News and notes
Director of Technical Operations hired; South Korean mayor sues; brief news
Director of Technical Operations hired
On December 23, the Wikimedia Foundation announced the hiring of C.T. Woo as its first Director of Technical Operations. Woo will be responsible for providing "a stable, secure, documented, scalable and responsive systems environment." He will also be involved in the assessment of system processes and technical infrastructure, providing failsafe and redundancy solutions, and "mentoring" the operations team.
C.T. Woo is the founding member of Freshbrain.org, a "non-profit entity with the mission to enhance the education and the enrichment of teens in the areas of business and technology through its community building website." Prior to this, he worked at SurfControl Plc., an Internet filtering company, and held various positions at Sun Microsystems. Woo had actually begun working for the Foundation on December 1; the announcement had to be delayed due to "extensive travel schedules". He is reporting to the Chief Technology Officer, Danese Cooper.
South Korean mayor sues Wikipedians for defamation
As reported by PuzzletChung, a bureaucrat from the Korean Wikipedia, the mayor of Incheon (the third-largest city of South Korea) has brought charges of defamation against up to four Korean Wikipedians. PuzzletChung writes:
- According to the contributors, the prosecution is upon [mayor Song Young-gil's] own request, and is going to be over publicizing a fabricated sex scandal in the article about him and (semi-)protecting it. The text in question is merely a sum-up of various reports about the speculations eventually found to be a hoax. Non-logged-in user(s) from various IP addresses have tried to remove the whole controversy section, including not only the scandal but other arguments about him, replacing it with personal contrary comments and legal threats. The edits are consequently reverted by some users and rollbacked by one administrator. The admin, ko:User:Kys951, is also accused of being an abettor just because he is an admin.
- In the South Korean legal system, criminal defamation is partially a "crime upon complaint," (친고죄/親告罪) which becomes irrelevant to be a crime when the complainant chose to withdraw the case. (Note that I'm not a specialist of law, especially in English terminology.) The police of Southeastern Incheon thought the case itself is too insignificant to be a criminal case and tried to persuade him to withdraw it, only to be declined.
- Song has reportedly demanded the admin to remove the paragraph in exchange for fixing the charge, which is definitely not the way how Wikipedia works.
PuzzletChung also warned that "every bit of contribution to the project" might be open to such litigation, pointing to recent censorship efforts of the South Korean government in connection with the tensions with North Korea. Restrictive Internet laws in South Korea, where the Wikimedia Foundation used to operate a server cluster donated by Yahoo!, had been a concern in the past.
- Ukrainian Wikipedian milestone: The Ukrainian Wikipedia reached 250,000 articles last week, as highlighted in a posting by Moka Pantages from the Wikimedia Foundation communications team on the official Wikimedia blog. Started in 2004, the Ukrainian Wikipedia has since grown steadily; it added 50,000 articles within the last 9 months alone and is currently the 16th largest wikipedia. The milestone article, about a Soviet bus design, was created at 8:45pm on December 21 (Kiev Time) by Anatoliy-024, the 110th most active Wikipedian on the site. The wiki has experienced a 64% surge in page views this year.