July 15, 2009

More On Wikipedia blackout of David Rohde kidnapping

A few days ago, the radio program "On The Media" ran a segment on the David Rohde kidnapping and Wikipeda's suppression of information: "The Silent Treatment"

Consider this statement:

JIMMY WALES: No, it's not one that we had encountered in quite this way before, but because The New York Times was very successful in having their media blackout, it was pretty easy for our volunteers to look at it and say, well, really under the rules of Wikipedia we've never considered ourselves a wide open free speech forum where people can post speculative things. We just look at it and we say, well yes, there was one report here and a couple of blogs, but really it's not being reported anywhere else, so who knows.

Now, of course, I knew that it was true because The New York Times contacted me to ask what could be done about it, but it's not my obligation to report everything I know, just as it wouldn't be for anybody.

Note the first edit to add the information about David Rohde's kidnapping sourced it to an Afghan news report.

Compare the following message on a Wikipedia discussion list:

... When we want to protect a non-reporter, we are told that since Wikipedia is just republishing information that is already out there and causing damage anyway, the person will probably have been hurt just as much without the Wikipedia article. And of course, Wikipedia is not censored, and that the five pillars of Wikipedia require the free flow of information and can never be compromised.

Certainly, someone who tried to suppress information in the same way, but was not Jimmy Wales or otherwise important on Wikipedia, even if they did it to save a life, would be accused of edit warring, told that they are abusing the rules, and taken to Arbcom and banned. Of course, in the process they would be told that their idea that they are saving a life is speculative and can't be proven. If one such person were to justify their actions by claiming that terrorists can't use the Internet well, we would reply "nice idea, but you really have no proof for that. You're just speculating. You don't know that that's true. Now stop the edit warring and the rules abuse-- we can certainly prove *that*."

Where you stand depends on where you sit.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikipedia | on July 15, 2009 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Right you are, Seth. I have come to the conclusion that Jimbo's actions regarding on-Wikipedia edits and policies resolve to one over-riding factor:

"Will my action make me more famous or bring me favors at some time in the future?"

If he decides the answer is more "yes" than "no", he acts. If not, then inaction and/or delay are his tactic.

Posted by: Gregory Kohs at July 17, 2009 12:12 PM

It just adds evidence that there is one set of rules for the powerful and their cronys and completely different set for us common schlubs.
The NY Times and head of Wikipedia are complete hypocrites.

Posted by: John M at July 20, 2009 06:10 PM