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Is Wikipedia's existence inherently political?

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By Resident Mario, Arguer 1, Arguer 2

Wikipedia's foundations are based on copyright laws that preserve free information and debase Internet censorship. From its very inception the site has relied on copyleft and fair-use to preserve its motto as "The Free Encyclopedia," and the central concept is one of Wikipedia's Five Pillars. At the same time, in its strive for accuracy, another one of Wikipedia's central pillars is Neutral point of view, the idea that an encyclopedia should be entirely free of bias, the maintenance of which has been a constant battle in a naturally opinionated world.

Lately these two policies have found application in Wikipedia's real world situation. As the Free encyclopedia but also the Neutral one, we are confronted with the problem of Wikimedia's non-neutral existence. The existence of the Wikimedia network and its continued health is based on its status as a 501(c) organization, on policies of fair use and freedom of panorama and general leniency in copyright laws. Wikimedia draws a fairly liberal community, and as the image filter protests and SOPA blackout clearly show, there is a community will to use our position in the public eye fight for the preservation of free content and copyright leniency.

Yet there is a significant population of editors who think that we should be less rambunctious in the defense of our principles, outlining that Wikipedia is not here to tell the world about your noble cause and that one does not disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point. This point-counterpoint opinion article will tackle the question framed above, as two editors will present their view on Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation's recent political movements. The questions are: Is the Wikimedia movement inherently political? Does taking an active political stance imperil Wikimedia projects' claim to neutrality? Is the Wikimedia Foundation right to be taking the initiative to marshal the contributor community behind advocacy efforts? If the Wikimedia movement is to take an active political stance, how should this best be expressed and advanced?


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