As I understand it, part of the problem is that there are very strict rules
on what the WMF can do as part of lobbying in the US. Under Section
501(c)(3), nonprofits are not allowed to use a substantial part of their
spending on lobbying - meaning no more than 5% of the WMF's income can be
spent on political lobbying. I'm not sure if this would fall under
political lobbying, but it's rather close! It's also already done rather
well by people like http://www.factcheck.org/.
Let's not forget, as well, that what you're suggesting is very US-centric.
Not all arguments are yes/no - well, technically all votes are, but there
are also abstentions, and there are those who vote because it's the party
line. There's also a few parts of the world where democracy is not
considered a good system - this project wouldn't really help them.
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On 3 May 2012 15:00, Carmen yarru...@charter.net wrote:
[This essay was rudely rejected by the gatekeepers at Signpost calling it
irrelevant but not explaining why. Could someone please suggest where I
might submit this for a fair hearing by the WMF community?]
Why the Wikimedia Foundation should openly articulate its political POV by
establishing a new neutral wiki for world political knowledge (modeled on
By Carmen Yarrusso
Carmen Yarrusso, a software engineer for 35 years, designed and modified
computer operating systems (including Internet software). He has a BS in
physics and studied game theory and formal logic during his years with the
math department at Brookhaven National Lab. He lives in New Hampshire and
often writes about uncomfortable truths.
Nobody can deny WMF has done a great service to humanity. Wikimedians and
especially Wikipedians around the world deserve our utmost respect and
gratitude for their outstanding efforts. But there's a political zeitgeist
in the air that began with the Arab Spring that WMF can and should be part
The WMF should stop pretending it's politically neutral (NPOV). The
declared philosophy of the movement (see Movement roles/charter) expresses
a clear political POV. There's lots of implied politics in trying to
imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the
sum of all knowledge.
WMF was part of an amicus brief in the past. There's been chapter and
community political activism, including the recent Italian Wikipedia
shutdown. The recent Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) forced WMF to take a
clear political stance. WMF even helped organize an Internet Censorship
Day: http://americancensorship.org/ , urging people to lobby Congress and
petition the US state department against SOPA. That's political POV!
But expressing POV on Internet censorship or expressing a commitment to
free access to knowledge, transparency, openness, independence, quality,
and privacy is fundamentally different than expressing POV in an
encyclopedia article. The very essence of political knowledge is
understanding and critically evaluating conflicting POV.
Considering the present state and direction of our world, which is largely
controlled by politics, isn't it time for the world's largest free
knowledge resource to openly acknowledge that free political knowledge is
at least as important to humanity as free encyclopedic knowledge? Isn't
reliable knowledge about what our respective governments are doing in our
names at least as important to our well being as reliable knowledge about
the Brooklyn Bridge or the French Revolution? Encyclopedic knowledge
becomes rather moot if we destroy our planet earth.
Currently there's no comprehensive source of reliable political knowledge.
Deceptive 30-second political ads on TV are certainly not a source of
reliable political knowledge. Blathering TV pundits are not a source of
reliable political knowledge. Even our mainstream media are not a source of
reliable political knowledge. On the contrary, they often provide specious
propaganda disguised as reliable political knowledge because their revenue
is deeply dependent on special interest money. Though the Internet provides
many sources of reliable political knowledge, it's spread out (hit or miss)
and very difficult to assemble into a coherent body of knowledge on any
given political issue.
Thanks to WMF and the power of the Internet, countless millions of people
around the world have access to a free source of vast, reliable
encyclopedic knowledge. But these same countless millions have no source of
reliable political knowledge, the kind of knowledge they need to critically
evaluate the policies and actions of their government representatives. Why
not? You Wikipedians have the power to change the downward spiral of the