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Wikipedia mirroring life in island ownership dispute

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By Andreas Kolbe
The location of the disputed islands.

On 5 February 2013, Foreign Policy published a report by Pete Hunt on editing of the Wikipedia articles on the Senkaku Islands and Senkaku Islands dispute. The uninhabited islands are under the control of Japan, but China and Taiwan are asserting rival territorial claims. Tensions have risen of late—and not just in the waters surrounding the actual islands:

As the Foreign Policy article reports, the talk page of the Senkaku Islands article is replete with accusations of bias and censorship, with each side claiming to uphold Wikipedia policy—conduct which, Hunt says, mirrors that of Japanese and Chinese officials citing international law to back up their claims and counterclaims.

The growth of the on-wiki dispute paralleled that of the real-world conflict. Created in 2003, by User:Menchi, the Senkaku Islands article originally gave preference to the traditional Chinese name in its lead sentence, with the Japanese name mentioned second, and it was short, at just 300 words. By January 2010, it had grown to more than ten times that size, with 43 sources cited. In October 2010, User:Tenmei created a standalone article on the conflict.

As the political conflict around the islands intensified, so did the conflict at the Wikipedia article. The first point of contention was the islands' very name—should it be Diaoyutai Islands (the Taiwanese name), Diaoyu Islands (preferred in China), or the Japanese name, Senkaku Islands. Some editors advocated using the English name, Pinnacle Islands, to avoid the appearance of bias, but as Hunt reports:

The second area of dispute was the question who owned the islands, and over time, the article grew to describe, "in long, excessively detailed sections", on which basis three different governments came to argue that the islands were rightfully theirs.

The third point of contention, Hunt says, has been editorial neutrality, with editors using the supposed nationality of their opposite numbers as a focus for attacks. But in the end, Hunt concludes, the unappealing, time-consuming and emotionally exhausting process delivers a result:

Hunt ends with the suggestion that for this and similar political disputes, Wikipedia forms what he calls a "kinetic diplomatic front":

In brief

Orbit of 274301 Wikipedia
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Is this fair use of Peter Hunt's work? Per Wikipedia:Non-free_content#Text 'Extensive quotation of copyrighted text is prohibited'. To compare to music - if text was read aloud, it's use above would likely be over the Wikipedia:Music_samples limit. Regards, Sun Creator(talk) 23:16, 13 February 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Textual articles are quite different from music samples, so I don't see why they should be subject to a 30-second limit. I believe the quoted content is below 10% of the full article, and in any case, that's just a rule of thumb. Powers T 18:34, 15 February 2013 (UTC)[reply]


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