a monopoly position for Wikipedia
that makes the site an even greater target for manipulation by local
elites, who *do* enjoy full read/write access to Wikipedia. Such monopolies
are fundamentally incompatible with the values underlying the idea of a
free and open web. Monopolies ultimately result in *control* rather than
*freedom* of information.
The Wifione case illustrates that even in the English Wikipedia attempts at
manipulation, focused on topics that the average Wikipedia contributor has
little interest in or knowledge about, can be successful and remain
undetected for years. Small, regional-language Wikipedias are far more
unstable still, as the example of the Croatian Wikipedia demonstrated all
Wikipedia is far too vulnerable to become the gatekeeper for information in
developing countries -- if such a gatekeeper were even desirable (which it
To give another example, I see that Wikipedia Zero is available in
Jimmy Wales recently asserted on Reddit that the Kazakh government "does
not control the Kazahk *[sic]* Wikipedia".
The Kazakh government, however, seems to disagree with Jimmy Wales.
The Kazakh Prime Minister's official website has stated since 2011 that the
Kazakh Wikipedia project "is implemented under the auspices of the
Government of Kazakhstan and with the support of Prime Minister Karim
Massimov", quoting the head of WikiBilim and 2011 Wikipedian of the Year,
who today holds the office of a Deputy Governor in the Kazakh government
and is the Founding Director of a Brussels-based think tank, the "Eurasian
Council on Foreign Affairs", which is widely considered a PR front of the
Is aiding the market dominance and penetration of such a source through
Wikipedia Zero in line with movement values? Is the type of collaboration
described on Wikimedia's Outreach page for Kazakhstan? I don't think so.
I thought we were on the side of those fighting for freedom of speech, not
the side of those suppressing it.
It's a concrete example of Wikipedia Zero aiding an oppressive government
in the control of information -- not at some point in the future, but today.
For a thoughtful examination of the issues surrounding Wikipedia Zero, I'd
ask everyone to take 5 minutes of their time to listen to the presentation
Thomas Lohninger gave at the Chaos Communication Congress in December 2014,
"Net Neutrality: Days of Future Past?" Time code 37:00 onward.
I would be glad to see the Wikimedia Foundation rejoin the ranks of those
fighting for freedom of speech, and a free and open web for all.
On Sat, Mar 28, 2015 at 12:15 AM, Jens Best <best.jens(a)gmail.com> wrote:
first of all, welcome Kourosh.
I'm looking forward to see how the reality of this exciting job description
gonna look like. For me this also sounds like a clear move to a more
politically positioned understanding of this aspect of the growing
importance of the Wikimedia-Movment globally. "Advancement Department"
sounds pretty neutral, but certainly it isn't at all.
When it comes to "collaboration with like-minded organizations" decisions
surely are also carried by a stronger public postioning of the values of
the movement. Some of the decisions in the past, especially when it comes
to collaborations with commercial internet players maybe need to be openly
and transparently re-evaluated.
If Kourosh is settled in I would like to see a global, transparent and open
discussion about our program "Wikipedia Zero" which is under global critic
by OpenWeb-NGOs and other worried members of the civil society in the US,
in the "Global South" and in Europe.
Wikipedia Zero which for me is a straight marketing element of some clever
telecoms to sell their mobile products in developing markets and therefore
infusing an user-experience of data-specific payment habits, needs to be
re-evaluated with a professional look that includes awareness of what
implications strategic partnerships can have on our core values.
The well-meant intentions which carried the Wikipedia Zero programme inside
WMF to the point where it is now maybe were a little starry-eyed. Let's not
forget that a zero-rated Wikipedia which can't connect to the linked
knowledge of the world is just a *Walled Wikipedia *and therefore a
questionable contribution to our core belief of giving free knowledge to
the people - by the people.
The intensity with which the global fight about net neutrality is lead
because of the commercial interests of the telecoms surely doesn't stop at
the markets of the Global South - therefore Wikimedia movement has to make
perfectly clear which line is walked on this central matter of a free and
You see, Kourosh, the challenges are big and I'm looking forward to have an
experienced person overlooking the future developments in this field.
best regards and a good start
2015-03-27 21:13 GMT+01:00 Lila Tretikov <lila(a)wikimedia.org>rg>:
In order to encourage the expansion of knowledge, we’ve been considering
new ways to support and develop the work you do. Collaboration is an
essential part of the Wikimedia movement, and today, I’m excited to let
know about a new addition at the Wikimedia
Foundation that will support
collaboration with like-minded organizations.
For some time now, we’ve planned to hire a Vice President of Strategic
Partnerships. Today, I am pleased to announce that Kourosh Karimkhany
step into this role on March 30, 2015.
Kourosh will be responsible for crafting a strategy to grow long-term
for Wikimedia projects through building
and relationships on behalf of the Wikimedia
Foundation. He will become
part of the C-level team and will report to Lisa Gruwell. Kourosh will
oversee Wikipedia Zero, which will transition to
the partnerships team.
The Wikimedia community has many fruitful and creative partnerships that
help support knowledge creation and sharing around the world. The
partnerships Kourosh will support will will help us better support these
partnerships and your work, as well as grow strategic initiatives we take
on at the WMF.
Kourosh was born in Iran and moved to the U.S. as a child with his
Today, he is an experienced digital media
professional with a passion for
sharing information with the world. He started his career as a technology
journalist covering Silicon Valley for Bloomberg, Reuters and Wired. He
switched to the business side of media when he joined Yahoo as senior
producer of Yahoo News. Later, he led corporate development at Conde Nast
where he spearheaded the acquisition of Wired.com
, Ars Technica and
He also cofounded Food Republic in 2009, which
was acquired in 2013. He's
an active angel investor and startup advisor.
In light of the expanded scope of the Fundraising team and the revamped
partnerships team, we’re changing the team's name to better reflect their
mission. The new name is the Advancement Department. To learn more about
the new role, visit the FAQ here:
Please join me in welcoming Kourosh as the newest member of the WMF
leadership team. We have many exciting projects in 2015 and I’m looking
forward to all the great things we will accomplish as we work together to
support our mission.
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