Wikipedia has blocked a user account on suspicions that it is being used by the Conservative party chairman, Grant Shapps, "or someone acting on his behalf" to edit his own page along with the entries of Tory rivals and political opponents.
Nick Clegg has mocked Grant Shapps after Wikipedia blocked a user account over suspicions that it is being used by the Conservative party chairman “or someone acting on his behalf” to edit his own page and those of rivals.
The deputy prime minister said he believed Shapps’s denials but then suggested the contested account going by the name of “Contribsx” could have been run by Michael Green—the alter ego used by Shapps to write a series of get-rich-quick guides.
On Wikipedia itself, Risker had requested an arbitration case by that time. Within less than a day, this request reached ten accepts and one recuse, making an arbitration case inevitable. The arbitration case request was the subject of a report in the International Business Times on April 22. The case has now been opened. It will be held entirely in camera, with email evidence submissions accepted until 7 May (the date of the UK election).
Shapps has forcefully denied the claims that he or someone authorised by him was behind the account's edits, telling the BBC on April 22 that the allegations were "categorically false and defamatory. It is the most bonkers story I've seen in this election campaign so far."
The Telegraph's Jamie Bartlett asked, "How much should we trust Wikipedia?" (April 16), noting that a hoax made up by a friend about the origin of the butterfly swimming stroke had recently come to be quoted in a reputable newspaper (the Guardian, as Ianmacm pointed out in the discussion on Jimmy Wales' talk page).
Dewey thinks there is a numbers problem at the core of Wikipedia:
There are 4.8 million pages on the site’s English version, but only 12,000 veteran editors. That works out to roughly 400 pages per volunteer—far more than at any other time in the site’s history. [...] The site’s editor base has atrophied since 2007, and today’s editors are largely young, white, Western men. It’s no coincidence that, in Kohs’s vandalism experiment, an error on an obscure New York canal was corrected, while lies about Ecuadorian customs, Indian legends and Japanese history were not. Likewise the Wiki-troll Jagged85, who meddled with articles about Islamic history for years; it was only when he messed with a video game page that he finally got kicked off. A.K.
Wikipedia Zero has been launched in 59 countries with 67 operators and Wikimedia estimates that "400 million people can now access Wikipedia free of data charges." This might appear to be incongruent with Wikimedia's public positioning as a supporter of net neutrality. "We support net neutrality, and believe it is crucial for a healthy, free, and open Internet," a post on the official Wikimedia blog says.
In its defence, Wikimedia distinguishes its zero-rating program as non-commercial and highlights its operating principles that prohibit any exchange of payment and exclusivity. [...] These principles, according to Wikimedia, "are designed to balance the social impact of the program with Wikimedia's other values, including our commitment to net neutrality."
The foundation says that it sees free access to resources such as Wikipedia as a "social justice issue," and "it is absolutely in the interests of the public to use the Internet to provide free access to education, knowledge, medical information, or other public services."
Wikimedia believes that Wikipedia Zero can serve as a model for others to follow.
Mark Zuckerberg also echoes similar sentiments, "net neutrality is not in conflict with working to get more people connected. These two principles—universal connectivity and net neutrality—can and must coexist," he says.
The principle of net neutrality means allowing equal access to every website or app by an internet service provider (ISP). The term was coined by American academic Tim Wu in 2003, and gained wide recognition in the debate in the US that unfolded with service provider Comcast throttling traffic at BitTorrent. This ensued in the decision taken by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to have an open internet in 2010. In India, without a debate, the issue of net neutrality has been widely flouted by ISPs over the years. ISPs routinely offer preferential services to bigger organisations in tie-ups. Some examples include Facebook's Internet.org, Aircel's Wikipedia Zero and its free access to Facebook and WhatsApp, Airtel's free access to Google, and Reliance's free access to Twitter.
Aircel and Wikipedia: In 2013, Aircel had announced that it will offer free access to Wikipedia on mobile phones. The partnership is currently valid for 3 years.
Wikipedia might be an instant go to for many of us, but that still doesn't justify why it should be free of charge on a particular network, when accessing other sites means incurring data charges for users.
Indian journalist Nikhil Pahwa has responded to Zuckerberg's editorial, by pointing out research after research that shows zero services around the world universally tend to do badly for the people who use them. It all seems to amount to economic racism—exploiting the poor in under-developed parts of the world to become your customers under the guise of some apparent charitable purpose. While offering them a shoddy, stunted version of the real thing. As Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of payments app PayTM, puts it: "It's poor internet for poor people".
In perfect irony, Zuckerberg talks about seeing the wonder of a kid in a remote Indian village discovering the power of the internet. The upshot being that if Zuckerberg—himself a child prodigy—ever was brought up on internet.org, he couldn't have ever built a Facebook.
The campaign wasgalvanised by a YouTube video made by Indian stand-up comics collective AIB. The video, which encourages viewers to write to TRAI demanding strict adherence to the net neutrality principle, has to date received over 2.5 million views. A.K.
Fight over monkey image continues: Amateur Photographerreports (April 21) that David Slater, whose photography project in Sulawesi resulted in the famous "monkey selfie" that made headlines last year, will initially focus on pursuing infringers in the UK, having been warned that court action in the United States could be prohibitively expensive. Slater was quoted as saying, "Trust me, I am trying my best to pursue this matter, if not for me then for the benefit of the photographic community. One thing seems certain—photographers will have their online images stolen often in the coming years. If they fail to serve justice, high-profile cases like mine will only promote even more theft, especially from the US." There was no comment from the Wikimedia Foundation on the matter. A.K.
Big Think: In a "Big Think" video (uploaded April 10), Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain talks about "Why Wikipedia Works Really Well in Practice, Just Not in Theory", and discusses an idea to deal with Wikipedia's shortage of good-faith editors: significantly expanding Wikipedia's population of student editors. A.K.
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