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Jimbo Wales ponders Wikipedia blackout

Asks Wikipedians: 'Should we go dark to protest SOPA?'

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Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales is contemplating taking "the encyclopedia anyone can edit" down – temporarily – in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) currently wending its way through Congress.

But first he wants to hear your opinion.

"My own view is that a community strike was very powerful and successful in Italy and could be even more powerful in this case," Wales wrote on his personal Wikimedia blog, referring to a similar move made by the Italian Wikipedia, which resulted in that country's parliament backing down from the law itwiki opposed.

"As Wikipedians may or may not be aware, a much worse law going under the misleading title of 'Stop Online Piracy Act' is working its way through Congress on a bit of a fast track," he wrote.

SOPA is gathering an increasing amount of scruitiny before it goes to a vote in the US Senate Judiciary Committee later this week, with opinions coming from such opposing corners as Rupert Murdoch and the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

In a nutshell, supporters claim that SOPA is needed to protect rights-holders from unauthorized use of their content online, while those opposing it say that the law goes too far by placing undue burdens on content-hosting sites, search engines, and ISPs both nationally and internationally, and is based on a "guillty until proven innocent" model.

Wales is clearly in the latter camp, but he doesn't want to flip the switch on Wikipedia without support from Wikipedians.

"There are obviously many questions about whether the strike should be geotargetted (US-only), etc.," he wrote, adding parenthetically: "One possible view is that because the law would seriously impact the functioning of Wikipedia for everyone, a global strike of at least the English Wikipedia would put the maximum pressure on the US government."

As of Monday afternoon, Pacific time, there were over 130 commented votes on Wales' page, with various levels of support outpolling various levels of opposition more than two-to-one.

And then there were the poll respondents who registered their views as Confused, Uncertain, LOL, and Fuck knows.

In addition to the commented votes, there are also about 20,000 words worth (not Wordsworth) of discussion about the proposed blackout. Whatever else you might think about Wikipedians, lack of opinion is not one of their shortcomings. ®

Bootnote

Speaking of SOPA, this press release crossed The Reg's transom on Monday about an event planned for this Wednesday at 11am in Washington DC:

People dressed as Google's iconic Androids will picket outside of the US Chamber of Commerce at 1615 H Street NW as part of SumOfUs’ campaign encouraging Google to quit the Chamber for the organization’s many policies that oppose Google ideals, including the Chamber’s support of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and its anti-environmental, anti-LGBT, anti-worker, and anti-women stances.

Would that we could be there, camera in hand. If you attend, we'd appreciate any photos you might want to share with your fellow Reggies.

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