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Wikipedia Blocks Qatar [Updated] 204

Posted by Hemos
from the the-law-of-unintended-consequenceas dept.
GrumpySimon writes "Wikipedia has blocked the entire country of Qatar from editing pages. Whilst the ban is due to spam-abuse coming from the IP address in question, the fact that this belongs to the country's sole high-speed internet provider has the unintended consequence of stopping Qataris from editing the wiki. The ban has raised concerns about impartiality — the majority of Al Jazeera journalists operate out of Qatar, for example. This raises a number of issues about internet connectivity in small countries — what other internet bottlenecks like this exist?" Update: 01/02 13:32 GMT by Z : Jim Wales wrote in the comments that the story is 'completely false'. Either way, the ban has been lifted and anonymous editing is once again possible from Qatar.
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Wikipedia Blocks Qatar [Updated]

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  • Only anon users (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StrawberryFrog (67065) on Monday January 01, 2007 @09:47AM (#17421890) Homepage Journal
    Having read the page, it looks as if the Slashdot article may be incorrect. Users operating from that IP address and who are not logged in have been denied editing privileges due to abuse.

    This is a far lesser issue, it's more accountability than censorship.
  • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday January 01, 2007 @09:54AM (#17421916)
    A state that has but a single ISP has the power of censorship readily available. By blocking this address, even as a side effect it is alerting the Quatarese to their peril. Conversely spam blocking is not censorship but rather the reverse, making public forums protected for the use of real speech. It also forces the the ISP to try to police it's own spam generators to our general benefit. Blocking it at the source is the desired solution. Hopefully people will vote with their feet and a new ISP in quatar will arise and give those folks some choice and protection from censorship.

    This is not a bad thing. While the side effect is temporarily drastic, if quatar had multiple ISPS we would not be discussing this at all.
  • by Rix (54095) on Monday January 01, 2007 @10:06AM (#17421972)
    Rather, I imagine the proxies are used for censorship.
  • by portwojc (201398) on Monday January 01, 2007 @10:51AM (#17422260) Homepage
    "The ban has raised concerns about impartiality"

    Don't mask it with that or any other excuse. It's not Wikipedia's fault that they have only high speed provider who can't fix a simple problem.

    ISP:
    Problem: User X is abusing other networks.
    Solution: Account is turned off.

    Yes it's that easy if laziness weren't involved. This is exactly like those who whine when their network gets listed on an RBL. Where do those who are blocked go? They whine to the RBL or since they, the RBLs, aren't going to listen the world. They should complain to their network provider - it's where the problem is.
  • by cprael (215426) on Monday January 01, 2007 @11:06AM (#17422372)
    Wikipedias do not have "accuracy" as a misssion. They do have "unbiased". You might note that there is a conflict there.

    Personally, I'd rather have accuracy.
  • by jc42 (318812) on Monday January 01, 2007 @11:42AM (#17422576) Homepage Journal
    Just because Wikipedia isn't 100% accurate at all times doesn't mean that it's useless as a source of information, especially very basic information.

    Yup; wikipedia is very much like a traditional dead-tree encyclopedia. Not surprising, since that was the basic model from the start. And the acknowledged limitation to "basic" information is why so many wikipedia pages have that list of references and links at the bottom.
  • rfc1918 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by unforkable (956731) on Monday January 01, 2007 @12:02PM (#17422732)
    Qtel is probably using private ip addresses, and a NAT.
  • by davidwr (791652) on Monday January 01, 2007 @12:19PM (#17422850) Homepage Journal
    Great, now all an authoritarian country has to do is have the state-controlled ISP flood Wikipedia with spam.

    Wikipedia blocks that country's editors.

    Editors cry "censorship."

    Wikipedia blames ISP for allowing spam.

    ISP says "they will look into it" but conveniently never fixes the problem.

    On a side-note, Wikipedia should allow editors who are registered, provide a valid email-address, and can prove they are human to continue to edit from all blacklisted IP-blocks except perhaps those known to be used only by troublemakers.

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer

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