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Censorship

Wikipedia Won't Bow to Chinese Censors 504

Posted by kdawson
from the taking-a-stand dept.
truthsearch writes "Jimmy Wales has defied the Chinese government by refusing to bow to censorship of politically sensitive Wikipedia entries. He challenges other internet companies, including Google, to justify their claim that they could do more good than harm by co-operating with Beijing. Wikipedia has been banned from China since last October. Whereas Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo went into the country accepting some restrictions on their online content, Wales believes it must be all or nothing for Wikipedia. 'We occupy a position in the culture that I wish Google would take up, which is that we stand for the freedom for information.'"
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Wikipedia Won't Bow to Chinese Censors

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:15PM (#16083348) Journal
    Wikipedia Won't Bow to Chinese Censors
    You mean Wikipedia can't bow to Chinese censors.

    Considering China's regulations [hrw.org] I don't think it'd be possible for Mr. Wales to accomplish censoring all of Wikipedia from what's on the list from China's Article 19 of censorship policy. This that China requires to be censored:
    1. violating the basic principles as they are confirmed in the Constitution;
    2. jeopardizing the security of the nation, divulging state secrets, subverting of the national regime or jeopardizing the integrity of the nation's unity;
    3. harming the honor or the interests of the nation;
    4. inciting hatred against peoples, racism against peoples, or disrupting the solidarity of peoples;
    5. disrupting national policies on religion, propagating evil cults and feudal superstitions;
    6. spreading rumors, disturbing social order, or disrupting social stability;
    7. spreading obscenity, pornography, gambling, violence, terror, or abetting the commission of a crime;
    8. insulting or defaming third parties, infringing on the legal rights and interests of third parties;
    9. inciting illegal assemblies, associations, marches, demonstrations, or gatherings that disturb social order;
    10. conducting activities in the name of an illegal civil organization; and
    11. any other content prohibited by law or rules.
    That last one (#11) is my favorite. Kind of open ended, eh? Frankly, it'd be absurd to ask anyone to censor dynamically changing information such as a Wiki with those kinds of rules.

    In other news all Chinese residents will see a new homepage for Wikipedia [hrw.org]. Just another reason why Tor should stay up and the recent news about it being used as a child pornography shield is terrible.

    *All information in this post was gathered via irony [wikipedia.org].
    • The US government has censored Hezbollah websites by forcing the provider to shutdown the website. For the Chinese governement Falun Gong is a religious fundamentalist organization so they want to shut them down. However its human rights violation when China does it but "supporting our friends" when the US does it. Talk about double standards.
      • by jfengel (409917) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:54PM (#16083741) Homepage Journal
        Can you give a citation for that (the US censoring Hezbollah sites)? I'm not disbelieving; I just hadn't heard it.

        As far as I'm aware the US doesn't usually force sites to shut down unless they're participating in something actively illegal (child porn, gambling). It's not uncommon for them to take down organizations by charging them with a crime, and that results in the removal of a web site, but I'm not aware of them merely ordering an ISP to remove a web site without also pressing charges against the organization or individual putting it up.

        So if you can cite me some examples it would be appreciated.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mrogers (85392)
        I don't approve of the US government censoring Hezbollah websites, but you can't claim moral equivalence: how many people has Falun Gong killed? If the US government censored every website discussing or promoting Islam, you might have a point.
    • by kenj0418 (230916) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:59PM (#16083807)
      Since wikipedia's content is freely available, why can't they just copy it. Then the Ministry of Truth (whatever it happens to be called) can change as they will.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nuskrad (740518)
      Just another reason why Tor should stay up

      The Wikimedia foundation blocks Tor nodes, at least from editing (for understandable, if not agreeable reasons).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:16PM (#16083352)
    They simply believe that access to some information is better than access to no information. It's as if you had a choice between eating crap for the rest of your life, or eating nothing. Some people would choose to eat crap and maybe live a while, while others might choose to eat nothing and starve to death.
    • by eddy (18759)

      They need to google "False Dilemma"

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Google's search led me to Wikipedia, but since I'm in China, I can't read it.
    • by Funkcikle (630170) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:33PM (#16083529)
      China is market for companies like Google and Yahoo. Wikipedia has no revenue-chasing to be doing by getting out to the largest number of people possible. Wales' stance would, I imagine, be rather different if each Wikipedia page had income-generating adverts dependent on page views and click-throughs.

      How wonderful it is to act nobly when one has not simply nothing to lose but actually nothing to gain.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stinerman (812158)
        How wonderful it is to act nobly when one has not simply nothing to lose but actually nothing to gain.

        How much more noble would it be for those (Yahoo!, Google) who have much to lose ($$$) but relatively little to gain to Do The Right Thing?
    • by Yokaze (70883)
      The difference is Google is not the only search engine. It isn't even the market leader in China. At least, before you could be sure, when you where able to circumvent the Great Firewall of China, (which I've heard from Chinese students is not all that complicated) that you had unrestricted access to the internet.

      But now? What results returns Google, when it encounters a Chinese IP?
      • by KarmaMB84 (743001)
        How long before they all start censoring everyone's results just so they'll have a consistent setup across the board?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Al Dimond (792444)
        I believe that if you try to access google.com from China you'll get the same thing you'd get in the US. It's just that if you don't circumvent the firewall you'll see a lot of stuff censored. If you try to access google.cn from the US you get the same thing you would in China. A common tool used to circumvent the firewall is a proxy connection, with which Google won't know the access is coming from China anyway.

        As far as I know the reason Google set up google.cn was because for most people in China acce
    • by mdielmann (514750)
      Some people would choose to eat crap and maybe live a while, while others might choose to eat nothing and starve to death.

      It's pretty clear that in North America, most people would opt to eat crap. And it shows.
    • by paranode (671698)
      Google is merely a search engine, where as Wikipedia is expected to be held to some kind of standard for factual accuracy. The idea of the Chinese government modifying and censoring the information on Wikipedia is antithetical to what encyclopedias are for. They don't want to perpetuate falsified or strategically-omitted information.
    • by dangitman (862676)
      Your comment is irrelevant, because it is quite easy to get uncensored access to the internet from China. Their "Great Firewall" isn't very effective. So, Google is not bringing any new information. It's not like they would have no internet at all without Google. All Google is doing is bowing to corruption and evil in order to make money.
  • by JimZim (917146) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:16PM (#16083355) Homepage
    The companies named are businesses which by definition are in it for profit. Wikipedia, as a foundation has the luxury of standing for a good cause without having to explain it to its shareholders.
    • by Wingchild (212447)
      That does not in any way make their position less heroic.

      Salute.
      • by bunions (970377) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:29PM (#16083492)
        It's easy to be heroic when you have nothing to lose. It's like instead of rescuing the princess from a fire-breathing dragon, Jimmy is rescuing her from a field mouse.

        I mean, yes, it's the right thing to do to rescue princesses, but lets not be throwing the word 'heroic' around for no good reason.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Jabrwock (985861)
          It's easy to be heroic when you have nothing to lose. It's like instead of rescuing the princess from a fire-breathing dragon, Jimmy is rescuing her from a field mouse.

          While in the other valley, Tommy tells the dragon where the knight is hiding out, and tells the princess he had no choice, it was the only way to be able to access the dragons's hoard... er I mean to slowly convince the dragon of the error of his ways...
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by dangitman (862676)
          Google also didn't have anything to lose (they were not already in China) - yet they still decided to subvert themselves and their company's ethics out of greed. What does that make them? I'm pretty sure it's the opposite of heroic.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bunions (970377)
            Firstly, if you see a $100 on the ground and don't pick it up, isn't that basically the same as losing $100?

            Secondly, I didn't make any assertions about Google's behavior.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I guess I must have missed the day in Management 101 where they taught us that all profit-making shareholder-owned businesses, by definition, MUST support evil in every way, and refrain from doing anything principled, public-spirited, or courageous, under penalty of total loss of shareholder confidence.

      You know, I'm a leftist, and I have a better impression of capitalism than most of the Reagan-era "libertarian" idiots here.
      • by jrockway (229604) *
        > I guess I must have missed the day in Management 101

        That was the first day. Due to cost-cutting, we forgot to send you a schedule. Terribly sorry.
    • by Forge (2456)
      Thank you very much for so clearly and concisely explaining the different positions.

      Fact is, As an individual, or a charitable organisation, I can decide not to go there because I do not approve of censorship etc...

      However a business can't just ignore 1.3 Million potential consumers. Not when it tells it's shareholders that it is on a global growth trajectory.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mydron (456525)

      a foundation has the luxury of standing for a good cause without having to explain it to its shareholders

      Please stop perpetuating the myth that corporations are inherently amoral because their shareholders demand nothing less. This is a cop-out that some corporations would like you to believe because it gives them cart blanche to do whatever they want. But it is a dichotomy with no basis in reality. I challenge you to provide an example where shareholders have sued a corporation because the corporation m

      • by jfengel (409917) on Monday September 11, 2006 @04:03PM (#16083857) Homepage Journal
        A lawsuit isn't the only way that shareholders have to express displeasure with corporate management. The easier and often more effective route is to simply sell the shares, depressing the price.

        While I can't cite an example of a shareholder suing management for fiscal malpractice for doing something ethical, there are examples of companies whose share prices are depressed because of the effects of them behaving ethically.

        One example I can cite off the top of my head is Ben and Jerry's, who couldn't find a competent CEO because of their ethical decision to pay nobody more than seven times the price of their lowest-paid employee. In the end they had to abandon their ethical principles to hire competent management, and their stock price went up because of it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by truthsearch (249536)
          I would imagine that their stock price went up because they got competent management, not because they abandoned their ethical principles. If they had gotten great management while sticking to their principles their stock price may have gone up the exact same amount. A company simply can not run effectively without good management, which is quite obvious to stockholders. Therefore you can't claim stockholders were unhappy with them simply because they tried to stick to their ethical principles. I think
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AK Marc (707885)
        I challenge you to provide an example where shareholders have sued a corporation because the corporation made a [positive] ethical choice.

        I challenge you to provide an example where a corporation made an ethical choice that wasn't required (or thought to be soon required) that cost more than a trivial amount. I can't show you the consequences of a choice when no one made that choice.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Reaperducer (871695)
          I challenge you to provide an example where a corporation made an ethical choice that wasn't required

          How about the billions and billions of dollars that most major corporations give to charities each year? Yes, many get tax breaks from the donations, but many do not. I know a company that donated a $20 million radio station to a local non-profit and didn't get a dime back.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Reaperducer (871695)
          I challenge you to provide an example where a corporation made an ethical choice that wasn't required

          Just thought of another one -- how about the millions that Dell and others spend on computer recycling programs that are not required.

          You're just grumpy or lazy. You could come up with your own list if you bothered to try.
      • by neoform (551705)
        No, they wont sue the CEO, they'll just find someone who's capabale of bringing in more money.. meaning they'll find someone who's willing to do anything to bring in the big bucks.
      • Da Facts (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Frosty Piss (770223)

        Please stop perpetuating the myth that corporations are inherently amoral because their shareholders demand nothing less.

        But in practice, it turns out that this is true.

        The root of the problem is the entire concept of what the purpose of a publicly held corporations is. I don't know a whole lot about what the principles behind the "official" purpose of incorporation are, but I thought that the trade off was that in exchange for certain benefits to the corporation, somehow there was a benefit to society beyo

    • by mrogers (85392)
      Laws that require corporate employees to behave amorally in order to make a profit are inherently immoral and directly at odds with the purpose of the law, which is to persuade people to behave morally even when they have an incentive to do otherwise. Laws that place fiduciary duties above social responsibilities must be struck down before we can expect corporations to act as anything better than extremely rich immortal sociopaths.
  • Why? (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:17PM (#16083370) Homepage
    Why would China ban Wikipedia... When they can just edit it?
  • Those folk in China are really experiencing the gift of freedom of information right now, aren't they? We're so uptight about upholding an ideal that they get *nothing*.

    I'd sure call that freedom of information!
    • by richdun (672214)
      Which is worse - no information, or bad information? No access on the basis of principle, or some access based on relaxing that principle? If you're going to take a stand, do it. If you're not, don't act you're half standing/half sitting.
      • by bunions (970377)
        If you're searching for information on, for instance, how to avoid cholera, would you rather have:

        (a) something that would help you find this information but hides information about your governments human rights abuses or
        (b) no help

        • If you're [trying to break an addiction to], for instance, [crack], would you rather have:

          (a) something that [dispenses some low-grade crack] or
          (b) no [crack]
          • by bunions (970377)
            That's a cute attempt at analogy, but it doesn't work. People sometimes need information more than they need complete freedom.
    • by omeomi (675045) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:33PM (#16083530) Homepage
      Those folk in China are really experiencing the gift of freedom of information right now, aren't they? We're so uptight about upholding an ideal that they get *nothing*.

      And hopefully that *nothing* will help to spur social change for the Chinese, rather than putting a bandage over the problem by allowing censored content.
      • by bunions (970377)
        I find that argument pretty weak.

        Firstly, you'd have to have a broad coalition for this to work. You're talking about MSN, Google and Yahoo all agreeing on something. Good luck with that.

        Secondly, it's not like search utilities are some magical things that no one understands. Even if item 1 comes to pass, there's still all the homegrown search sites lieke baidu (sp?).

        Thirdly, if you honestly think that it's lack of a really good search engine that'll be the last straw that incites the Chinese to rise up
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by omeomi (675045)
          Thirdly, if you honestly think that it's lack of a really good search engine that'll be the last straw that incites the Chinese to rise up and revolt, I don't even know what to say. Get outside more, I guess, would be a start.

          Your points may all be true, but it doesn't make it right to help a government censor information.
          • by bunions (970377)
            I'll just refer you to the nintey hojillion 'would you rather have some google or no google' posts.
            • by omeomi (675045)
              I'll just refer you to the nintey hojillion 'would you rather have some google or no google' posts.

              I would rather not live in a society where the government controls my access to information. If you want to create a censored version of Wikipedia, have at it, but I applaud Jimmy Wales for refusing to do so.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WhiteWolf666 (145211)
      Huh?

      Wikipedia does NOT block access to Chinese users.

      China's government blocks access to Wikipedia. I would not be surprised if China's government blocked access to Slashdot.

      Does that mean Cmdr Taco should prevent posts from people who are commie bashing? I think not.
  • by Captain Sarcastic (109765) * on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:19PM (#16083388)
    I'm willing to stand up and cheer reservedly for Wikipedia if this continues.

    My only concern is that, once Wikipedia makes its stand, the Chinese government decides that, well, yes, in the interest of freedom of the Internet, it will let Wikipedia continue to operate - and then start "correcting" Wikipedia's entries to the point of anything that disagrees with "official" truth is useless.
    • by interiot (50685)
      Well, it's generally against Wikipedia's core policies to let articles be whitewashed. Any editor who routinely tries to whitewash an article gets blocked, and anybody else is within policy to restore the pre-whitewashing information. So it wouldn't really matter.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by cyfer2000 (548592)
      The reality is after Beijing government ban zh.wikipedia.org, the zh.wikipedia.org has become a playground of anti-Beijing activists. NPOV has been damaged greatly since then. The Beijing government definitely shoot his own foot on this move.
  • by whyrat (936411) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:21PM (#16083403)
    Wikipedia is non-profit, where the others (Google, Yahoo, etc) are profit seeking organizations (at least, they're listed on market exchanges).

    So while wikipedia can take the high ground and just not exist in China, for-profit companies have to justify this to their shareholders. If you were invested in Google and heard they decided not to expand into the large & growing market of China... well you can see how one could begin to question if the company's leadership had the shareholder's interests in mind.
    • What if I'm invested in Google and I hear that they decided not to expand into cultivating opium poppies in Afghanistan? How much money am I losing by their decision not to produce heroin? Can I sue?

      There is no requirement that a public corporation must do anything it can to maximize its profit. I cringe every time I see this argument used here.
    • by dangitman (862676)
      So, the logical conclusion would be that the stock market is evil, or at least makes people do evil things? That's not much of a justification.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:21PM (#16083405)
    While I don't like the fact that places like Google and Yahoo allow censorship, I do understand the reasoning. Censorship by default is hard to do on the internet. There is always information popping up in new places, and it takes time to find, review and finally censor it. So by providing the Chinese ppl w/ access to a good search tool, they can use their ingenuity to find the information they want. It also would be unfair for them not to have access to simple, non-controversial material that they benefit from, and which they would have a difficult time finding w/o a good search engine.

    However, Wikipedia is more than a tool for finding information. It IS information, and one of it's highest goals needs to be accuracy. (let's not debate accuracy vs. Wiki's here tho)

    If they were to censor information that is valid... well it would be incredibly wrong. You can't have just a 'little' bit of censorship of information in an encyclopedia, it violates the whole spirit of the thing.
  • "Everything that Mao Zedong says is the truth; every statement he utters is worth 10,000 sentences."
    Rate: Double-plus-good.
  • by raftpeople (844215) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:25PM (#16083441)
    With over 1 billion people, if every chinese did their part, there's no way the rest of the world could keep up with their entries into Wikipedia.
  • by Intron (870560) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:26PM (#16083452)
    I never expected to live in a world where librarians and encyclopedists are the guardians of civil liberties.
  • by div_2n (525075) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:28PM (#16083478)
    It's much easier for Wikipedia to take the high moral road when they are donation driven as opposed to a public profit driven company. Perhaps it is even necessary to keep their image clean. China is one of the fastest (is it the fastest?) growing economies in the world. It has a staggering population of would-be customers. For them to take the high road and refuse to do business there would probably not go over well with investors--especially when their competition is entering the market there.
    • by dangitman (862676) on Monday September 11, 2006 @04:22PM (#16084056)
      It's much easier for Wikipedia to take the high moral road when they are donation driven as opposed to a public profit driven company.

      I'm trying to understand what your point is. Is it OK for Google to do bad things, because it is "less easy"? Does it being "easy" for Wikipedia mean its actions have less merit?

      It's a strange set of morals you appear to be describing. We should live our lives based on what's easiest? Is that what you are saying? If doing the right thing is difficult, it's OK not to do it?

      Many people find it hard to resist sexual temptation. So, is it OK to have an affair, and then lie to your wife about it, because it's easier than telling the truth or not having the affair?

  • I think the original article is more of an editorial piece than a news article, as I doubt the Chinese government would be hassling WikiMedia to make Wikipedia available to China but censored, I'd imagined after they were first banned he made these statements and nothing has changed since. What is definitely interesting is the growing suggestions from Wales is that advertising could be coming to some wikipedia pages which would definitely change it from a service to a business and I wonder how quick they wo
  • He'll be (Score:4, Funny)

    by cyber-vandal (148830) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:29PM (#16083491) Homepage
    First against the wall when the revolution comes.
  • Chinapedia (Score:2, Interesting)

    by yoda-dono (972385)
    I wonder if a bit of encyclopedia competition in the Chinese market would make Jimmy agree with Google's compromise... If Google ducked out of China completely, and M$ and Yahoo! did not, then billions of Chinese people would be lost by Google to their less-idealistic (or moral) competitors.

    Lets see how much he'd like a Chinapedia...
  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:35PM (#16083558)

    He challenges other internet companies, including Google, to justify their claim that they could do more good than harm by co-operating with Beijing. Wikipedia has been banned from China since last October

    Yeah, I think the second sentence pretty much gives him the answer to the question in the first.

  • ...publically traded company? ;)

    It's easy to take the moral high road when you're not responsible for anything or anyone.
  • So do the wikipedia guys equate no information with freedom of information?
  • *Giggle (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin@amiran . u s> on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:45PM (#16083663) Homepage Journal
    In the article, he says he doesn't know why China would block Wikipedia, given their position on neutrality.

    I'm not if he's being intentionally dense, or if he honestly belives that the Chinese government is interested in neutrality.

    If so, I'd ask Mr. Wales to compare the following three links:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_prot ests_of_1989 [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.google.cn/search?hl=zh-CN&ie=UTF-8&inla ng=zh-CN&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=T iananmen+Square&spell=1 [google.cn]
    http://www.google.com/search?q=Tiananmen+Square&ie =UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 [google.com]

    Just a thought...
  • Flip It (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Baby Duck (176251) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:46PM (#16083667) Homepage
    For all this talk of shareholders shying away from a company refusing business opportunities, and therefore it's "easy" for a non-profit to take the higher moral ground ...

    Donaters shy away from a non-profit that DOESN'T take the higher moral ground.
  • by misleb (129952)
    Let's here it for community driven public endevours which are not bound by the necessity to make money. Corporations almost have to give in to censorship if the want to make money. Take money out of the equation and freedom wins.
  • by supabeast! (84658) on Monday September 11, 2006 @03:57PM (#16083783)
    (disclaimer - I am singling out the Microsoft/Google approach to China, it is in no way intended to represent the overall efforts of American businesses in China, especially the loathsome actions of Cisco and Yahoo.)

    The problem here is that Wikipedia's approach accomplishes nothing - although neither does it compromise the organization's stated principles. Microsoft and Google's approach of censoring on request has still created a raging torrent of information within, into, and out of China, one that the Chinese government can only barely police. Wikipedia's outdated reactionary protest model will not coax China to change anything, after all, China has the resources to churn out competing products with ease. Microsoft and Google are showing China the rest of the world, and giving Chinese dissidents great, albeit limited, tools for proactively attacking totalitarianism.
  • by ziggyzig (944029)
    I was in China 2 months ago and was able to search for Tianamen Square and access google.com (US Version) without any problems. Anyone in China that can attest that the censorship policies actually work?
  • Let's face it, the fact the Google is great for finding things online is where they started out, but it's not what they're in business for. The business is to sell advertising space. Pure and simple. All other services they provide are to maintain brand loyalty and keep you using their website.

    Google is a glorified advertising business.

    Wikipedia is in it for the information. They want to share knowledge by leaveraging the power of the masses.If the billions of people who are online visit and read Wikipedia
  • Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Wikipedia. 3 of these entities exist purely to make money.
  • by n0mad6 (668307) on Monday September 11, 2006 @04:18PM (#16084011)
    is, amusingly, this [wikipedia.org].
  • While I do applaud Jimmy Wales for taking the moral high road on this one, I also have to acknowledge that it looks like his decision was much easier to make than the decisions that Google, Yahoo, and others have faced.

    How could Wikipedia comply with anyone's demand for censorship, even if it wanted to? Its core structure makes that impossible. What, would each article have a little NFCNNN button that any of us could push? ("Not For China No No No")

  • by mrscorpio (265337) <twoheadedboy@NoSpaM.stonepool.com> on Monday September 11, 2006 @04:38PM (#16084223)
    Bottom line, it's not in Google's shareholder's interests to take a pro-freedom stance that excludes their products from the largest economy in the world. Rather, it's most definitely in their (the shareholders) interests for Google to make concessions to the Chinese government to be able to do business there. This is neither good nor bad (though some, including myself, would argue it's "not good"), but a product of being a company owned by stockholders. The great thing, especially in this case, is that if you disagree with such corporate policy, you can refuse to use their products and utilize those of a company whose actions are more in tune with your beliefs.

    Wikipedia, obviously, by its nature is not beholden to these interests.
  • by TrebleJunkie (208060) <ezahurakNO@SPAMatlanticbb.net> on Monday September 11, 2006 @04:42PM (#16084263) Homepage Journal
    While I'm happy to see such a stance taken by Wikipedia -- it's better than Google's "do no evil, unless it's the lesser of two of them" stance, and Cisco's "anything for a buck" stance, for sure -- I'm a little conflicted on a couple of points:

    First, that their stance of "freedom of information," rather than of individual liberty. Accept the latter, and the former can only follow. Accept the former without the latter, you live in a paradox where an individual can be expected/obligated/forced to make disclosures of information about something or another; he has no freedom to keep that information (or its benefits) to himself if he so wishes, (This is also my problem with "Free Software," Richard Stallmin [misspelling intentional. Think "Stalin."] and the GPL, but that's another discussion for another time) or a person is forced to keep his mouth shut if what he wishes to share (or not) doesn't fit the political agenda or dogma of the day.

    Second, given the tug-of-war that most articles of a political nature on Wikipedia face, that is, with leftists and rightists engaged in a constant back-and-forth to spin them to suit their agendas, most articles are effectively controlled by a tyranny of the majority, or at the very least, a tyranny of the last person to change it -- rather than articles having a basis in fact. On such articles, I would argue that Wikipedia is only playing lip service to "freedom of information", much less to "freedom."

    If Wikipedia has a stance to take, it _should_ be a belief in individual liberty and freedom to do whatever he chooses to better himself (without placing any obligation on others, of course) -- including learning the accurate, honest, objective truth as it's known about any subject available to him so that he can make his own best decisions about them.

    It makes no difference if the information's free, but people aren't.

    ERZ

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