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Wikipedia to Shut Down on Wednesday to Protest SOPA (thenextweb.com)
951 points by minecraftman on Jan 16, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 192 comments



The train has been stopped, but it's still on track. Time to push it into the other direction and maybe even let it derail spectaculously. But there is more needed than raising awareness with this blackout.

This awareness should be exploited (in a good way) appropriately.

- We as those that do understand the issue have the responsibility to explain the problem to the majority. I still find it very difficult to effectively reason against censorship, privacy and the like to "normal" people, in words that they can relate to. A few weeks ago I personally accepted that challenge and are training. I thought this thread was a good inspiration: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3425973

- Those who speak in public, especially in the mass-media, should not think that they can win a discussion only with arguments, no matter how valid they may be. Please ramp up the rhetoric skills. Alexis Ohanian does not look like he is an expert in PR, so maybe he should be joined by public speakers with experience with hostile (and outright lying) opponents, but he made a very good start, and makes notable progress each time I see him. I know I would be killed out there. Thanks Alexis, and keep it up!

I applaud the stand that Wikipedia makes and, being a german, propose that the blackout should not end on English Wikipedia. The USA still is the most influential country in the world, and this fight is international, just as the web is international. Please do not mourn for one day without your favorite sites. Show some solidarity among internet citizens.

I am quite happy with the progress that has been made.


"The USA still is the most influential country in the world, and this fight is international, just as the web is international."

As a US citizen, I didn't want to be the one to say this (in response to e.g. https://twitter.com/#!/foxhuntingx/statuses/1589645062094274... ) because it might sound arrogant, but seriously, Herr Duerksen is correct: People in Australia, UK, and other non-US places affected by the en.wikipedia blackout can cover their eyes and ears and pretend SOPA doesn't affect them but I think this is a ridiculous stance.

Yes, much of the world looks to/points at the US for various speech &c. policies. Furthermore, much of the Anglophone world uses US internet services and products that would likely be affected by SOPA (facebook, youtube, reddit, en.wikipedia, 4chan, etc.). If it passes, SOPA probably will affect you whether you live in Boston or Brisbane.

There are many people who seem to hard time grasping the fact that US law applies to US sites, regardless of what country you are in (see: "Google turned off my 10 year old's Gmail even tho I live in the UK and it's a US law!!! US law doesn't govern me!!" <- yes but US does govern Google, which operates out of the US).

This fact is a good argument for creating competing services not based in the US (even tho it'd probably be illegal for us 'murkins to use them :/ ).


It's not about whether it would affect us, it's about we can affect it. Speaking as a Brit, I can't wait for Wikipedia's advice on how to contact my local Congressional delegation.

(Footnote: Wikipedia points out that 55% of people supporting a blackout wanted it to be global, and its true this option had the plurality of votes. It's also true that the majority of people participating voted for something less than a global blackout. Not sure it would have been the Concordcet winner!)


This is a really good point and something that the anti-SOPA movement should address better (or at least publicize better). I imagine phoning into the American consulate or embassy tomorrow couldn't hurt! They will say "we don't control that" but you can just let them know you are upset about WP being out, upset about SOPA, and liable to stop using US 'net services if becomes clear that the US market is "unsafe" for 'net business. I'll edit if I find more specific information for how non-US people can oppose SOPA.


Often when other countries take the US's lead it's for an advantage, or by force (see Bush-Blair and the recent Spanish thing). I'd be interested to know what the international pressure people are doing now or after Sopa is abandoned, if they still try to get other countries to do something similar.


Though I will not call it an international pressure, but what is happening right now in India (http://ibnlive.in.com/news/delhi-hc-to-hear-google-facebook-...) may be attributed to US's stand on this issue.


I agree. We need to be the first one to inform people about this legislation and the threat it poses to the internet. We shouldn't waste this opportunity to do so, or they will restart the legislation and sneak it in somewhere whenever we let our guard down.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I wonder how we can push back, too. I've heard the idea of a Constitutional amendment floated around, but what would it say? "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of any blacklist, or prohibiting freedom of association online; or abridging the freedom to connect to other countries, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances online."? Or perhaps, "The right of the people to be secure in their computers, passwords, access tokens, and personal data, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons, data or things to be seized."

Those aren't really serious suggestions, but I am concerned about things like our government setting up national blacklists, even "voluntary" ones, choosing who we can and cannot communicate with online and trawling through people's data wholesale, without first demonstrating probable cause.


Everything we need is already in the Constitution, in the First and Fourth Amendments of the Bill of Rights. We just have to defend our freedoms...through protest and through votes.

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." --Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4,1777


Consider the Wikipedia shutdown a form of online protest.

A small price to pay to defend our freedom.


One day is, honestly a too small price to pay. I know they would not go as far as this, but a blackout until the SOPA is dead and buried (i.e. not only one day) would be a better way of protest. Think of it as the equivalent of a hunger strike. That's only when you get lots of people worried/annoyed that they will be prompt to act. One day is not going to cut it.


Many of us have n*100 Facebook friends who may suddenly open up their ears to this issue come Wednesday when Wikipedia goes dark.

For those of us who understand but may not be exceedingly eloquent, what are some examples of a graphic explanation bringing to light the horror of the issue that would also be short enough to fit into a Facebook status update?


I don't know how likely it is that Wikipedia will do it, but it would certainly be nice to blackout globally and send a broad message that they will fight against any kind of Internet censorship, and that the January 18th blackout is a warning for that. It might help reverse the recent international trend in Internet censorship, too, which is no doubt also coordinated by MPAA and RIAA.


I know there's a lot of cynicism about whether SOPA law is really being abandoned, or whether it's just being temporarily shelved, but I'm really excited about how opponents have banded together, and how organizations like Reddit and Wikipedia have been willing to sacrifice page views and revenue to show their support and to increase public awareness.

In the future, when someone advocates opposing an unjust law and someone else responds that opposition is futile, the anti-SOPA efforts will serve as a compelling and encouraging counterargument.


The politicians will claim it is dead, then name it something else or not name it anything at all and just tack it onto the end of some other legislation and pass it when no one is watching.

In the USA, they're bought and paid for.


they may be able to keep the people from knowing about it until it happens, but with all this outrage it seems unlikely they'll be able to keep it quiet after the fact. Then they'll have to answer to this behavior come election time.


That strikes me as optimistic.

The most likely move is to slip this authority into a defense/anti-terror bill. It'd be a fairly straightforward exercise in legalese to create wording that grants the government the right to blacklist domains/addresses under the auspices of fighting terrorism.

And while the wording will suggest terrorism, it will be sub-defined to cover illegal enterprises in the aggregate and that, as they say, is the ballgame.

And when that version of the law gets attacked, the defense is the same straightforward jingoism and propaganda that has successfully fended off attacks on the recent, more-egregious intrusions into our liberty.

If people can't see past some flag-waving to get fired up about the executive having the explicit authority to bug your internet connection, search your car, attach a GPS tracker or even unilaterally declare you no longer deserving of your constitutional rights and bundle you off to secret prison, they're not going to see past it to get fired up about what the government might do to their websites.


They don't care. They honor those who buy the lobster dinners and give them 30 dollar cigars. When you vote them out, they'll have several six or seven figure cushy job offers to pick from.

---

From wikipedia: In February 2011, despite "repeatedly and categorically insisting that he would not work as a lobbyist,"[22][23] [senator Chris] Dodd was identified by The New York Times as the likely replacement for Dan Glickman as chairman and chief lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).[24] The hiring was officially announced on March 1, 2011.[25]


The individuals may end up with six/seven figure cushy jobs, but the party may still suffer long-term consequences.

When you're in politics, money is only good for one thing: buying votes. However, if a force stronger than free t-shirts and pens makes itself noticed, like mass-media reminding people how they got screwed, then interesting things can happen.

I think the main issue here with these people is that the Internet is not controlled so tightly as traditional media. And we are just starting to see the social effects.


the party may still suffer long-term consequences

Two party system, long term is only long enough for the other side to screw up, so 4 or 8 years tops.


I wouldn't be so pessimistic about it and I'll tell you why.

In democracy the mass-media has traditionally played the role of a fourth branch of government. However in recent times the traditional mass-media companies ended-up too controlled, either by owners that are also in politics, by legislation, or by the sheer pressure of catering to shareholders. But if you think about it, the social changes that the Internet has brought are only starting to emerge.

So IMHO, meet the new fourth branch of government: the Internet. And surely Internet companies can still be controlled, but the Internet is much more ethereal than traditional mass-media ever was and now the whole world is watching. Hello from Romania ;)


I think this is exactly right, @bad_user. The extent to which this is true blew up last Thursday, when Arthur Brisbane, the public editor of the New York Times, went to his readers with a question:

"I'm looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge 'facts' that are asserted by newsmakers they write about."

As Clay Shirky observed, the response was "swift, voluminous, negative and incredulous."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/jan/...

Within 24 Hours, Vanity Fair turned Brisbane from an object of outrage into one of sheer mockery.

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2012/01/Should-emVani...

But the most damning remarks came from readers themselves. The comments on Brisbane's post, and the one from Executive Editor Jill Abramson that followed, were absolutely incandescent.

So yes, the total implosion of the 4th Estate is coming into the open. And that's a very new development. That other big difference is that 10,000 calls to a Senator's office is a lot. So what happens if they ALL get 1,000,000? It's an absolutely off-the-charts response. You know there's opposition. You expect a few grenades to be tossed. Instead, a thermonuclear bomb detonates.

It's entirely possible that the response to Wikipedia's move will be the single largest driver of negative traffic in the history of Washington DC. It's the kind of searing experience that tells previously complacent politicians that, suddenly, they've got a major electoral issue. And not just on this one bill, but on literally everything they do.

I agree with folks who say this cannot end with the derailment of SOPA/PIPA. It has to continue until the flow of campaign cash from lobbyists ends, and the revolving door is welded shut.


Hence the very hostile attitude towards the Internet in government, perhaps.


That's what sucks. Everyone you pick from (except Ron Paul probably) doesn't really represent you. I think Obama had really good intentions, but then he ran up against reality aka Congress.


I can not imagine anyway in which Ron Paul could ever "represent" me.


I don't think he represents me, but I think he'd actually represent the values of the people who vote for him, which I think is more than I can say about any other candidates.


No he wouldn't. He would represent his own values which differ greatly from the vast majority of citizens.

And he would run into the exact same reality as Obama.


I just think that when Americans' main hope to reform their system is a 76 year old guy running for president, there is a bigger problem.

Granted, this guy is an ideologically pure multi term congressman loved by many people. But if Obama got gray hair from 4 years, I can only imagine what the congress is gonna do to this fiery fellow...


The real long term consequence that they're afraid of is pissing off enough people that they go form another party. It's happened before.


PIPA is the thing to stop now.


They should capitalize on the momentum and create an organization that can get everyone mobilized quickly in the future.

Politicians kiss up to tiny groups just because they are somewhat influential...think of billions going to subsidies for farmers or even tiny 1 issue groups. Surely together, the tech community is much more influential than them.


This organization is the EFF. If it can't do what you dream of, it's just an indicator that internet freedom is not a hot button issue for a large enough percentage of the electorate.


EFF is powerless, it needs the big tech companies to be it's muscle


I think you're describing moveon.org.

EDIT: I was unclear. "create an organization that can get everyone mobilized quickly in the future." From the wiki page of moveon.org: "They started by passing around a petition asking Congress to 'censure President Clinton and move on', as opposed to impeaching him." It was a single-issue online activism group that grew into an organization known for quickly mobilizing lots of people for political causes. I should have been more specific! :)


MoveOn.org is a blatantly left-wing organization, whereas supporters of a free Internet come from the left, the right, the center, and the north (Libertarians, if you're using the Nolan scale). Even if MoveOn.org were to embrace the tech community and Internet freedom, they support a whole boatload of other causes that many Internet freedom supporters, myself included, disagree with, and use rather tactless advertising strategies.

If we are going to start an organization dedicated to Internet freedom, it needs to be focused solely on that issue, or at least similar issues such as freedom of speech in the general sense, and not get into the other controversial topics like health care and foreign policy that have the potential to divide us.


You may joke, but I find the Internet to be more libertarian than anything else, and by that I don't necessarily mean the people on it, but how the Internet works.


There's not a single mention of PIPA/SOPA on that site.


not exactly, I'm talking more about a group like the NRA or AIPAC or NCAAP...something powerful enough where every presidential candidate has to come in and kiss up to get the group's approval.

Something where a candidate getting rated a C or D or F by the group, means the kiss of death in politics.

And something, with the following to get mobilized quickly to knee cap any bad legislation before it can even get out of committee.

The tech industry makes up a huge part of the GDP...but there is very little unified influence for people to respect it.


I've been on the mailing list for "savetheinternet.com" (run by "freepress.net") for a while now--they pre-date SOPA/PIPA.

Confusingly enough, they're sending out messages now reading "end the SOPA blackout!" that actually refer to the lack of media coverage of SOPA.


SOPA can be left to die on the vine, which was less of a concern than the supporting industries and politicians having such powerful draw on our livelihoods. Whether SOPA, PIPA, etc are alive or not, acts like these -- Wikipedia, Reddit, etc blackouts -- or tech pundits -- Dan Kaminsky (DNS hacker) and Alexis Ohanian (Reddit.com co-founder) on national TV -- still need to happen; the general public needs to know of the grievous acts, passed or not, of industry and their politicians. Otherwise, as we continue to echo, these same groups will create a separate set of laws under another guise and continue to push their ideals.


It's not being abandoned. They are just using the same tactics as always.

* Push a dodgy law to the brink of a vote

* Get the opposers to bluster into obscurity

* Sneak the same legislation in under other laws/names later in the year.

(* Profit????)

They do this all the time.


Page views and revenues would keep to exists if SOPA snuff their site in the future. It's about looking for the long term.


Wikipedia's sysadmins should make sure their blackout pages return an HTTP 503 (Service Unavailable) response so that they don't accidentally poison the search engine indexes, which risks causing SERP problems well beyond the protest period.


There's a saying that goes, "If you owe the bank $100, that's your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that's the bank's problem." In this case, that would be pretty much Google's problem.


It's just going to be an overrideable div. You could adblock it right now if you wanted, the div ID was already announced somewhere or other.


We're aware of that, thanks! I explained that to one of our sysadmins and I think we came up with a solution, although I think it will be more like blocking the blackout JS for search engines. I'll double check this is in place tomorrow.


So, what happens when I call my Congressman after learning about this on wikipedia and his office says "oh SOPA, that bill has been put on hold already since last week"? Won't many people get pissed at wikipedia?

Edit: I actually think they should call it off at the last moment. Save the nuclear option for another time.


Former WMF counsel Mike Godwin (and former DC lawyer) just commented on the Foundation mailing list:

    Dan, you're misreading the implications of what the story you link to
    says. What's actually happening is that the House sponsors hope to
    defuse opposition by delaying and slightly modifying SOPA. My
    experience as a DC lawyer for much of my career strongly suggests that
    there's no reason to suspend expressions of opposition to SOPA or PIPA
    or the general effort by content companies to change the internet as
    we know it. In my view, it is wholly incorrect to say "that time is
    not right now."  Anything that the legislators can interpret as a lack
    of resolve from the internet communities will encourage them to
    resubmit SOPA or its equivalent in another form. The time for
    protesting this is, in fact, right now.


In that case, I will go with this guy's view :) He seems to know what he's talking about. Bring on the blackout!



I wonder, who does the average American trust more: their Congressman or Wikipedia?

(also: Wikipedia can easily put in a line next to the "Call your rep" section addressing this. I don't know about you, but "on hold" doesn't sound very final to me.)


I'd reckon most Americans, as guarded as they may be about politicians, would take the word of the office of a Congressman. It's crazy how easily people buy into things because it comes from a supposedly official source.


Really? With Congress at less than 10% approval, I would hope the people who are actually concerned enough to call would be less than fully trusting.


Congress as an institution has <10% approval, but most individual congressniks will keep on getting re-elected. "All politics is local", etc. It's never "your" congressnik, except in cases of infidelity or some other egregious media-hounded event.


Supporters of this censorship should be shamed and humiliated to set an example for future attempts. Make them regret their willingness to sell the American public.


Hopefully, Wikipedia explains on their site that even though it may seem like it's "dead" for now, the battle is far from over.


"[congressperson], i'm relieved that you and your colleagues agree with me that SOPA is not in americans best interests. I'd like to thank your for listening to the opinions of your constituents instead of bowing to pressure from lobbyists. I know that hollywood will continue to push for more legislation like this in the future, and i'm grateful to have a representative in congress that will continue to fight for my rights." blah blah blah...

call your congressperson, let them know that you we've won (even if we really haven't) and that we're still watching, we aren't going to forget, and that they can't pass this when we're not looking. This is a big win for us, because everybody likes friendly phone calls more than they do angry yelling. SOPA being shelved allows us to continue to push our message, but from a friendlier perspective that makes us easier to listen to.

the shutdowns still need to happen. people need to be know what kind of legislation the entertainment industry is trying to pass and we need to be ready to fight against it next time it comes up. if wikipedia shuts down tomorrow, it sets a precedent so that next time this issue comes up people already know the consequences.


Even with SOPA being put on hold, I still feel like the general public needs to be made aware of the fact that there are people in the government who are threatening to censor the internet. Wikipedia shutting down for a day will go a long way in demonstrating what a possible consequence of a censored internet could be and I think that'll be invaluable to the fight against a censored internet.

With that being said, I think the websites that are protesting on the 18th need to be evangelists for a free internet and not just deliver an anti-SOPA message.


SOPA has been put on hold, not completely removed from discussion. And even if (hopefully when) SOPA is completely removed, it is likely that something similiar might be introduced in the future.

Now that the topic has been brought up. a very strong showing of oppositions to the concepts contained in SOPA as well as SOPA itself is a very useful thing.


It's no longer about sopa, it is about notifying everyone in the world that there are governments all over the world trying to centralize and censor the internet, and that this is a very very bad thing.  It isn't enough that we slap their hand for trying to break the internet on account of complete ignorance.  The odds are 1 that Congress will try this again, we need to let the world know that the people who built the most powerful tool on earth today are concerned that governments are going to set us back 100 years and prevent an explosion of progress by turning the internet into a place only the fat cats can afford to participate in.


I think that it's crazy that all of this effort is going into opposing SOPA. It seems that there should be a bill/effort drafted to codify the freedom of the internet, and making DNS blocking illegal.


The only thing that might help is a constitutional amendment. A law can easily be overwritten. An amendment at least gets some oversight from the Supreme Court.


There has been some discussion about this already. I am 100% behind going on the offense for internet freedom:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3463847

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3464227



Sounds good. I suppose you're talking about constitutional amendment.


This reminds me when a few months ago Wikipedia shut down in Italy to protest against a similar case regarding censorship.

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3072800


This and the cheezeburger network will put it in the eyes of people who wouldn't have seen it otherwise. Sites like reddit already preach to the choir! Go team internet!


To me, the real lesson from SOPA and PIPA is that the tech industry needs to spend a lot more money bribing (oh, excuse me, lobbying) senators and representatives to counter all the money flowing from the entertainment industry.

Also, it's an embarrassment that BOTH of California's senators not only support PIPA, they are listed at co-sponsors.


They're both Hollywood's senators, not Silicon Valley's.


True, but they both started their political careers in northern California. Barbara Boxer in Marin County, and Diane Feinstein in San Francisco.



What blhack said. Instead, get the torrent:

http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/6430796/English_Wikipedia_(A...


This perfectly legal torrent link blocked in Ireland, btw.


It is? I'm guessing Eircom blocks thepiratebay.org? I'm on UPC and its not blocked for me.


That's exactly what I'm getting at, and why SOPA and it's ilk are so pernicious.

(I'm not actually in Ireland at all any more, so it's not blocked for me either.)



And theres always the cached Google version


Please don't download this if you don't need it. It's kindof a waste of wikipedia's bandwidth.


The dump is also available via torrents from that page.


Is this US only, or is this going to take it offline for the whole internet? The article doesn't specify, but last I checked there was strong support for a US only blackout.


@jimmy_wales : English only, but protest action is global for English.


Thanks, so en.wiki will be gone for the whole world.

Not sure how I feel about that as there is nothing non-US citizens can do.


They can complain on Twitter and Facebook which will raise awareness to their American friends who can do something about it.


If all non-US citizens that use the English Wikipedia had US citizen friends they could engage politically, US politics would look vastly different already.


They can proactively call their MP and tell them not to do what we are doing here in America.


But SOPA would affect us english speaking non-US people too, so raising awareness in the rest of the world is a good idea. We should be putting pressure on our own governments to a) not pass a SOPA-like law themselves and b) to not support the US in this, for example, Spain shouldn't cave into US pressure to pass a similar law.


If you really need info from Wikipedia, you can cache an offline version before the blackout. I like: http://offline-wiki.googlecode.com/git/app.html


It's English language Wikipedia. Which will affect people who SOPA doesn't affect.

I wish it was delibrately USA only. Then US policy makes can see how SOPA will not only "break the internet" but also put US citizens and groups at a disadvantage on the global stage. Maybe that might get their attention aswell?


For one, there are many instances of US laws being 'exported' via trade agreements and such like, so yes it does affect people outside.


I'm against SOPA as much as the next person here on HN but I disagree with shutting down Wikipedia. Paul Carr wrote a piece today that argues this case well -> see http://pandodaily.com/2012/01/16/dick-costolo-is-right-wikip...

Basically,

a) Wikipedia's core principle is neutrality. When they strive for neutrality and balance on much more sensitive issues, taking a stance on one particular issue affecting one particular country, you violate that.

b) Wikipedia runs on the kindness of strangers, some of whom could potentially be supporting SOPA. It is egregious to spend a month asking for donations on every page and then turn around and deny some of them service.

Fundamentally, it is not the job of an open and free repository of human knowledge to take political stances, however harmful and important the topic might be. To those making the point that this threatens the entirety of the internet, that is true. However

- The point of being neutral is that you don't get to choose what you're neutral about.

- Should Wikipedia shutdown hypothetically over nuclear arms (as an example) - something that could potentially destroy all of humanity? Where do you need to be on the destructiveness scale for Wikipedia to take a stance?

I'm not doing as good a job of summarizing this as Paul Carr does - do read his piece.


To begin, donations are not in exchange for a particular service or benefit. That is why these are donations and not membership fees. When you donate money to the Red Cross, you are not mandating that they provide fresh water to somebody in Thailand. Instead you are donating the money with the expectation that it is used in a way consistent with mission. So, Carr's claim that they are somehow "making a mockery" of those who donated money "to keep wikipedia live" fails to hold water. This argument is a strawman. They are upholding their mission to provide a knowledge repository by protecting their ability to do that. Again, donations are not membership fees and they are being used at the discretion of the organization.

Second, the neutrality argument is equally weak. This is even addressed in the official Wikipedia release. Providing an objective and balanced knowledge repository does not require that they as an organizations behave in a neutral manner. The Wikimedia Foundation clearly feels the passage of this bill into law would negatively affect their ability to serve the community. Thus, they are expressing their position against the bill. Is that not proper? How personal must the attack be before it is okay for Wikimedia to take a stand and "lose their objectiveness".

His final argument is extremely naive and simply not true. By his account, if you have a stance on a public topic and publicly declare it, you are now and forever inherently stating your approval of any subject you fail to discuss. If you think this is an exaggeration, here is his statement, "The trouble with taking a political stance on one issue is that your silence on every issue becomes a stance...Everything else that’s happened in the world until now, and everything that will ever happen from this day forward..."

By this logic, a group like the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation must be in support of the Rape of Nanjing. PETA must be completely okay with the fraud committed by Enron. I could certainly create an unending list but the point is clear. It is impossible and unnecessary to publicly (or privately for that matter) hold informed positions about every topic.

On a final note, I think it is actually very logical that different services should show support in different manners. Twitter, Facebook, G+, etc. are social networks and as such, can make the most impact by members creating an echo chamber of dissent. Wikipedia on the other hand is a resource. And, just like the physical world, we feel the greatest impact of a resource when it is no longer available.


Wikipedia addresses this in their official announcement

>But although Wikipedia’s articles are neutral, its existence is not...We depend on a legal infrastructure that makes it possible for us to operate. And we depend on a legal infrastructure that also allows other sites to host user-contributed material, both information and expression.

http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/English_Wikipedia_anti-S...


You can't be neutral on a moving train - Howard Zinn


If you're implying that some issues encompass everyone and everything and suck people in, it is going to be hard to justify that SOPA meets that bar but something like, say, nuclear disarmament doesn't.


I am responding to your point (a). Not acting is not being neutral. Not acting is taking a stand.


That's a question of semantics. When you have a policy on not taking a stand on any issue which you stick to, you are not taking a stand.


When Wikipedia blocks an IP address for abusive behavior they are taking a stance in defense of their goals which are to provide a high quality, free, open, and unbiased repository of knowledge.

PS: Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act it's fairly neutral if a little long.


That seems fairly pointless. By that reasoning it's impossible to not take a stand, and then the whole notion of neutrality nearly becomes meaningless. But fine, let's say Wikipedia is taking a stand, what is it for? That stance is for neutrality--i.e., not taking further political actions on behalf of one political camp or another. Your comments would be better if they actually addressed the issues raised and not divert us on this path. (Edit: to spell it out, the issue raised in point a) is whether a stance for neutrality is good/bad for Wikipedia. One argument that it's good is it helps Wikipedia be a trusted source.)


If war was imminent, and forcing nuclear disarmament by a simple protest was possible, then we could have such protest on Wikipedia.


Dante once said, "The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."


But doesn't SOPA directly affect viability of Wikipedia?


[deleted]


Sad to see my original comment getting downvoted.

If your job depends on you being neutral, you don't get a choice. For example, the International Red Cross needs to stay neutral otherwise they won't get access to areas where they are sorely needed. The Swiss stayed neutral through some world changing events.

By opposing SOPA, Wikipedia loses its neutrality and takes a political stance - an act which could have long reaching consequences.

Here's a trivial question for starters - how does humanity trust Wikipedia's articles on SOPA given that it has taken a stance on the issue? Or trust it's pieces on the people supporting SOPA (a lot of whom are perfectly normal, smart, upstanding people we just happen to disagree with strongly).

The taint could be far reaching.


> Sad to see my original comment getting downvoted.

Your comment is well-written, summarizes a tenable position and contributes to the discussion. Unfortunately, the principle of not downvoting for mere disagreement has in practice been abandoned on HN.


I think we can safely abandon the practice of downvoting for disagreement when we can abandon the practice of upvoting for agreement.


"Wikipedia runs on the kindness of strangers, some of whom could potentially be supporting SOPA."

With friends like those....


I've pledged I'll donate if they protest SOPA and I'll keep my promise. I hope everyone else who has pledged will do the same.


Was this article on HN front page not true "SOPA to be shelved.." http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2012_01/pu... ?

If Wikipedia is still going to shut down then I'm not sure about the veracity of that article.


"Shelved" is not enough - they'll just find a backdoor for it.

I don't think they expected such opposition, unlike other laws like the Patriot Act that mostly went unnoticed.

But they are just regrouping. It ain't over.


I wish this was USA only, not for all English Language sites. It might cause a media conversation about how SOPA will put US people, jobs, groups and companies at a disadvantage on the global stage, and might scare US policy makers into thinking that laws like this might be the fall from prominance of the USA.

sigh


Couldn't they just redirect traffic coming from the US? Leave it accessible to the rest of the world!


No, because even if the law is something US-specific, its effects (should it pass) are not.


Nonsense. There are loads of bad US laws (e.g. terrible employment rights, terrible anti-discrimination rights) that the rest of the world, or EU don't copy and aren't affected by.

The affects of SOPA passing would probably be a benefit to many countries, since more companies & jobs would come to their juristiction (some countries in EU do this with more favourable corporate tax laws, or look at Switzerland and Cayman Islands with banking laws.)


None of those laws are at all related to censoring the Internet, which is a global network, so non-US citizens using US websites (like Facebook, Youtube, etc) are still affected.


Tell that to the UK citizen that's being extradited to the USA for American copyright violations. Also, The Pirate Bay claimed that the 2006 raid on their servers resulted from pressure from the MPAA.


That's cute, and we 'foreigners' know that. But there's nothing we can do, and to us it's just an annoyance we have to sit out.

Note that I otherwise support Wikipedia on this.


Not true, your government can through diplomatic means have an impact. You could call whomever represents you or even call the US embassy.


That was one of the proposed actions, but it looks like they didn't choose it. Which is a shame. US-only will not harm those that have no congressperson to write to, but it will also be an interesting talking point in the US media, who might start asking if SOPA will force jobs out of USA (which it might well do).


SOPA could cripple the internet. I hope this brings awareness to that fact. I shudder at how I and many more others could lose their job over this, as I am working for a US-based online company. This pertains not only to the US, but internationally as well.

eWeek stated, "The language of SOPA is so broad, the rules so unconnected to the reality of Internet technology and the penalties so disconnected from the alleged crimes that this bill could effectively kill e-commerce or even normal Internet use. The bill also has grave implications for existing U.S., foreign and international laws and is sure to spend decades in court challenges."


If SOPA isn't dead, shutting down Wikipedia for a day will kill it because of the degree to which it will raise awareness of the issue among people who don't pay much attention to politics...Wednesday is a school day after all.


Can't they just do a "fake" blackout -- every user's first visit of the day gets blacked out, but with a link to re-enable Wikipedia?

I mean, get awareness out, but then still let us read the articles (even with white-on-black text, maybe?)


No.

The aim is to get people to contact representatives. Wikipedia is an excellent tool for procrastination. You need to remove Wikipedia (and as much of the rest of the WWW as possible) to ensure people actually follow through and call or write their politicians.


In the process, for a long while, "softer" proposals were leading, like what you propose. But in the past few days support seems to have shifted towards much more disruptive protests. Maybe the fact of having a date on the calendar suddenly has galvanized people.


It's just one day. Are you really that reliant on Wikipedia that you can't go a single day without using it? It seems to me a lot of the people against the blackout don't have any long-term reasons why it might be bad, only discomfort.


My previous firm depended on wikipedia. We would often have to get up to speed on very diverse industries and their core metrics overnight, and wikipedia was the first source that was available and easily searched.

With the English site black out, this will affect the world far more than just America.

As a matter of fact this is probably something that we should study and be prepared for.

How do the other data/encyclopedia sites fare during the black out? Is there a real effect, how long does it last?

What is the impact on non US visitors? Shouldn't the black ideally focus on people from the States?

Heck actually, this will probably offend a lot of people who aren't in the states - Indian sites can easily spin this as cultural propaganda (for example).

The more I think about it, the more the point raised higher up in this thread (regarding neutrality) starts bothering me.

A complete black out of the English Wikipedia is (hopefully) a once in a life time event. Considering the diversity of people who come to the site and the different cultural baggage everyone brings, this action will have far more repurcussions than just SOPA/PIPA.

While time zonal differences should mitigate this effect, the blackout should not affect visitors from countries where SOPA makes little difference.


" the blackout should not affect visitors from countries where SOPA makes little difference."

I'll make the claim that most english speaking countries in the world will be affected by this. This bill is supposedly targeting foreign website. It could mean a European site getting blocked by PayPal because of an American law.


It will send a strong message for PIPA as well as the similar legislations in future. I still like to see google,facebook .. to come up with something creative on their front page.


They ought to mention PIPA as well as SOPA on the shutdown page.


I really wish this was done to globally to protest against internet censorship of any kind instead of being such a US centric thing. It feels shortsighted.


I hate that I feel this is an 11th hour response. I guess I just don't understand how a 99% community sponsored website with little direct advertising income or large sponsors would drag their feet on the issue.

I do understand the 'late to the party, hard to miss' factor, but the opposite could have spurred more action from other sites.

Hoping for a quicker response 'next time', but still damn good on you!


In a company there is a boss, and s/he can decide what to do.

In an online community, there's just people talking and chatting and politicking and all sorts of other stuff. We've been discussing this for weeks, and right up to the 24 hour deadline that the Foundation set, people were saying "we need more time!" Wikipedia's consensus process is slow, organic, bumpy and unpredictable. It's not like you can fire them or bribe them or threaten them with guns (which is basically what businesses and governments can do), you have to work with them as equals.

In short: community management and consensus building is hard.


Wikipedia is not designed around quick action, but eventual consensus. There's even a short name for this idea: NODEADLINE.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:There_is_no_deadline

It's somewhat impressive that they did manage to respond in an agile way, especially over the last week.


I'm tired of these acronyms, it got confusing today. Are politicians just trying to smuggle it through under a different name at this point? I can't think of a name from recent events with more negative connotations than SOPA, which seems to be why it was abandoned. Are these anti-SOPA messages worth the cost of downtime at this point?


We still need to inform people about the issue and it's better if we're the first people to inform them. Because we know they'll try again later, we need to remain vigilant and prepare for next time. It's much too early to relax. That's exactly what they want us to do.


Well put


There is currently no notification of this on their homepage. Only two days away, I think it would be good form to update.


Ever since I heard about SOPA I hoped that Wikipedia would have done it sometime soon.

It worked for Italy as far as I know.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/10/italia...


I wonder if SOPA will help unite some of the web big guns, obviously they are teaming up to call out SOPA but maybe this will help develop further relationships and we'll see some partnership projects grow. SOPA could end up doing more good than it does harm, assuming this backlash see's it off.


Curious to know if Google and Facebook has taken any stance on SOPA? Especially Google since they always tout themselves as 'the' open web company. From a business perspective, will coming out supporting SOPA and have a similar protest as Wiki help or hurt Google?


The RfC is not closed yet, so there is still time to vote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:SOPA_initiative/Actio...


1800 Wikipedians have already voted.


Personally I think that the OPEN act might be a better idea than SOPA.

Why not give the infringing websites a chance to enter US courts and have due process, or face the consequences in, say, a week? This would make it more costly to prosecute them, but also give them a chance to explain themselves. The courts could possibly give another resolution than just ordering the intermediaries to doing business with them. The threat would be the threat of SOPA (which wouldn't include DNS), but it would be only AFTER the foreign corporation has refused to comply with the decision of the US court for a month.

And yes, this would mean that all its subsidiaries and websites would be affected at once. It takes time to build a big broadcasting system, so it wouldn't be whack-a-mole, either.


Because "entering US courts" is a prohibitively expensive operation on its own; something that is frequently exploited by corporations to screw with individuals. The concept is called SLAPP (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLAPP). Don't like what someone is doing? Sue them and hope (more often than not correctly) that they don't have the wherewithal to defend themselves.


ITC can do it, as per the OPEN bill.

Although to be fair I think SOPA is pretty benign now. I am actually sort of in favor of it as log as it doesn't harm american websites and as long as it doesn't require anyone to make special exceptions in the DNS.

Preventing American based advertisers and banks from paying foreign-based sites which would be prosecuted for being egregiously devoted to piracy or trademark infringement, in the united states seems like something we should be able to do, so that Americans' unlimited ability to download hollywood movies from foreign based sites and songs from kontakte is limited.

America isn't overstepping its juridiction if it is only legislating what American companies can do.

That said, I disagree with the lack of due process in SOPA. I much prefer Issa's bill called OPEN. Issa rightly pointed out that there are better agencies for this than the attorney general's office, such as the ITC.

What I want to know is, where are the provisions in SOPA that say you can be thrown in jail for uploading a song? I thought SOPA was just about curtailing distribution of infringing material by foreign websites.


Does this apply to all wikipedias, or just the english-language wikipedia?


Just English language and globally for english language,


Wikipedia shutting down is not good news..Its very useful and needed everyday...May be they can make the each page load delayed by 1 minute or so to mark the protest....


I agree with you, I needed to read some articles for quick information reminder but I CANT. While I agree that SOPA/PIPA should not be passed, and that the protest may be a good way to show everyone disagrees, closing the websites like this is pretty bad for the users I think they should allow people to read the articles.


Any known and reliable online mirror of the English Wikipedia?


http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/ seems fairly transparent, but is out of date (no entry for SOPA).


http://www.answers.com if you choose "Reference topics" above the search box.


Looks like it's a day of reading Simple English Wikipedia...


Reminder: http://code.google.com/p/offline-wiki/

For people who lack the inclination to download Wikipedia.


Is this still happening now that SOPA has been benched?



Of course. The war is far from over.


I don't know, but I think it needs to. Some part of me thinks this is just a trick to get the heat off of them.


I don't think this is a good idea. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that many people depend on all over the world. Encyclopedias should not just switch off for political reasons. Books don't turn off. Digital information should not turn on and off either for any reason. A big red banner covering half the page can get the message across without actually making us unable to access the information stored in wikipedia.


>Encyclopedias should not just switch off for political reasons.

Characterizing this as a "political reason" does a huge disservice to what the events of the 18th are all about. This "political reason" has the potential to ruin the internet forever. The point of the blackout is to give people a taste of what could happen under SOPA/PIPA/etc. And get them to call their representatives, and get the word out.

Reddit and HN squawking about a law won't do much on its own. Getting the word out in a meaningful way, meaning impacting sites that the average (non-techie) joe would access, has the potential to be much, much more effective.

Something to the effect of "THIS COULD HAPPEN PERMANENTLY IF LAWS LIKE THIS PASS".

Between Cheezburger, WP, and some of the other sites out there, this is going to be a very, very interesting Wednesday.

If you want to help, take the complaining you're doing now and direct it at Congress (or your local equivalent if you're not in the USA). You can thank them for these shenanigans.

EDIT:

Keep in mind, even if you're not in the USA, this impacts you (and I don't just mean the blackout). So much of the internet's structure is located in the USA (IANA, ICANN, registrars, etc) that any bad legislation here has potentially global reach. SOPA/PIPA is a good example of such bad legislation.


There are a lot of political issues that could ruin the internet forever. The example I've been throwing out in this thread - nuclear weapons. Could destroy all of humanity. Does Wikipedia step in to get all countries to destroy nuclear weapons?

How bad does some political issue have to be for Wikipedia to get involved? And note that SOPA is far down on the list of "universally thought of as evil for all humanity" things that people would like to see changed.


Nuclear weapons are not an immediate threat to the internet and Wikipedia's existence. SOPA/PIPA is.


> Encyclopedias should not just switch off for political reasons.

I believe this is the point of the demonstration.


If SOPA passes, Wikipedia could be taken offline forever. Is that really a preferable situation?

Also, if you're that scared, you've been given fair warning. Download a copy for your archives, so you can keep using Wikipedia while it's offline.


No, if SOPA passes and Wikipedia is targeted, Wikipedia can move to another country. It's just the people in the USA who won't be able to access it (like people in other countries with national firewalls)


Somebody hasn't been paying attention.


"Books don't turn off. Digital information should not turn on and off either for any reason."

Would SOPA care for those arguments?


>Encyclopedias should not just switch off for political reasons.

Even if that political reason threatens to shut off the encyclopedia?


I disagree. It's unfair to label Wikipedia as simply an encyclopedia. It's much more than that - it's part of the Internet ecosystem.

A 24-hour blackout on only the English version of the site is fairly reasonable to raise awareness of an issue as important as SOPA.


It's not politics, it's survival.


I agree. Taking a stand and putting up a banner, or a click-through page, etc is fine. But information services like Google and Wikipedia shouldn't actually be shut off in a way that makes the information inaccessible.


> But information services like Google and Wikipedia shouldn't actually be shut off in a way that makes the information inaccessible.

And that's exactly what SOPA would do. Permanently. Nobody is preventing you from accessing today's Wikipedia content on your own this Wednesday - go download a copy of their db right now if you're that scared and fearful of a day without it. The point is a strong demonstration of what the world would be like with SOPA/PIPA. It's necessary.


So shutting off information services is evil, and we're going to show it by committing the same evil? By that token we should teach everyone how bad genocide is by executing a random member of their family.

We should certainly get people's attention by doing something very overt like replacing every article with a big dark SOPA message, but there really should still be a way to click through to the information.

> We should certainly get people's attention by doing something very overt like replacing every article with a big dark SOPA message, but there really should still be a way to click through to the information.

That's fine for us mega-nerds, but what about everyone else?


There's a philosophical distinction between suicide and murder and martyrdom. Just like there is between being thrust into a furnace and setting yourself on fire.

I actually don't know what it's going to be like to work on Wednesday without Wikipedia. But I think it's in all our interests to find out and put a face on these bills.


> By that token we should teach everyone how bad genocide is by executing a random member of their family.

Uh, no. That's not the same token at all.


Looks like we've reached Godwin's Law. That's didn't take too long.


<pedant intensity="100%">Godwin's law only covers the invocation of Hitler or the third reich, not random genocide.</pedant>


I strongly think Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Amazon (not AWS) should all proceed with the nuclear option on the 18th, even though congress has temporarily shelved SOPA. The reality of the situation is that very few people outside of the tech community have any idea about SOPA and PIPA and how it jeopardizes the Internet.


Last week I said I would donate money to wikipedia if they did this. I just donated $50 just now via credit card through the main page.


I also stated I would donate money as well, looks like I must now. :)


I made an additional donation to Wikipedia because of their stand on this issue.

Seth Godin was right when he said "If the user supports it, she owns it. If support comes from anonymous government money, or some corporate sponsorship, then the interactions don't matter so much, and it's more distant from you." I have never felt closer to Wikipedia than today.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/12/who-owns-wik....


And to save a few bucks.


Can't they just do it for the US? The english wikipedia is not just for the english-speaking, and it's hell of annoying to have to use google cache for everything...

Also why don't they lobby twitter instead? That's the one service congressmen rely on


well, it appears that i'm out a $1.00 :D

EDIT: downvoted for pledging $1 to wiki for blackout? interesting.


You have probably been downvoted for not adding anything to the conversation, this is not Reddit.


What's to protest? SOPA is pretty benign now.

This just in: The DNS will not be affected. Lamar Smith took it out.

And even before, two weeks ago, I posted that only foreign websites which would be prosecuted under US law would possibly be affected by this. So maybe bit.ly and the other URL shorteners would be affected, but that's not a big deal.

Before you throw a knee-jerk downvote on this, ask yourself ... are you aware of what the SOPA legislation says NOW? Or is this just inertia from the beginning from SOPA, and you are just against any form of going after foreign sites which host illegal downloads?

On a related note, I want to ask ... in the Russian community it's well known that VKontakte has all the songs and you can just listen to them. Does this mean that VK is on the hist list of SOPA? I don't think they care about US advertisers though. What do you guys think?


"only foreign websites which would be prosecuted under US law would possibly be affected by this"

"not a big deal."

Says you. That is a pretty big fucking deal.

EDIT: I've read your submission. Your argument seems to be "ICE already does this, so we might as well let SOPA legitimize it". I hope you can see why most sensible people would find this logic dissatisfying.


Wait, so if a website is located in another country and would be criminally prosecuted had they been running in the USA, then case closed, they should be able to do as they please with the hollywood blockbusters produced in the US? For example they can set up a website which is dedicated to allowing everyone, including US citizens to download movies and songs for free as much as they want?

If you say yes, then you are really just against intellectual property protection of any kind, and believe that copyright should be abolished. Because by definition whatever protection the government afford copyright holders, someone can set up an offshore website with an offshore registrar and simply invite US citizens to get everything for free. And they can make money off ads, too :)

Or better yet, what about trademark infringement? What about counterfeit goods being sold from offshore websites? Should they stay up and do whatever they want, putting "Rolex" on their fake watches?


I guess "jurisdiction" is a new concept to you. The answer to all of your questions should be obvious otherwise.

The US is not World Police. Get over it.


Yo, jurisdiction is the reason for SOPA


Or more accurately, lack of it.


Although to be fair I think SOPA is pretty benign now. I am actually sort of in favor of it as log as it doesn't harm american websites and as long as it doesn't require anyone to make special exceptions in the DNS.

Preventing American based advertisers and banks from paying foreign-based sites which would be prosecuted for being egregiously devoted to piracy or trademark infringement, in the united states seems like something we should be able to do, so that Americans' unlimited ability to download hollywood movies from foreign based sites and songs from kontakte is limited.

America isn't overstepping its juridiction if it is only legislating what American companies can do.

That said, I disagree with the lack of due process in SOPA. I much prefer Issa's bill called OPEN. Issa rightly pointed out that there are better agencies for this than the attorney general's office, such as the ITC.

What I want to know is, where are the provisions in SOPA that say you can be thrown in jail for uploading a song? I thought SOPA was just about curtailing distribution of infringing material by foreign websites.


Although to be fair I think SOPA is pretty benign now. I am actually sort of in favor of it as log as it doesn't harm american websites and as long as it doesn't require anyone to make special exceptions in the DNS.

Preventing American based advertisers and banks from paying foreign-based sites which would be prosecuted for being egregiously devoted to piracy or trademark infringement, in the united states seems like something we should be able to do, so that Americans' unlimited ability to download hollywood movies from foreign based sites and songs from kontakte is limited.

America isn't overstepping its juridiction if it is only legislating what American companies can do.

That said, I disagree with the lack of due process in SOPA. I much prefer Issa's bill called OPEN. Issa rightly pointed out that there are better agencies for this than the attorney general's office, such as the ITC.


Although to be fair I think SOPA is pretty benign now. I am actually sort of in favor of it as log as it doesn't harm american websites and as long as it doesn't require anyone to make special exceptions in the DNS.

Preventing American based advertisers and banks from paying foreign-based sites which would be prosecuted in the united states seems like something we should be able to do, so that Americans' unlimited ability to download hollywood movies from foreign based sites and songs from kontakte is limited.

America isn't overstepping its juridiction if it is only legislating what American companies can do.

That said, I disagree with the lack of due process in SOPA. I much prefer Issa's bill called OPEN. Issa rightly pointed out that there are better agencies for this than the attorney general's office, such as the ITC.


Forgive us for not trusting hearsay.

(If you have a link to an actual updated text of SOPA I will retract that statement. Additionally, as is said elsewhere on this page, there's still PIPA. Despite the title at the top Wiki is protesting both.)




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