[Foundation-l] Politico: "Wikimedia foundation hires lobbyists on sopa, pipa"

Thomas Dalton thomas.dalton at gmail.com
Sun Jan 22 23:18:49 UTC 2012

On 22 January 2012 23:09, Mike Godwin <mnemonic at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sun, Jan 22, 2012 at 3:00 PM, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I disagree - the null hypothesis is that the gain from lobbying isn't
>> worth the cost, not that the gain is zero. (Cost includes far more
>> than just monetary cost, of course.)
> Ah, then the proper experiment would have been for Wikipedians not to
> black out enwiki for a day and see how effective that was in changing
> the debate?

Of course not. If you were going to do that kind of experiment, you
would need to both blackout Wikipedia and not black it out and compare
the two. Obviously, that isn't possible. Not everything lends itself
to such simple experimentation.

> Because, as you know, the blackout did entail a significant non-monetary costs.

Of course, and very difficult ones to quantify, which makes analysing
this sort of thing even harder.

> The trick, of course, is that political experimentation of this sort
> is similar to human experimentation generally -- the risk is that the
> experiment, for all you learn from it, leads to negative consequences
> down the line. My own view is that the blackout was unquestionably the
> right thing to do, and I'm hugely proud to be associated in my own
> small way with the people who took the risk of making our voices heard
> this time.

That's a good analogy. The approach often taken with studies about
humanity is not to do experiments (because they can be harmful) but
instead to examine things that have already happened or are happening

You could make some progress in working out how effective lobbying is
for non-profits by comparing countries where such lobbying is common
and countries where it isn't, or by comparing sub-sectors where it is
common and sub-sectors where it isn't. It wouldn't surprise me if
someone has done some research like that. As an expert on the subject,
I was hoping you would know about some.

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