While Wikipedia my not be the shining-light of data accuracy, it definitely fits the bill for achieving good: "Perfect is the enemy of good" 
I believe removing barriers to knowledge access for everyone is a step in the right direction. This tries to solve a single barrier. We still have a long way to go.
Not that I see this project as something inherently bad, it is just the contrary, but it can give rise to some bad moral precedents.
Instead of paying for the bandwidth for people, what can we do instead to reduce the cost to the point where people in these regions can afford to access wikipedia?
Also, what can wikipedia do to reduce the payload size of wikipedia articles so that users in those countries are downloading the least amount of data possible?
Presumably the OP is concerned that this could degenerate from "breaking net neutrality is fine as long as it favors sites we like" to "breaking net neutrality is fine".
Note that I don't necessarily share the belief of the OP, but it's certainly a point worth some real consideration.
In the old days when city governments granted these monopolies to cable TV companies, part of the deal was community access channels (Wayne's World!). Even if these benefitted hardly anyone, they provided some moral cover and justification.
If I were an old media guy, I'd see Wikimedia Zero as the germ of an idea -- maybe suggesting a way how to squeeze the genie back in the bottle and wrap the internet in a cable TV model. And, hey, in the US most people's ISP is also their cable company. So ... I don't see it as a definitely bad thing, but I see the seeds of potential bad as well as good.
(In general, a lot of bad stuff flies under the flag of a good cause fighting some other bad thing -- "because terrorism", "because children", "because hyper-inflation", etc. Of course a lot of _good_ stuff also flies under good flags. I'm just saying it's not obvious either way.)
The first thing to ask is what differentiates Wikipedia content from the rest of the 'net so that it would be OK to break net neutrality principles towards the implementation of this project.
So, even if this breakage is somewhat worth the bending of the rules, companies must support the idea. Once they do it, what would be the moral ground to rightfully deny another proposals from content providers that offer them money to do that?
Well, this problem is not something really new. Net neutrality is already broken, though almost everybody agrees on its importance. There must be some kind of consistency if we want it to survive.
What if google or bing made a similar deal? Or any large corporation, for that matter? You set up an internet where the majors can buy their way into a monopoly position, not by convincing ISPs to degrade other services, but by convincing them to charge users less to use your service. This makes it harder to impossible for new companies to enter those markets.
All that being said, I think this (Wikipedia Zero) will be a net-positive thing, and I hope they succeed. I do see that this type of thing could have worrying implications for net neutrality, but ultimately they're not the first site to broker "free access" deals with mobile carriers.
Facebook already does this https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook/fast-and-free-facebo... and I'm sure many others do as well
I don't think that the world is going to end here, or collapse into some dystopian nightmare, but the question was asked: "what are these bad precedents?" and I attempted to answer.
People who want and need access to Wikipedia Zero are like these South African high school students, living in a slum: https://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/06/19/movement-for-free-acce...
But before I can do that, I need to be able to use wikipedia. And by use, I don't mean consume - I mean, be a full participant in a collective online encyclopedia.
This is currently not possible.
Rather than explain or give examples, let me challenge you to start any new article, or make any decent sized edit to any article, and let's assume for the discussion that your facts, grammar, form, and adherence to wikipedia style are perfect.
Come back and let us know how that goes.
Can't we hope a bit that on HN a little of auto education is possible?
When people feel very strongly about things (a couple of your examples touch upon human rights), and they feel they rarely have a platform to express those views, they'll take any platform they can get.
It's annoying but understandable.
Also keep in mind that it's annoying to see a viewpoint expressed if you disagree with it. When such a viewpoint is expressed, you are predisposed to view them as unwanted contributions to the discussion. I don't believe the parent comment is warranted here, but maybe he wasted a lot of his time trying to improve Wikipedia, and he feels very strongly about this.
Oh, sod off. Don't put words in my mouth. I do not disagree with men's rights, but I do disagree the the hysterical bulk of MRA knobheads that create a hyperbolic smokescreen, preventing real issues from being properly discussed. There's a shitload of valid men's rights issues, from strong imbalance in parental rights in some jurisdiction, to massive imbalances in prisoner treatment, to sociological things like the shame of showing emotion or weakness. Similarly there are different health issues for men and women, each of which requires its own focus. None of this comes up in the usual MRA "wah wah, feminists are speaking! it's so hard to be a man!" self-indulgent whining. Neither is there much of a recognition that while men have problems, it's not a competition and it doesn't mean that women don't also have problems. There aren't 'teams' here, except in the eyes of extremists.
The thing is that MRA, here on HN and most other places, are free to submit anything they want any time they want. They most certainly have a platform to express those views. They don't though - they only rile up when they see a feminism post and have to 'put them in their place'. If they really were about "I just want to be heard", then they'd be posting articles, not tearing down others' stuff. I'd fucking love to see discussion on men's issues that didn't require putting women or feminists in their place. There are serious issues that men have to deal with, but the fucking hysterical over-wrought self-absorbed MRA commentry completely smothers real attempts at rational discussion. We can discuss and develop solutions to men's issues without having to be victorious over a third party.
I mean seriously, 'no platform to speak'? HN is a firehose, and there are plenty of MRA-favourable people here. What a joke. Post some quality articles on MRA and get some discussion going. In other words - be a 'man': put up or shut up.
Right, so to be clear: if someone were to (say) insist that by caring about male victims RAINN were inherently attacking the real, female victims of rape you'd consider them an extremist and be first in line to call them out just like you did MRAs? And the same if they were opposed to teaching both women and men to care about their partner's consent because any attempt to tackle rape that wasn't based on its (in their eyes) fundamentally gendered nature was a betrayal of female victims?
Because sad to say, I've seen both of these happen and in fact every single non-MRAs made the opposite argument: that objecting to these demands that everyone should only care about women's problems is what's really turning it into a competition.
> The thing is that MRA, here on HN and most other places, are free to submit anything they want any time they want. They most certainly have a platform to express those views. They don't though - they only rile up when they see a feminism post and have to 'put them in their place'.
If you go looking, they're plenty willing to express their own views without a feminist post to rile them up - but you have to go looking, because in practice they have no platform to do that where people will actually hear them. It's not like feminism where their views are published in places like the Guardian, Independent, Salon, HuffPo, NYT, ... (Including some horrifically offensive or just plain mistaken viewpoints, which will somehow be seen as less dangerous than any random no-name commentor on an MRA blog!)
Also, there's some irony in you complaining about that since you've just derailed a HN discussion about something else entirely to opine about how awful MRAs are.
> I'd fucking love to see discussion on men's issues that didn't require putting women or feminists in their place.
That's like trying to hold a discussion of women's issues whilst including unrepentant misogynist "allies" who want credit for helping whilst refusing to talk about or think about the issues at all. I've seen lots of feminists who act exactly like that who will come into any discussion and try and take it over, and it's unfeminist to call them out on it since feminism isn't about the men.
In fact, it's struck me as weird for a while just how similar anti-MRA arguments are to the most obnoxious anti-feminist ones. For instance: 'Don't put words in my mouth. I do not disagree with women's rights, but I do disagree the the hysterical bulk of feminist knobheads that create a hyperbolic smokescreen, preventing real issues from being properly discussed. There's a shitload of valid women's rights issues, from strong imbalance in employment rights in some jurisdiction, to massive imbalances in access to education, to sociological things like pressure not to show assertiveness or aggressiveness. Similarly there are different safety issues for men and women, each of which requires its own focus. None of this comes up in the usual feminist "wah wah, men are speaking! it's so hard to be a woman!" self-indulgent whining.'
Yes, obviously feminists are fighting for those issues - much like if you asked an MRA to give a list of men's rights issues it'd be very much like yours. Also, okay, so you consider those to be the real issues. Do you actually put any effort into fighting directly for those things, or are they just issues you bring up when they're a convenient way to discredit groups that do fight for them, much like misogynists who selectively care about "real" women's issues? Because again, I've seen a lot of feminists arguing that those are the real issues affecting men that matter and that MRAs can be ignored because they're somehow distracting from them, but fuck-all who care about them at any other time.
My post had no replies when I edited.
I removed that reference because I felt it sounded like I was accusing you of being against men's rights. That wasn't my intention.
> Neither is there much of a recognition that while men have problems, it's not a competition and it doesn't mean that women don't also have problems.
Definitely. However, when the solutions that third-wave feminists put forth further disadvantage men in areas like unemployment and education—or, to be more diplomatic, when someone passionate about men's rights feels that way—it's completely reasonable for them to respond with their objections.
>The thing is that MRA, here on HN and most other places, are free to submit anything they want any time they want.
Many people who passionately oppose third-wave feminist activism also oppose discussion of politics on HN, period. So they don't consider this to be a platform for their political views unless they're responding to activism already on the front page.
Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.
Notice the word equal. I really believe that feminism deals with men's rights as well when there exist inequities that favor women. True men's rights.
But there's a complication: Wikipedia appears to be TOO COMPREHENSIVE. I can no longer find a subject of general interest which isn't fleshed out to near (or beyond) my level of knowledge. All my local landmarks are well represented, as are the interesting areas I've travelled.
Do you have any ideas on an article Wikipedia needs? I'd be happy to spend some of my own time on research and submit it anonymously.
Here are some stubs that might need expanding into proper articles https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Stubs
Here are articles that need more information https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Wikipedia_articles_in...
Most are pretty obscure, but thankfully Google Books and Amazon "search inside" gives access to information published before the web was born. There are also some services where you can ask a librarian online to look something up in a book for you. I've had some luck previously with http://www.nla.gov.au/askalibrarian
Trove is also amazing, but fairly biased towards Australian history (for obvious reasons).
In my experience, that's exactly where Wikipedia often shines: many articles offer quite broad coverage of their subject, approach it from multiple points of view that do a good job of making it accessible for people of many levels of knowledge.
This especially seems to be true of articles on math. Whereas something like mathworld.wolfram.com usually offers a concise, accurate, and well-written article on a subject, it's quite often at a fairly high-level, and may be hard to understand for someone missing some background. The equivalent Wikipedia article on the other hand, is often much longer, because it approaches the topic from many points of view: concise technical explanations suitable for a mathematician, more intuitive (but maybe less rigorous) explanations aimed at a general audience, implementation hints and algorithmic summaries for those interested in using it in a computer application, etc.
This sort of shotgun coverage can result in rambling, lengthy, and sometimes redundant articles (it's usually pretty clear that many different authors have edited it, and the collaboration mechanisms are far from perfect), but I've found it immensely helpful when trying to understand something which is just a bit beyond my level. Seeing the same subject explained from multiple points of view is often just what's needed to make things click.
That's one of the reasons I love Wikipedia... it's not always the most elegant, but it's proved a very practical and helpful resource.
Sure, the topic is obscure and even sort of shitty, but you need to dig deep these days if you want to start a brand new page, simply because most topics are already covered.
I've edited several articles, and created some. I just went ahead, created an account, and started trying to contribute.
I did have problems in the Spanish language Wikipedia, I created a page for the Finance Minister, and it got deleted twice for "self-promotion" until I managed to convince the guy that the person was, in fact, a relevant political figure in my country.
I also created and modified pages on the English Wikipedia, and I haven't had problems yet, for example the last one I created was the page of the owner of the company I work for (one of the world's richest):
I don't have a good knowledge of Wikipedia, I just copy a page I think is similar to the one I want to create and use it as a start.
I have never had a problem doing Wikipedia edits for stuff I found inaccurate or needed more details. I didn't always go back to check but whenever I did, the edits were still there / no one has removed or edited them away.
In essence this is a stupidity filter.
This has been mentioned many times before where other people have gone off topic to discuss this.
I am not sure that can be fixed though - what we can fix are which people get to be in charge of the article by some kind of peer voting mechanism where greater weight is given to academics who actually study the problem. To know which people are academics Wikipedia can start some kind of initiative with universities that would verify credentials.
I stopped editing in 2005.
Everyone on the internet is an insufferable, biased, and often incorrect pedant according to at least one other person. Do you think you're the exception?
I chose my words intentionally with regard to the experience of editing Wikipedia. I contribute to many online fora, and am unpopular on many of those, but WP is a unique experience.
Attempts to neutralize any page that anyone pays attention to results in the page's regular babysitters coming out and destroying it -- a normal person can't compete because these people are obsessive about the pages they watch, often because their full-time job is to ensure that clients' Wikipedia pages read in the manner desired. Sometimes other motives, like zealotry, contribute to the obsession.
These persons become steeped in WP-specific jargon, utilizing an ever-growing body of subjective and sometimes almost conflicting rules to crush any opponent who doesn't come ready for the fight. They'll say that your edit doesn't comply with WP:XYZ and WP:ABC, you'll say it does, etc. And even if you do come prepared, unless you're willing to commit more resources than your opponent, they'll just quietly change it back with a non-suspicious commit message after a few days, once you've decided you had other things that deserved attention. Worse, often these persons become administrators and will ban you for "incivility" or protect the article so that their preferred version remains in place. You can begin an appeals process, but again, it's something that's going to be difficult to reasonably affect without a major time commitment and even after you win, it's typically something that can be easily undone once the attention of the relevant appeals committee is diverted.
It's impossible for a normal person to compete with that type of editor, and they are very widespread. I don't necessarily want to give specific examples because I was involved in all of the ones that are significant to me, but it is not hard to find this occurring. You may want to reference the historical archives for The Wikitruth, as they had extensive case studies on this type of failure.
I am somebody who goes to Wikipedia by default when looking up something, even if it's something technical, although I know that I won't get much use out of reading the article, and it is precisely for that reason.
It seems that the Wikipedia community has assumed that being able to write in "Standard English" means the articles can be as complex and technical as they wish.
I have often put myself in the mind of somebody who knows only, for example, basic networking, and tried to rewrite networking articles (or at least their introductions) to make it easier for them to understand the core concepts. Instead, the admins think it's wiser to have the first paragraph use a jargon word every other word since the reader can always click that word to be taken to its article.
It is also true that if you're going up against an admin's article/edit, their say is final and you've pretty much wasted your time.
The wikipedia entry for The Human Stain now contains a reference to the controversy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_Stain#Anatole_Broyard...
This would allow for text only MOOC's accessible by everyone at the very least.
The contra case is that someone will twist this into a model to charge <up> for everything else. its better to create better public goods, than bargain for special access to private assets, when the quid-pro-quo will surely be some form of reciporacal monopoly rights (ie, special interest regulation).
What? Their billing systems can't handle a wildcard subdomain? Even so, it isn't exactly difficult to enumerate all of the wikipedias. There are less than 300 total, and only 121 with 1000+ articles.
But also, this is almost the textbook definition of "the thin end of the wedge". I didn't really start thinking about this until I started reading the comments here on HN (awesome!)
So wikipedia should be free. What else should be free? Who should pay? Someone needs to pay. Who should? Let's start grouping content on one side or another.
This is a very, very bad idea.
The answer, of course, is that it should all be free. Internet access should be a basic human right. It should be, it will be, it is only a matter of time.
But until it is, an endeavor like this is subverting net neutrality, disguised as something good, and that is just a terrible idea.
There is an android version, Full Text of Wikipedia is about 9GB. A smaller selection that includes some thumbnail images is around 3.5GB.
Because read-only access won't be nearly as useful as allowing people to commit. I suppose setting a reasonable limit to uploads might help a lot (say 10mb a day -- that's a lot of text, after all).