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How the Chinese Wikipedia Differs from the English 193

Posted by Zonk
from the truth-with-edits dept.
bulled writes "News.com is running a story on differences found in Wikipedia's Chinese site content, as compared to content on the same subjects from the English site. The article goes into a discussion about how the 'sanitized' information is so prevalent in Chinese education that it is seen as the 'truth'." From the article: "[Some] say the object should be to spread reliable information as widely as possible, and that, in any case, self-censorship is pointless because the government still frequently blocks access to Wikipedia for most Chinese Internet users. 'There is a lot of confusion about whether they should obey the neutral point of view or offer some compromises to the government,' said Isaac Mao, a well-known Chinese blogger and user of the encyclopedia. 'To the local Wikipedians, the first objective is to make it well known among Chinese, to get people to understand the principles of Wikipedia step by step, and not to get the thing blocked by the government.'"
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How the Chinese Wikipedia Differs from the English

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 01, 2006 @09:29PM (#17076418)
    It's in Chinese rather than English.
  • hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by User 956 (568564) on Friday December 01, 2006 @09:36PM (#17076504) Homepage
    News.com is running a story on differences found in Wikipedia's Chinese site content, as compared to content on the same subjects from the English site.

    An easy example: On the english site, we can learn that the population of elephants has tripled in the last six months. On the chinese site, we can learn that the population of elephants has tripled in the last 12 solar terms.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 01, 2006 @09:37PM (#17076520)
    Translation from Chinese

    The USA, a decadent, capitalistic society, that enslaves its people through corporations, and calls itself a Republic, is in North America, between Canada and Mexico. Their Government is run by decadent wealthy politicians who use their political power for more gain. Unlike your illustrious leaders here in China, they do not care about their constituants.

    It is recomended that all Chinese citizens ignore these people for they have been corrupted by their capitalist owners. And also beware, they will tell you lies about working in sweatshops! They are lies told by their proletariat in order to keep their position in their society and to convince their workers that they are paid the best in the World. Ignore them! You are paid best in the World!!

    Beware of the Americans!!! They are liars!

    How the Chinese System of Government is the best in the World - elected by you, the people of China:

    All of the memebers of Government are freely elected by the people of China. Being a Democracy of the highest order, China.....

    • Re:Entry for USA (Score:5, Informative)

      by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday December 01, 2006 @09:53PM (#17076648) Homepage

      They are lies told by their proletariat in order to keep their position in their society and to convince their workers that they are paid the best in the World.

      Marxism hasn't been the publicly asserted guiding philosophy for China since Tiananmen. The rhetoric of Mao Zedong is almost totally forgotten among the younger generations. See Meisner's Mao's China and After [amazon.com] (Free Press, 3rd ed. 1999) for the rather dramatic shift in perspective from the 1980s. Now it's just generic authoritarianism and a good dose of Han nationalism. Get with the times.

      • "If there is a buck to be made, do it. Screw everyone else. Screw the planet."
      • by chuckfee (93392)
        The parent hit the nail on the head here. I was in Beijing for the first
        time last week. Save for his face on the money and his portrait in
        Tiannenman square, Chairman Mao is nowhere to be seen. Japan is
        the bogeyman there. Contrast this with Vietnam (at least in Hanoi)
        where Ho Chi Minh and the Party is everywhere. It's far more subtle in
        China.

    • by Brett Buck (811747) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:07PM (#17077158)
      >The USA, a decadent, capitalistic society, that enslaves
      >its people through corporations, and calls itself a
      >Republic, is in North America, between Canada and Mexico.
      >Their Government is run by decadent wealthy politicians who
      >use their political power for more gain. Unlike your
      >illustrious leaders here in China, they do not care about
      >their constituants.

          Hey, wait a minute, that's not a Chinese Wikipedia entry - it's every third post on Slashdot!

              Brett
  • ...has been edited to comply with Slashdot's policy of not "judging the existing national system with malice."
  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Friday December 01, 2006 @09:40PM (#17076550) Homepage Journal
    "To publicly suggest that Taiwanese have any historical basis for asserting their independence from China would be a career-ending offense for anyone in academia or in the news media."

    A career-ending offense exicts in this country too, but just on different subjects. Try publicly saying that whites are smarter than blacks, or that teenage girls should have have hands-on sex ed in junior high, or that ice floes are a good way of relieving the social security crunch, and see what happens to your career. ( The previous three ideas or - similar forms of them - have been considered obvious truisms in other places and times. I'm not expressing these opinions myself, just mentioning them as examples )

    Try putting any of these on english Wikipedia, and see how long they last.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      "...or that ice floes are a good way of relieving the social security crunch,..."

      there is no 'Social Security Crunch' it is a lie spread by republicans since the creation of social security.

      Just so you know, the baby boomers will never be the largest demographic. In fact the largest portion of the population they will have is 21%.

      • by rm999 (775449)
        "Try publicly saying that whites are smarter than blacks, or that teenage girls should have have hands-on sex ed in junior high, or that ice floes are a good way of relieving the social security crunch, and see what happens to your career."

        Those are not obvious truisms, they are subjective opinions. Those do not belong on wikipedia, and would rightfully be removed.

        On the other hand, I am guessing if you went to articles about race, sexual education, or social security, you could find discussion on those vie
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          "Those are not obvious truisms, they are subjective opinions.

          That was exactly my point. They are mere opinions TO YOU, in this culture and age. They were obvious truths to people in other cultures at other times.
          • No, those were opinion then and they're opinion now.

            That said, I'm sure we've got a few "truisms" today that are little more than ill-founded supposition.
          • A modern day example from the US would be "the government has a right to execute it's citezens".
          • by Ed Avis (5917)
            Anything including the word 'should' is a normative statement (an opinion) not a positive one (factual). It may be obvious and widely accepted as true - most think it obvious that murder 'should' be punished - but it remains a matter of opinion not fact.

            An example of a positive statement would be: providing hands-on sex education will reduce teenage pregnancy. This is positive because it talks about facts and (in principle at least) it can be tested. Whether it's suitable for Wikipedia would depend on ha
    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:29PM (#17076920)

      or that teenage girls should have have hands-on sex ed in junior high

      Well, the question is, hands-on whom? ;)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by loxosceles (580563)

        > > or that teenage girls should have have hands-on sex ed in junior high

        > Well, the question is, hands-on whom? ;)

        Other girls, of course. :)

    • by troll -1 (956834) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:18PM (#17077230)
      Try publicly saying that whites are smarter than blacks, or that teenage girls should have have hands-on sex ed in junior high, or that ice floes are a good way of relieving the social security crunch, and see what happens to your career.

      I see the point but those are really not good comparisons. An academic in the US could say Mexicans in California have a historical basis for asserting independence from the US and not really much would happen. Take Noam Chomsky, an MIT prof who says if the Nuremberg standards were applied, every US president would have been hanged. Didn't affect his career at all. And even if it did, the government in the US has no standing in dictating what academics say. That's the difference between the US and China and that's the point I think that's being made.
    • by dasunt (249686) on Saturday December 02, 2006 @01:35AM (#17078066)
      A career-ending offense exicts in this country too, but just on different subjects. Try publicly saying that whites are smarter than blacks, or that teenage girls should have have hands-on sex ed in junior high, or that ice floes are a good way of relieving the social security crunch, and see what happens to your career. ( The previous three ideas or - similar forms of them - have been considered obvious truisms in other places and times. I'm not expressing these opinions myself, just mentioning them as examples )

      Try putting any of these on english Wikipedia, and see how long they last.

      The wiki article on "Race and Intelligence" has, at the top of an article, a graph of IQs of different races. Whites, on average, are shown as scoring higher than blacks.

      The article discusses the amount (if any) of difference in the average intelligence of the different races and possible reasons why there would be a difference.

    • by jez9999 (618189) on Saturday December 02, 2006 @06:57AM (#17079252) Homepage Journal
      Try putting any of these on english Wikipedia, and see how long they last.

      Here [wikipedia.org] ya [wikipedia.org] go [wikipedia.org].

      Yeah, none of these are opinions, they're stated objectively; that's what Wikipedia's about, isn't it? Surely the difference is that the Chinese Wikipedia (or other information sources) are censoring *objective* facts?
  • by oGMo (379) on Friday December 01, 2006 @09:45PM (#17076580)
    The article goes into a discussion about how the 'sanitized' information is so prevalent in Chinese education that it is seen as the 'truth'.

    HAH! I love all the discussion about Chinese censorship. The argument is that we are free, and see things objectively---but that is not true. We are merely free to choose the censorship we prefer.

    I do not mean that we don't have access to "uncensored" information. Nor do I mean that it is forced upon us by anyone. I mean that we prefer censorship; we prefer to see things through filters that support what we want to believe. If you do not think this, just spend a week on Digg, or other "self-policing" sites. People do not want objectivity, they want the prominence of their own subjectivity.

    The Chinese government merely provides this as a government service, so the widest possible audience is sated. It's not worse. It's not even different. Consider first whether people are really, truly unhappy.

    (Note, I don't actually believe we should have government-sponsored censorship. There is some hyperbole here by design. But really, this is not as far from reality as you may think.)

    • this is true of everyone who has ever lived. including you. including me. it's simple human nature

      however, this self-censorship, whether by individuals or cliques, is a different subject matter than censorship by a government entity. one is organic, from below, for the purposes of protecting the ego. the other is artificial, from above, for the purposes of maintaining power

      • by oGMo (379) on Saturday December 02, 2006 @02:12AM (#17078290)
        this is true of everyone who has ever lived. including you. including me. it's simple human nature

        This is, in fact, my first point.

        however, this self-censorship, whether by individuals or cliques, is a different subject matter than censorship by a government entity.

        This comes back to our own self-censorship (and, really, our own cultural/governmental censorship). We see through the "authoritarian censorship is bad" filter, which ironically comes from an authority itself.

        My second point is simply that neither one is better. They are both censorship. To criticize for one and accept the other is hypocritical.

        2+2 does not equal 5, even for very high values of 2 and very low values of 5.

        • While they are indeed similar, they are still drastically different. In the US if you don't like the way a certain website is promoting certain viewpoints, you are free to take your message to a different website without big brother coming a knockin at your door. Or hell, take the message to the streets if you want!

          Try doing that in China and then tell me how much your example applies to that form of censorship.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Dude, which country would you choose to live in?

      Country #1 where people have free access to information and some choose to self censor that access?

      Country #2 where the government censors information and unapproved distribution of censored information is a crime?
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Country #2 where the government censors information and unapproved distribution of censored information is a crime?

        Country #3, which is like Country #2, but the punishment of unapproved distribution is dressed up as "copyright infringement" of someone's "valoooable innellecdual properteeeee"?

        Country #1 sure isn't the USA or Europe right now!
        • Nice attempt at changing the subject. Please answer #1 or #2. Be an adult. Do it straight up and unambiguous and then I'll switch topics with you and address intellectual property.
          • by oGMo (379)

            Please choose:

            • #1: You stopped beating your wife
            • #2: You are still beating your wife

            Be an adult and don't change the subject, please answer #1 or #2.

      • by SLi (132609)
        As an European, I'll try to answer.

        I think that based on what I know I would rather choose to live in the US than in China. However, both have their good sides. In a sense I would prefer to live in a country where people know they are being indoctrinated than in one where the news sources are as ridiculously biased as they seem to be in the US and where the people think they are getting the truth because they feel they live in the most free and best and almost perfect society.
    • This is one of the most insightful posts I have ever seen on slashdot, or anywhere else. I have noticed the same phenomenon for several years.

      It is also rather well written, unlike if I tried to write it.

      kudos
    • by FleaPlus (6935)
      HAH! I love all the discussion about Chinese censorship. The argument is that we are free, and see things objectively---but that is not true. We are merely free to choose the censorship we prefer.

      I'm honestly not sure I follow. Are you suggesting that it's somehow just as bad to be able to choose how one filters one's information as it is to have somebody else impose such filtering on you? That seems a little like saying that spending your money and having somebody steal it are ethically equivalent.
    • by coaxial (28297)
      The Chinese government merely provides this as a government service, so the widest possible audience is sated. It's not worse. It's not even different. Consider first whether people are really, truly unhappy.

      Well no. They censor to promote the idea that their monopoly of power is seen as legitament. They censor to promote the belief in their policies are unerring. That they know best. That they have the populace's best interests at heart, for the populace is incapable of acting in their own best interes
  • Simple (Score:5, Funny)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Friday December 01, 2006 @09:45PM (#17076582) Homepage Journal
    After reasding it, your hungry for more information an hour later...

  • by foobat (954034)
    oh ho ho ho, sometimes I make myself laugh.....
  • by Ryu2 (89645) * on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:00PM (#17076720) Homepage Journal
    They are from Taiwan or Hong Kong, where education is fairly liberal and there is very little censorship compared with the Mainland.

    Note, most of the articles on Chinese Wikipedia are in traditional Chinese script (used in those places) as opposed to simplified, used on the mainland.

  • It's a choice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Salvance (1014001) * on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:02PM (#17076722) Homepage Journal
    With China, it's a choice ... allow access to more data in a filtered/censored medium, or block access altogether. Since censoring typically deals with deleting data, and not actually changing it, I'd rather see the Chinese use a watered down version of Wikipedia than not have access at all. I fully expect that increased knowledge and affluence amongst the Chinese people will eventually drive the Communists from power.

    Also, China can't block/censor everything without ruining their prospects to shift away from a manufacturing-based economy ... so it's just a matter of time.
  • To the local Wikipedians, the first objective is to make it well known among Chinese, to get people to understand the principles of Wikipedia step by step

    I don't think the average (western) user of wikipedia understands "the principles of Wikipedia"
    • by JoshJ (1009085)
      That could be said of ANYTHING. The average Wikipedian? The average Firefox user? The average Wal-Mart shopper? The average Christian? None of them understand the principles of what they're doing.
  • by NewsWatcher (450241) on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:24PM (#17076880)
    I want to echo the comments of those who say that to have a watered-down version just so people can have access to something is ridiculous. It is an admission of defeat. It is an acknowledgement that the censors have been able to defeat not just their own people learning things, but others as well.

    The way to defeat state censorship of this kind I think involves getting as much information as possible out there. If they want to ban access to it, let them. Web-savvy Chinese will find a way to get to it. The word will spread. The truth is more persistent and resilient than cockroaches. Once it gets out it is difficult to stop.

    I sure would hate to think the Tiananmen Square Massacre, or "June 4th Incident" as it is known in China, will go down in history with a Chinese-govt spin on it.

    Already the English version of wikipedia calls it the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989 [wikipedia.org]. I wonder what they call it on the Chinese version? Tianenmen Square - nothing happened, don't ask perhaps?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I want to echo the comments of those who say that to have a watered-down version just so people can have access to something is ridiculous.


      Better to start slowly and end well -- Confucius. Do I need to go on (and on, and on, and on, like Slashdot)? Give it a rest will you.
    • by euniana (878775) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:08PM (#17077166) Homepage
      As of the time of this post, the opening paragraph of the Chinese version reads something like this:

      "June 4th Incident", also called "'89 Minyun" [short for Democratic Movement], , "'89 Xueyun" [short for Students' Movement], "June 4th Massacre", "June 4th Wave", "'89 Democratic Movement", "'89 Students' Movement", "Tiananmen Massacre", "Tiananmen Incident", etc, officially called "The Disturbance", "Counter-revolutionary riot", and in recent years "the Political Turmoil between Spring and Summer of 1989" by the PRC government, hereafter abbreviated to "64" [June 4th].
      • by dwater (72834)
        I wonder why your post is only modded '1'. If I had mod points, I would rate it at least, 'Interesting' since (apparently) they do use somewhat controvercial names - I can't check if it's true, of course, since I don't read Chinese, and am in China anyway.
  • Same Problems Here (Score:1, Informative)

    by Slipgrid (938571)
    Sigh, our wiki has the same [wikipedia.org] problems [wikipedia.org].
  • To host content that in any way differs from the truth discredits wikipedia.

    If the Chinese people want a wikipedia that won't get banned, they should make their own. It's a shame to see the wikipedia name get so discredited.

    No information is better than false information.
    • Why should Wikipedia be any different than profiteers and collaborators like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo? They're just following the trend of sucking at the teat of cowardly governments so frightened of their populaces that they'll resort to this level of craven behavior. Perhaps someday a free China will put the lot on trial.
      • by gnu-sucks (561404)
        Why should Wikipedia be any different than profiteers and collaborators like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo?

        The only reason I can think of is that wikipedia is a wiki, and the end decision will be made by community discussion.

        I agree with your post though, it is definitely an act of 'sucking up', and hopefully those companies that do so will regret their actions some day.
  • by Micklewhite (1031232) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:07PM (#17077160)
    What we need is some kind of text based indicator that shows somebody's being sarcastic. That'd ruin China's attempts at any sort of censorship. Say there's an article about China's wonderful human rights record. There could be a little ;-) at the end of it so when you get to the end you go 'Ohhh! They were being sarcastic. Bloody Chinese government and their clearly horrible human rights record, I'm changing my vote!'

    Beating China's oppressive regime is pretty easy when you think about it ;-)

  • If the Chinese government wants its view to be represented, it should allow free access to Wikipedia from within China itself. That way, its people will do the censorship for it. Consider the case with the Vietnamese Wikipedia, which I'm currently a bureaucrat. At the beginning, its only participants are outside of Vietnam [opennet.net] itself, and users from Vietnam [bbc.co.uk] created a made-in-Vietnam version of the encyclopedia for fear of "counterrevolutionary ideas". After featured in several articles in high-profile publi [tuoitre.com.vn]
  • by CherniyVolk (513591) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:17PM (#17077228)

    OK. I went to American schools. Growing up, I was, in so many ways, encouraged, forced or "educated" into think those Soviet bastards were communist scum bent on nuking the good'ol USA.

    Cold War ends. I become seriously involved with a Russian model, her mother and father was given a free ride to the US on some kind of genius grant. Speaking to her father, everything Americans were taught about the Soviet Union was mirrored in Soviet schools about America. Down to the common bed-time anxiety of wondering if tonight you'll have to use your bomb-shelter (which lots of Soviets also had in fear of an American preemptive strike.) And so, while neither country ever really had that many nuclear weapons, what the corporations/state did have was massive public opinion inline for support to develop more and more on claims that "they" had ten or twenty more nuclear weapons. Arms race... come time to use the arms, we find we only have two and so do they. The irony of it all.

    Point is, American education is no less bias/brainwashing/false/misleading than China's. This might be a big bite to chew for many of us, but it's true. Let's take for instance...

    What do you know of World War II? It might come to a surprise to many of us... but unless you have to have a nurse help you defecate, odds are you don't know anymore than what was TOLD TO YOU. Faith of compliance, and from lack of critical, cold and cruel analysis presents no options for the guy next to you. Germans were the bad guys... do I know that for fact? No. I strongly assume so, because as far back as I remember, that's what I was told; and if I differ from public opinion, then I'll be an idiot.

    The force of ignorance is so strong and compelling, that it's no wonder that those who veer successfully from the flow stand out so much and always have a aura about them that would permit one to predict they would "change the world". For the better, for the worst... depends on their opposing force and if they win or lose. If you win, patriot, revolutionary, resistance... all beautiful titles to hold to be sure. During your efforts, your a terrorist or criminal... if you lose, those titles stick. Doesn't matter your cause, doesn't matter your agenda. Powerful people, are just that, powerful and they aren't going to give up their crown, right or wrong, just because you're walking down the hall.

    The English analysis points out where Chinese wikipedia is "wrong". It's points ONLY assume it's wrong, basing their assumptions on the fact their wording is not as harsh/critical/favorable to the way WE want China to look. Who is right? Americans? Chinese? Most logical tendancy I have... if I want a German opinion, I'll talk to a German. Why would America have any more accurate information on China than China itself? (But this is where people will try to claim they have controlled information sources... as if the information in America isn't equally controlled. At least Chinese leadership have the dignity to admit their concern for the information given to the public. Americans are left to realize that anything printed and sold in Barnes and Nobels is pre-approved and must conform the a social agenda and anything that won't will either be black-listed, banned or edited to hell and back by publish-house editors.) Any fool that thinks Fox News isn't controlled..... bottom line, China knows China better than America does. Don't kid yourself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by klueless (695037)
      Do US schools censor educational internet sources for a subject like WWII? Nope
      Are students encouraged to become proficient in the use of primary sources? Yup

      Just because a textbook might be censored (a better word for most of them would be "incomplete") doesn't mean you can discredit the entire educational system.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jedkwon (973410)
      Okay I wrote like a 2 page essay criticizing your post, your logic, and the sexual proclivities of your mother, however, having calmed down a tad, I posted this instead: The difference is that here if I speak my mind, I may lose my job, assuming I did it at work, on a blog, with my name on it, which was critical of the current administration and the president's policies concerning national security, also my PageRank probably had to be high. In China I might get shot. For you Westside people it's the Comp
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Are you friggin out of your mind? There's a HUGE difference at play here, and you are benefitting from it right here on Slashdot every day.

      Here we are allowed to disagree, be critical of, and demonstrate. In China you cannot say anything the government doesn't allow you to say, PERIOD.

      Look at the masses of AMERICANS who hate Bush and Cheney. Americans openly criticise them, without any fear of being locked up or shot. You tell your Russian model girlfriend to go back to Russia and say something bad abou
    • by PietjeJantje (917584) on Saturday December 02, 2006 @05:16AM (#17078952)
      It is funny you mention WWII, but not Irak. Do you even know what you've been missing? I've seen so many incidents that were covered widely in Europe, but not at all in the US media. These are usually reports about "collatoral damage" ("Family killed"), death toll among normal civilians (over 50 times the Tower's toll), progress, and everything that would make the war seem less succesful for the USA.

      I call it the "Fox censorship". No it ain't just Fox.

    • You've managed to talk yourself into believing that either A) there is no such thing as censorship (after all, if China, which has a blatant govt program of censorship, doesn't qualify, then who could?), or B) that everyone has censorship, so it's only normal (after all, _we_ have censorship just like China does, because we _self_censor_, in effect, by choosing to pay attention to information we are inclined to believe).

      I think that for you to appreciate the difference, you would need to live in China for a
    • by joe 155 (937621)
      well, you say that we only know what is told to us about WW2 and that means that we can't get objective information, partly that might be true but I think to a far smaller degree than you suggest.

      I was at the Public Records Office just the other week (at Kew, in London) there you can see the original documents from the government departments from the time, as well as the information we had about the Germans and there are some news reports which they thought were important. I suggest that this information
  • Tianamen (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tablizer (95088)
    "And the sinister students jumped under the tank wheels in the hopes of jamming the wheels with their bodies and blood. They ruined the Great Machinery of Our Motherland and stained Our Great Floor Tiles with their dripping evil flesh. May the reverent ghosts of our ancesters be pissing on them now and forever in their afterlife."
  • by LGagnon (762015) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:58PM (#17077522)
    Honestly, I've found articles in the English version that are no better. Just look at any article involving Ayn Rand. In those articles, Rand's followers make up the majority of editors, thus allowing them to get away with deleting any facts (even if they are cited) that they don't agree with. The articles about her are constantly censored simply because 1) Wikipedia is unequipped to deal with a biased mob attacking one or more articles, and 2) the sources that make Rand look bad are often deleted, thus making it look like the "truth" is that Rand has very few detractors.

    In the Chinese Wikipedia, the government's bias censors the text; in the English Wikipedia, editorial mobs are glad to use their own bias to censor it.
    • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... ro.net minus bsd> on Saturday December 02, 2006 @12:50AM (#17077852) Homepage Journal
      While wikipedia articles that have strong "popularity" (however you describe that term) are more likely to be balanced, there is a tendancy for particularly some of the more obscure articles to have a few strong defenders with a manifestly strong point of view and bias, where any changes to those articles moving away from that bias and point of view is met with out right hostility and anger, invoking every obscure rule of Wikipedia behavior to justify their words and discouraging any compromising edits. Often these "article tzars" have support of Wikipedia administrators and others in supposed position of authority.

      That said, I have been successful in making some rather substantial changes in some articles explicitly by showing the paper tigers for which some of those POV biases can be seen. And given enough time and eyeballs, most of these problems do eventually get ironed out. But it takes time and much of what you see on Wikipedia is a work in progress.

      In defense of the Chinese Wikipedia, they are a couple of years behind and a fair bit under-represented in comparison to the Chinese speaking population to what the English Wikipedia has going for it. That and "official actions" by the PRC that tends to discourage participation on Wikipedia. Those that do participate operate under a "Sword of Damocles [wikipedia.org] that could be lowered at any time by the PRC government. As I've pointed out myself on many occasions, it would be an incredibly inept Chinese government that would not know exactly who the major Wikipedia participants are, even those who don't necessarily live in China proper (like being a Chinese speaker in the USA, as an example). I'm talking the full names, addresses, and other identifying information about these people. The use of psuedonyms does not hide this information from the Chinese government.

      There is justified concern in term of avoiding prison or even losing their life if they try to push too hard for the NPOV that the English Wikipedia enjoys. As for the U.S. government keeping track of its citizens, I'm sure that happens as well, but there would be a nearly instant and major outcry if there were such a similar crackdown within the USA. I'm sure the /. post about U.S. government censorship of Wikipedia alone would have thousands of replies in a matter of just an hour.
  • my brother in China (Score:4, Informative)

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Saturday December 02, 2006 @12:00AM (#17077550) Homepage
    My brothre is in China, currently, and we've talked about this. Our concensus is that the Chinese Wikipedia censors pretty much anything pertaining to freedom, democracy, and the political history of the West - specifically, the US.
  • After doing a cursory skimming of the posts in this thread so far I've discovered something amazing: no one has yet to call for the overthrow of China's totalitarian regime.

    China's government denies its citizens their God given rights. It is therefore illegitimate. It is the duty of every man and woman who would be free to work towards its dissolution and the subsequent creation of a new government founded upon the principles of individual freedom and public accountability.

    Lee
  • Maybe what they really need is a chinese version of Wikiality [wikiality.com]
  • by mlewan (747328) on Saturday December 02, 2006 @03:36AM (#17078616) Homepage Journal
    The article says that the Chinese and English-speaking wikipedias display different information. However, that is not only a Chinese vs. English difference. A lot of things are perceived different in different environments. I imagine that the articles about the invasion of Iraq [wikipedia.org] is portrayed very different in the Arabic and American versions for example. Or the Turkish and French articles on the Armenian genocide [wikipedia.org].

    Likewise an article about homosexuality written in a hypothetical English Wikipedia from the 1930s would likely have a very different angle on it than we have today, even without any active government censorship.

    If the Republican party had its own Wikipedia written by its members and the Democratic one its own, no censorship would be needed for them to have very different articles on president Bush. A similar difference would apply for the hypothetical state Wikipedias by Massachusetts and Utah residents on Bush.

    Neither do Korean and Japanese Wikipedias always agree on what is accurate information when it comes to history.

    The great thing with Wikipedia is that it makes it so much easier to see what is written in other languages about a subject. Just click on the link in the lower left for the language you want. Some differences will probably stay for ever, but the easy access to other languages to some extent diminishes national misunderstandings.

  • Truthiness (Score:2, Interesting)

    by denoir (960304)

    The article goes into a discussion about how the 'sanitized' information is so prevalent in Chinese education that it is seen as the 'truth'.

    Wikipedia is based on the principle of "relevance by consensus". While there is a requirement for providing references, there is no mechanism for objectively accepting or rejecting a reference or a theory. This leads in many cases to fringe theories of some interest group getting more attention than they should. The english wikipedia has the benefit of being internatio

  • The German Wikipedia, although totalling less articles, seems to be hundreds of times more accurate, informative and useful on many articles I've read lately (the AJAX article is a good example).

    Does this mean the English wikipedia is sanitized and modified to remove all that sensitive information? Is the DoHS or GCHQ actively removing aspects of technical articles so we don't turn into a nation or two of hackers and bomb-builders? :D

    Come on this is just bullshit. An Encyclopedia is meant to be comprehensiv
  • English not better (Score:4, Interesting)

    by yaohua2000 (1011091) on Saturday December 02, 2006 @10:14AM (#17079968) Homepage
    I am from China. As an active contributor (with 16384+ edits) at English Wikipedia for almost three years. I don't see this a serious problem at Chinese Wikipedia. This is in fact a POV on region and nation. I see English Wikipedia does no better than its Chinese neighbor. For example, English Wikipedia claims a British man reached the source of Yangtze river in 19th century, while Genghis Khan's people had done the job 500 years before. People from UK and US always see us as autochthon. So if we do something, they will not count, so in westerners' view, before their arrive of America, no people live there (this is what you actually think, don't you?) English Wikipedia has many lists of these, lists of those, most of the lists never include non-Western stuffs, even it is far more notable in East Asian countries. (For example, almost everything in Category:Lists_of_fictional_things) English Wikipedia claims itself the largest encyclopedia in the world one year ago, but they still have http://en.wikipedia.org/Yongle_Encyclopedia [wikipedia.org] , Chinese paper encyclopedia completed in 1407 almost as large as now Wikipedia as a stub. So my 3 years of experience at English Wikipedia shows me a very very emptiness of East Asia (or say CJK) cultures among average western people. I've corrected many POV things at Wikipedia, but I can't beat other 1,000,000+ contributors who created more at a much higher speed.

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