by Mike Masnick
Mon, Dec 12th 2011 4:33pm
by Glyn Moody
Wed, Oct 5th 2011 10:30am
from the who-needs-encyclopedias-anyway? dept
the Italian language Wikipedia may be no longer able to continue providing the service that over the years was useful to you, and that you expected to have right now. As things stand, the page you want still exists and is only hidden, but the risk is that soon we will be forced to actually delete it.This action has been taken by the Italian Wikipedia editors to draw attention to an Italian bill that is being discussed by the Italian Parliament at the moment:
Today, unfortunately, the very pillars on which Wikipedia has been built - neutrality, freedom, and verifiability of its contents - are likely to be heavily compromised by paragraph 29 of a law proposal, also known as "DDL intercettazioni" (Wiretapping Act).There's been some lively discussion on the Wikimedia mailing list about this move. Some, for example, thought that the Italian community had overstepped the mark by blacking-out the site in this way, but the main Wikimedia Foundation has now issued this message of support:
This proposal, which the Italian Parliament is currently debating, provides, among other things, a requirement to all websites to publish, within 48 hours of the request and without any comment, a correction of any content that the applicant deems detrimental to his/her image.
Unfortunately, the law does not require an evaluation of the claim by an impartial third judge - the opinion of the person allegedly injured is all that is required, in order to impose such correction to any website.
Hence, anyone who feels offended by any content published on a blog, an online newspaper and, most likely, even on Wikipedia can directly request to publish a "corrected" version, aimed to contradict and disprove the allegedly harmful contents, regardless of the truthfulness of the information deemed as offensive, and its sources.
The Wikimedia Foundation stands with our volunteers in Italy who are challenging the recently drafted "DDL intercettazioni" (or Wiretapping Bill) bill in Italy. This bill would hinder the work of projects like Wikipedia: open, volunteer-driven, and collaborative spaces dedicated to sharing high-quality knowledge, not to mention the ability for all users of the internet to engage in democratic, free speech opportunities.The other issue raised on the mailing list discussion is to what extent the Italian law, if passed, would apply to Wikipedia, since it is not an Italian organization, and the servers are in the US and the Netherlands. Italian editors are nonetheless worried they would be on the receiving end of legal threats anyway, and would rather not find out the hard way whether their work on the Italian Wikipedia were subject to the new legislation.
Wikipedians the world over pride themselves on their ability to rapidly remove false information from their project. Wikipedia has established methods to receive complaints or concerns from individuals or organizations and a strong system exists to remove incorrect or false information, and if necessary to remove complete articles in an effort to prevent vandalism. For Wikipedians, there is no value nor need for this proposed legislation.
Then there's also the little matter of the Italian Constitution, part of which says:
Article 21 [Freedom of Communication]All-in-all, the Italian politicians behind this proposed legislation emerge with little honor; at the very least, the new law will cast a chill over freedom of expression online in Italy, and at worst could see the Italian Wikipedia shut down permanently – a huge loss for its users and Italian culture.
(1) Everyone has the right to freely express thoughts in speech, writing, and by other communication. (2) The press may not be controlled by authorization or submitted to censorship.
Update: Via Carl Levinson, Roberta Ranzani and Jillian C. York on Google+, we've learned that the controversial paragraph 29 of the Wiretapping bill has been dropped (details in Italian). It's not clear exactly why, but the action by the Italian Wikipedia must surely have concentrated people's minds. However, it's important to note that the rest of the bill is still going forward - and has plenty of other changes that will harm freedom of speech in Italy if enacted.
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by Michael Ho
Wed, Apr 27th 2011 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- The International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project aims to create a DNA-based reference library for all multi-cellular life on Earth. It's a fairly ambitious project, but at least they're not trying to look for extra-terrestrial life, too... [url]
- The Encyclopedia of Life project is like a Wikipedia just for biological organisms. A web page for every species, and a car in every garage? [url]
- A barcode-like system called Stripespotter is cataloging zebra stripes so that field researchers can track the zebras they've already photographed. The system could also potentially be used for other animals with unique fur patterns -- like tigers, giraffes or your pets. [url]
- Endangered sharks are being tracked by their DNA -- which can be used to tell where these sharks grew up geographically due to their mating behavior. Sharks don't need iPhones in order for people to track them, but they do need freakin' lasers on their heads already. [url]
- To discover more interesting biology-related stuff, check out what's currently running around on StumbleUpon. [url]
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Mar 23rd 2011 10:39am
from the questions,-questions dept
But the even more interesting point comes after that:
Every journalist I've spoken to since 2006 uses Wikipedia as their handy universal backgrounder. Funnily enough, there's a distinct lack of donations to the Wikimedia Foundation from newspapers and media organisations. How much did the New York Times donate in the fundraiser?Marcus Carab, who works in a newsroom, made a similar point in response to that article a few weeks ago when the NYTime's Bill Keller claimed that the Huffington Post was a "pirate site," in that newspaper reporters rely on tons of other sources that never get any credit, let alone payment (excuse Marcus' Canadianisms, he can't help it):
We do this stuff for everyone to use and reuse. Journalists taking full advantage of this is absolutely fine. But claiming we should then pay the papers for the privilege is just a little odious.
Forget the fact that pavement-pounding reporting is a form of aggregation from the public - newspapers actively aggregate from tonnes of published sources too. Every newsroom has a table covered in copies of every other newspaper in town - in case you missed something, or they got an angle you didn't, or you think one of the stories can be taken further. In addition to reporting, all journalists do research: they look up other articles on the topic, find past magazine interviews and pull data from published reports. Many science articles in newspapers are just summaries of journal articles.So this raises a really good point about the silly claims from the NY Times and others about how they need to get paid, since they believe that they're the "originators" of the news. I do wonder how many of the people at the NY Times did contribute to Wikipedia? I would bet many of the folks who insist that their own work needs to be paid for by users, have in turn never once contributed to Wikipedia.
And that's just what went on and still goes on in the traditional media ecosystem, amongst the old players. Newspapers actively aggregate from blogs too. Every journalist in entertainment or technology starts his morning looking for leads on blogs, and the first thing any reporter does when they get an assignment on a topic they aren't familiar with is look it up on Wikipedia.
Information comes in all sorts of forms from all sorts of places. The NY Times is good at what it does. No one is denying that. But it's delusional in its thinking that it somehow is the piece of the puzzle that is worth the most here.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 27th 2011 3:10pm
from the oh-look-at-that... dept
The altruistic ideal of giving away one's labor for free appeared credible in the fat summer of the Web 2.0 boom when social-media startups hung from trees, Facebook was valued at $15 billion, and VCs queued up to fund revenue-less "businesses" like Twitter. But as we contemplate the world post-bailout, when economic reality once again bites, only Silicon Valley's wealthiest technologists can even consider the luxury of donating their labor to the latest fashionable, online, open-source project.How's that prediction looking today? Right. (Update: For those who missed it, there's a sarcmark around that "Right")
In that article, he predicted the success of a bunch of websites and how they'd beat the "free" or "open" competitors. I picked out a series of those that I thought were particularly unlikely to happen and asked Andrew if he'd like to put some money behind his predictions -- with the bet being decided by who was right in October 2010 (I didn't choose all of Keen's predictions, because some of them were nonsensical and did not involve actual competitors). Here's what I wrote:
I'd like to make a bet. While there are different estimates as to how long any recession might be, the general consensus is that we should hopefully start pulling out by the end of 2009 or early 2010. So, let's pick a few of these that we can measure, and I'll bet Andrew Keen $100 (really money, Andrew) that in two years, on October 22, 2010, Wikipedia still gets more traffic than Knol, that Google is still much, much, much bigger than Mahalo (if they're even considered competitors any more), and that YouTube gets more traffic than Hulu.Tragically, when October 22, 2010 came around, I had forgotten about this original post. Also, Keen never responded to the bet, either because he was unaware of it or because he didn't really believe his own predictions. Either way, it looks like he made the right decision, whether on purpose or not, because every one of the predictions I made were correct compared to his predictions. Knol didn't beat Wikipedia. Mahalo did not beat Google. Hulu did not beat YouTube (though, Hulu is doing well for now).
If any one of those is untrue, I'll write him a check.
I had never met Keen when I wrote that original article, though I have had some fun conversations with him in the past year, so I'm interested to see if he's willing to revisit his original predictions and to admit that perhaps he was wrong with his analysis of how "free" and "open source" would be knocked out by the economic crisis.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 21st 2011 6:18am
from the domain-oddities dept
Technically, the Wikia company has until this week legally owned domain names including wikileaks.net, wikileaks.com and wikileaks.us.Of course, I just checked the whois on the .com and the .net, and both say they're registered until 2012... so someone renewed the domains, but it's not clear who.
"We transferred the domains to them but they never completed the technical part," said Mr Wales. "All they needed to do was sign in and complete the transfer but they have never done it."
He said the domains had been registered "defensively" when Wikileaks launched in 2006.
"When they first launched they put out a press release that said the 'Wikipedia of secrets', which would have been a trademark violation.
"So someone in the office registered two or three domains."
He said that he regularly tries to prompt Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange to complete the transaction, to no avail.
"I saw someone else say that he's prone to saying 'I'm busy fighting superpowers' and that's exactly what he said to me."
Mr Wales said the domains would expire "this week".
"I'm not renewing them," said Mr Wales.
"We may ping them and say they are loose."
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 20th 2011 12:26pm
from the it-ain't-so-easy dept
It looks like we have yet another example of that, with the failure of Google Knol. I have to be honest: I had almost completely forgotten about Knol's existence. When it launched, the press lauded it as a "Wikipedia-killer." Looking back, when it launched I at least expressed some skepticism about the project, noting its similarity to other projects that had failed to gain serious traction. I did give Google the benefit of the doubt in that, if anyone could make such a project work, perhaps it would be Google. However, the fact that it fell off the face of the earth so quickly and is now almost totally abandoned suggests I should have listened to my original skepticism.
Still, it's natural for people to assume that a big company with tons of money entering a space formerly defined by an upstart means that the giant company will come to dominate that space. And it does happen... sometimes. But less frequently than people realize. Google recognized the importance of creating more online knowledge, but didn't quite understand the important community aspects of Wikipedia. In many ways, it's the same issue we recently discussed about Paul Ford's concept of "why wasn't I consulted?" driving successful web community projects. Very little in Knol was about solving the WWIC issue. Instead, it was blank slate knowledge spewing, with little community aspects. In fact, I'd argue that what Quora is doing today is a lot more of what Knol really wanted to be early on but failed. While I'm not as sold on Quora as others have been, there's no denying that it's been growing and getting tremendous usage and has some valuable information. And a large part of that is because it built on that WWIC concept much better than a project like Google Knol.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 30th 2010 6:37am
from the unclear-on-the-concept dept
"The real story is a such a hoot it someday will be told."That may be true, but it won't be told due to Wikipedia and/or Wikileaks being forced to tell it via this lawsuit. The guy doesn't even seem to attempt to explain what either Wikipedia or Wikileaks have to do with his side of the story or under what claims he's suing. He just wants his story told. Perhaps someone should let him know he can just set up his own website.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 22nd 2010 11:30am
from the pro-se-me dept
What, you might ask, should force both sites to be blocked in the great state of South Carolina, as well pay up a billion dollars, combined? According to Mr. Smith, both sites "have been and still do openly promote child prostitution and the distribution of child pornography." Also, "both defendants also promote adult prostitution and nudity designed to excite prurient interests in the people viewing it." How does Mr. Smith know this? Because, he notes, he discovered such things on both sites, but "not intentionally." You see, "the pictures came to him by way of his surfing defendants' websites for valid non-pornographic purposes." You see, "plaintiff does not and does not want to view such nudity as heretofore described." Understood, of course. And "for allowing such nudity of children and adults to be seen by those who do not want to see it, both defendants are liable of attempting to lure other persons to share in this crime."
Mr. Smith also highlights the fact that Craigslist sued South Carolian Attorney General Henry McMaster -- a lawsuit that was tossed out, but is being appealed. He claims that "there is a probability shown by the preponderance of the evidence that defendant Craigslist was a criminal organization suing the Attorney General of the State of South Carolina for no other reason than that the State had been investigating the organization and intended therefore to paralyze by fear of further action." Of course, as covered in detail at the time, McMaster had been threatening to put Craigslist execs in jail, for actions of its users -- actions clearly protected under Section 230 of the CDA, which other courts have highlighted. Craigslist's offensive lawsuit was not to "sue McMaster," so much as to get a declaratory judgment that it had done nothing wrong, so as to stop McMaster from continued grandstanding.
As one final point, it does seem worth pointing out that, on the documents filed, there is a note reading that "frivolous civil proceedings may be subject to sanctions...." Seems worth pointing out...
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 5th 2010 9:43am
from the linkety-link dept
Thankfully, both the district court and the appeals court said that just linking was not defamatory, but the reasoning was a bit odd, and left some potential issue open. Now, as a bunch of folks have submitted, the Canadian Supreme Court is gearing up to take on the issue. There are really two questions here: whether or not the initial link is defamation, and secondarily, whether or not it becomes defamation if you refuse to take down the link after being alerted to it being defamatory.
In the US, Section 230 of the CDA protects website publishers in both cases. In Canada, the law is not at all clear on this issue, and there's a very real threat of a pretty massive chilling effect if the Supreme Court decides that linking (or even refusing to take down a link) can constitute defamation. Hopefully, the Supreme Court agrees that merely linking should never be seen as defamation -- and preferably, the Canadian Parliament makes this doubly clear by putting in place some basic safe harbors as well.