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Zionist editing courses, newspaper denies editing candidate, net neutrality
Wikipedia editing courses launched by zionist groups
The Guardian reports that two Israeli groups, the Yesha Council of the settlers movement and another right-wing group, Israel Sheli ("My Israel"), have set up courses in "Zionist editing" for Wikipedia. It quoted one of the participants:
||We learned what not to do: don't jump into deep waters immediately, don't be argumentative, realise that there is a semi-democratic community out there, realise how not to get yourself banned.
According to Israel National News, the goal of the course is to educate and enable an army of editors on Wikipedia and to provide them with professional skills at writing and editing in a manner which defends and promotes Israel's image. Ma'an News Agency reports that the 'Best Zionist Editor' would be awarded with a free hot-air balloon ride. According to AhlulBayt, the Iranian news agency, "Around 50 right-wingers, including media professionals who live in Israeli settlements, are participating in the course, which aims to teach not only how to manipulate the open structure and style of wikipedia to push their far-right political agenda, but also how to do so undetected, in order to get into the administration of the site."
Haaretz reports that the first workshop (held on August 17 in Jerusalem) had around 50 participants, "nearly all of them religious and many from settlements". The newspaper remarked that "For years now, Wikipedia has been a fierce battleground between the Israeli right and left". The scope of the workshop, according to the organizers, included both the Hebrew and the English Wikipedia. On the Foundation-l mailing list, Asaf Bartov from Wikimedia Israel said that "some Hebrew Wikipedians have ... approached that group in order to explain the principles of Wikipedia to them ... as usual, the WP community is vigilant, and has means to counter such initiatives. We hope to win at least a few motivated editors, despite the unpleasant political overtones."
In 2008, the Wikipedia-related activities of the US-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) had attracted attention (see Signpost' coverage: Pro-Israeli group's lobbying gets press, arbitration case).
Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd denies editing mayoral candidate's biography
According to a report by Toronto Sun, an anonymous user has traced an edit to Wikipedia's article about Rob Ford, a Toronto mayoral candidate, to Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. The report states that this unnamed user "was reading through some of the Wikipedia entries on the candidates" when he noticed that a link to a satire site was listed as “Rob Ford’s Personal Blog”. The user then removed it on August 4, but it was reinstated on the following day before it was removed again. The initial "edit in question" was made on July 16. Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd has denied the allegation and has stated they are "trying to track [the edit] down", but this "might be impossible" since the IP is shared by its other publications, including the Sing Tao and Metro newspapers.
Wikipedia as a poster child for net neutrality
During the recent debates about network neutrality, which were triggered earlier this month by an agreement reached between Google and Verizon, several commenters used Wikipedia as an example of a site that would be or could have been affected by a non-neutral Internet. A Discover blog post introduced the topic of the controversy as follows: "An open internet means all bits are treated the same: internet service providers process every internet content provider’s information at the same speed–YouTube or Hulu, Wikipedia or Britannica". In a comment for The New York Times' "Room for Debate", Tim Wu named Wikipedia as an example of "many of the best Internet sites [that] are non-commercial or don't really make commercial sense [and] will get slower and harder to use, while commercial sites like starbucks.com or walmart.com will load faster". His concern over Wikipedia's future was also highlighted on the blog of Reason, where it was noted that Wu "originally coined the term Net neutrality". However, Reason did not "see much evidence that Wikipedia or other non-commercial sites would become harder to use". Gigi Sohn from Public Knowledge indicated that net neutrality might have been a necessary condition for Wikipedia's success in the past: "the public wants the FCC to be able to protect an open Internet that will ensure that the next Google, the next Facebook, the next Twitter and the next Wikipedia can succeed."