[WikiEN-l] helping access Wikipedia from censored connections

Bennett Haselton bennett at peacefire.org
Mon Jul 2 22:45:42 UTC 2007

I was a bit surprised not to see any replies to this.  Is this topic better 
suited to a different list?

At 03:07 PM 6/30/2007 -0700, Bennett Haselton wrote:
>A few months ago I was here for a very interesting discussion about
>Wikipedia vs. Citizendium and in particular about the idea of having teams 
>of identity-verified "experts" who could take custody of articles to help
>prevent errors and vandalism.  This time I'm asking about something less
>controversial.  Well, maybe :)
>Peacefire runs a network of proxy sites like
>https://www.StupidCensorship.com/ for getting around Internet filtering;
>unlike most proxy sites which are widely known and get blocked quickly, we 
>encourage people to sign up to receive e-mail updates whenever we create
>new sites, and since it usually takes a few days for newly mailed sites to 
>get blocked, most of our users are usually able to use the latest one 
>mailed out.  One of the most frequent comments from our users is that
>they're glad that they can get on Wikipedia through the proxies.  So how
>can we help get the word out to more Wikipedians -- many of whom are
>undoubtedly not aware of the easy methods for accessing Wikipedia from
>censored networks?  (That is, they probably know about proxies, but may 
>know how to get an unlimited supply of proxies so the latest one is always 
>unblocked.)  Our organization's whole purpose is to help people get around 
>Internet blocking, so every time we help someone gain access to Wikipedia, 
>we're achieving our mission and, presumably, helping Wikipedia achieve
>theirs as well.
>We're willing to spend the money on the hardware and the bandwidth for the 
>proxies to help people get access, so how can we do it in a way that
>benefits Wikipedia users the most?  (Disclaimer: we do get some money back 
>from the ads that runs on our site, but not at a profit; we just barely
>break even on the ads right now.  So there may not be quite the same 
>around these services as there is around the bandwidth and hardware that's 
>donated outright to Wikipedia for free :)  However, to be constantly
>setting up new dedicated sites to help people get around Internet 
>requires creating new accounts with different hosting companies all the
>time, and it would be impractical to try and get each of them to agree to
>provide pro bono services each time we set up a new site, which is why we
>have to spend money for that and why the ads help to pay for it.)
>Since Wikipedia does have articles about subjects such as sexuality that
>are often blocked in schools, I recognize there might be a minority of
>Wikipedia supporters who nonetheless feel that the site *should* be 
>from students, but I'm hoping that the vast majority of Wikipedians would
>not feel that way.  First of all, most blocking programs claim not to 
>sites that deal with those subjects in an "educational" context, which
>means the vast majority of articles on Wikipedia, even those about topics
>like sex, should not be blocked, by the companies' own stated
>criteria.  Second, I think most reasonable people would agree that
>virtually every teenager could read almost everything on Wikipedia without 
>"harm", and that the educational benefits are enormous.  (Well, they would 
>be if you had experts sign off on the articles.  *ducks*)
>So, what can we do to help?  If we had an unlimited budget for
>circumvention services, how could we best use it to help
>Wikipedia?  (Whatever the answer to that would be, there's probably a way
>we can achieve some part of it, even on a limited budget.)  In addition to 
>just providing the sites, there might be times when if a new Wikipedia
>feature is being released, for example, we could do cross-platform testing 
>to see if it's compatible with our proxies so we can alert users to any
>issues.  What do you all think?
>         -Bennett
>bennett at peacefire.org     http://www.peacefire.org
>(425) 497 9002
>WikiEN-l mailing list
>WikiEN-l at lists.wikimedia.org
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